5 Organizations to Applaud This World Autism Awareness Day

By: Divya Kilikar

Published On: April 07, 2018

Qualified Indian doctors considered autism to be a “Western” phenomenon and non-existent in India until as late as the late 1990s. As a result, no studies were conducted. Perplexed parents struggled to deal with their autistic children’s “tantrums”. Doctors tagged them as mentally retarded or blamed it on bad parenting. Teachers, all of whom seemed to give up on them, called them naughty or even worse, unteachable.

Then the results of the first survey ever conducted encompassing over 4000 families across various states, shattered every belief and assumption. At least 10 million Indian children were found to be autistic.

And the number has gone up since then; today, 1 in 68 children suffer from the condition.

Parents, teachers and doctors who want to understand the condition and help their children deal with it the right way began coming together to form organizations that are doing some commendable work today. Here are five we’re applauding this World Autism Awareness Day:

Yash Charitable Trust - Mumbai

Founded in 2014, YCT works under the idea that autistic adults need to be encouraged and assisted to become productive members of their communities and lead meaningful lives.

YCT began operating with a daily dabba service, where they supported 8 autistic adults with a modest income! They realized that these adults showed a sense of determination and work ethic that was unparalleled, which inspired them to take things a step further.

Three years down the road, YCT is bringing to life the idea of Cafe Arpan, fully run by the autistic adults they worked with, thanks to their fundraiser. Cafe Arpan will be opening next to SNDT University, Juhu in April, so don’t forget to pop in for a snack!

Action for Autism - Delhi

AFA was established in 1991, when Autism was still an unknown condition. It was started as an advocacy organization by a parent, and then went on to change perceptions and raise awareness about autism. The organization did the same through community and media awareness, a special needs school, and training for parents and teachers. AFA moved on to embrace an entire gamut of services that includes work and employment, adult living, policy change and research. 

Their website was the first for autism in India and contained vital information for parents and teachers across the country.

Today, AFA has partnered with UCLA to conduct research on autism in India. Over the years, they converted their training programme to a diploma course and have conducted multiple awareness campaigns that targeted paediatricians as well!

SAP - Bengaluru

VR Ferose, India’s Managing Director at SAP, began a wave of change when his son was diagnosed with autism. He recognised valuable skills in his son and other autistic individuals - excellent memory, mathematical skills and attention to detail. Autism @ Work was then launched; an initiative to employ autistic adults.

Selected candidates undergo a three-month training period before they are employed full-time. SAP boasts a 92% retention rate and has already employed 98 autistic adults across the globe.

Adarsh Charitable Trust - Kochi

This rehabilitation centre is attempting to work with children with different kinds of developmental disabilities. In 2003, they opened a wing for autistic children, and today, they have taken in over 300 children!

They believe that early intervention works best. Through music therapy, speech therapy, communication training and more, ACT does a great job of reaching out to autistic children and helping them grow to become a more inclusive part of society.

CATCH - Bhubaneswar

Centre for Autism Therapy, Counselling and Help focuses on helping parents understand their children by involving them in the process of devising teaching techniques for each child.

Parents meet and share information and experiences to learn how to help control their children’s condition. CATCH helps develop social, creative and vocational skills in children as well.