5th Autism Carnival: titled ‘My Playground’

On the occasion of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) on April 2, 2017, Center for Child and Adolescent Well Being (CCAW) in collaboration with Child Mental Health Foundation (CMHF) attempts to spread nationwide awareness for Autism Spectrum Disorder through a carnival for the Autism Community and mental health professionals.
New Delhi; April 1, 2017: As India is in midst of a major transition, the disorders of mind are still elusive jargon. Many times these problems are brushed under the carpet and rarely talked about. We’re still in those times, when not many in Indian households are still fully aware about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In such situations, diagnosis is complex and treatment far-fetched. Such labyrinthine social setup creates an immediate need to plug the gaps, clear misconceptions and spread awareness.

The 5th Autism Carnival aims to be the much needed awareness enhancement event. It won’t simply be a fun-filled fiesta but a day of relaxation for parents and learning for Autism community. CCAW has planned the day with ASD-friendly games, sensory activities, talents shows and fancy dress acts. To honour the young minds with ASD, ‘Spectrum Stars’ is a special category of recognitions for children with interesting talent abilities. Notably, a thoughtful painter, a humorous cartoonist, a budding sculptor, a graphic designer and an entrepreneur are to steal the show in this section. As, CCAW works with many such gifted minds each day, this carnival will be a platform to help children convert their innate talents to sustainable and employable skills. “We don’t believe in competitions, rather excellence should be the primary factor for driving children towards greater achievements. Activities at Autism Carnival are made of merriment, compassion and appreciation,” says Shreya Tandon, a Child Psychologist working with CCAW. Going forward, a fancy dress show, will be organized and children from special schools have also been invited to be a part of it this time. While, the fun-zone section promises plethora of games like bouncy, whirlpool, horse-riding and paint-stamping, a special sensory-zone section, will be a paradise for the hyposensitive and hypersensitive lot. The day will also witness the launch of the fourth series of Autism and Beyond, a unique compendium and a through guide for fostering the social skills of a child with ASD.

Speaking on Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), often characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication, Ms. Indu Chaswal, an expert therapist and parent of child with autism says, “Feel like you are sitting in a chair that has a broken leg, wearing heavily starched clothes and there are loud noises all around you. What if you do not have the words to express your predicament? This, precisely, can be a moment of life for a person with Autism.” Dr. Deepak Gupta, child and adolescent psychiatrist and the founder of CCAW points, “Children with autism may not look at you in the eye, may not listen to what you are saying and may keep on talking without any social relevance. They may flap their hands or twirl their fingers and people around will find this behavior odd". Autism is a neurological disorder that appears in the first three years of life and there are a varying range of symptoms from mild social and communication difficulties to associated learning difficulties. Dr. Gupta adds that people with autism have certain activities or interests that they like to be involved in, perhaps in a manner that is more intense and focused than others. More often these interests become skills that they can excel in. “With appropriate support, children under Autism Spectrum Disorder can accomplish many regular tasks done by all of us. We need to create greater levels of understanding and an accepting world. The World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is a precise expression for inculcating a deep understanding,” says Dr. Shilpa Gupta, a parenting coach  and therapist running the Parental Support Wing of CCAW.

Every child under ASD is unique in his or her own way, an attitude that our society is yet to understand and appreciate. Normality itself is a human construct and open to debate. "Though medical interventions are moving at a slow pace, but with constant efforts we will certainly be able to achieve a big breakthrough in near future," says Dr. Deepak Gupta.

In lack of basic information about ASD, recognizing the same in one's child gets all the more challenging. Ms. Indu Chaswal concludes, “There is a prime need for raising awareness so not only does detection become easier but ways for beating the day-to-day challenges may readily be derived from continuous community support. Autism Carnival is a free awareness centric event, involving panel of experts and allied professionals.”

About the event: In a bid to spread awareness on how Autism is perceived, Centre of Child and Adolescent Well Being (CCAW) is geared up to present the 5th Annual Autism Carnival: titled ‘My Playground’. It will be a day dedicated to understanding Autism, full of fun and diverse educational activities. Opening various channels of awareness for Autism, the Carnival will include stalls of progressive therapies and will also showcase stage performances of children with autism. Pediatricians, psychiatrists, psychologists and researchers would be gathering to reach a new milestone towards changing the perception of Autism.