Caring for son with autism, this couple is now building a township for autistic care

By Apurva P
July 18, 2022, Updated on : Mon Jul 18 2022 15:03:12 GMT+0000
Caring for son with autism, this couple is now building a township for autistic care
Built by Kolkata-based couple Suresh Kumar and Namita Somani, India Autism Center (IAC) aims to be the first-of-its-kind development centre for individuals with autism.
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Growing up, Kalpesh faced several challenges arising from autism. Wanting to help him, his parents Suresh Kumar Somani and his wife, Namita Somani, based in Kolkata, travelled across India and abroad seeking proper intervention.


They hired a tutor overseas who guided them through the process of determining what types of interventions could help improve their son's condition. It dawned on the couple that they were fortunate enough to afford the luxury of a tutor, however, a vast majority couldn’t.

"Despite looking for options all over the world, we were able to get very little intervention for Kalpesh. This made us realise that so many families have no options. Given our financial resources, we felt it was our responsibility to take action," Suresh explains in a conversation with SocialStory.

Driven by the challenge, the duo resolved to find a solution—not just for themselves, but for the millions of people looking for proper care for their loved ones.


They started an initiative to build a first-of-its-kind township called India Autism Center (IAC), situated near Kolkata. Through it, Suresh—who is the joint Managing Director at Ratnabali Capital Markets Ltd, the flagship financial services arm of the Ratnabali Group—aimed at helping autistic adults and children across the globe living with the condition.

Amrit Somani Memorial Center

Kids at the Amrit Somani Memorial Center

Setting up

According to estimates by the Indian Council of Medical Research, India is home to more than two million individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), many of whom are seriously impacted by the lack of resources.


Before the pandemic, the Somanis organised two international conferences on autism in Kolkata, inviting in people from across the globe. They learned about Applied Behaviour Analysis Therapies (ABA) and founded Amrit Somani Memorial Center (ASMC) in 2009 in Kolkata to provide support and resource intervention services to individuals on the Autism spectrum. It also houses a daycare and a vocational center.

The ASMC, which began by providing one-on-one therapy sessions to four children in a couple of rooms, now serves 40 people at a time in a four-story facility with 40 trained therapists.

Soon after, they assembled a team of 40 trained therapists and qualified professionals to design IAC, ensuring comprehensive support for people on the autism spectrum and their families. Today, the decade-old ASMC helps 50 people with autism—aged between 3 and 27—with Kalpesh being the eldest.

Providing training

During their initial years of working with autistic children, the couple discovered that individuals with autism miss out on a lot of learning opportunities due to a lack of awareness and accommodation. The couple decided to address this gap by investing in vocational skills training which would allow people with varying levels of capacity to find meaningful engagement.


They curated a team of highly trained professionals to design the blueprint of the India Autism Center for an inclusive and neuro-diverse community. The facility is now expanding to offer more services.

"We have bought the building to house a vocational centre," Suresh, Chairman and Managing Trustee at IAC, explains. He adds, "The whole idea and our goal behind India Autism Center are to promise and ensure individuals on the spectrum a life full of dignity."

“If we have 600 people on the spectrum living in this facility, we will need roughly 1,000-1,500 caregivers, who will have to be trained. We already have a team that is developing this faculty, so that by the time we complete construction in four years, there are no hold-ups,” he highlights.

Building a township

The main idea behind the IAC is to provide common ground for all the facilities that autistic children need. These include residential facilities, teaching schools, residential programmes, vocational training units, therapy and intervention centres, and emergency medical care facilities. The campus will also include a research facility that will conduct research on Autism and allied conditions.


Envisaged as a first-of-its-kind autism care township, the 52-acre facility in Shirakole, West Bengal is approximately 17 km away from IIM Calcutta.


According to Suresh, this is one of the largest projects of its kind in India, with housing facilities for 350 residents as well as daycare facilities for 250 people diagnosed with ASD. Several global experts and members from the institutes working on mental health and autism have joined hands for the project.

Suresh hopes that the mini-township, once completely up and running, can serve as a home to the community of Autistic people and their family members.

The initiative receives a significant amount of financial assistance in the form of CSR donations from corporates, including Suresh’s own Ratnabali group. The day-to-day expenses are met by the fee charged for residency, which is undisclosed.


“The idea is to create expertise and an ecosystem which can ultimately help create hundreds of autism centres all over the country,” says Suresh.


The couple is in the process of tying up with global institutes to further the cause.


(This article was updated to match the founders' experience with autism.)


Edited by Kanishk Singh

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