Apr 3, 2016

Rally taken out to spread the message on autism among children

The Hindu
April 3, 2016

SPREADING THE MESSAGE:Students and volunteers taking out a World Autism Awareness Day rally in Tiruchi on Saturday organised by Pravaag Transitional Centre and School for Children with Autism.— PHOTO: M. MOORTHY

A well-decorated bus preceded by a live music band helped spread the message of promoting greater social and educational inclusion for autistic children in the city on Saturday.

Organised by Pravaag Transitional Centre and School for Children with Autism, as part of World Autism Awareness Day, the rally was flagged off from Maharishi Vidhya Mandir School of the Hearing Impaired in K.K. Nagar by N. Swaminathan, District Differently Abled Welfare Officer at 9.30 a.m. on Saturday.

“People with autism spectrum disorder are often misunderstood in society,” said Mr. Swaminathan in his inaugural address.

“Regular education, training, and employment are essential to include autistic people in the mainstream,” he added.

Autistic children and their parents were among those aboard the rally bus, festooned with blue and pink balloons, cloth banners and public service messages about the neuro-development disorder as it went around LIC Colony, Mannarpuram, Arabic College, RPF route, and K.K. Nagar terminal before concluding at the Maharishi Vidhya Mandir at around 11.30 a.m.

The event attracted over 200 participants, including student volunteers from M.A.M College of Engineering, Siruganur, Rotary Club of Shakti, and well-wishers.

“The rally is our way of trying to break the stigma attached to autism,” K. Geetha Ramanujam, director, Pravaag, toldThe Hindu .

“We are seeing more cases of children aged below 3 and 5 (being assessed for autism), so more parents know about the importance of early intervention,” she added.

It was pertinent for parents to continue occupational and speech therapy classes to supplement mainstream education, said Ms. Geetha, who has been working with special needs children for 25 years.

This year, 10 students trained by Pravaag’s team of special educators will be placed in mainstream schools.

“We want to cut short all the inequalities because normal children are getting more benefits than autistic pupil in class.

Even though the government stipulates that teachers should be trained to adapt the syllabus for autistic children, not many schools are following it,” said Ms. Geetha. Guest of honour Almut Bruckner from Germany released autism awareness leaflets at the event.

Valli Meenakshi Sundaram, president, Rotary Shakti, gave out stickers with awareness messages.

Run organised

The Child Development Committee of Rotary International District 3000 in association with The Dolphin Special School and Team of Social Service (TOSS) conducted a run in the city on Saturday to raise awareness on autism.

More than 2,000 people participated in it.

The run was flagged off by Sakthivel, Deputy Commissioner of Police, in the presence of Laxmi Praba, NSS Coordinator, Bharathidasan University, and Allirani Balaji, Chairman, Child Development Committee, Rotary International District 3000.


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