QUEEN'S ROAD: Raising a child with autism can be a big challenge. Given the unpredictable nature of the disorder, being the parent of an autistic child can be a gruelling ride, especially if you are employed.
For all such adults in the city there is a care centre tucked away in a corner of Malleswaram, one that understands the special needs of such families and extends a helping hand. Take-A-Break Respite Care, the first of its kind in the country, takes care of autistic children while their parents are at work or are taking some time off.
The centre, opened in December 2013, is run by Saachiviya Trust with the support of Vidya Jyothi Charitable Trust and Rotary Bangalore West. Rajesh M S, founder of Vidya Jyothi Charitable Trust, told City Express, “One of the Rotarians, Raja Sheshadri, who has an autistic child used to make use of such a facility in the United States but when his family came back to India four years ago, they found it difficult to cope. They faced problems when they had to leave town even in cases of emergency. That is how we got the idea of setting up such a centre.”
Take-A-Break Respite Care operates full-time on weekends and also on weekdays if parents are caught in some kind of emergency. The parents can drop their child after school for 4-5 hours in the evening, and if needed, even for overnight stay.
Chandrika Sheshadri, a special educator and coordinator at Respite Care, said, “Children come here and have fun. They also learn. The activities contribute to their overall social development. They make friends here and play with them. At the end of the day, many don’t feel like going back home. We give them freedom to do what they want. We are now trying to spread the word and create awareness so that more people understand the availability of such services.”
Apart from expansion plans, the centre is also looking at introducing therapy sessions on weekends and special yoga classes. It is also open to conducting workshops for parents if needed.
The centre has helped several parents breathe easy. Rajesh narrated the story of a couple from Magadi Road who came all the way to Malleswaram to drop their child at the centre and get some time alone after years. “When they came back, I saw tears in their eyes. They said they never had time for themselves in the last 12 years. They had not even gone out for a movie because there was no one to take care of their child.”
Anjana, who has a 15-year-old autistic child, said, “I have been utilising their services for three months. I drop my son there when I go to attend functions. He is now completely adjusted to the place.” Komala, who has an 8-year-old child, said she has been sending her son to Respite Care for two years. “The other kids in our neighbourhood don’t play with him. At Respite Care, he can interact and play with other kids who share his misfortune. He enjoys playing with them. He learns to interact and share food.”
The team at Respite Care consists of special educators and helpers from autism schools who have knowledge and experience in dealing with special children. The parents just need to register with the centre and make a reservation whenever they need to. The charges vary between Rs 100 and Rs 200, depending on the duration. For more information, parents may contact Chandrika Sheshadri at 94808 73778. Take-A-Break Respite Care is located at #2, 3rd Cross, Kasturba Nagar, Palace Guttahalli, Malleswaram.