Synchronized, holistic and individualized intervention For individuals with autism using mobile technology

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Rangam’s Offshore Skills Training Center for Children and Young Adults With Special Needs Celebrates First Anniversary

First AnniversaryTheir little eyes sparkled with joy as they received beautiful images that captured moments from their learning activities and interactions with special educators. For Dhyan, Rushel, Ragini, Esha, Siddharth and their friends, it was a day to celebrate a year of their small but significant achievements as individuals with unique skills and amazing abilities.

The journey of ColorsAcademy began on July 10 a year ago, with a mission to bring best-in-class assistive technology tools to India while providing support to children with disabilities at every step of their social, cognitive and functional development. Yesterday, the staff at Rangam and ColorsAcademy got together with a group of 5- to 23-year-old students with autism, ADHD, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and learning disability to mark the first anniversary of their skills training center in Vadodara, Gujarat. The students were accompanied by their parents or guardians.

In one year, ColorsAcademy has made major strides toward its mission. Four special educators have been appointed to provide pre-academic, academic, pre-vocational and functional training that is designed to enhance social, motor, executive functioning, self-care and various other life-skills. The training is delivered through ColorsKit – a collaborative, award-winning program comprising vocational and life-skills assessment and training tools. Equipped with video-, audio- and touchpoint-based prompts as well as data collection and analysis methodologies, ColorsKit utilizes the applied behavior analysis (ABA) model of intervention to evaluate skill gaps, provide highly tailored skills training, and track the progress of each student.

The center is equipped with state-of-the-art assistive devices like tablets and an interactive kiosk. ColorsAcademy has five intervention rooms for one-on-one sessions and one quiet, colorful play area for motor skills training and group physical activities.

There are reasons to feel upbeat about the quality of intervention at ColorsAcademy, as is evident from the story of a seven-year-old boy with learning disability. “In the beginning, he could barely tell one color from another. But after three months of personalized training and practice, he showed remarkable improvement in his ability to correctly identify different colors,” said Uma Muley, Special Educator at ColorsAcademy.

He is not the only student who has responded well to training and behavioral reinforcements.

A 15-year-old boy with cognitive and pre-vocational skill deficits has shown improvement in skills like auditory memory and handwriting after few a months of training. “His language skills have also improved,” observed Vidhi Patel, Special Educator.

Special Educator Himanshu Gayakwad works with a seven-year-old girl with cerebral palsy. “She is now able to understand voice commands and facial expressions. She is more comfortable in social situations than she was earlier,” Himanshu noted.

Finding meaningful employment for individuals with disabilities after they become adults is often an enormous challenge for caregivers, schools and support service providers. In line with Rangam’s “Employment for Everyone” mission, ColorsAcademy has hired two individuals with special needs as in-house staff. They are providing support to special educators in content search, preparation, development and deployment.

“We are currently working with a few special needs schools in Vadodara. We would love to have an opportunity to expand our services in other cities in India,” said Kedar Binivale, Business Development Manager and Support Coordinator at ColorsAcademy.

A report published by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation of the Government of India reveals that 26.8 million people in the country have physical, mental, sensory or intellectual impairments which prevent them from fully participating in social and professional activities. While the support services for individuals with disabilities have significantly improved over the past two decades, a pervasive lack of awareness and understanding about autism and other disabilities continues to pose major problems in diagnosing developmental delays at an early age.