There is a need to move deeper into the community and public spaces to create acceptance of disability, said the head of an organisation that works with individuals with autism.
Recently, the organisation held a programme at a park in Chetla, opting for a time when it is most crowded.
On Friday, at a day-long seminar at Asiatic Society, individuals with autism shared their experiences and that of their families.
The objective of the events was to include more and more people from the mainstream and not just families who have individuals with disabilities.
“It need not be a big event. Sometimes a small programme in a park or a neighbourhood is more impactful,” said Indrani Basu, founder-director, Autism Society West Bengal, which organised the programmes.
“When we are doing something in a public space like a park, grandparents or parents accompanying the children see and hear us. We don’t want to hide our way to merge with society. We want to merge where differences between people are accepted,” said Basu.
Often a lack of awareness leads to people being amused at those with disabilities. Visibility will create more acceptance and understanding, said a teacher of Autism Society West Bengal.
People affected by autism often face a number of struggles throughout life, from bullying and prejudice to limited job opportunities and access to health care.
On Friday, individuals shared their experiences and said that at times even sensitive individuals end up using language that can be derogatory or insensitive towards people with disability.
Basu said that even parents or families of individuals with autism should engage in conversations with parents of individuals without disabilities.
Individuals with autism do not approve of dismissive behaviour from neurotypical people, they said.
Amitava Basu, 40, spoke about how neuro-typical people do not say what they
“Usually during trips when I ask the driver to take a particular route, I am often told ‘the route is not allowed’. He could have said it’s too long or I don’t have the time or that he doesn’t know the route. People should just say what they mean,” he said.
“Don’t deny my autism... I may need a little more clarification than neuro-typical people,” he said.
Amitrajit Biswas, 22, who has completed his graduation in food technology and did an internship in a luxury hotel, spoke about his experiences.
“The internship lasted for four months. When I was posted in the food production unit in the cold kitchen I had to do a lot of work. There I had many colleagues, I worked together and I enjoyed and made friends,” he said.
“I wish more workplaces open the doors to neurodivergent people, and they should learn about autism and other conditions to make the workplace happy, stress-free and productive for them,” he said.
Parthiv Ghosh does not speak but that does not mean he is “silent”.
“I express my voice in different ways,” he said in his presentation.
Among other things, he loves to ride the escalator and hates it when he “is shown sympathy or is insulted.”
More interaction between people with and without disabilities will make mainstreaming easier and possible, said a teacher.