forum for autism

Autism, also known as ‘spectrum disorder,’ has symptoms ranging from a mild learning and social disability to a severe impairment, with multiple problems. Parents support groups are the most significant of the support systems available to people dealing with special children; and autistic kids especially benefits from this network. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, a large parents' support group becomes a source of rich experience enabling parents to share their thoughts and seek answers to deal with the ups and downs of bringing up an autistic child.

The Autism Parents Forum (Mumbai) was initiated by Beena Modak, a parent who organized an informal group, over six years ago inform parents of the diagnosis and how to deal with autistic children. Over the past seven years, more than thousand parents have benefited from the forum.

Currently the forum consists of 350 members of which 100 are professionals such as special educators, occupational therapists and the rest are parents dealing with autistic children. Chitra Iyer, secretary of the forum started working five year back when her own son was diagnosed with Autism. She says, ”The forum’s role begins post-diagnosis where we share our experiences and guide parents through the process of acceptance. The forum also deals with issues like monetary requirements, special schools, siblings and mainly the changes that every family goes through as well as the adjustments required for the growth of the autistic child."

The forum maintains an exhaustive database listing special schools and regular schools that accommodate autistic individuals. The forum also focuses on training parents. Paulin Paulose, a special educator says “If parents need a therapist or a special educator, we as members of the forum are first informed. We basically attempt to initiate growth and development of these kids”.

Three libraries have been set up in the city with reading material on Autism that has been collected over the years by parents. These lend out books, articles, periodicals and reading material from all over the world.

Awareness programs are held for the general public. Group counseling sessions are also conducted by psychologists and doctors to further answer queries raised by parents. The forum strongly feels that autistic students should also have a right to academic concession in mainstream education and autism should be included under the PDA (Persons with Disability Act).

Vani Venogopal, an active member says,”I have really benefited from the forum. I understand and accept my autistic daughter’s problems better now. Many parents are completely lost on finding out that their child is autistic, this forum is a boon for them.” To further help parents, the forum plans to hold an annual meet and several workshops by renowned occupational therapist, Saif Bijliwala.

Today, this support group has generated a reputation of such magnitude where doctors recommend parents to contact this forum for information and help. “Autism is not a mental illness, it is a developmental disorder. One in every 160 kids in the world suffers from this disorder. One could hinder their growth by simply ignoring them or out casting them, or stopping children from interacting with affected children”, concludes Iyer.

Forum for Autism
Saurabh house,
Ground floor,
Flat no. 1,
Next to Garden Hotel,
Garden lane, Colaba Causeway,
Colaba, Mumbai

Contact No. - 022- 32949595
Email –
Annual Membership Fee - Rs150