Tamil Nadu

How to spot and help a missing child with disabilities

A poster detailing what steps to take if you see a child or adult with disabilities who is wandering

A poster detailing what steps to take if you see a child or adult with disabilities who is wandering   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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The Special Child Assistance Network has released a series of public messages and posters to raise awareness among the public

Four years ago, an autistic teen went missing from his home in Thiruvanmiyur. Thanks to social media, he was traced to a mall in Velachery where his parents suspect, he had gone to savour his favourite popcorn.

“He went missing at 6 a.m and we immediately posted his pictures and details on WhatsApp and other social media platforms. He was traced within two to three hours,” said Gopinath Ramakrishnan, trustee, Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN).

To raise awareness about such issues, SCAN is now releasing a series of public messages and posters, in English and Tamil. The first communication was released on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which fell on December 3. The aim of this campaign is to make people aware of the dangers that high risk children/adults may get into, and also how to help people spot a missing child or adult with such issues, and to give people tips on what to do when they see such a person who needs help.

It can be a traumatic experience for the family when a member goes missing, especially if its is a child with a disability who is not able to communicate well. “Many children and adults with such disabilities are either non-verbal or may not able to communicate effectively. So it would be impossible for them to convey that they are lost and/or seek for help,” said Vimal Balachander of SCAN.

The trustees of SCAN said that in most cases, the child or adult is found very quickly and restored to their families. However, there have been instances where such persons were found after a long time or met with a mishap. The recent case is that of Tarun Gupta, a non-verbal child with autism who went missing from his home in Mumbai almost two months ago and has still not been located.

Gayathri Sridhar, Trustee, SCAN, said: “It is heart-breaking to hear about a lost child or family member. Especially when the person has a disability that prevents them from communicating their predicament and seeking help, the onus is on all of us, the general public as well as the authorities, to identify such lost persons and restore them to their families.”

Mr. Ramakrishnan added that they were planning to sensitise the police and railway authorities about rescuing special children.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 5:02:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/how-to-spot-and-help-a-missing-child-with-disabilities/article30208875.ece

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