ANANDA: Supported Living for people with Autism
When Action For Autism started way back in early 90's, most people in India had not heard about autism. However, through persistent efforts by us, significant changes have taken place at multiple levels: a diagnosis is recieved quicker, parents feel more comfortable taking their children to public places, awareness is reaching even smaller towns, and a child with autism can even catch a flight accompanied by his guide dog! But, most of the efforts worldwide have been focused on younger people. Very few services look at adults and the aging population of individuals with autism.
“My son is independent, and i think one day, he will also be able to hold a job. But his vulnerability will lead him to be exploited once I am not there,” says Sudanshu Grover, a young mother. “The spectre of ‘What after us?’ haunts each of us parents,” says Reeta Sabharwal who has been actively and closely involved in setting up supported living options aimed at adults with autism when their parents are no more or are unwell and unable to cater to the daily living needs
Most persons with Autism require lifelong support. With extended family systems in India fast disappearing, society provides no viable alternative support mechanisms for these persons with autism when they lose their caregivers and are on their own. No specialist residences or homes are currently available in India.
To fill this gap in services AFA has launched a project “ANANDA: Supported Living For People with Autism”. Group Homes providing a structured environment and predictable routines is internationally identified as the most suitable for adults with autism. Ananda is to be a first of its kind residence-cum-rehabilitation complex for persons with Autism, providing the best practices from across the globe modified to suit local conditions. This residence complex will serve as a model for future group homes across India.
With the support of the Haryana Government, Action For Autism received land in Haryana’s Gairatpur Bas village for this project. Mrs Sonia Gandhi laid the foundation stone for ANANDA: Supported Living for Persons with Autism on 8 March 2013.The Chief Minister Haryana, Shri Bhupinder Singh Hooda and the Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Shri Anand Sharma were also present at the foundation stone laying ceremony. Shri Sharma who has a son with autism, has always been a strong advocate and supporter for the autism movement.
In addition to being a model residence for people with autism, setting up work and employment options for adults at ANANDA are also important objectives of the project. The latter includes work options at a small inclusive school where children of all abilities will learn and grow together. ANANDA hopes to knit together youngsters with special needs with the local community, through shared work and recreational spaces. ANANDA will provide services for the residents as well as opportunities for the local community, through...
- Model Group Homes
- Eco-friendly environment & infrastructure
- Sheltered vocational workplaces and work opportunities
- Vegetable and herb farming
- Health and sports facilities
- Leisure and recreational areas
- Kitchen and cafeteria facilities
- Therapeutic services
- Medical centre
- Inclusive school
All of the above will provide income and work opportunities for residents.
The first phase of construction of this mega project, that of the Inclusive School and the building to house the therapeutic services, medical centre and administrative activities is underway. Some photographs of the construction site from August 2013 are given below.
- We will be working in partnership with major Corporates and the local community to become the focal point for a positive change in residential support linked to lifelong learning in autism.
- Individual fees and donations
- Trust corpus created through parents/individuals
- Income generated from the sale of produce and craft items.
What we are looking for
While we work on this unique path breaking project that will serve as an international residential project, we hope our philanthropic friends in the corporate world will consider committing to one or more of the above units/activities. Each of these units/sub units will be named after the Corporate or individual who sponsors the same.