Today we visited Asha Academy for Autism and Severely Handicapped which is located in Basaveswarnagar. There we met Mrs. Jayashree Ramesh, who gave us a brief description about the functioning of the school. She told us about how she is constantly trying to make them independent by giving them skills and understanding of general knowledge and social skills.
There are six students per class, the ratio being 1:2 - that is, one teacher for two students. This ratio is sensible, according to their needs. The classrooms were divided into five sections: individual tables, space for group activity, independent work, area for break and storage area. The classroom should be compact and not crowded but not too big so as to hold a child’s attention. Each classroom had individual charts for every student with their photos on it with the list of activities they are supposed to do for the day. They relate more to visuals than to text therefore every chart had visuals along with words. Every student had a name card which was velcro-ed to their desks and they were supposed to put the card in the particular pocket of the class they were going to next, so as to make them independent. They took small things into account such as the fact that autistic children can’t generalise and therefore for example if they were teaching about balls they were shown images of every kind of ball available. They clicked pictures of the students in their own class of their different emotions so as to make them understand their own emotions. There were some kids who were taught embroidery and block painting.
When we asked Mrs. Jayashree Ramesh about her requirements for an autistic school, she gave us the following list:
Playground- track events, group games like basket ball, skating etc.
Yoga centre/ P.E. exercises
Park- for sensory experience
Dining hall- Coffee shop ( so they learn how to buy or ask for things)
Computer lab/ A.V. room
Area for resting
Large hall/ auditorium for group activities
Training room-Adl ( learning housekeeping)
Store to sell products made by them
Kitchen with bakery
Gardening- horticulture, medical plantation and kitchen garden
Big store house
Good toilets both Indian and western preferably with no steps
Doctors: General physicians, Paediatrician, Neurologist, Psychiatrist, Psychologist
Speech and language therapy
By Swati Piparsania and Samrudhii Palshetkar