A teenager on a move with a mission to reach out and serve 1000 children with autism

Top Quote Junko Ota, a student of the British School New Delhi, at the age of 16 in 2018 founded Journals and Journeys which aims to incorporate art therapy – with an emphasis on visual journaling – to foster a culture of self–expression for autistic individuals who are uniquely marginalized in our society and often unable to find spaces to voice themselves. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) July 23, 2019 - Journals and Journey a social initiative of Junko Ota, a 17-year-old girl organised a half-day event 'Open Voices- Analyzing the Developments in Autism Education and Management' in partnership with the Action for Autism, Joy of Drama and Samadhan. The conference was aimed at bringing together voices on autism treatment, care and support, to discuss alternative treatment options, sustainable care strategies, and create extensive institutional support systems. In particular, the conference brought in individuals who have worked with alternative and non-traditional approaches for treating and managing autism, including art therapy, which Journal and Journeys focuses on.

    “Open Voices”, witnessed massive participation of young children, civil society orgaisations, parents and children who shared their stories, inspiring many to be courageous, resilient and persevere.

    The highlight of the event was the open forum where experts, parents and the self-advocates themselves talked about their difficult journeys, their happy moments, challenges and motivating factors.

    Autism is a Spectrum disorder (ASD) which can have a mild, moderate and severe affect on a child. It impairs the ability to communicate and interact with others. These limitations can cause a child to develop and learn more slowly or differently. It affects not only the child but also the family. However, with support and training, right education and early interventions persons with mild Intellectual Disabilities can hold down jobs and live independently. According to the studies, 1 in 68 children being diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in India.

    Sumathi Morgan, Director of Samadhan said, “It a meaningful event because we need to explore and discuss alternative therapies for children and see the kind of development we want to have. As a therapist, we need to stimulate that factor of inculcating art and creative therapy because in this the inhibition goes away”.

    On the use of Drama for therapy Vaishali Chakravarty, Founder of Joy of Drama said, “In drama everything is right, there is nothing wrong. There’s always a chance to come up and open up, do things you want to do, without anyone judging you at any given point in time and that’s why drama is so powerful, you can be yourself.”

    Talking about the taboo and the challenges Merry Barua, Founder & Director of Action for Autism said, “It is seen that parents perspective is also the perspective of the general. They live in society so sometimes they have the same negative idea. They don’t acknowledge and therefore hide. We are working to move them out of that and shedding that shame and stigma to say yes my child has autism, teaching them this is not a problem and then owning it”.

    Junta Ota, Founder, Journals and Journeys said, “I have always been a passionate student of Art and Psychology, and Journals and Journeys, and now the Open Voices Conference, is my way of not only exploring these disciplines but contributing to the community at large. Through our efforts, we aim to increase awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder and the various, innovative and advanced forms of treatment and research being done for individuals on the spectrum. I also plan to reach out and serve 1000 children with Autism in next one year”.

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