Hi! I am Lavanya and my son Surya is eleven years old. Surya is autistic and high functioning. He is presently attending a full day school in “ OAI (Organization For Autistic Individuals). Over a span of two years Surya has been trained to string beads, work with clay, cut paper and vegetables and various other gross and fine motor skills in school. Little did I know that over time these skill sets will result in beautiful products for Diwali. When I received an invitation for the Diwali exhibition held by the school I was very keen on being the first one to visit and shop. I was curious to know what the children had made.
As I stepped into the exhibition a splurge of colours and aromas greeted me. The children had made beautiful candles, incense sticks, lamps, paper bags, envelopes and wall hangings with LED lights. The teachers and trustees stood proudly displaying the artifacts. They had started working on these products about eight month back. The effort was divided into an hour a day for each child and was monitored by a teacher. The children had learned all those crafts during school hours as part of their Arts and Crafts curriculum. The ingredients like wax, fragrances, beads and others had been very carefully selected. The raw materials used were of good quality so that every child returned home with clean and irritation free hands. Teaching a special child is very challenging. They have sensory and tactile issues. When a new activity that is outside of their comfort zone is taught to them they resist and have meltdowns. Those eight months the teaching staff had worked relentlessly and consistently to teach each and every child vocational skill sets. By doing so they have encouraged independence and confidence in all the special children. Remember your child can see and observe and every time they can’t perform or learn, their confidence level drops and meltdowns increase. Even with obstacles in their paths , with consistent effort, the children learnt new skills.
The importance of training and developing a new skill set has to be coordinated with sensory integration therapy and sports training. It was obvious that day that prior to each child being trained on new skill sets they had received Occupational Therapy, Sports training and tactile inputs so that they could follow the relevant instructions by sitting in one place for an hour at least. I picked up a bag full of goodies for my family and friends. Diwali is the festival of lights and what better way to celebrate it than this. We did not buy anything from any other shop. When you purchase products made by special children the quality will be superb and prices will be lesser than what would be available in malls. So please extend your support and encouragement to them by shopping during such exhibitions. What better way to light up your house than seeing a special face light up with a smile? This explosive display of skill sets had done away with any doubts I had about differently-abled children. They were more patient and talented than anybody had even imagined or given them credit for. So Happy Diwali readers and do write in the comment section any similar experiences, you may have had. Lavanya.