Sunday, December 27, 2009

Art Based Therapy

Early education as put by Rabindranath Tagore should involve two main elements fun and joy. This education should comprise the use of all the five senses and not rote memorizing. In the natural order of learning, children are expected to learn through play where various domains including social, physical, intellectual, creative and emotional aspects are taken care of. That is where I think ABT or art based therapy steps in as it gives the child the freedom to do what he likes. It channelizes their creative energy. It is all about participation, parallel talking and fun. Ramam looks forward to his ABT sessions. In my opinion, in an academic session the child is merely taking instructions, while ABT lets the child participate. A little bit of circle time, dancing, painting gives the child a release from the monotony.  One of the most effective uses of art therapy is the many ways it can be used for children with special needs ranging from sensory disorder to autism to physical disabilities. Art Therapy is beneficial for Children with Limited Vocal Communication, with Sensory Disorders, mentally challenged. Simple endeavors like finger painting, playing with dough, shaving cream, flowers, coloured sooji, little bit of carpentery, collages all of these help our children .In India, WCCLF provides a certificate course that teaches them both theoretical and practical approaches to working with kids and provide  them with therapeutical help.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Auditory Integration Therapy

The aim of AIT is to help certain specific hearing problems, such as distortions, lack of selectivity, painful hearing, delay in response time, peaks of hypersensitive hearing, etc. AIT involves having subjects listen to electronically modified music through headphones. Each child participates in two half hour sessions per day, for 10 consecutive days. Follow ups were conductd three and six months after the therapy. The theories as to how AIT works, can be explained  a reduction in auditory peaks, a reduction in sound sensitivity, and an increase in attention as well as postulating changes in the middle ear, inner ear, brainstem, and mid-brain. Post treatment it has been reported that AIT has helped some children calm down, have better eye contact and social skills. The treatment has to last for 10days and this is mandatory. AIT does not guarantee improvement in patient undergoing treatment. Younger children in the age bracket 3-4 years are known to benefit more than a 10 yr old child. For some  a one time sitting of 10 days with sessions of 20 minutes through the day has helped, while some need more sittings after a couple of years.
                        Another school of thought opposing AIT is that it is merely a money making proposition. An intensive training based approach that is provided over a period of time consistently shall only deliver results. For example, an autistic child has to be trained to respond to his/ her name, subjecting the child to music cannot equip the child to react to situation.

Job Opportunities For Autistics

There is a growing number of opportunities for adult autistics to seek employment. Sounds like music to one's ears.Some of the opportunities in Bangalore are
NITHYA SAADHANA: The contact person is
Mrs. Hema Nataraj,
No.315,7th main, Vijayanagar, Bangalore-40
080-40907028,9663397673.
hema_n1957@yahoo.co.in.
The target trade/industries under consideration are
Electronic assembly/repair
Handicrafts
Administration
Data processing
The target trainees include young adults with down's syndrome,border line MR,high functioning adult autistics in the age group 15-25.
Area of work would be wire bunching and crimping, PCB stuffing,  Component formation.The training period would be anywhere between 6-9 months and the select ones with necessary skill set shall be further trained to be a trainer under the "Train the turner" program.
AMBA: They work in tandem with schools and institutions that are already involved in the field of special education.Two teachers and two students are trained from one institituion. It is a year long program.They are taught data entry. After a year the trained adult is on his own. ASHA , run by Jaishree Ramesh, is one of the institutions where the adults in the vocational department are receiving training.
UNNATI : They can be contacted at
Unnati SGBS  trus,Unnati centre, Temple road, NGEF layout, Sadanand nagar, Bangalore-38.The phone numbers are 080-25340443/25348642. 
The objective of Unnati is to make  socially under privileged youth "job-ready" and ensure placements. They are now taking in a small percentage of adults with special needs.Vocations under consideration carpentry, plumbing, electrical for specific industry requirements and computer hardware.The program is free,including food and boarding for outstation candidates.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pet therapy

We have been very keen to try pet therapy out, but have failed,  having the courage to do so on number of occasions. The deterrents being  the lack of experience, space constraints, additional work load..... These are some of the common excuses, that we give. It has been established beyond doubt, that  animal therapy for autistic children provides the children with companionship, improves their socialization skills, reduces their tantrum levels and stereotypical behaviors, increases their verbal communication....Companionship is a major issue with our kids, so finding somebody accepting of them is very important. This is very true, in the sense many a times when Ramam is on his own,  I wish there was somebody to keep him company. At the least he could play and throw and catch. Autistic kids are known to take on maternal instincts when looking after a pet, feeding them, brushing them. Hopefully, it is only a matter of time before we have a pet.
                                       Ramam has an instant liking for dogs. Having been in the army, many of my husband's colleagues have had labs,German shepherds and a pug also. As one of my husband's colleague puts it his dog is the first one to welcome him home when he gets back after work.Some of these dogs are friendly. When choosing a dog for therapy the following is to be kept in mind.
The dog has to be friendly one and not a calm one. As a calm one may give  a sense of rejection to the child.It has to be social.
The dog has to be polite in the sense that the first move maybe made by the child. The dog is not to be thrusted upon the child.

The dog can be of any breed ,but essentially should have a temperament suitable for the job.
                 Some  pets can be trained to become therapy dogs. If you are interested in pet therapy, Ganesh would be happy to volunteer more information. His e-mail id is  gun4ce@gmail.com.  Also refer his post in this blog on pet therapy , where the readers are invited to share their experiences.


An oppurtunity to Play video games

 It has been a desire for a long time of giving our autistic son something to keep him occupied. I have tried computer games. I could get him to use the mouse and also keyboard to some extent. He also loved the Zac Browser to browse the net. There remain some challenges here. He tends to mis handle the CDs / DVDs reducing their life span. He also tends to be repetitive, in that he will play the same level or same game over and over. Their are some CDs he has not let go for 7 years !! The music in them or certain animations give him some kind of excitement and he loves to repeat the same.  I have always wanted him to play some video games. Somehow he does not correlate the use of the arrow keys with the movement of the object on the screen. If only their could be a more intuitive input device. My previous post on the sixth sense technology was on visual clues. That will take a while to hit the markets. So when I heard of Wii by Nintendo, I was excited. The other day we went out to Reliance Time out and could see one working. My initial gut feel; it will work. It will need some amount of training him and insisting him to stay. But if we can achieve that, he will have a whole new world of entertainment and exercises too. 


Ok for those who are not familiar with Wii here are a few lines. Its a suite of video games that are controlled not by the typical mouse pads or controllers that come with play station etc but by wireless controllers. The player actually moves the controller in the way he would actually play a game. For instance, throwing a ball in bowling or hitting a tennis ball. So here the player will have to hold the controller, stand few steps away from the screen, and move his arms as though he was throwing the real thing. Same with tennis. One has to swing the hand in a forehand or backhand motion, based on the movement of the ball on the screen. More intuitive and will also exercise the body. No more sitting on a couch for ever. There is also a WII fit plus, an extension that lets u play with the intention of exercising. Includes routines like yoga etc. It also monitors your weight and exercise routine. ( There is a wireless balancing pad on which you need to stand to weigh or exercise) 




My initial apprehensions. The controller is like a TV remote. Could they have put smaller batteries or made more tinier controllers, each for a different game. Hence you could tie it to wrist, rather than hold it in the hand. Especially if you are pretending to hit a ball, there is a great likelihood that a child with special needs will release the grip on the controller. Though they are giving an arm band to tie it to the hand, it may not be too easy. I tried making him play at the outlet, he did try .. so lets see. Anyway, I have decided to get him one. Then I will be forced to make the investment pay and get him to use it !! It is the best that I have found for a long time. It also has titles like WII music which may make him interested. 




Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Montessori schools /Activity centre in Bangalore.

This is a list of schools,  part of the  data bank we made before moving to Bangalore.  I do not much about the schools in the sense I have not visited them. Should any of you visit these centers’ /schools please give us  your feed back as other readers would also benefit.The list comprises of mainstream schhols supporting inclusive education and also activity centres offering various therapies. I shall keep updating this list as I get more inputs.

Integrated montessori "Around the Child”based at Vijayanagar.
Sanjeevani Montessori Jai Bharat nagar, the contact person is Kalyani Ganapathy 9886396693. 
Premji Occupational therapy centre (Sumitra - 9980155414).
 ABA  Suruchi Sancheti (9980135754).

Winds o' Change run by Manjit Kochar. Her contact numbers are +91 80 41150897
Mobile: +91 98456 99451.
Sai Foundation , Hal second stage, near National Public school. This is a Montessori set up and the name of the principal is MS,Sharmila..
Head start ,  Kormangala .
Centre for child development and disabilities ,  unit of the Sackhumvit trust. The contact numbers are 23342035 / 23347794 / 41205034. You can look them up at www.ccdd.in .
Sudharshan Vidya Mandir  (Ph no - 22459835) is a mainstream school.
Kara School at HSR layout, Bangalore. Contact person is Ms.Catherine Rustum Mob: 9880414141.They have an integrated setup.
Orkids the multidisciplinary clinic.  This place is run by Shoba sriram and the contact number is 09886563939.
 Manohar vidya sadan , 325, 1st Main, Cambridge Layout, Bangalore – 560 008   Tel. 5559115,  5452817. 
Bouyancee,activity centre.  The contact person is Ajit,  09886060363.
GITANJALI MONTESSORI,  CASA DE BAMBINO, both these schools are in  Indiranagar.
SANTRAN phone-9731985829/ 9741588300. 
 You can get more information on schools in Bangalore, from my earlier post  Bangalore experience

Monday, December 7, 2009

IRC Autism Awareness Walk.




This was a Sunday with a difference. We,  along with other parents were on a mission to pledge our support for the cause of autism.  On Sundays, we are generally twiddling our thumbs wondering what to do.  6th December was a Sunday well spent.  The highlights of the walk include
·         Flagging of the walk and release of the IRC  calendar by the governor of Karnataka.
·         Panel discussion by parents on various issues concerning autism.
·         An announcement by Mrs. Hema Nataraj, an experienced special educator and a parent at that, of the establishment of NITHYA SADHANA, a vocational initiative to provide young adults with Down syndrome, mild MR, and high functioning autistics an opportunity to work . This was extremely well received with a thunderous round of applause.
Membership forms for a nominal amount of Rs.100 were also distributed for  membership to autism society of India which is managed by the IRC

I also took this opportunity to spread the message of GFCF and distributed sample cookies.  My day was made when one of the fathers told me said that his son enjoyed the cookies and will try out the recipe.There on the top  left corner you have the guest of honor, brooding over the state of affairs. :). For more information on irc go to IRC




Punugula

This is a snack that is really crunchy, mouth watering and easy to make.

Dosa batter 1 cup
Jeera/cumin seeds 1 tbsp
GFCF sooji 4 tbsp
Soda 1/4 tsp
Salt as per taste
Oil to deep fry
Take thick dosa batter add jeera,  sooji, salt and soda. Take the batter, make  small rounds by hand and deep fry in oil. One can have it with chutney . It is delicious  in  itself.  It is another story that,  I am yet to learn how to pronounce it. Also check my other GFCF snacks at GFCF snacks.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Income Tax Benefits in India

There are various sections in the IT Act that provide deductions ranging from Rs 50000 to Rs 75000 under section 80DD. It requires a disability certificate to claim. I found this site which covers various forms and the benefits. I encourage you to read it. There are lot of queries raised and answered lucidly. Please see Income Tax benefits for Autism.

Insurance for persons with Autism : India

The Govt of India has an insurance scheme aimed to  improve the lives of persons with Autism and other disabilities.  Niramaya is a health Insurance scheme for the welfare of persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation.and Multiple Disabilities. My understanding is it provides a cover of Rs 1 Lakh and the annual premium is in the range of Rs 100 or so. For persons below poverty line the premium is to be subsidized by the state/central govt. It is launched selectively only covering about 10 districts and will be monitored by the .National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation & Multiple Disabilities, a Statutory Body under the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Govt. of India. Currently I dont think its available across the country. 
The scheme provides health cover, but I wonder for Autism, you need to give various therapies and with no clear approved line of medication / therapy. How can any hospital provide all that is needed? It would probably only help with other routine ailments / diseases which need medication, hospitalization etc. Nevertheless a good beginning. 
Any way for those interested here is a link for more details
Niramaya Insurance Scheme 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Autism awareness walk

The countdown begins, with 7 days to go for the autism awareness walk organised by the IRC.The event will be flagged off by the governor of karnataka, and will culminate at the planetarium.Please pledge your support to the cause of autism and the thousands of families whose lives have been changed for ever by autism. Make your presence felt on the 6th of December.For more information contact autismirc@gmail.co. The telephone number is 41203426. There are whole lot of activities planned for the day with lots of people voicing their concern over various issues dealing with autism.

Schedule Board

Found this 'Today' board on Amazon. Looks good to help the child in selecting the details such as day of the week, weather, month, year etc. Good way to get started on a day and would also aid in the learning of Time concepts. We use a schedule board which outlines the daily activities and I must say it greatly reduces anxiety levels. I guess like all of us, he is better prepared on what to expect. Some days he however fusses at the chart, indicating his unhappiness over a particular aspect of the schedule. We then explain why he needs to go ahead with it and in cases of stiff resistance we try and take it off from the schedule and replace with something else. A Today chart along side may be beneficial.
The small size of the cards will need to be taken care of else I am sure they will disappear quickly. Nevertheless, it should add great value.

Friday, November 27, 2009

lunch box ideas

When I started on the GFCF diet, this was one of my favourite google searches.I have always been worried as to what to send with him. One, Ramam had never carried any packed lunch.So to getting him started was tricky and I was never sure what could I send with him for a) it had to be filling b) something tangy as that is what he likes c) something that is easy to eat and carry, d) nutritious. So now, I have settled down to this standardised menu. Mondays -lemon rice, tuesday -tomato rice, wednesday-coconut sevai, thursday-onion-carrot rice, friday -it's rasam and a vegetable with plain rice. The vegetable is a bindhi fry,or an aloo preparation. I add groundnuts, cashews, chanadal liberally to these to make it crunchy. Sometimes,I thrown in a papad/ a packet of chips along with his lunch.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Eggless Date cake

I have taken the vegan version from madhuram's eggless cooking.This one is for you Gina.I have tried egg replacers but it has not worked for me.Maybe I have yet to figure it out. Like when the recipe calls for 1 egg, then 1 tablespoon of egg substitute in warm water may work as well. Here the egg is just a binding agent. Recently,a recipe I read called for liquid egg replacer.I don't even know where to start looking for one. This receipe is as follows
1 cup orgran all purpose flour
1/2 cup oil
1tsp baking soda
18 dates
3/4th cup soymilk
3/4th cup sugar
1tbsp nuts
microwave the seedless dates in soymilk for 1-2 minuteds and grind it.Add sugar and grind it to a paste Add 1 tbsp of the flour-baking soda mix to the date paste at a time and gradually mix.Add the nuts and mix. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes.The cake turns out to be nice and moist.

Ragi idlis and dosas

Ragi is supposedly one of the easily digestible least allergenic grains available. It is a good source of proteins, calcium and iron. It is one of the reasons it is given to babies in a porridge form. It also has a cooling effect on the body. The good news is, it has laxative properties too.This morning Ramam pushed me harder to think RAGI, RAGI, RAGI. The deterrent with ragi is the colour, especially when you have had crisp brown dosas and white fluffy idlis. It is contraindicated in people with urinary calculi. The recipes are as follows
Idlis
Ragi (finger millet)-1 1/4 cup
urad dal(black lentil) ¼ cup
salt
oil
I have used whole urad dal. Soak urad dal in water for 2-3 hrs, ragi 15-20 min before mixing. The urad dal should be ground fine.Mix both the ragi and urud batter. Leave the batter overnight for fermentation. Make it in the same way as the regular idlis. They come out nice and soft.
Dosas
The same batter comes out well for dosa. It tasted the same as the one I had tried at a MTR outlet, even If I may say so myself. Another method suggested to me was to mix a handful of ragi in a portion of regular dosa batter in appropriate proportion. Add finely chopped onion and cilantro to it

Friday, November 20, 2009

Information and resource centre, Bangalore

Any discussion on the resources of BAngalore for autism would be incomplete without the mention of irc.The contact person is Vani Nagaraj.I have spoken to her once or twice when we moved to Bangalore.She was very helpful.Given your location they are able to advise you on the choice of schools/therapists.Contact them at
INFORMATION & RESOURCE CENTRE FOR
Autism And Other developmental Disabilities
#9, 1st cross, shankarapuram, Bangalore 560004
Contact Person: Vani nagaraj
Phone: +91-80-41203426
E-mail: autismirc@gmail.com
They offer numerous services. One of them is the training of caregivers called the SAHYOGI.It recently concluded the second batch of care givers.The caregivers are not therapist but are trained to handle an autistic child.This is something on the lines Merry Barua had done at AFA 6-7 yrs back. I do not if they still continue with this program.The irc has also provided some useful links on their website.

The magic of Kalangana

The information and resource centre (irc) and the rotary Bangalore west recently organized the program –Kalangana-2009 the art, music and dance festival for children with autism and other developmental disabilities on the 9th of November. The first Kalangana event was held in 2007. This year it was organized at the sri vidya vihara auditorium at Shankarapuram. The event drew 500 participants this year as compared to the meager 150 last year. One of the organizers Sumathi Ramjee, was telling me that there is something magical about the whole event. The children are so well behaved that it is hard to believe. Not a single child screams, shouts, no child runs around, it is incredible. It is the same story every year. Children about to the age of 18 are allowed to participate and win prizes. Those above 18 can participate but are not judged. The program includes drawing competition, solo and group dance competitions, solo and group music competitions ( both singing and instrumental).Here is a link to some of the photos of the event.As they say pictures speak better than a 1000 words
http://picasaweb.google.com/ragneyi/Kalaangana_day_03_10thNov09?feat=directlink#
http://picasaweb.google.com/ragneyi/Kalaangana_day0209112009?feat=directlink#

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Zero-G

This is a gluten free brand. I have just procured 1/2 kg sooji from them. Yet to try it out.It claims to be gluten,dairy, egg,yeast,sugar free......It is processed from whole sorghum grain.It is a New Zealand company but the product is manufactured in New Delhi.They have other products too, but thought will try to make upama with it and see how it will come out

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Amaranth flour

Amaranth atta,( Rajgirah atta ) is something I have not used recently. It is one of the lesser talked about wheat substitutes. A reading of the nutritional values of this flour has made me rethink the value add it can do to baking. Once I had substituted gluten free oats with this atta in one of the recipes. It is an excellent source of high quality plant protein. It has more protein content than wheat. It has more iron, magnesium, and calcium content in comparison to other gluten free grains.It has a high fibre content too. It maybe used in a proportion of up to 25% in a gluten free blend.When used alone the baked goods can be very dense as it absorbs a lot of water.

Socializing with a gfcf menu

Socializing with a GFCF menu can be tough. These are some steps one can take to reduce the hardships involved.
Inform the host of the diet and there are can be one or two items that are GFCF. A fruit salad for dessert is a healthy option.
Carry your own food, one main dish that is the child’s favorite which can be had with rice or is a meal in itself.
Thirdly feed the child before you leave and inform the host that we shall be coming in a little late.
We have tried all these alternatives and it has worked out for us. At the end of it one would like to take the child only where a) he would be comfortable b) one can take the liberty of telling the host the options before you.
One host had made chicken preparations without curds, jaljeera for his drink, and some dal based crispies, for snacks. She had exclusively set aside some moongdal halwa made with oil for him. Wow! And we were really touched. Nobody minded the below fare either as they were not missing anything. There is no better way of saying we care!
If I were to set a menu, I stick to real active fruit juices or the freshly made ones, potato chips, sabudana vada, gfcf chicken tikkas, dal vadas, besan fritters, cocktail uthappams with toppings, fried nuts, sometimes groundnuts with finely chopped onions and tomatoes, smileys. And of course the main menu with rice,rajma… Once I served my guests banana sorbet and that is something that doesn’t really go down well with everybody, but they were game to it. So much so for GFCF dining!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Augmentative communication

When I started out with PECS ,my mother was very apprehensive that it could impair his speech development.So are may people. My mother had her rationale to it.She felt if one makes it very easy to demand things with picture cards, why should he bother to talk?We have been assured over and over again by therapists whenever we use any aided communication,either verbal behaviour/ PECS, it doesn't stop him from talking. When you give a picture card for water,you stress on the word every time he demands for water.There are no substitutes for talking but these are crutches in some sense,it lowers the child's frustration and gives him an opportunity to communicate.

Who,what why.when questions

Yesterday when I had been to Oddessey,I saw Creatives (they make educational board games)had come out with a set of who,what,when,why set of questions .In a set of 27 flash cards under each topic and packaged separately I felt this could be another useful tool. For example,under the topic ,why, there were such questions such as why do we water plants.... They also have sets for sentence construction in 2 parts, a basic and an advanced. I went looking for these and found the questions set.

The minorities

There was a painting competition organized by the society for children’s day. As I registered Ramam’s name and added he is a special child, the organizer was caught a little off guard, as they had not catered for this requirement. I then told the only purpose is to get him to participate. Anyway both the kids enjoyed the event and had a good time. The event made me think we are with the minorities for a change.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Massager

A massager can be a good buy depending on the child’s requirements. With Ramam we find it an effective way to keep him occupied for 15-20 minutes. He enjoys massage and sits quietly thru it. It is also a good time to talk to him as he is also listening to you at the same time.

Karadi tales


The videos of karadi tales on the you tube are eminently watchable. One can also buy the CD’S along with the books. In voices of Naseeruddin Shah, Saeed Jaffrey,Sunjay Dutt, Vidya balan, these stories are presented very well. These are good fillers, especially when you don’t want to do 1-1 activities with the child.This is one of the videos we watched.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwzefwjiP2k&feature=SeriesPlayList&p=47B7DD1EA34527F7

Weather –Clothing chart

A weather chart is a good tool for an autistic child especially when the child has sensory issues with clothing. Keeping in mind the prevailing weather condition one can draw a circular chart with the appropriate pictures for the weather conditions and the clothing that goes with it. Broadly divide the chart into sunny, cold, rainy, windy, foggy .A needle can be fixed to the centre and the child can be asked to indicate the weather .Another combination could be weather –calendar chart where the child can indicate the weather against the dates.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Store for autism

I have added an amazon store in the blog for autistic children. It has been a great learning experience. There is of course a great range of books, software to choose from . That apart, I was amazed at the range of GFCF products available.The purpose of this store is multifold. One is to generate the kind of interest and awareness of the range and depth of products available. Secondly,one can look for customized, localized versions of the toys and games.The potato head is an interesting toy which I used with Ramam when he was small.Anything and everything is being duplicated now.Thirdly, it gives you ideas as to how to look for tools that will help engage the child constructively,not just puzzles and blocks.It opens up a whole lot of options before you.Fourthly, if you feel I have missed out something that can be a valuable addition to the store, from your personal experience, please share it with the other readers.For example, I have still not added communication aids that are available in the market.I am sure there will be lot to it also.

ASHA academy for autism and severe handicaps

ASHA academy for severe handicaps and autism

Earlier one of my readers had asked me which school Ramam goes to, after reading the post on Bangalore experience.He goes to ASHA. It is located in Basaweshwara nagar and is run by the dynamic Jaishree Ramesh.The teacher to student ratio is excellent. There is a lot of emphasis on visual learning.Written receipes for the cooking classes, use of schedule charts for the daily routines, social stories.The children are also taken on home visits and a monthly picnic.Two months back,they had been to the turf club and enjoyed horse riding.They have a yoga techer, speech therapist, music teacher,art therapist and an occupational therapist on board.The school timings are from 10-4.The special educator in each class is ably supported by the assistant teachers. IEPs with both short and long term goals are made. The school also had its sports meet in October.The school has a parents association.The school infrastructure is good. The schools stood second in the recently concluded Kalangana competition.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Official Google Blog: Project Spectrum: recognizing the talents of children with autism

Official Google Blog: Project Spectrum: recognizing the talents of children with autism

All in a day’s work

This post has nothing to do with autism, but then there is life beyond it too!Just as an individual, I wanted to write this post from my perspective of things. Recently, I was waiting outside for Ramam to finish his therapy session. There was some construction activity going on. There was a 3 yr old girl playing there under the sharp eyes of her mother. Every time she is used to run towards the middle of the road, her mother would catch her and bring her back. The girl attempted to do it 3-4 times that I was waiting there. Having nothing to do I watched this mother –daughter duo intently .The girl was playing with a shovel and filling an empty bag with sand .Every time it was half full, she would go and empty it. You can give her play any name. (Please check my earlier post,learning thru play).I could not but help notice her eye hand coordination, the agility, the dexterity of her movements. She was having so much fun in the most natural way possible. No expensive fischer-price activity boards, safe funskool toys, non toxic food grade, playdough, but, yes this child is also growing up. Hats off to the mother’s tenacity, she has become adept at multitasking. She was sieving the sand, filling cement in a trough, attending to the daughter. People really work hard for a living.

Learning through play

Physical play: This includes playing with blocks, running, jumping, catching, cycling, dancing. All these activities, help in boosting the child’s confidence and health.

Creative play: This helps in expressing their feelings such as painting, molding clay, sewing, cutting.

Exploratory play: Learning through one’s senses, finding things for one self, basically sensory exploration

Imaginative play: Taking characters on to themselves and pretend play

Social Play: Learning socially acceptable behavior, cooperative, parallel play, cooking….

Manipulative play: Use of rattles, activity centres, threading beads, dot to dot .Ramam likes these set of activities.

Communication –aids

Looking at augmentative and alternative modes of communication for our children, I saw an exhibit recently. It mentions two forms: the unaided and aided forms of communication. The unaided modes include gestures, pointing, eye pointing, makaton and Indian sign system. Having done verbal behaviour for Ramam briefly in Delhi, I was familiar with Makaton. The Indian sign system is of course indianised with signs for dal, mithai……. The makaton as I was told uses a single hand while the Indian system uses both hands to sign for something. The aided forms of communication include the alphabet charts, pointer boards, where the pointer can be attached to the head or wrist based on the child’s level of difficulty and computer aids.

Bangalore book fest

On a Sunday morning with time weighing heavily on our hands, skies overcast we are undecided as to how to spend the day. We decided to go for the book fest and it turned out to be a wonderful decision. Both the kids had a good time. Ramam flipped thru the pages in the book stalls, watched the video CDS’, taking his pick of the CD’s. There is a huge collection of books ranging from activities to stories. Name it and it is there. There is a standard 10% discount. We picked up a collection of the DK series, some story books. There is a stall by the Chandrasekhar institute of hearing as well. The National book trust has a stall. Some of the story books here are very good for picture description activities. There are some food stalls too, to complete the Sunday outing. I think it is open from the 6th-13th of November.

Dr.S.R. Chandra sekhar institute for speech and hearing

Located in Kariyanapalya, this institiute has been a great find. It boasts of an excellent reputation and lives up to one’s expectations. After the initial assessments are done, the psychologist decides on the therapies required by the child. The sessions are conducted by students doing the bachelor/masters program under the supervision of the staff. The interns from this institute work at various centers including schools and hospitals. They are very professional and the sessions are monitored by the staff thru a close circuit TV, and discussions with the therapist. They offer OT, behavioural intervention, and speech therapy. One pays upfront for 5 sessions, the fees are a nominal Rs 100 for a 45 min session.One can choose the time and number of visits. They work in two shifts 8.30-3.30 and 11-00-7.00. Foremost they understand autism and Dr. Pratibha Karant of comm.-deall is one of the members on the board. Again there is a unit of comm-deall functioning from here. This unit of comm.-deall also takes children only up to the age of six. The disadvantage so as to speak of is that the therapist working with the child changes every six months when the graduates pass out of the institute. Their number is 080-25470037/080-25460405.

Monday, October 26, 2009

'Mis'placed emotions

Very recently Ramam painted our wall orange with his crayons! I was delighted. He had never done it for the last 9 years. Although a very inappropriate thing for him to do I was happy for some reason. I did give him solid advice,paper is for colouring blah blah.......Another mother was overjoyed when her son in PUC bunked classes and went for a movie and did not inform her.She came to know of it 10 days later. Yet another mother pulled up her son for not consistently performing well in his exams. The boy answered back "Do you cook well everyday".The mother said it was a revelation to her.These words coming from our children somehow make it endearing. Like one mother told me they are not just honest but brutally honest..These small anecdotes give us some reason to smile about.

Best cookies so far...

These are the best cookies I have baked so far.Absolutely delicious.

walnut cookies
2 cups all purpose flour.
1 cup sugar.
1 cup home made ghee.
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder.
1/2 cup walnuts.
1/2 cup almonds.
est of one orange.
1 egg.
1/2 tsp salt.
Coarsely powder the nuts leaving a few big pieces for better results.Beat togethe sugar and ghee.Add baking powder,flour,orange zest,egg,salt and mi well.Make small balls of dough. Bake at 375F for 10 min.Leave enough spacing between two balls od dough a they almost double in volume. The original recipe can be found in Aayi's receipes .com

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kesari

I tried making kesari for Navarathri with sunira foods sooji. It did come out ok. Another option which I am yet to try out a mix of this sooji and raagi to make upama.I did read a recipe of this raagi-rawa upama some where.Plain raagi upama is not very interesting.

To medicate or not

This is a major issue we all face as parents when handling a child with autism. From ayurveda to siddha, to homeopathy and even allopathy, we have tried some of these medications at some point of time.As with homeopaths we are expected to follow the doc's instructions in blind faith as most of them do not give prescriptions. Ayurveda and siddha seem safer options although one does hear of complaints of high heavy metal content in ayurvedic medicines.Recently a mother of an adolescent took her son for a review to a psychiatrist. He was on a minimum dose of the medicine for poor sleeping patterns, and aggresive behaviour.After a period of time the medicine 's effect had tapered off and her son's sleeping pattern had again began to waver.The psychiatrist offered to increase the dosage, which the mother didn't want to go in for. When we go with a persistent problem to the doctor, he is also left with little alternative, either to change the dosage or medication.In some cases when the child has seizures the parents are left with no alternative but to medicate. It is even a more difficult decision to make when some of the doctors have excellent reputation their fields. I have personally gone to some doctors to check them out in the hope maybe some thing might work wonders for Ramam.When deciding to medictae a child some general guide lines to be borne in mind are
It is an approved drug.
The parents are aware of the side effects if any
Closely monitor any behavioral patterns
Any allergies to any prescribed drugs
Maintain a record of medicines the child may have had in the past. There is also a tool the charm tracker https://charmtracker.com/ that helps you maintain a track of all the activities one does with their children.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

New blog

Technology plays a major role in the lives of our kids.More on this on my husband's blog http://techaids4autism.blogspot.com/.Wishing all readers a very happy festive season.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lost to win

Recently there was a PTA meeting at Ramam's school and as it coincided with the Teacher's day, there was a cultural program to liven up the proceedings. One of the students an autistic girl performed a solo admirably well to the song Mukund, mukunda. Everybody applauded and as the girl came and sat next to her mother, she asked the child did you forget a particular step.I thought the mother should have appreciated her performance rather than pointing out a fault that had otherwise gone unnoticed.In a span of few days, there was the sports meet and our hero was one of the partcipants in the sac race.To start with he was at a little disadvantage as he had a smaller sac.He took off to a flying start but lost hold of the sac ends midway.He fumbled but picked up the ends and continued the race to the finishline.Everybody appreciated his efforts at not giving up, and suggested a consolation prize.But the first thing I did was to ask him why did he let go of the sac.Later I felt small, at having said that. But maybe it was the disappointment of coming close to winning and loosing it that made it painful.As mothers we both did the same thing albeit in diferent situations.We probably take the victories and loses a little too personally. Three cheers to my champion Ramam for having completed the race.he also won a second prize in another event.

Friday, September 4, 2009

A dream therapist

A dream therapist

The struggle against autism can never be complete without its share of therapists. Good, bad, ugly and some plain rotten. You can’t escape them. Over the years I can pride myself that I can smell a good therapist when I meet one. This again is a spectrum. Some trying to cash in on the problem, some genuine ones and then those that are the in -betweens. Rs.500 for a home visit is no less. I knew a therapist who took no less than 5 calls in a 45 minute session. She had given Ram am a paper and pen to make holes. Then there was one who lectured me for 8 sessions on the evolution of speech in human civilization. Yes, she was a speech therapist. What does then one begin to expect in a dream therapist

* Bonding with the child, this will take few sessions.

* Unobtrusive yet effective, you don’t want the therapist holding the child’s face and forcing him into looking into her eyes.

* Being able to hold the child’s interest.

* Having an element of surprise, it is not about being unstructured. I look forward to his art therapist sessions where she has something new every time, sometimes it colored sooji, flowers, maida dough……An element of unpredictability in an structured environment.

* Plans for the sessions beforehand. Has a backup plan if an idea refuses to hold the child’s interest at least in the early years of working. Starts and ends with a particular activity to mark the beginning and closure of the session.

* Encourages the child with appropriate praises, rein forcers.

* Loads of energy and patience.

* Physical punishment is a strict no-no.

* Avoids saying negative remarks about the child.

* Avoids cancelling appointments at the last minute.

These are the few random thought that came to my mind. My husband adds, and does not charge exorbitant fees!!!!!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reel and real

For those of you who have seen Hrithik Roshan’ s Koi mil gaya there is a scene in which preity zinta’s mother offers him tea/coffee. He proudly states that he has had bournvita (yes, of course he is also endorsing the brand).Recently I had a friend of mine over, at my place. That is how he addresses me, and at that he is a very “special” friend of mine. I asked him what he would have to drink. He stated he just had milk. And at that instant of time this scene flashed across my mind, maybe the script directors borrow from real life. This friend of mine can comfortably have a conversation; go on his own independently from his place to mine. He is a gentle man to the tee. As my husband remarked, if Ramam reaches anywhere close to him when he grows up we should be very happy.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Life ...


I decided to hang up my uniform and relocate to Bangalore. This should provide stability to Ramam's life which otherwise is subjected to continuous transfers. While they are getting adjusted to their new life, I thought i should chip in and add a few lines to the blog. A picture is better than a thousand words they say. And so .. thats it .. the journey of Mom and her son, student, companion, life :-)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My Best friend

This is about my little daughter Isha. The dynamics of our mother daughter relationship is changing all too fast. The other night she had gone to sleep and she woke up just to keep me company for dinner. I caught her reprimanding the maid for sweeping away Ramam’s line ups. She howled at another lady for shouting at Ramam. But that is where she draws the line. Her Barbies are strictly hers, amma is hers, and appa is Ramam’s. We talk about change affecting our kids, but I saw my daughter coping bravely with it. She was trying to get friendly with a gang of girls in the society we had moved in. She came back complaining that they were not sharing their toys with her. Then she turned around and “ordered” me to get her new toy. She immediately rushed back to her new friends and did a PR exercise that would have put marketing gurus to shame. She is fast becoming my best friend. She is very understanding of his problem and introduces him to her teachers and friends alike. She is the only friend Rama has so as to speak.

Understanding Ramam

The other day we were driving through one of the flyovers in Bengaluru when Ramam pointed to a poster of the film New York. I asked him if he liked the songs of New York. The next day again I elaborated that there is katrina, John Abhraham in the movie. The third day I just nodded acknowledgement. The fourth day something told me to look closer and I saw there was a small Ganesh under a tree beneath the poster. When I told him this, his face lit up with a big smile. This is what he had been trying to tell me from the day one. I felt a little ashamed. I was also happy he was trying to strike a conversation about something. This happened again one other time when we were driving past vidhan soudha and I pointed it to one of our guest. As the car took a u turn and came on the other side of the building he pointed it out to me and said vidhan. On another occasion, he wanted a particular spoon, to drop and play with it as he was enjoying the clatter it made. He typed out Spoon for soup. Then I told him there is no soup, and again he insisted on the spoon. Then I realized what he was trying to say I want soup spoon. Similarly when he brings the same story book to read again and again it is just for company sake. He is at a stage, where he is desperately trying to engage himself and not knowing how to do it.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Skills to be learnt

1.       These were some of the messages that I took back home with me when I attended a workshop on adolescent issues. Some of the skills mentioned included typing, use of simple tools such as the nail cutter, stapler, messaging on the mobile, using the computer…….

2.       Independent functioning skills such as self help skills, cooking. When teaching the child to bathe insist on him cleaning his arm pits and private parts, as these add to general hygiene.

3.       Learning to use a public toilet all by themselves and be able to follow the different toilet signs. I had a very personal experience of this at NIMHANS  in Bangalore, when a mother with her grown up son walked into the ladies toilet and there was lot of hue and cry. It did strike me as odd that ladies should take such a strong objection to this more so in a place as this. Discourage the habit of undressing before going to the toilet right when they are young or else it becomes a major issue when using a public toilet.

4.       The use of a calendar and clock.

5.       Carry a visiting card with all the details, such as name, age, address, number more so when the autistic individual is non –verbal or else be trained to provide information on himself.

6.       Teaching behaviors with strangers and familiar people.

7.       Leisure skills is  another important area where the individual can engage himself.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Ramam turns nine

Ramam turned nine on saturday.He had a birthday party in his school. I had ordered a regular cake and baked a gfcf  one too.He wanted to cut the regular cake desperately, but when I told him I have baked the gfcf with so much love for you, there was no more hesitation on his part and he went ahead and cut both the cakes.After couple of mouths from his sister and me, I was a little anxious he might refuse to take from his head master.But surprise, he signalled him to wait, took a gulp of water from his bottle, which was close by and came back for more.This little act of his  put a smile on everybody's face.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Basic yellow cake

                    This has been adapted from the TACA website. I have used 1 cup GFCF flour, 1/2 tsp gelatin, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1/4 tsp salt, 2 large eggs, 1/4 th cup rice milk. I have cut  an organic vanilla stick into fine pieces , and blended them in  with rice milk. You also need 1 cup extra virgin olive oil. Mix together olive oil, eggs and sugar. In a separate bowl take the dry ingredients, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. To the flour mixture add the milk-vanilla mix and the egg mix in an alternating manner. Mix till combined and bake. The cake is nice and soft.
                     I also tried lemon curd and lychee sorbet.I have been thinking of a frosting for a long time and finally zeroed in on lemon curd. I tried it  with ghee but it  left such a strong flavor of ghee, that there were no takers for it. Later other “gfcf moms” suggested that I try substituting half the quantity of ghee with a milk substitute or add lemon zest. But the texture and feel of the curd was very good. As for the lychee sorbet it never took off only! It is still lying in my freezer in a semi liquid state.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Talking to an autistic—part 2

When we were in Bangalore recently, our visits to NIMHANS and COMMDEALL taught us a great deal on the communication aspect. The guidelines given to us were based on our son’s age and ability.

·         TALK, Talk, Talk…………Talk as much as you can. For instance go beyond telling this is cricket and there are two teams. Go a step ahead tell him this is IPL, it is a 20-20 game, the match is telecast live….Otherwise his learning process would get very badly affected. The bottom line is to treat him as an older boy.

·         It is very important to teach our kids verbs and not just nouns. Flash card learning (pointing to the correct action words on the flash card) alone does not help. Generalize a lot.

·         Make him request, label things.

·         Play small games such as I name a fruit, you name one. Lets us label and point to all the objects, people in a given room or house.

·         Be very firm with a NO. Draw clear boundaries and communicate to him what is not permissible.

·         Teach rhymes with actions.

·         Let the child be thorough with the Yes/no concept. For instance you put a question to him. Is this a pen? He says no. End the question with that. Do not elaborate further as to this is an eraser.

·         Use reasoning with your child to explain situations and avoid a meltdown.

·         Move on from first, second to three step commands.

·         Introduce the concept of  delayed reinforcement. He finishes 3/5 activities and he gets his reward.

·         Remember to associate gestures and exclamations with remarks such as wah-wah for crying, oh –oh, ouch……

·         Sequencing of activities involving an event such as making a salad, sandwich, tea…..

·         Work on following a melody pattern.

·         Working on oromotor movements, COMMDEALL has an  oromotor kit. Start with simple CV (consonant-vowel) combinations.

·         Try and make opportunities where the siblings can be involved.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Too simple! Peanut butter cookies

This recipe was far too simple to let it pass. So I thought I will give it a try. Take I cup of peanut butter, (I understand Kraft peanut butter is GF), 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 egg. Mix the ingredients, roll  them into a ball and press it with a fork. Bake at 180.c for 10 minutes. The cookies were soft, definitely not like the one Ramam likes. Hope I got them right.He likes them  crunchier.

Mango cake

All purpose GFCF flour-2 cups
Baking soda-2 tsp
Salt-11/2 tsp
cinnamon-2 tsp
Eggs-3 in number
Vegetable oil- 1/2 cup
Vanilla sugar-11/3
Golden raisins-1/2 cup
cashewnuts-1/2 cup
Mango diced-2 cups
finely chopped /flaked coconut-1/4 cup
                                              The big advantage of this cake is that the ingredients  are  easily available and it is easy to make. It tastes good. Mix salt, flour, soda and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl. Make a well and add the wet ingredients, nuts and mix well. Pour into the baking bowl and let it stand for 20 minutes. Bake for 3-4 min on high in the microwave.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

A genetic clue

A genetic clue as to why autism is more prevalent amongst boys than girls has been found. Here is the link  http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090520/hl_time/08599189975600

Life will be a lot easier if the actual cause is known.

Avil upma


Take poha or beaten rice. This is a preparation made in various parts of the country. Down south it is called Avil. Take avil, soak it in water for 10-15 minutes or the time you require to chop the vegetables for the upma. Drain the excess water off. Heat oil in a kadai, add mustard seeds, ground nuts (optional), green chilies and  curry leaves. Add salt, turmeric powder and chilli powder. Add onions and sauté till they are golden brown. Add cooked cubes of potatoes. This  is again optional. Add the washed poha. Sprinkle some water, close and cook on a low flame for some time stirring it occasionally. Garnish with chopped coriander. Serve hot.

Bette Hagman flour mix pooris


                       The procedure is the same as with  regular  wheat   pooris. I have used luke warm water while kneading it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

ATM tutorial for 10,000

My husband has been on an overdrive ever since he has got back from Bangalore. He uses every cue, every opportunity to”talk” to Ramam. He talks to him about  everything,why we could not go to mandir on Saturday, why he came back late in the evening. He went a step further on Sunday. Just when he was going to close his ATM transaction, an idea hit him like a bolt from the blue. What better opportunity to teach Ramam how to use the ATM. I also nodded my head.  As he explained where to insert the card, punch in the PIN, the machine withdrew the money back .It happened right in front of our eyes. Then we realized the transaction had been timed out and the money debited to our account. We stood perplexed not knowing what to do. To our relief, the State Bank of Indore was adjacent to the ATM. We had been oblivious to this fact so long,  as we usually carry out our transactions at the HDFC ATM. Anyway, being a Sunday afternoon, we could not do anything much. Luckily a sole employee of the bank was leaving after his day’s work. He told us to come back the next day morning and assured us the money is not lost, we have to submit an application, blah blah…….and so , the tutorial for Ramam did not come cheap. But I said the two of us had a practical class on time out too. Considering that the tutorial was a steal for 3000 per head. But then, my husband was not amused.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Thank you

I wish to thank all the readers for their words of encouragement and inputs. Here is another input byMeghana Raikar. This website offers online shopping of GFCF products. http://www.health-shoppe.com,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Rice kozhakkatai


This can be made with both raw rice and parboiled rice. Wash and dry the raw rice, powder it to a rava (coarse) consistency. Take 2 tablespoon cooking oil in kadai and season it with mustard, curry leaf, groundnuts (optional), urad dal, and red chilli. To this add water and let it boil. For every cup of rice, add 2 cups water. When the water begins to boil add the ground rice. Stir till it thickens. Take it off the stove and let it cool for 10 minutes. When the heat is bearable start making oval balls .Add some oil to your palms when making these balls. Place them on oil coated steel idly plates and steam cook. For parboiled rice, one can follow the same procedure, the difference being the rice is ground to a batter. The batter is then added to boiling water. When the colour of the batter changes from white to a muddy white and it thickens, switch off the stove. The kozhakkatais can be had with sambhar/chutney

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The Bangalore experience:

We were in Bangalore last one month or so. Frankly speaking, our visit to Bangalore was an eye opener in many ways, helping us to get know the system better in terms of logistics, people, housing………..We decided to relocate to Bengaluru (must get the name right) for Ramam’s sake and I think the visit has convinced us the move is justified. Let me warn you in the beginning, this is a long post.
Bangalore-- schools
As for the schools we visited we first went to Bubbles run by Sarbani Mallick.  This is in Govindraj nagar. (9845557115). It is more of an activity centre where children go after school hours with more emphasis on social and play skills. This academic session, they plan to run a school. They focus on games that promote functional academics. It can be a starting point for early intervention from where the child can move on. The school timings would be 9.30-12.00 .The next were a group of schools on the Sarjapur road; Greenwood high, Inventure academy. It is a huge waste of time and money. Green wood high leaves you high and dry. After speaking and confirming the appointment twice with Mr. Domello the Principal, on reaching the place at the appointed hour, we were told by the admission staff that the management has taken a decision just this friday not to admit autistic kids. Inventure had the same oft repeated pathetic excuses of lacking staff…..  Their   only claim to special education, inclusive education, whatever these tags are is to take on some slow learners and kids with learning difficulties. Amara Soundarya vidyala, (9880393070) in RMV extension, behind ISRO, is a regular school which takes in children with special needs. They are intending to start a special school this year. It is run by Nirmala Amaranath, who is well meaning. They have a preschool, primary school and an international school for the higher classes. The advantage as we saw it was, probably when the child can mainstream, he can move on to the higher classes, in the same set up. They wanted to take Ramam in L.K.G and were willing to reconsider their decision, but it didn’t seem right to us to put a 9 yr old with 4 yr olds. Anyway, that left us in doubt about their ability to handle the problem. Sunshine centre for autism (25251808), in Domlur layout is run by Vanitha Rao. They follow the TEACCH approach. The student teacher ratio is excellent (with time the details are getting a little hazy), something as 1:2 and she is knowledgeable. The school has been running since 1983.Apoorva centre for autism in J.P nagar (08025599014) is run by Nithyalakshmi Apoorva.  The highlights being lots of structure, good teacher student ratio, and hard core academics if the child can learn, with some children preparing for open school. Vocational options are also available for the children not so academically inclined. Soft spoken, Nithyalakshmi got straight to the point and asked me what plans I have for Ramam 5 years down the line. They have somebody coming in for OT, and speech. They offer remedial sessions in the afternoon. ASHA Academy for severe handicaps and autism in Basveswaranagar (08023225279) is run by Jaishree Ramesh. It is a professional set up with as much as 90 children. The infrastructure is good in terms of the building, and class rooms. They are starting the NIOS curriculum this year. They encourage children with special interest as painting, music. They have a separate unit for children for vocational needs. The student –teacher ratio is good.hey also offer speech and OT services.
Apart from this we had been to NIMHANS and COMM-DEALL.
NIMHANS: In NIMHANS the OPD is on from morning 9 (Monday-Friday). It is preferable to reach a little earlier as there is a long queue. I understand people coming from outstations stay put the previous night. If you are going there the first time you need to register yourself, Rs 20. There are two counters. Proceed to counter 2 if you have the referral of a neurophysician/psychiatrist. Then they do a preliminary screening. Then you move to the opposite block where the assessment is done. An elaborate assessment with inputs from all departments can take upto a month. Once the initial assessment is done, the doctor who has  assessed your child takes you to The HOD, Dr. Shoba Srinath who then counsels you. Once the file is ready one can follow it up with reviews every three months. For want of time we could not do a complete assessment. We met Dr .Yamini of the speech and audiology. Both Dr. Shoba Srinath and Dr.Yamini are very knowledgeable and drive home their point with simple lucid real life examples. Dr. Yamini very patiently explained the importance of talking to him constantly.
COMM-DEALL: A very professional set up; they accommodated us despite it being their close to vacation time. We had walked in without an appointment. They did a detailed assessment, called us up and fixed a date for the follow up, gave us a live demo as to how to go about working with him, areas to focus on. We also got an OT assessment done.  It is run by Dr. Pratibha Karant .Located on the Hutchins Road, their telephone  number is 080-25800826.They also have a centre for children up to 5 yrs, the focus is on communication. They also do one to one sessions for older children.
Moving around in Bangalore. There are plenty of call taxi services and autos. All of them run on meters, and hence there is no bargaining. Some auto drivers do really take you for a ride, giving you a Bangalore darshan. The public transport also seems to be fairly ok. Traffic jams are a big problem but this has been helped to some extent, by making it one –way, on most roads.
FOOD: Food is not definitely an issue even with GFCF. We located one or two shops selling GFCF stuff such as cookies, bread mix etc. One finds all kinds of restaurants. Santhi sagar, Adigas…….. (Chain of hotels) are ubiquitous and in between checking out two schools for Ramam we would hop into the nearest Shanthi Sagar for a plate of his Sambhar vada.For more on autism resource in Bangalore visit.
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/12/job-opportunities-for-autistics.html
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/06/talking-to-autisticpart-2.html
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/12/more-montessori-schools-activity-centre.html
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/11/asha-academy-for-autism-and-severe.html
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/11/information-and-resource-centre.html
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/12/irc-autism-awareness-walk.html
http://care4autism.blogspot.com/2009/11/drsr-chandra-sekhar-institute-for.html















Monday, April 20, 2009

Breaking the silence

I have been silent for quite some time on the blog for multitude of reasons. Gina Vijaykumar, one of the readers of this blog has been sharing some valuable information with me via e-mail. I thought I will put it up as a post as others would also get to benefit. There is a lab by the name Great Plains laboratory that does a lot of tests such as screening for allergens, heavy metal toxicity in US. We did one round of tests for Ramam when he was just about 2 years old. There is a lab now in Bangalore that does the testing. The details are as follows

Food & Health Labs Pvt. Ltd 
"Sukruth", #70, 4th Main, Domlur 2nd Stage
Bangalore – 560 0071
Ph: 41263004 / 4126 3005, 
Contact Person: Dr. Prashanth Kamath 09886041212, Dr. Rupali Kamath 09886279777 
email: foodhealthlabs@airtelmail.in 
www.foodandhealthlabs.com
The doc's name is Ananth Rao and he can be contacted at 9900956990.These tests are expensive and basic tests for food intolerances cost about 18,000 .The website is not working.Dr. Ananth Rao is not associated with Great Plains laboratory and is with Narayana Hrudalaya

Also on the recipes front, I tried pooris with the GFCF flour mix, refer Bette Hagman flour mix on the blog they turned out to be nice and fluffy. They tasted good, not very different from the regular pooris. I also tried south Indian preparation with flattened rice, called Avil down south. It can be had as both a breakfast/snack item. In my subsequent posts I will try to give some inputs or rather my impressions on schools in Bangalore, and NIMHANS

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lessons I learnt

The last 10 days have been pretty rough on all 4 of us as I have been in and out of hospital, this beside the fact we are trying to relocate to Bangalore. There were a series of test that had to be performed on me to rule out some complications, one of the tests being the bone marrow biopsy. It is quite a painful procedure .Suddenly, I broke down in the middle of it, leaving the doctor worried and wondering if he should continue the procedure. In between all my crying, sniffing and blowing my nose, I told him the outcome of the procedure bothered me more, than the procedure itself. I realized my life is very valuable to me for my son’s sake than for my own. He was not independent in anyway, should something sinister turn up in the results, and I wondered what would happen to both my kids. There was a child with pneumonia, around 11 years in the same ward. His mother was also allowed to stay with him. Every night he would hug her and go to sleep. It made me think, that there would be so many emotions, and thoughts that Ramam would also be having, but has no way of expressing it. Every time he would come to visit me he would make a big fuss of going back, he would lie down in my bed and hug me. But the most important lesson I took back home after my hospital visit was that it is extremely important to make our children self sufficient in that at least he goes about his daily routine on his own. At the end of it all it is about survival, and he should be able to cope on his own without the one-one attention he still needs.

Ramam’s love for cooking


Our little boy has started to take lot of interest in cooking. He loves to add the masalas, stir the contents in the cauldron, help in chopping, and add the coriander leaves for garnishing. I get him to roll the rotis some times. He has a few favorite spices like pepper and oregano. He feels so strongly about these two spices, that he has to add it to all the dishes. The other day I caught him with a broken egg on the tava, with a spoon, salt and pepper, all ready for action. Only that he had not lighted the stove. I have my apprehensions about teaching him that, and I feel that can wait. He likes watching others cook and sometimes he watches a cookery show on TV. I hope this turns out to be a life long interest and not a flash in the pan.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

GF flour mix.

Initially when you start of on a GFCF diet, you just want to lay your hands on flour that meets the criteria. I was extremely happy when I found one such brand Orgran, in a Spencer’s outlet. Later, when I tried the  first GF flour mix and the first cake came out well, I wanted to share my joy with the readers.I had a slice myself everyday savouring the sweetness of gf flour mix victory, hahah.... Initially, one starts out with small trial batches of cookies, cakes….with a GF flour, but if you are thinking GFCF long term, then it is better to make your own flour mix for the following reasons.I still yearn for the day I bake a cake for Ramam with the frosting,the works............Back to the point
Firstly, it is more economical.
 Secondly, when you go in for a mix the various attribute of the different flours; make up for the deficiencies of single flour, in terms of taste, nutritive value, gumminess or the binding abilities. For instance, when you use only rice flour to bake, the end product is hard/ gritty. Sorghum flour alone is bland.
The third factor is availability.
The good news is somebody has already done the home work for you and there is the Bette Hagman’s GF flour mix.
2 cups rice flour
2/3 cups potato starch flour
1/3 cup tapioca flour
 for a larger batch of 9 cups use
6 cups rice flour
2 cups potato starch flour
1 cup tapioca flour
As potato starch flour was a problem, I have substituted it with arrow root starch, in the same proportion. In India arrow root starch is used for purposes such as thickener for soups, more so in the hotels. From what I have read, generally corn and potato starch are interchangeable. I tried out apple cake with this GF flour mix. It came out fine, but the structure called for more attention and maybe a biding agent as unflavored gelatin may help.

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