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Top film training institute, FTII, starts course for youth with autism

The prestigious Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune had launched a course for youngsters with autism. Ten students have signed up for the first batch and the two-week course will be done in two separate phases.

Get ready to witness a whole new universe in films. The renowned Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), among India's top institutes, has launched a filmmaking course exclusively for youth on the autism spectrum. This is being done for the first time in India and parents and disability rights groups say this will open new doors.

Launched in late July, 10 youngsters have signed up for the first batch. They will learn to use their smartphones to make movies in the 10-day programme. The course has been conceptualised by the NGO Art Sanctuary with all government support.

Gopinath Ramakrishnan, Co-founder of Chennai-based parent support group, Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN), lauds this as a great step towards inclusion.

The FTII brochures and application forms already shows reserved special seats for intellectually disabled youngsters and those under the autism spectrum. That means, they are rightly following the protocols unlike many other institutions across India. Many youngsters with autism might lack verbal communication skills, but they may have many untapped skills in arts, photography, music and so on. So, giving them the right tools and training them is a great initiative. Since this is a short term course, it suits their needs and requirements as well. This can be a stepping stone to a career in the film industry as well. -Gopinath Ramakrishnan, Co-founder, Special Child Assistance Network

The course will be conducted in two phases and the students will be given regular breaks between classes so they have time to grasp and process the learnings.

Sarbani Mallick, Founder, Biswagouri Charitable Trust in Bengaluru, runs an exclusive school for children with developmental disorders called Bubbles Centre. She believes that this will open a whole new approach both for the film industry and audiences.

"When you make a movie there is much to look beyond just technological stuffs. It requires comprehension and there is a social component too". Sarbani believes that with the right guidance this can be taught to youth on the spectrum. "NGOs and institutions never thought of such courses but now communities are coming forward with options. Most of the times, the individual has potential but no skills or opportunities. Hope this new course will benefit many youngsters across India".

Biju Issac, Secretary, Ernakulam Autism Club agrees. "There are many untapped talents amongst youngsters with autism and it is important to find them and bring these to the forefront".

Set up in 1960 by government of India, the FTII has seen some of the country's most well-known directors and actors graduate. The course has started at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication in New Delhi.

ALSO READ: Demand rises for portrayal of autism in Indian movies with sensitization

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