1) What is Forum For Autism?
Forum for Autism(FFA) is a parent support group which caters to the needs of families touched by Autism. The primary aim of setting up FFA was to create awareness about Autism and to empower parents. Over the years, along with the primary goals, FFA has widened its horizons to work towards protecting the rights of the person with Autism and their families, self advocacy and providing financial assistance to families who cannot afford costly treatments.
2) When did FFA come into existence?
FFA was officially registered as a Trust and Society in 2001. Even before the official registration, FFA was functioning as a small group of motivated parents for a few years before 2001.
3) What motivated the members to start FFA ?
FFA was formed by a handful of motivated moms who met outside therapy centres and clinics and realized that their children were similar in a lot of ways. It was the mid 90s when even most Paediatricians did not know or understand Autism. There were very few professionals (speech/occupational therapists) who knew how to the teach a child with autism. Information was scarce as the internet was in its nascent stages and most families did not even own a computer. Families had to get their info from books that had to be sourced from friends and family in the US. These moms who met regularly while their children underwent therapy decided to pool in their resources, thereby helping each other. The books that each of them had started the FFA library, which was made available to other parents and professionals too. In due course, these parents started inviting specialists from other parts of the country to conduct workshops to increase their understanding of their children and learn how to work with them effectively. Little did they realize that 20 years later, their initiative would grow into a huge organisation that is known all over the country today.
5) Five things the readers need to know about the FFA
1) FFA is a vibrant parent body that is working towards empowering persons with Autism and their families.
2) FFA runs 2 libraries (Colaba and Vashi) where around 500 books are available on various topics related to Autism.
3) FFA conducts workshops and seminars/talks regularly by Professionals from India and abroad to constantly update understanding of Autism and to learn new therapy methods.
4) Senior FFA parents are always available for informal counselling whenever a new parent needs someone to talk to.
5) FFA has a database of parents and professionals in each area of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane which is readily shared with any new parent who is looking for support and resources.
6) Our 3 biggest achievements?
1) Sponsoring of children from poor families. FFA commits to partly sponsor a child for 3 years in the school of the parents' choice.
2) FFA's Monitoring and Resource Committees formed in 2014 are working towards creating safe environments for children/adults with Autism in schools/therapy centres/vocational centres/residential centres.
3) FFA has helped several parents and professionals set up centers/schools for children with Autism. FFA parents have constantly engaged with the Govt of Maharashtra and obtained several concessions for children in mainstream schools and now also for college students too.
7) Any future goals of FFA, we would like to share with the readers
1) FFA parents are actively involved in envisioning and planning a safe, inclusive and empowering residential centre.
2) FFA would also like to plan Respite Care facilities in as many localities as possible.
3) FFA wishes to engage with the Govt authorities to have parks/gardens exclusively for children/young adults with Autism
Forum for Autism