Education  India Project #32645

Training Parents of Autistic Children in India

by Heart and Hand for Handicapped
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Training Parents of Autistic Children in India
Training Parents of Autistic Children in India
Training Parents of Autistic Children in India
Training Parents of Autistic Children in India
Training Parents of Autistic Children in India
Training Parents of Autistic Children in India
Training Parents of Autistic Children in India

The past 3 months have been busy as we conducted seven workshops!

On the 9thof January, a workshop on Perception was conducted by Mrs. Vani Nagaraj, Special Educator and Director of Aarohan – Centre for Special Education. Mrs. Vani spoke about how children with special needs perceive their environment. Perception can be visual, auditory and tactile and individuals with autism perceive them differently to neurotypicals. Individuals with autism are more literal and care has to be taken to avoid confusion.


The second workshop was on Comprehension on 17thJanuary by Mrs. Vani Nagaraj. She gave a detailed account on difficulties in comprehension and understanding faced by individuals with autism and how to make worksheets, activities and instructions easy to understand.

 Ms. Nelie is from Netherlands and has been supporting ASHA since many years. She was a teacher and after retirement, visits ASHA to share her expertise in making teaching aids. On 22ndJanuary, Nelie conducted a workshop for parents on Creating Teaching Aids using simple household materials using old boxes, food containers and items likes buttons. The parents found the workshop to be very helpful, especially the parents of our early intervention section who are always looking to create aids that are colourful and captivating.


 Alternate therapies have been successful as an intervention for autism. On 27thJanuary, Dr. K. Basavaraj, MD, Head of Basava Healing Centre conducted a session for parents on Acupressure and Colour Therapy. Dr. Basavaraj explained how acupressure can bring positive results with absolutely no side effects. 

Mrs. Vani Nagaraj conducted a workshop on 30thJanuary on Building Reading Skills in Children with Special Needs. Reading is an essential skill for anyone to function effectively in the environment. Mrs. Vani provided tips on how to encourage reading and build reading skills in the child through simple exercises. 

On 7thFebruary, Mrs. Vani conducted a session on Building Pre Academic Skills for Children with Special Needs. Pre academic skills are skills that are a pre requisite for learning academics. These include matching, sorting, identification etc. The parents found the session useful as Mrs. Vani displayed detailed teaching aids.

Managing finances and planning for a child with special needs is a pressing issue for parents of children with any special needs. To make this easier, Mr. Jitendra P.S. Solanki, a financial consultant, conducted an educational seminar on 17thFebruary on Financial Planning for Families with Individuals with Special Needs. The parents also had one on sessions with Mr. Solanki and found the session very helpful.



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The resource persons at the seminar
The resource persons at the seminar

October was an exciting month for us as we had the opportunity to conduct an International Seminar on Learning Disability on the 26thand 27thOctober 2018. The seminar was organized to bring a better understanding of learning disabilities in parents, special educators and mainstream school teachers with an objective to improve support for individuals with learning disabilities. We hosted three resource persons from Malta and one from Chennai.

The seminar was attended by 80 people comprising 20 parents from ASHA and the remaining were students studying to become special educators and mainstream school teachers as well as special educators.

Mr. Edward Fenech from Malta who has started a dyslexia awareness program in Tamil Nadu. He spoke about his experience as a dyslexic and how the right support could have made his childhood fun and learning in school less stressful. He spoke about what skills to focus on; and to rely on one’s strengths to lead a productive life. He briefly spoke about the types of supports that can be offered in school and at home by parents. 

The second session was conducted by Dr. Maria F. Josephine, Founder of Maria Special Education Services, Chennai who spoke on the Indian scenario of learning disability. She spoke of her personal experience involving her daughter – an individual with special needs and the availability of services in India and comparing it with other countries.

Dr. Ruth Falzon, a professor from the University of Malta spoke about the challenges in the identification of learning disability and various tools. She highlighted some important techniques to go about identifying learning disabilities in children. She showed and explained tools used in Malta to identify learning disabilities.

Dr. Dione Mifsud, a professor from the University of Malta explained how to go about counselling for learning disability. He spoke about setting expectations, goals and working towards them and improving the quality of life of a child with learning disability.

A panel discussion took place with Dr. Dione, Dr. Ruth, Mr. Edward, Dr. Maria and Ms. Jayashree Ramesh, Director – Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism. The topic was on ‘the road ahead for learning disability’. Ms. Jayashree highlighted what may be the steps ahead for creating support for learning disability in India. Dr. Maria and Mr. Edward spoke about how training teachers and awareness is the first important step. 

We received good feedback from the participants. They felt the seminar to be well organised, resource persons were approachable and look forward to more such workshops. The first hand account of Mr. Edward was appreciated by many participants. 

Lighting of the lamp
Lighting of the lamp
Mr. Edward Fenech sharing his experience
Mr. Edward Fenech sharing his experience
Dr. Ruth Falzon
Dr. Ruth Falzon
Dr. Maria speaking on the Indian scenario
Dr. Maria speaking on the Indian scenario
Participants at the seminar
Participants at the seminar
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Portage and Music!

Our team got off to a running start this year by conducting 5 workshops and a training program for parents.

As part of the early intervention program that we are conducting for lower income families with children with special needs, parents’ training is an important component for a better outcome. Portage is a home based early intervention model having a series of activities that the child should be doing at different age levels. Ms. Suma Shastry, a trained Portage consultant conducted the sessions for 20 parents for 2 weeks from 25thJune in association with CBR Network South Asia. 

The program was well received and the mothers were able to better understand how to address skill deficits in their children. We see more involvement of the mothers in the early intervention program. 


To add to the parents’ knowledge, Dr. Venkat Lakshmi, a professor from the Dept. of Human Development of Smt. VHD Home Science College, Bangalore, conducted a session on 'Child Development' on 16thJuly.  The workshops helped parents of younger children with special needs from the early intervention program to gain an understanding on the developmental milestones and development through the years. 

A parent had the following feedback about the workshop – 

“The workshop has definitely helped me to better understand my child’s areas of needs and gave many tips. It was also explained in Kannada using simple terms”

Being a parent is a tough job and being a parent of a special child is daunting. Dr. Venkat Lakshmi visited ASHA again to conduct a workshop on ‘Parenting of Children with Special Needs’ on 26thJuly and gave practical tips to cope with the demands of parenting. 


A Musical Twist


We frequently come across children who show a love of rhythmic and classical music and show less stereotypical behaviours. We were convinced after coming across research on the same that music does bring huge benefits. We were fortunate to associate with ladies from Innerwheel Vijayanagar Dist 319 who took a lot of effort to conduct a workshop on music therapy with a focus on autism on the 20thand 21stJuly.

Dr. Meenakshi Ravi, Director of Meera Center for Music Therapy and Research and Dr. Geetha R. Bhat, Founder of Hamsakutira Foundation gave a comprehensive and practical guide on how music can be used as intervention.
The 60 participants included special educators, teachers and parents. To make the program sustainable, we are guiding the participants to visit other special schools to practice music.

Good Food


Parents often struggle with balancing nutrition and catering to their child’s taste buds. Children with autism especially have rigid likes and dislikes regarding food and balancing nutrition is a tough task for parents and obesity is common. Dr. Raghu K.C. of Pristine Organics, spoke to the parents on 'Good Food for Disease Prevention'. With his vast experience in creating diets for children with rare disorders, Dr. Raghu highlighted foods that are tasty as well as nutritious for the child and the parents. 

Some of the common feedback about the session were ‘fun and engaging’. We noticed many questions from parents on what’s good and to improve their eating habits. 

Autism and Medication


Parents often are concerned about medication, how they work and the long term effects. Dr. Krishna Thalagavara, consultant psychiatrist at ASHA conducted a session on 'The Role of Medication in Children with Autism and ADD' for parents and professionals. He spoke on how medication is helpful in reducing some of the symptoms of autism and hyperactivity. He stressed on the importance of proper dosage and duration of medication and contraindications associated with medications. 

Anand Krishnan

Project Leader


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Mrs. Jayashree Ramesh conducting the session
Mrs. Jayashree Ramesh conducting the session

The parents training program begins at Academy for Severe Handicaps and Autism and so has the academic year 2018-19!

The academic year began in June and the children have adjusted well to their new classrooms and teachers. The setting of goals and Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings are underway and it has been a very busy month!

We have identified the 60 parents in need of training and the first meeting has been completed to understand the needs of the family and the topics to be covered. The first session was initiated by our Director, Mrs. Jayashree Ramesh and it was interesting and productive. The parents were divided into groups and asked to list out their concerns and topics they would like to be addressed. Both the moms and dads shared their interests and requirements. From their response, our calendar is really full! In the following months, they will be trained by different resource persons on various aspects of management.

The next step will be to confirm the resource persons required for the training and prepare the training materials.

Your help has made all the difference! I thank all the donors who have helped us raise this substantial amount and we look forward to your support.

Parents discussing what's best
Parents discussing what's best
Putting their ideas on paper
Putting their ideas on paper
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Organization Information

Heart and Hand for Handicapped

Location: Flushing, NY - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Anand Krishnan
Flushing , NY United States

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