ALFAA centre for people with autism has a story of remarkable spirit behind it
There are many centres in Bengaluru that empower children with autism in different ways. Be it therapies, vocational skills or training sessions, they ensure that children with autism and other disabilities are enabled to stand on their own feet.
One of them, is Assisted Living for Autistic Adults (ALFAA), an NGO that reaches out exclusively to children and teenagers with autism.
Founded in 2009 by Ruby Singh and friends Usha Kini and Madhurima Ghosh, the idea of the centre came from a personal experience. As the mother of a child with autism, Ruby was well aware of the hardships faced by parents of children with disabilities.
Like others, Ruby too was worried about her child's future and decided to start ALFAA.
The initial days were hard. To begin with, renting a place to set up the centre was a challenge. Many landlords refused to rent out a space as they believed that disabled children are a bad omen.
Undeterred, Ruby bought a house in Bengaluru and started ALFAA. In the initial days, she had weekend programmes as there were space and financial constraints.
Now we are open 365 days a year. This is more like a summer camp where we introduce children with autism to new things, especially vocational skills. The first few months were difficult for me. I had to learn things on my own. By 2012, I made this into a full-time programme. We usually take children with autism who are above 12 years of age. They have a lot of behavioural changes. We hope to work on that. - Ruby Singh, Co-founder, ALFAA.
Currently, over 18 children are part of ALFAA. Ruby is happy and proud that the centre has empowered children in many ways. Children here are trained in a range of skills like chocolate-making, gardening, handicrafts, cooking and so on.
With the help of over five special educators, Ruby aims to become a change maker in this field. She is also a founder member of the Autism Society of India (ASI). Ruby says that with the help of NGOs like ASI, they are able to reach out to more parents and create awareness about autism.
Kaladevi, whose 28-year-old nephew Dakshna Moorthy is a student here, says he has benefitted immensely with the centre's help.
"Parents cannot always stay with their disabled child at home. Hence, we must have good centres to educate and empower them. After being at ALFAA, my nephew has changed a lot for the good. His health is taken care of and he is trained in various skills. ALFAA has made my nephew self-sufficient to a large extent", says Kaladevi.