Bubbles Experience

by Praveena

Bubbles is special to us. Not because Sarbani aunty always gives us wonderful food when we go. (Though that is definitely a factor.) But Bubbles is where I see life at its best.

I still remember the day when I went to Bubbles for the first time. It was a Saturday and my friend gave me wrong directions and I walked in circles before I finally found it. I liked the first look of Bubbles. It was closer to home and closer to the bus stop. But little did I know that I would absolutely fall in love with that place.

I was one of the volunteers for a school day event at Bubbles. Sarbani Aunty and Karuna aunty gave us instructions on the programmes happening the next day. I was in charge of the blue team (I like the color blue) I took my responsibility very seriously.

A friend told us that the students of Bubbles were autistic and non-autistic. She explained to us how it is important to have challenged children integrated into every aspects of society and Bubbles was playing an important role in doing that. As we listened to her quietly, I realized that this was something big.

I had heard very little of autism. It did not affect me, so I did not know a lot about it. I had a conversation with Sarbani Aunty once and she explained to me what 'Autism' was. She encouraged questions and explained the condition quite simply. It was all new to me.

I confess. I am afraid of kids. I somehow strongly believed that children did not like me. Children never liked coming to me and even if they did, the story ended with the child wailing and crying (and I trying to hide my face to avoid being seen as the insensitive adult who made a child cry) or they would run to a more popular adult (with me grinning…. Pretending to send the child to them myself) so I actually did not look forward to my first event with Bubbles as the ‘in-charge’ of the Blue team…

The first event was fantastic. Because I am blogging right now, I shall say that my blue team was fantastic. But it was our kind of place. Fun-filled. It was not about being autistic, non-autistic, talented, non-talented, shy, non-shy etc. It was the sheer energy, chaos (good kind of chaos) and cheer that I fell at home with.

Thus began our relationship with Bubbles. We have decorated Bubbles a dozen times for Christmas/Children’s day/School Day, stripped off the decorations and cleaned up after each event… Become Santa Clauses (dancing Salsa and Govinda naach - Only kids would fall for that…) Gave presentations and did many more things and each of them was an absolute pleasure. We always tell Sarbani aunty that our motives for coming to Bubbles are totally selfish. We come to Bubbles to have fun (of course the food is a catalyst too). Volunteering is just a part of the deal.

The society does a very good job of marginalizing autistic individuals. Society actually marginalizes any individual who suffers from a neurological or a psychological disorder. In our day to day life, how many autistic individuals do we come across? How many individuals do we interact with who are mentally challenged? This is where Bubbles is making a huge difference because it brings out autism into the open. It encourages dialogue about autism with parents and teachers and eliminates the shame and fear associated with it.

My parents had not allowed me to go out for a late night outing when I was 16 years old. I was convinced that my parents did not want me to be independent(At that time, all I believed was that ‘If I had to be independent, I should be allowed to do what I wanted to do’) Now when I think about it, I realize that all your life, your parents and teachers teach you to be independent. This is what as a school, Bubbles does as well. The only difference is that Bubbles welcomes all children. And they do a really good job of it.

I learnt a lot at Bubbles. Here, I am time and again humbled by how much more I have to learn and the realization that most of the stuff that matter, I can learn from children.

In one event I saw a kid who I thought acted way too grown up. My friend and I had dressed up as Santa Clause and worn masks to entertain the kids and she came to my friend and told her 'I know you were the one behind the mask, I remember your earrings'. It is a different thing that my friend was stupid enough to wear earrings while being dressed as Santa Clause, but I concluded that the kid was a snob. Kids are not supposed to notice earrings or remember them, and they are supposed to like Santa Clause. Minutes later I saw an autistic kid sit and our keen observer friend went out to help her get up and dusted her dress and helped her wear her bag and got her shoes and they walked hand in hand. Who was the snob here I wonder?

Autistic children are very talented. So I had heard. But I saw a young girl dance for a Malaika Arora number and I went to a flashback on how nervous I was before my first stint on the stage. While I marveled at how graceful the girl looked, I saw how important that stage was to her. She didn’t care for the world. Bubbles give children such moments. Moments where you can be your best, even if you are different.

And I realized that I need to learn to create my moments and not waste time being nervous and scared.

There are many reasons why I think Bubbles is special. But what can I say except that I am absolutely in love with that place……


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Bubbles Learning Centre For Autism

The intent of creating an online space for Bubbles Learning Centre is to target a wider audience and to help autistic children reach us at a much earlier stage.

There are very few schools in Bangalore who cater to children with autism. We have very specific programs addressing each of their deficits in skills such as language and communication, play and social skills.

Apart from this, we run an early intervention programme where in skill training is given with a holistic approach.

In Bubbles, we ensure that the student-teacher ratio is small, typically around 1:2.

We lay emphasis on the overall development of the child and enable them to lead independent lives.

Parent empowerment, family counselling, training and their involvement is given major priority in the training process.

The purpose of the counselling sessions is to promote the physical, emotional, spiritual, social and economic well-being of families. The intent is to help the parents understand the full potential of their children and in training the children to achieve the same.