Enabling the development of professional artists with autism- Sense Kaleidoscope

Children with autism are so variable in their abilities and talents. However, most of them struggle in meeting the demands of the traditional educational system. Some children with autism are luck in the sense that persuasive parents or other people around them mould the system in such a way that becomes supportive of the individual. When this happens, we get talented successful and happy adults with autism.
Unfortunately, in the majority of the cases, this does not happen and subsequently, children shut down and become reclusive, rebel and become challenging in their behaviours or underachieve their potential. In any of these situations, we lose a wonderful talent, a magnificent individual and an asset to the world we are living in.
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Sense Kaleidoscope led by Akshayee Shetty who has an art background and Anima Nair who has techie background, strives to create an environment for children and adults with autism where they can achieve their true potential using art assisted by the right educational technique and technology.
I was so impressed in my visit to the centre in December 2018 by their dedication to this cause, the systematic approach to building an educational process and highly creative use of resources.
Akshayee has done a TEDxBMSCE talk on this work and her ambition. This talk is very informative.
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Sense Kaleidoscope ’s aim is not only to use art as a medium for educating children (which of course they do in a number of creative ways) but also create a sustainable career for the talented artists with autism. They do this by presentation in important events like “art biennale”. There is very little efforts currently in creating a sustainable career for people with autism. A great effort by Akshayee and Anima. Please check out their Facebook page and Instagram.

Steppingstone center

Stepping stone centre believes in the potential of every child and is focused on supporting children with autism and other developmental disabilities in achieving their potential. Myself and Nasser were delighted to meet the Cheif Operating Officer of the steppingstone centre K. Amritha when I was in Bengaluru in December 2018.

Using the framework of Applied Behavioural Analysis (ABA), the centre has teachers, psychologists, occupational therapists and Speech and Language therapists to provide truly multidisciplinary support for the children. There is a strong emphasis on a multidisciplinary approach and collaborating with mainstream facilities in enabling children to achieve their potential.
Introduction to Steppingstone for a child and family start with “Early Intervention Program” which is a 6 weeks program for the child and parents focused on enabling parents with skills in supporting their children and “Individual Education Plan (IEP)” for the child. Steppingstone is focused on creating a clear pathway for the children both within the organisation as well as with their partner organisations.
They have also developed a strong academic link with Binghampton University in New York and Christ University in Bengaluru for development of training programmes and research which has to be congratulated.

Please find more information on their web site.

http://steppingstonescenter.in/

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Pet therapy for children with autism

Interacting with pet animals will be helpful for children with autism. There have been a number of examples of children benefitting from interacting with animals. Dogs and horses are the pet animals commonly used for this purpose.
Studies on the effect of pet therapy on children with autism show generally a positive effect.
Parents must, however, consider sensitivities of their child before considering if a pet therapy would be helpful or not. It is also better not to expect any dramatic improvement in their autism with pet therapy alone.
There are not many places in Bangalore which offer pet therapy as an option for children with autism.
The Paws and Hooves project is an excellent initiative by a group of people of people who are passionate about the potential of pet therapy led by Subhadra Cherukuri who have extensive experience starting from her childhood in working with animals and Rachel Issac who is a physiotherapist. They are innovative and passionate about the potential for pet therapy in children with developmental and other problems.  Please see below brief information and details of their own web site. Pictures provided here are supplied by “The Paws and Hooves Project”
The Paws and Hooves project from Wag-ville is an integrated multi-disciplinary animal-assisted therapy center in Bangalore which provides Equine Assisted Therapy (Hippotherapy or Horse-assisted therapy) and Canine assisted Therapy (dog-assisted therapy) through a team of certified Animal Assisted Therapy practitioners, consulting physiotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and neurologists.
Links to their websites for more information
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Importance of Hope

Writing this on a Xmas day (2017) which symbolises the universal hope. Having a child with autism has its ups and downs. It is easy when everything seems difficult or impossible for one to feel so beaten and loose hope.

I have seen a couple who brought up two children with autism and admired their resourcefulness. I asked them “How did you manage to pull through those difficult times?”

Their answer was simple yet most important. Finding hope in even the difficult time by focusing on a small ray of sunshine – a smile that the little Ines had, a small skill that they have recently acquired or something that they have done (even if a small activity) which parents thought that they would never do). They counted on these small things to build up their hope. When I saw them both parents were very elderly having managed to get the two children in to a good supported living place where they have lots of independence, opportunity to work, mix with people but all in a supported and protected environment.

Hope makes what is seemingly impossible possible. Don’t give up that. That is what makes or breaks. Hope comes from faith ( in whatever you believe in), focusing on positive even small positive and supporting each other to do that.

Have a merry Xmas and a happy new year 2018.

Satheesh

Resources for supporting Gifted children with autism 

Gifted children with Asperger’s syndrome: this article is very useful in identifying and responding to gifted children with Asperger’s syndrome.

GBeing gifted and have a special educational needs: an article exploring the needs of children who are gifted and talented while having special educational needs at the same time.

Paradox of giftedness and autism: information for families from the University of Iowa.

Paradox of giftedness and autism: information for professionals from the University of Iowa.

Advocating for your gifted child with autism: This is a very useful,information for understanding how the child could be supported.

Helping Gifted Children with Autistic Spectrum Conditions Succeed.

Twice Exceptional Doesn’t Have To Be Twice as Hard: Experience of a mother and her gifted daughter.

Myths about gifted children busted

Swanand foundation – nurturing gifted children, a pune based organisation providing information and support to gifted children. This organisation is not specific to children with autism though.

Mind Springs – An organisation started by Usha Pandit, a renowned educationalist. This organisation is Mumbai based.

Autism News

Autism News

A site that gives News update on autism.

Autism and beyond: the duke institute launches an app that could potentially make smart phones capable being used for diagnosing autism. It is currently available on apple app centre as part of the research in establishing the validity of the technology. It is not at a stage it could be used for diagnosis though. 

Story of  an Indian mother’s journey for her son with autism: this story I believe is one of the many examples of struggles that families have to go through but at the same a ray of hope. 

Parent led  autism therapy: A therapy for children with autism adapted so that it can be delivered by parents of children with autism was tried in India (Goa) and Pakistan by a group of researchers from University of Manchester. Prof. Jonathan Green is the lead researcher. This is the way to go.