Sangeetha and V Chakrapani, a couple from Mumbai, India, never thought that innocuous questions from their children would one day prompt them to open a Centre for Autistic children.
Sangeetha and V Chakrapani are parents to four children (one boy and three girls), two of whom are Autistic. The four children share a great bond together, however, the two siblings that don’t have Autism show utmost care and care for their Autistic siblings (both girls), and one day asked their parents what would happen once they finish high school and move elsewhere for higher education? Would the two sisters with Autism live by themselves?
That innocent question made the parents think real hard. Typically, kids with Autism live with their parents, but as they parents get older, the kids, who grow up to become adults, are either looked after by their relatives or are moved in to facilities that have caregivers to take care of them. In order to make their (and other) children self sufficient and independent, and to alleviate their dependence on others as they grow up, the couple opened “Together Life Skills Centre” in Mumbai.
The Centre works with a lot of mentors, special educators and various volunteers to help kids with Autism transition into adulthood with confidence. The kids are taught to plan and participate in meal preparations, do chores, utilize leisure time in a meaningful way, as well as learn various vocations. There is also emphasis on communication for co-existence and thus getting along well with people in their surroundings. Every student is expected to carry a cell phone, and those who cannot communicate verbally, are taught to use video calling. Puratos India, a company that specializes in bakery, patisserie, and chocolate products, has also opened its state of the art kitchen to the kids at the Center where they could learn and work as a team with other adult mentors. This kitchen also gives them a professional environment to work in as well as learn meaningful baking practices.
The Center is meant for kids and young adults from the age of 12 to 20 who have Autism or intellectual disabilities and are able to use the washroom. To learn more about Together Life Skills Centre and/or to volunteer there, visit their website.