It’s not just the colourful graffiti, self-made musical system or a cycle fountain that greet an autistic child who walks into the new sensory park under the Association for Mentally Handicapped Adults (AMHA) at Kanattukara in Thrissur, but also a helping hand, care and compassion extended by the organizers. The services offered at the new centre, which is dedicated for children, at AHMA autism centre in Sarai centre near ESI hospital, at Olari are free of cost.
The sensory park is aimed at detecting the hyper/hypo reactions of the children through a one-hour long session, said P Bhanumathi, founder of the institute. Some kids would stare at the countless rotations of the fan, while others would show interest in creating new articles. The park creates an environment for identifying the taste of each child, channelises the energy of hyperactive children through desensitisation and provides sensory diet for the rest of the children to guarantee a requisite proportion of energy content in their body.
The centre offers specialised services of seven faculty, including an occupational therapist, speech therapist and specialist. At a time, five children can avail themselves of the services at the park. The work module is arranged in such a way that one specialist is allotted for one child. "Admission is given to children between the age of 2 and 14 years. Currently, there are 55 children at the park and more numbers on the waiting list. We are trying our best to include all those who wish to get treatment from the facility," Bhanumathi said.
Mayor M K Varghese inaugurated the sensory park at a function that was presided over by AMHA president Dr Lola Ramachandran.
Cycle fountain and music
The idea of a cycle fountain was conceived by C D Francis fondly called 'Cycle Francis' of Veloor in Thrissur. It is a cycle-operated mechanism of lifting the balls kept in three baskets with the help of water, corresponding to the energy used in pedalling. It so happened that the children of AMHA had come to attend a drama contest at a village festival at Veloor and they were fast drawn into the cycle fountain designed by Francis set up at the venue. This made Francis design another one for the park.
The musical instrument system at the park has been designed by Ganesh of the popular theatre group Ranga Chetana, while drawing teacher Gireeshan gave life to the walls through his ‘murals’. The park is also equipped with grass, metal, bubbles to handle the sensory treatment of children. Each child will be allotted the work to take care of one plant.