World Autism Day: Children with autism to visit police stations in Mumbai today

On World Autism Day, Forum for Autism is taking children with autism and their parents to various police stations in the city, to familiarise the kids with the men in uniform; the body says autistic kids go missing and are traced by cops, especially the railway police

Taking into consideration cases of children with autism going missing, Forum for Autism has organised a trip today World Autism Day to several police stations for the kids and their parents. The purpose of the visit is to familiarise the children with the police and teach them that the police are their friends, and aren’t to be feared.

GRP Commissioner Dr Ravindra Singal with the children at the seminar yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan
GRP Commissioner Dr Ravindra Singal with the children at the seminar yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan

The initiative comes against the backdrop of the child of a member of the forum, who went missing and was traced to Bhusawal and brought back with the help of the railway police. According to members of the body, children with autism are attracted to trains and buses and tend to board them and go away.

Siddhant Palpurti with his mother
Siddhant Palpurti with his mother

The forum also organised a seminar yesterday at Wadi Bunder, where around 10-15 children with autism, along with their parents, met police officials. The seminar also helped the police sensitise towards autistic children and encouraged them to approach these children whenever they are found alone and help them in time of need.

The incident
On December 3, Siddhant Palpurti (19), a teenager with autism, walked out of his home and went to a temple in Kalyan. From there, he sat in a train going towards Bhusawal. Siddhant’s mother, Jaya, said her son loves trains, buses and all sorts of gadgets.

Jaya is also a member of the Forum for Autism. At Bhusawal, Siddhant alighted but forgot his tablet computer in the train. A railway employee found the device and called his mother’s number. “When I got the call from the railway employee, I immediately called the GRP commissioner of police, who forwarded my message to help trace my son,” said Jaya, adding that her son also slept overnight beside the railway tracks in Khandwa, where he was found by a gangman.

According to railway police, after they got a message about Siddhant, they informed all police stations and sent a message to all groups on WhatsApp. GRP PRO Ritesh Aher took up the initiative to make sure everybody got the message.

A railway staffer accompanying the boy saw the message and contacted the control room. “I got my son back on the fourth day after he had left the house,” said Jaya. This is the second time Siddhant has gone missing and been taken home.

Need of the hour
Parul Kumtha, president of the Forum and a mother to a 22-year-old son with autism, said many children with autism are attracted to trains and buses, and tend to take a ride. Thus, she said, it is paramount that the children befriend the police, in case they sit in a train or bus and go missing.

“The main purpose of the seminar yesterday and the visit to police stations is to remove the fear of the police from the minds of these kids. We have to make them understand that the police are their friends and that they should approach them during emergencies,” Parul said. She also encouraged other parents to get their autistic kids to meet local police to familiarise them with the officials in-charge, in case of emergencies.

Cop speak
Dr Ravindra Singal, Government Railway Police (GRP) commissioner, said, “This is a very positive initiative by the forum. We will give our maximum assistance to such kids and their parents. Such kids should always carry their ID card, address and contact details of their home or some gadget which can help them track their parents. I have also informed all my staff to help such kids if they found them at railway stations.”

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