Ummeed Child Development Center MID-YEAR UPDATE 2018

  • Note from Vibha (Founder) & Anita (CEO)
  • Mumbai Lights Up Blue on World Autism Awareness Day!
  • WHO-Autism Speaks Caregivers Skills Training Project
  • Ummeed on the International Stage
  • We got published in Lancet Global Health!
  • ECHO
  • Family Empowerment through Walk-In Support Groups
  • Darshana Ramgiri's Story

Note from Vibha & Anita

In early June, the Ummeed team came together for its Quarterly Ummeed All Hands Meeting (QUAM). This time, the theme was "The Firsts". It was important for us to have this reflection since the last year has been one of intense activity. And sometimes, when one is constantly working and responding, one forgets to celebrate! So, we decided it was high time we took a few moments to pause, and recollect all the little and big new things we had achieved in these last few months...to celebrate these "firsts"!

Many, many wonderful reflections came out. From "first job and first salary" to "first radio show". From "being part of a team for the first time" to "having a new team leader". From "first multi-year grant" to "first donor meeting". From "delivering my first multi-disciplinary online training" to "my first photo with a child I was working with". From "presenting at an international conference for the first time" to "Ummeed's first Lancet article". From "the first time the Ummeed team went on a picnic" to "the first time two employees at Ummeed decided to get engaged"! :)

"How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our he-roes and our she-roes" said Maya Angelou. So this QUAM, we did exactly that! And we thought of all of you too... our well-wishers and supporters, our children and families.... Thank you for believing in us and pushing us on!

Mumbai Lights Up Blue on World Autism Awareness Day

This year, as part of World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD), which falls on April 2, Ummeed spearheaded the international "Light It Up Blue" campaign in Mumbai. Building on the success of the past two years, an urban landscape comprising 14 landmarks and buildings united for the cause of Autism Awareness and "lit up blue". A key highlight of this event was to light up Mumbai’s iconic Municipal Buildings (BMC Headquarters) as well as the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS Museum).

Ummeed’s campaign theme for 2018 was: 1 in 68 children has Autism. Identify. Understand. Support. The WAAD campaign to build awareness led to extended coverage in the media including a reach of over 100,000 through social media, radio and written publications. Two external events – one at the Bombay International School and one at Saifee Hospital focusing on Autism – were organized by Ummeed and were very well attended.

Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS Museum), Mumbai, April 2, 2018

Express Towers
Kala Ghoda Statue
Support Staff at Bombay International School

The iconic Royal Opera House

To join us in spreading Autism Awareness, contact communications@ummeed.org

WHO-Autism Speaks Caregivers Skills Training (CST) Project

Ummeed is privileged to be piloting the World Health Organization (WHO)-Autism Speaks Caregivers Skills Training (CST) Program in India. CST provides evidence-based skills training for caregivers of children with developmental delays and disorders that can be implemented locally in low- and middle-income countries. CST’s goal is to promote better understanding and acceptance of developmental delays and disorders and help caregivers apply skills that promote child development, communication and functioning.

Following a Stakeholder Meeting in May 2018, there was a five day Training of Trainers (TOT) by Dr Cecilia Montiel-Nava and Dr Pamela Dixon, from Autism Speaks in June 2018. The next half of the year will see trainers from Ummeed piloting CST within the community along with collecting data and documenting adaptations to be made to the program. With this, India joins more than 30 countries around the world engaged in a similar endeavour to build local services for developmental disabilities.

Training Of Trainers

To learn more about the program, contact autismservices@ummeed.org

Ummeed on the International Stage

Ummeed’s staff has made several inroads on the international platform. Addressing a variety of audiences comprising various stakeholders, our Ummedians have made an impact by sharing their research, learnings and experiences at a global level.

Jehanzeb Baldiwala, Director, Mental Health Services was invited as a guest speaker at the Narrative Gathering organized by Narrative Initiatives San Diego and Re-authoring Teaching. The Gathering was held in March 2018 on Coronado Islands, California and was attended by over 250 practitioners from all over the world.

Jehanzeb also led an interest group on using narrative ideas and practices with individuals living with Autism and their families.

Narrative Gathering in California

Ummeed therapists, Vrushali Kulkarni, Sonam Shah and Raviraj Shetty had their work selected for oral presentations by the World Federation of Occupational Therapy Congress 2018, and presented at the Congress held in Cape Town, South Africa in April 2018.

World Federation of Occupational Therapy Congress 2018

Shamin Mehrotra was invited to be a part of a panel discussion at an education symposium in Singapore titled Anticipating Problems, Identifying and Enabling Solutions: A Thought Leadership Symposium on Trends, Opportunities and Challenges in Education. The panel discussion was around enabling students across the learning spectrum in mainstream schools. Shamin shared Ummeed’s experience with inclusive education in different school systems in India.

Shamin Mehrotra in Singapore

We got published in Lancet Global Health!

The GMCD Team

Ummeed is one of the proud collaborators of a large multinational study on child development in collaboration with Yale University and the University of Ankara, Turkey. Data was collected from over 12,000 children in India, Argentina, South Africa and Turkey over the course of five years. Through the development and use of a tool (Guide for Monitoring Child Development - GMCD), the study helped establish that healthy children develop in remarkably similar ways across different countries and cultures.

The development of the GMCD paves the way for now using a common tool across countries to identify children who need intervention services and can also guide policy makers to think about impact measurement for interventions across countries. Lancet Global Health published findings from this landmark study in a paper co-authored by Ummeed’s Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy and Dr Roopa Srinivasan. The complete article can be accessed here


The ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) model develops knowledge and capacity among community providers through technology such as video-conferencing. Its intent is to improve outcomes by reducing variations in processes of care through sharing of best practices and case-based learning. With participants from all over India and other countries, Ummeed has been using ECHO to offer several capacity building training programs:

  • Ummeed ECHO Autism Intervention Program is a seven-month Autism Intervention Training mentorship program.
  • Ummeed ECHO Autism Program is a unique training program on Autism for physicians. Participating physicians learn about evidence-based practices for diagnosis of Autism, common medical and psychiatric co-morbidities, early intervention and helping improve care for families of children with Autism. Ummeed ECHO Autism is being run in partnership with ECHO Autism initiated by Dr Kristin Sohl and her team from Missouri.
  • The Kolkata Narrative Echo Clinic is designed with the intention of supporting mental health professionals like counsellors and psychiatrists who have been trained in Ummeed's short-term training in Narrative Therapy in Kolkata (West Bengal).
  • Ummeed ECHO Narrative Ideas and Practices program is for a group of participants from the Mental Health Training Program who stay outside of Mumbai.

To learn more, contact training@ummeed.org for details

Family Empowerment through Walk-In Support Groups

Families of children who access services at Ummeed are helping us design new services in different ways. Last year they helped us design and conduct a study that evaluated how "Family Centered" we were. Many of the families who participated in the study voiced their need to have a space where they could meet others like them whose experiences were similar. Their hope was to be of support to and learn from each other. Thus was born our Walk-In Parent Support Group.

This group has become a place for parents to meet, learn and find support from their shared experiences and knowledge. The group has generated interest and curiosity among parents from across the city and for some this has been their first point of contact with Ummeed! The themes for these meetings have varied from "Preparing their children for transition to adulthood" to "Involving family members in supporting children's development".

The Parent Support Group is envisioned as an initiative that is completely run by the parents and for the parents with Ummeed's support.

To learn about our next support group, contact aditi.jha@ummeed.org

Darshana Ramgiri's Story

Darshana Ramgiri

Hey! I'm Darshana, eighteen-years old. I study in the 12th grade of Wilson College, Mumbai. I’m in the Arts section. I love designing outfits, doing art, watching Bollywood movies, and discovering the world on Instagram. Music is my life.

So here's my story –

I was born on the 29th of November, 2000. There were complications in the delivery. There was a cord around my neck, due to which I didn't cry and my breathing stopped. I was admitted into the ICU where soon everything became normal.

When it was time for me to sit, to walk and to do activities like other children, I was unable to do them. My mom decided to take me to a pediatrician who in turn suggested we visit Ummeed. Here my family found out that I have Cerebral Palsy.

My therapy started at Ummeed when I was nine months old! Slowly I started walking, sitting, and doing things. Then I started going to a nursery school. Everything was normal. I even got admission into St Columba School. Initially, my school was not ready to keep me because of my Cerebral Palsy. My mom fought for me and justice prevailed. Finally the school admitted me. Though my school life had a lot of ups and downs, I still managed to succeed and enjoy it. I scored 80 percent in my SSC (10th Grade) exam!

In 2014 I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis and despite taking medicines for a full year I was still not totally cured. I started feeling sad and depressed. I started counseling sessions at Ummeed. And soon I felt confident and started accepting my problems. I learnt how to deal with life. While all this was happening, I started having anxiety attacks. So I started finding ways to get rid of these attacks. I remember I used to sit for hours checking Google.

I used to go crazy and cry for no reason. Slowly, my therapist and I started finding ways to deal with it and I was able to control myself during attacks.

So in this way my life was, is and I know will be – full of challenges. But all I know is never to give up and to enjoy each moment.

I live my life by following three rules:

Hard work. Believe in yourself. Hope for the best.

My further plans? I want to become fashion designer and make people look beautiful!

Darshana's sketches

To learn more about Ummeed watch this video

Ummeed's flagship event, the 55 Km Walk for UMMEED in Goa, will take place on January 12, 2019. Do join us!

Email 55KmWalkforUmmeed@ummeed.org for details.

Thank you for your love and support!

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