Home google Giving space for persons with autism to learn and earn - The Hindu

Giving space for persons with autism to learn and earn - The Hindu

On the second floor of a building in Anna Nagar, several women are busy operating machines, roasting red chillies and cooking masala powders. In a nearby room, more women and some adults with autism spectrum disorder are packing the powders and sealing them, ready for sale.

The unit, S.P.I.C.E. (Sankalp Parents Initiative Community Enterprise), is an initiative of the Sankalp Trust and aims to help mothers of adults with autism to work together, producing masala powders of 10 varieties.

“We found that students often finish the skills training programme at Sankalp in Mogappair by the time they are 18, and then are back at home. Some find it hard to go to a mainstream college or find a job. We wanted to generate employability for them in a place they would be comfortable in, as well as empower their mothers, who are their primary caregivers,” said Prema Gnanaolivu, consultant with Sankalp.

For one mother, it’s a place to learn to new skills and a change from 10 years at home. “My son is 16 now. I decided to get trained here, so that he too could join once he is 18,” she said. At the table opposite, a 23-year-old woman on the autism spectrum disorder was packaging masala powders. “I wanted her to have a routine even after school. This is a secure place,” her mother said.

The FSSAI-licensed unit is managed by the Sankalp Staff Society, said president of the society Krishna Kumar. In-house sales, as well as point-of-sale partners, are being used, and the unit may also tie up with a chain of stores, he said. Sambar powder, curry leaves powder, wheat flour and dosa topping powders are among the products. Many recipes have been crafted by the mothers working there, said Ms. Gnanaolivu.

The city has a growing number of initiatives for adults with autism, most of them with their parents, said Gita Srikanth, director, WE CAN, a resource centre for autism. “These are welcome. But the mainstream employment sector too must open up further for adults on the autism spectrum disorder,” she said.

We wanted to create jobs in a place they would be comfortable in

Prema Gnanaolivu,

Consultant, Sankalp

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