Swabhimaan is a Trust, working for the welfare of people with autism in India. It is located by the second largest coastline in the world, at the suburbs of Chennai. The Trust has blossomed out of a three-year-old dream of Indian medical doctors and parents of children with autism.
The trust was principally started as a Indian medical research center, where yoga, siddha medicines, ayurvedic massages and naturopathy treatments are customized according to the needs of children with autism. We found that children were happier and far more co operative. Autism, is a spectrum disorder where no two children are alike. It is a multifaceted disorder, where the various problems of the child cannot be addressed by a single professional. This alone was not enough as we could not cater to their multiple needs. Therefore we expanded the center.
We started a sports unit, where individual sporting activities are taught. Children are learning to cycle, jog, throw and catch ball, play shuttle cork, football ( at least kicking the ball from one child to another), throw ball in the basket ball net and so on. Parents are often amazed to find that their children are capable of learning a sport fairly comprehensively.
The underlying problem of autism is the sensory problems that children with autism face. Occupational therapy is probably the most widely accepted method of helping them overcome their sensory problems. We find that children receive the necessary inputs from OT very happily, largely because it is a play way method of working with children.
Buddha got his enlightenment under a bodhi tree. We call our school after this. In Bodhi vriksham, we implement Principles of VBA (verbal behavior analysis) as our teaching method. In this method the Teacher-Student ratio is ideally 1:1. Here, the main objectives are to enhance the expressive language of the child and to regulate their behaviors. This is helping us to solve the most crucial challenges of autism.
Children with autism love music. It helps them calm down, relax and enjoy the peace within oneself. They are sometimes very good singers, capable of picking up various pitches in music on the spot. We teach music and dance – not just as recreational activity, but as a positive reinforcing therapy for children.
Young adults with autism need to be occupied and productive. After painstaking years in special schools, they are still not ready to work in normal society. Swabhimaan Trust has a sheltered workshop where young adults with autism can work in peace and comfort. This is one of the pioneer centers for vocational rehabilitation for autism in India.
Autism is a condition born out of man’s disharmony with nature. We envisage a world, which treats children with autism holistically. We at Swabhimaan do not specialize in one particular aspect of the child. We aim to give all the inputs, which are required for the child in a normal society. We not only address the major problems of the children, but we also take care of the child's mood, his diet, his social interaction, his behavior and his communication. . Hence, we adapt a holistic approach to autism where we can address all the individual needs of the child. We make sure that the parent understands all aspects of the child's problems, which help them, play their role better.
The trustees are