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 

Google Autism Search Results