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Caregivers welcome job quota for specially abled

Anupama Ramakrishnan, Feb 11 2018, 18:33 IST

Autism is not going to hold them back. There is hope yet.

The Centre has directed that a three-four percent reservation should be reserved in government jobs for persons with autism, Down's Syndrome, intellectual disabilities, specific learning disabilities and acid attack victims. This follows the enactment of Right of Persons With Disabilities Act in April 2017.

For those on the autism spectrum and their parents, does this offer a beacon of light?

"On the face of it, it sounds like a good move," says Vanitha Rao, founder and director, Sunshine Autism Trust. "However, let's see how it is going to be implemented."

She says she will rejoice once it actually happens. "As per the order (I have only read the media reports), it will be for people with more than 40 per cent disability. Autism is present on a spectrum, only the very high functioning ones will be able to carry out some routine tasks and hold jobs. Will these individuals test as having a disability of 40 percent and above? And those who really fall into this category, will they be able to actually work?" she questions.

In spite of all breakthroughs, life is stifling and choices limited for parents of children on the autism spectrum. There is always the fear that their child will ever be able to live independently.

"When my baby boy was born, everything seemed normal in the beginning," says Pratiksha (name changed on request). "For one-and-half years, there was nothing amiss. Soon he seemed to withdraw into a shell, rather into his own imaginary world. He failed to acknowledge his name. He didn't call me 'mum'. He was different. We realised that it was time to do his psychological assessment. The diagnosis was given. My child was mildly autistic."

Life has since changed for Pratiksha (name changed on request). She gave up her job. Every second of hers is for him. "He has his tantrums. It is overwhelming at times," she confesses.

Pratiksha's narrative is not unfamilar. For parents who have children on the autistic spectrum, this is the life they live everyday.

A child or grownup in the autism spectrum need not always be a genius (Remember 'Rainman'?) as sometimes movies portray them to be.

For them, there is much left undone -- understanding of early diagnosis, right intervention and support from the society. And acceptance does not come easily.

Trupti B G, COO, Tamahar, says, "We need many more early intervention centres which will provide all the necessary services under one roof including counseling for parents to cope with the diagnosis and the interventions."

"Lot of recreational, hobby options need to be given to the children. We need professionals who understand autism and also provide the needed service," she adds.

But clearly not all parents, especially those from lower middle class and poor families, can afford the right intervention in the right institution? "Though the number of centres is less in comparison with the need, we have a gamut of services available here with a wide fee structure, says Trupti.

At Tamahar, she says the fee structure is completely dependent on the revenue models of parents.

"We have parents who pay very little to someone who pays more which helps us to balance out." she informs.

"However, it is very important for the parents to understand their child, his/her capabilities and their own expectations. We believe in the developmental model of intervention which has also yielded excellent results," she adds

For Pratiksha though, life brought in more than she signed up for her.

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