AUTISM: Indian mother pens story of her daughter and family's successful fight against autism
Shams Ur Rehman Alavi
BHOPAL: Seema and her husband Anupam were overwhelmed when they were blessed with a child. The baby girl who was born within a couple of years of the marriage, brought immense happiness to them.
But as the girl grew up, the parents sensed that she didn't cry while in neighbouring houses, other babies would cry a lot. Also, Seema felt odd when someone else would take the baby along and the latter would easily go without any expression and didn't look back at the mother.
Over a period, they realised that the child didn't respond well to voice or any conversation and was not interested in toys either. The family got transferred from Indore to Mumbai. They tried to comfort themsleves by telling each other that everything was fine. But another aspect that drew the couple's attention was that she would avoid eye contact.
Finally, it dawned upon them that the child was in Autism spectrum. When the doctor diagnosed it, the couple was shattered as they had no idea how to deal with it. It turned out to be a long and hard journey to understand and deal with the issue. The couple who had no clue about Autism till then, joined membership of the Forum for Autism in Mumbai, and began their search for a therapist.
The baby girl, Nehal, was growing up and was meanwhile taken to a playgroup. A few days later, Seema realised that her hands had sticky tape. The couple found that as Nehal was deemed 'different', the teacher would put tape on her hands and feet, to tie her to a chair so that she couldn't move or run to play.
Heartbroken, the parents immediately got her out of this playschool. But this was just the beginning. The couple spent hours with her, made efforts for speech therapy as well as different ways of encouragment to make her learn. She got admission in a school where the administration was sensitive.
Seema and Anupam's lives changed as they made special efforts trying to understand Nehal's needs, her behavioural pattern and alongside teach her. Often, they thought they needed to do more. The couple knocked at every door and went to temples, mosques apart from priests but realised that the correct way was to understand the issue and deal it themselves.
There were moments when they felt they were lacking despite their efforts. However, they never lost hope. Nehal too tried and learnt to interact, read and converse. The couple was blessed with another child, Vaidiika, and Nehal got a sister to play with. This was a new phase for her.
Nehal too had to battle hard and over the years, she picked up hobbies and showed interest in cracking puzzles. The book tells how the parents learnt multiple skills and got the child learn them as well. Swimming was one of the hobbies and the baby girl was soon participating in contests in school. Patience and persistence brought the best out of Nehal.
She was doing well in studies and also began to write a diary and paint. In this book, Seema has written an intensely personal account of the family's efforts and Neha's success, her entire childhood, later years, college life. Not only she overcame the obstacles, Nehal completed her education with flying colours and started working as well. She has a good job.
And that's not all, She is an artist. As she has knack for colouring the stones in different ways and they are sold. Her artwork adorns nearly a thousand homes. Her art is available for sale online and people get to know about her work through social media sites as well. Her work got mentioned in newspapers. The book, 'Sangharsh...Sang Harsh' [ Struggle....alongwith Happiness] is in Hindi.
It tells about decades' long effort of Nehal and her family apart from the practical issues they faced in different phases. There is certain information about behavioural problems and autism, apart from points about communication therapy in English at the end of the book.
The author, Seema Tiwari, lives in Mumbai and it has been published by Sangati Foundation. It would certainly help any family that has a child with autism, because it tells first person account and has been summed up well in a concise book. Though mother wrote the book, Nehal has designed the title.
The books is available at Amazon. LINK