together was born as a unique initiative to create a community of support and recognition for special needs youngsters in their own localities. Our students learn to adhere to discipline and also learn to bake in a state of the art bakery at the corporate headquarters of Puratos India Ltd. Each of our students were given an identity on social forums, posters were printed and put up for them in their localities. Orders started coming in and to our immense pride, we have not had to sell a single box of cookies on behalf of our students. Rather, it is they who sell our products on our behalf.
Next came the social inclusion programme at Arya Vidya Mandir. The school opened their arms wide and invited us to speak on issues related to disability and inclusion. We in turn requested their students to host a programme for us and we were so touched that groups of students from AVM did their homework on autism. They invited us to share assembly time with them, read out from our blog and put up songs/dances for our students. We too went fully prepared and our students spoke, sang and even signed an entire song for the students of AVM. This shared time has now become a more regular feature and we will soon have their participation in our activities through their SUPW programme.
together life skill centre has been founded with a team of parents, professionals and special educators. It was born out of the need to help young people in the autistic spectrum to prepare for independent living beyond the lifetime of their parents. The transition to adulthood programme will be an intensive one, that seeks to walk in their shoes and foresee the kind of hurdles they are likely to face in terms of basic creature comforts, daily living, leisure time, vocational training and communication for co-existence.
While visiting residential facilities for people with autism in India, we realised that a certain amount of self-help skills have to be invested to avoid total dependence on a care-giver (who will not be available on a one-to-one basis). An ability to communicate for the little things of our daily lives, which we take so much for granted, will help them to stay connected with others and increase the quotient of happiness/emotional fulfillment. An ability to problem-solve the small, humdrum things in a day will help them take better care of themselves and teach them the fine art of telling somebody “I am not okay..I need help.” Being occupied with a vocation/work is just one slice of one’s day…we wanted to help navigate the rest of the day and look at our young people as a whole.
The life skill centre will be run by parents along with a team of professionals, including special educators. Our students will learn in an informal living environment, that seeks to teach ‘how to live a full life’ in a unique manner.