It covers every aspect of handling autism
Spreading the word:Volunteers of the ‘I Support Foundation’ at the ‘chai pe charcha’ in BTM Layout, Bengaluru.
Growing up in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, sisters Juhi and Bobby Ramani had to surmount many hurdles with an autistic brother. That was in the late 1990s, when there was a drought in resources and awareness of autism. Today, at 20, Shivam is an autistic adult, and the sisters are IT professionals who used their expertise along with two dozen of their ilk to launch an app called ‘Autism Care’ last November.
On the first anniversary of this free Android app, the sisters are proud of their huge user base.
The app has two aspects. “It offers tips to parents, and the location of all the resources that parents can avail of in Bengaluru,” says Juhi. “It lists information on schools, hospitals, special educators, psychologists, early intervention techniques, child-friendly restaurants, an so on.” All locations have been mapped for convenience. As of now, these resources are only available to those living in Bengaluru. There are plans to expand this to other cities.
“Ours is a fascinating story of two sisters and an autistic brother,” says Juhi, who also runs a school for autistic children in Electronics City, Bengaluru. “Shivam was diagnosed autistic at the age of three. His life inspired us to start the ‘I Support Foundation’ in 2014 to extend our observations and study to other families struck with autism,” she says. Bobby runs an autism school in Lucknow.
From finding a good school that posed a challenge, to the struggles encountered to tackle the day-to-day special needs of Shivam, the growing years helped the sisters learn and note every aspect for handling autism. “From our struggles we decided to do something for other children in the same boat,” says Juhi.
Every weekend, Juhi along with volunteers from the foundation — all of them IT professionals — have a ‘chai pe charcha’ with autistic parents at BTM Layout in Bengaluru. And, while one of the volunteers gently strums a guitar, they talk about all aspects of autism. “This is just to draw people,” says Juhi. The sessions are known to have drawn at least 500 families in the last two years.
October 22, 2016
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