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 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
Ragi (finger millet)-1 1/4 cup
urad dal(black lentil) ¼ cup
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.
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
Autism And Other developmental Disabilities
#9, 1st cross, shankarapuram, Bangalore 560004
Contact Person: Vani nagaraj
Phone: +91-80-41203426
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

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


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


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.

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.

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