Thursday, March 30

1st ever ‘commune’ for autistic persons and parents almost ready

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A group of people, bound by the concern that their children with special needs will be all alone after their parents’ death, have come up with the idea of a community living centre for the families. The Caregiver Trust has set up the sprawling facility in Barupiur’s South Ramgarh, off Canning Street. The home is now just waiting for a doctor, after which the first resident can move in.

Debasis Ray, a former engineer with the Railways, is preparing to move into this shelter with his 40-year-old son. “We are trying to get a doctor who is willing to visit the facility on a regular basis. Once that is done, I will be the first to move in with my son,” said Ray, a managing trustee.

“My husband passed away two and a half years ago. Now I am concerned about what will happen to my daughter, who is autistic, after me. We are trying to move into the home as soon as possible,” said Joyshree Ghosh, a member of the Trust.

Members of the Trust said that a doctor was essential for the project as those with special needs often fall ill and require regular check-ups. “It is very difficult to get a full-time doctor. We are talking to some organizations about this problem. Hopefully, some solutions will present themselves,” said Dr Arnab Sengupta, a member of the Trust.

The eight-acre plot was acquired back in 2001. While the two-storey house takes up 1.5acres, the rest will be utilized for various other things, like vegetation for supply to the common kitchen. Funded mostly by the parents themselves, some corporate houses and individuals have also chipped in to make the project a success. “One of the reasons the project took such a long time to be complete was because donations did not come in uniformly,” said Ray.

Even though construction was completed in 2014, the organisation had to wait for three years to get an electricity connection. A mix of twobedded and four-bedded dormitories, the building can accommodate 56 residents altogether. Parents have to move in with their wards, but caregivers will be trained so that they can look after the adults with special needs once their parents pass away.

“No home can take care of children/adults with special needs as much as the parents can. The concept of this shelter is community living so that the adults with special needs are not left in the hands of the caregivers,” added Ray.

Some members also felt the need for a school-like set up or vocational unit to keep their children engaged. “Some special educators have shown interest in helping us set up a school-like facility or a vocational training centre, where our children can be kept engaged,” said Anuradha Pal Chowdhury, whose 30-yearold son goes to Manovikas Kendra at present.

Source: Times of India

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