The next session of the seminar included panel discussion, which had a set of eminent panelists and moderator. The panelists included Ms. Smita Awasthi, Founder & Behaviour Analyst, Behaviour Momentum India Foundation, Bengaluru, who presented on ‘Skill Development for Intervention’; Dr. Himangshu Das, Director, National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities, Chennai, who presented on ‘Current Scenario: Services for Individual with ASD in India’; Ms. Merry Barua, Founder & Director, Action for Autism, New Delhi, who presented on ‘Challenges in Skilling of Persons with Autism’; Mr. Rajiv Mathur, Head – Standards & Quality Assurance, National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC), presented on ‘Access to Skill Development Training for Autism’ The session was moderated by Ms. Indu Chaswal, Consultant in Autism & Related Conditions and Faculty, SASR, Faridabad.
During the question answer session, Ms. Merry Barua highlighted various challenges and stigmas attached to Persons with Autism. Answering to the questions raised by the audience, she explained the importance of counselling parents in teaching Persons with Autism public-private behavior, sex education to adolescent and also enabling them with the right to decide on their own. The need for training in work behavior and work related skills were expressed from the audience. Furthermore, Ms. Smita Awasthi presented her views on training Persons with Autism with different kinds of skills and how the issues faced by them are tackled. Dr. Himangshu Das earlier deliberated on the reforms required in various govt. policies and schemes for Persons with Autism. Mr. Rajiv Mathur expressed that the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) was very sensitive to the PwD sector and NSDC welcomed viable proposals from quality training providers for training PwD. He informed that the NSDC evaluates the proposals and provides funds in the form of grants and soft loans at minimum interest rate to the eligible training providers with concrete proposals. During the session, Ms. Indu Chaswal gave her valuable inputs constantly and moderated the session in a very engaging manner.
The next key session of the seminar was a crisp presentation by the Guest of Honour, Prof. James Anthony Bailey, one of the world’s most respected and renowned experts, with over 25 years of global experience and currently engaged as a Professor and Chair of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health Chair, University of British Columbia, Vancouver (Canada). He addressed on ‘ASD and Employment- Opportunities and Challenges’. He started on the note that SCPwD solely cannot be burdened to work for the cause, as it is the responsibility of the society as a whole. Autism was a worldwide issue, but the situation seemed to be worse in India as most ASD cases were not even diagnosed. The major challenge today was the diagnosis of ASD. His presentation broadly centered on the importance of employment, why it mattered, barriers to employment, significance of pre-employment due to past isolation depriving the Autistic of variety of learning due to lack of desired social interactions, finding employment and job creation and to top it all the importance of being engaged. The audience connected very well to the deliberations and discussed on various aspects of skilling and employment of Persons with Autism.
The seminar was highly successful and it witnessed participation beyond the capacity of the auditorium with participants from various backgrounds, such as NGOs & Organizations working in the field of Autism, Parents, Counsellors, Special Educators, Occupational Therapists, Head of Institutions / Clinics / Remedial Centres, Industry Partners, Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), Rehabilitation Professionals, Market Research Consultants, officials from the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC).
‘Skill Council for Persons with Disability’ (SCPwD), under the aegis of Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE), GoI, has been constituted in Oct’2015 to fulfil the objectives of the Honourable PM’s ‘Skill India’ Mission to enable Persons with Disability (PwD) through skill training for employment/ self-employment/ entrepreneurship opportunities. SCPwD is a not-for-profit organization, registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860 to fulfil the mission of mainstreaming PwD through skill development. Its Governing Council is represented by Industry Leaders, Federation/ Association of Industries, Academia, Training Providers (TPs), Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), NGOs, Foundations, Joint Secretaries from Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE) as well as Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) and representatives of Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI) and National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC). SCPwD has been jointly promoted by the NSDC, CII and MSJE under the aegis of MSDE.