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World autism month: Think intelligence, not impairment

“We are not able to socialise much as our child is prone to intermittent shouting. He is quiet at home but shouts loudly the minute we all step out,” said one mother.

“A relative of mine is never able to travel with her son as he just wants pasta and rasam sadam all the time,” said another participant.

Unfamiliar terrain? April is World Autism month with World Autism Awareness Day being recognised on April 2. On the eve of World Autism Day, Chennai based Buddhi Clinic organised an interesting symposium. Buddhi Clinic is the brain child of Dr. E.S. Krishnamoorthy, an eminent physician entrepreneur and a trustee of AIM for Seva.

In her opening remarks, Smt. Usha Ramakrishnan, former chairperson of NGO Vidya Sagar, Chennai and a well known consultant in the field of autism threw light on the relevance of multiple intelligences in the context of autism.

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences (MI) differentiates human intelligence into specific modalities rather than seeing intelligence as dominated by a single general ability. “Every person is born unique and even two people who have autism are different. In the case of children with autism, MI allows intelligences to be identified in them by bypassing the disabilities,” she said.

She added that autism meant there is a social disability. “The minute you try to normalise that, it means you have lost the child,” she added. Therefore it is critical to look at various multiple intelligences that a human being possess—musical, spatial, bodily kinesthetic, natural, inter personal and intra personal intelligences. Smt. Ramakrishnan narrated the instance of an autistic child who beautifully drew his entire US sojourn, point to point on canvas after the family returned from the vacation.

In his talk, Vivek Misra, clinical neuroscientist and specialist, neuromodulation, Buddhi Clinic spoke on how it was important to stimulate the brain to heal the mind. Dr Rema Raghu, family and lifestyle physician, Buddhi Clinic talked on the importance of integration efforts—medication as well as external therapies in addressing the condition.

The brainchild behind Buddhi clinic, Dr. E.S. Krishnamoorthy summed up the event’s proceedings by saying that it was important to recognise what people with autism could do rather than talking about disability and problems associated with autism all the time. “Many children diagnosed with autism have enhanced powers of concrete imagery and memory. They have an intense, vivid and concrete view of the world and at the same time, an obsessive insistence on persistent sameness. They may not be living in your universe, but they are in a multiverse. So it becomes important to expose such children to an environment that they are comfortable which is supported with graded monitoring. We have to look beyond medication and conventional therapy. An exposure to holistic intervention like ayurveda, naturopathy and yoga would also lead to improvement in quality of life.” To the query on insistence on ‘sameness of food’ at every meal, Dr Krishnamoorthy responded by saying that alternatives could be introduced in the diet which matched the texture and presentation of the original.

The session was facilitated by Dr. Radhika Soundararajan, director, Krupa Care. “Everyone deserves to be happy and comfortable where they are. We at Krupa Care and make sure our  work reflects just that. We strive to keep our residents safe and happy seeing which the families feel comforted.”  AIM for Seva is currently running two projects that cater to the needs of the differently-abled. Krupa Care located in the outskirts of Chennai is a community living model for differently-abled men. We have 36 adults residing in a serene campus who are engaged in meaningful activities throughout the day. This project was started to address the critical question that a parent of a differently-abled always had– ‘Who after me’.

Similarly, AIM for Seva Shanmuga Society for Children with Special Needs was started in 2003 as a day care centre for children between 4 and 15 years at Hyderabad, Telangana.

We are currently expanding the scope of work done at Krupa Care. If you would like to support the cause of the differently-abled, please do drop in an email at:aimallindiamovement@gmail.com

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