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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Special school

It’s been three years since Sejal Shah,a housewife from the uptown Walkeshwar locality,single-handedly started this school for autistic children.

Written by Swapnil Rawal |
August 14, 2011 12:28:07 am

Sejal Shah runs a school for autistic children from a BMC classroom in Worli. With her 12-year-old daughter herself suffering from autism,she is well aware of dilemmas of parents like her

It’s been three years since Sejal Shah,a housewife from the uptown Walkeshwar locality,single-handedly started this school for autistic children. Shah,whose 12-year-old daughter herself is suffering from autism and major health issues like cerebral palsy,has embarked on this mission to provide a quality life to these special kids.

Autism is a complex neuro-developmental disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It affects the ability to communicate,respond to surroundings,form and develop social relationships,and is marked by repetitive behaviour.

Shah has seven children with autism at her centre. “The idea to start a centre for these kids struck me three years ago,as the parents can’t give full time to them if they are working and most of them don’t know how to deal with the kids. I started the school where they are given different skills to learn. There are four trained staff to take care of these kids as it is difficult as if one kid starts to cry,the others too follow.”

Shah says these kids need to get out of the comfort of their homes for sometime and learn skills,interact with other kids though they cannot bond with them.

Her daughter Viha was born premature and started showing repetitive behaviour and problems with vision at an early age. “She was born in the 26th week and was in the incubator for 100 days. She could understand things,but expressing was difficult for her. She has a problem with her ankle,but can walk with someone’s support. She can see light and the primary colours now.”

Shah’s centre is facing space constraints as the rented BMC classroom in Worli,where she is based now,is too small to accommodate over seven-eight children. “These kids need room to move around. As each child is different,they need one-on-one attention and care. I get this place after the school hours in the afternoon for about four hours. I am looking for a bigger place,” she says.

She has stopped enrolling more children owing to space constraints. Shah says funds are also a concern as she herself is bearing the expenses of the place,staff etc. “The parents of children are not charged,but they do contribute as per their capacity. I am looking for financial assistance… I am planning to set up a trust that would help me rent places and raise financial support.”

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