They are not diseased; rather they are special and unique. Spreading this message, special schools of Kolkata are taking several initiatives to generate awareness about autistic children among common mass on World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
Pradip Centre for Autism Management in Lake Town in collaboration with The National Trust, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, is placing a total of 12 hoardings containing awareness messages on autism at the posh city crossings. Five such hoardings have already been put up.
The hoardings will be placed at Rashbehari crossing, Deshapriya Park, Gol Park crossing, Alipore, Sealdah flyover, Jadavpur, Garia, MG Road along with other areas and will be put up till April 10.
“Driven by misconception, people often regard autism as a disease and thus treat autistic kids as patients who need to be cured. But autism, which cannot be spotted apparently, is nothing but a unique kind of disability that could be effectively handled if detected at an early age of a child,” said Mallika Banerjee, professor, Department of Psychology, Calcutta University, who founded Pradip in 2003.
A 10-minute short documentary film has also been shot by Pradip, which the school authorities are trying to telecast on a couple of city-based Bengali television channels. “Autistic kids acted in this film, where they try to impart a message to the society,” said Banerjee.
Another special school Prerana has also taken similar initiatives where the festoons, placards along with several other household articles made by the autistic kids will be exhibited at the school premises. “We hope that by seeing those products people would know that autistic children can do wonders if trained properly,” said Bula Bhattacharya, a special educator of Prerana.