April 2 is celebrated as World Autism Awareness Day– and in honour of that, Innocent Times and PMC have collaborated together to present ‘Together for Autism’- a one-of-a-kind event aimed towards fighting stigma and raising awareness around ASD in unique ways. It will be hosted at Chittaranjan Vatika, Model Colony and film maker Sunil Sukhtankar will grace the event with his presence as the Chief Guest.
Dr. Ankita Sanghavi, who founded Innocent Times School fourteen years ago says that this event is a step towards promoting a community catered towards creating awareness about autism in society. This is to ensure that we work towards an inclusive society that creates an atmosphere for neurodivergent people to coexist naturally. In order to showcase this in real-time, the event has invited several eminent personalities whose experiences will help give insight to autistic children, their parents and also the general public.
Rohit Sawant, a certified Zumba instructor, will hold a fun Zumba session for the kids. His mother will follow it up with their journey of navigating Rohit’s autism together, and how they have thrived in making their lives bigger than a simple diagnosis. After the Zumba session, the kids will be invited to participate in a drum circle- an activity that really benefits children with autism. Then Shweta Mantri, a disabled stand-up comedian, will open up about her life experiences by bringing humour and laughter into it. Then finally Ashwini Godse, who has been long associated with PMC and also is a part of the Aga Khan Foundation, will conduct a session designed for parents, especially that will teach them how to engage their autistic kids with household activities and items.
The event will also hold an open mic for autistic kids to showcase their talents and for parents to talk about their experiences. While gifts will be distributed to all kids, a lucky draw will also be held that will award free therapy sessions to a few autistic kids who are in need of them. Ankita says that through this event they want to stress more the importance of early intervention and encourage parents to at the very least get an assessment as soon as possible if they notice any out-of-ordinary behaviour in their child. Being responsive to symptoms and taking action at the correct time is very necessary because the development age of a child is time sensitive. She also adds that there should be more initiatives from the government and public sector to introduce therapies for neurodivergent kids at a subsidised or inexpensive cost. More affordable therapy centres facilitated by qualified professionals are necessary because a lot of parents cannot give proper care to their children due to low socio-economic backgrounds.
The reported rate of autistic children had dropped from 1 in every 60 children to around 1 in every 40. Yet, a lot of children go undiagnosed due to the lack of resources around them. Hence, it is important to do our part and educate ourselves as well as spread awareness about autism.