‘Great need to improve autism education in India’, say researchers Academics from the University of Birmingham are in India sharing their expertise in the area of special educational needs, and autism in particular. Typically 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum. While general awareness of autism has grown in India in recent times various misconceptions still exist. The public and some professionals need better understanding of what it means to have autism and how it affects people. There is also a need to share notions of ‘best practice’ in the education of children and young people on the autism spectrum.
Joining volunteers from the charity Hope & Compassion and colleagues from Cardiff Metropolitan University, Birmingham academics will impart skills and knowledge to people with limited access to training in autism, and introduce new technologies and equipment to help engage children who are hard to reach. The group will be running seminars and conducting training with practitioners and parents. Additionally, they will undertake teaching sessions with children using interactive software (Reactickles and Somantics), which is specifically designed for children with autism.
The visit will also strengthen existing partnerships and create new collaborations with academics at the University of Delhi, Khalsa College, the charity Action for Autism and Pingalwara Charitable Society, as well as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (a local government initiative for children with special educational needs and disabilities). Dr Karen Guldberg, Senior Lecturer in Autism Studies and Director of the Autism Centre for Education and Research at the University of Birmingham, said: “We hope to set up sustainable networks and partnerships and will undertake a training needs analysis with a sample of parents and teachers. This will identify how we might be able to offer meaningful, long-term partnership and support.”
Manpreet Kaur from the charity Hope & Compassion, said: “It is with the help of volunteers and academics that we are now able to bring new knowledge and research into areas that normally would not cater for the various disabilities. This enables progression and development for children, families, carers and institutions.”
The University of Birmingham was established in 1900 and was the UK’s first civic university where students from all religions and backgrounds were accepted on an equal basis. A founding member of the Russell Group, it is one of the United Kingdom’s internationally acclaimed research–intensive universities. The University’s work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 different countries. The University of Birmingham’s engagement with India spans over 100 years. The first Indian students came to Birmingham in 1909 to study degrees in Mining and Commerce and there are now more than 1000 Indian alumni. The University currently has over 180 students from India studying a wide range of subjects – at all levels from foundation to doctoral research. The University’s India Office opened in New Delhi in 2009. This was the first overseas office of the University of Birmingham and has been established to maintain partnerships with local providers, support the alumni in India, further consolidate research collaborations and provide local services to those students who wish to study at the University. For further information please visit: www.birmingham.ac.uk
Hope & Compassion is a charity that works with other organisations abroad to improve the lives of children with special educational needs and their families living in poverty in developing countries. At the heart of Hope and Compassion is a team of experienced professionals from the UK, qualified in education and specialist therapies. The countries abroad where we are working have very few practitioners with equivalent qualifications, so we are sharing our skills and best practice to train project staff abroad. We work with local charities to train and educate their members of staff, giving a lasting legacy of high quality skills and experience abroad. For further information, visit: www.hopecompassion.org
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