Aiming for holistic development of the differently-abled

Aiming for holistic development of the differently-abled

Aiming for holistic development of the differently-abled.The NGO Swayamkrushi was established at Trimulgherry for the rehabilitation and integration...

The NGO Swayamkrushi was established at Trimulgherry for the rehabilitation and integration of adults with developmental disabilities in 1991. Manjula Kalyaan, who had obtained a masters degree in education on mentally challenged from the University of Pittsburgh in 1980, started the NGO and has been endeavouring to help autistic people for over 35 years.CityTAB caught up with Manjula ahead of World Autism Awareness Day, which is observed on April 2 every year. The first time the day was observed was back in 2008, after it was designated by the United Nations General Assembly.

Swayamkrushi harbours the vision of a society in which the less fortunate persons can live with dignity and pride as productive members of the society. Their mission is to facilitate holistic development of the persons with mental challenges by way of providing equal opportunities, through community based programmes, which will ultimately facilitate in mainstreaming them into the society. On identification of the disability, Manjula says, “Autism can be diagnosed by the presence or absence of certain behaviours, both by history and examination. As noted, a child must exhibit behaviours in four areas. The first area is the way a child develops.

For example in the first year of life a normal child learns to walk, talk and interact with you, so that by the end of the first year you have a ‘little person’ on your hands. An autistic child learns these skills albeit at a slower rate. A child with autism has very inconsistent development. The child may start to develop normally and then seem to stop; may start to talk and stop, may have very good motor skills or be very good in some areas and very poor in others. It is this inconsistency in development that is important for autism diagnosis.”

“All that is required is to enable autistic children to utilise their intellectual potential and capabilities to the fullest. They can be made to contribute to society to the best of their abilities and potential. To consider them as useless citizens of the society is an absolute shame. We must support them and give them a helping hand to make them self-reliant and live with dignity. It is not easy but not impossible to achieve,” Manjula avers.

On treatment, Manjula adds, “What causes autism is not know and so there is no cure. Many interventions are being tried but nothing is proven. The only thing that is found to help in all cases is ail appropriate training program that is very specific to the child’s needs. It is a lifelong condition but with appropriate training the child can progress.”

By Ch Saibaba

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