Society

Autism awareness through cards

It is important to understand autism and talk about it

It is important to understand autism and talk about it   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

CADRRE — The Autism School launches autism awareness cards to create empathy for those on the spectrum

‘My Child’s Behaviour May Be Disturbing To You. My Child Is Not Spoiled or Misbehaving. MY CHILD HAS AUTISM’. Next time you stare disapprovingly at a child who might be fidgeting or running around in a public space, don’t be taken aback if the child’s parent or guardian smiles at you and hands over a card with those words printed on it. It is the Autism Awareness card launched by city-based Center for Autism and other Disabilities Rehabilitation Research and Education (CADRRE) — The Autism School.

The card was launched on this World Autism Day (April 2) by the centre.

The white-and-blue card with the photograph of a boy and a girl walking in a pool, holding hands, resembles a visiting card. “It is a step towards making people understand what is autism and enabling parents of autistic children to share the information with others. When a parent goes outside with the child who has any kind of disability, people often make them uncomfortable with their looks or comments. That’s not the case in the West or in many parts of the world. So what happens in India or Kerala is that many parents shy away from taking such children outside their homes. Autistic individuals are not very social and when you stop giving them opportunities, you are forcing them to be confined to their home,” says G Vijayaraghavan, technocrat and honorary director of CADRRE.

Autism Awareness card brought out by CADRRE

Autism Awareness card brought out by CADRRE   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The card is to be used as a medium by parents to tell the world about their child and the condition he or she has.

While one side of the card declares that the child is autistic and expresses the parents’ gratitude for empathising with the situation, the other side has a small explainer about significant features of autism: how it is a ‘lifelong biological and neurological disorder’ and the behavioural patterns in autistic individuals, including their struggles with communication, medical issues, aberrant behaviour and sensory concerns.

Changing the mindset

Vijayaraghavan avers that there is nobody better than the parent to bring home that message about autism. “It is always a challenge to make parents admit that their child is autistic. If they don’t accept that, the journey towards the child’s rehab doesn’t start. So, through this card, we are indirectly making the parents come to terms with the reality. And they are doing it with a smile and not by shouting at the onlookers. They expect empathy for the child and not sympathy. We want our parents to be role models,” he says.

Fact file
  • CADRRE was set up in 2017 to reach out to people with autism. Besides individual intervention services and learning programmes, it also gives orientation for families and has assessment clinics.
  • A new centre will start functioning from June at Sasthamangalam as a skill development centre for autistic persons in the age group of 11 to 17.

The inspiration for the same was the card launched by Autism Community in Action (TACA), formerly known as Talk About Curing Autism, an organisation based in the US. It was formed in 2000 by parents of autistic children and now extends support to thousands of families living with autism.

“Autism is a lifelong thing. But you can make an autistic person self-reliant with appropriate life skills,” Vijayaraghavan says.

Those who wish to obtain sample cards can contact CADRRE.

Contact: 9207450001

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 6:48:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/autism-awareness-card-from-cadrre/article26746284.ece

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