Changemakersaathi: Young leaders
My name is Simmi Vasu, mother of a son, named Kartik with , and a 22-year-old daughter Mythili. My journey in this area began with my son, when in the early days, he started to missing so many of the developmental milestones. Like most other mothers, I thought it was just a case of ‘ordinary’ late development and maybe Kartik was a late bloomer like so many other kids. Until, one day, my aunt (who was the first to do so) pointed out that his was not a normal case, missing so many of his development milestones.
Once I realized and agreed, it started a whirlwind of activities to diagnose and manage his condition. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, special education, like every other worried parent running from pillar to post to find solutions. Getting lost in the vast information (and emotional) load of advice coming our way.
Kartik first went to a play school, followed by admission into inclusive school. The journey to get him admitted in school was not easy at all. It’s a struggle, I see parents facing every day, especially as I am a special educator myself now. The vast majority of schools don’t want to take autistic kids, or prefer, as they say, ‘near-to-normal’ children. Other parents also shy away from our children, if the disability is visible.
Once in class 3, the so-called inclusive school refused to keep Kartik on their rolls, saying that he is not able to cope up. I was totally lost and remember crying in front of the school’s coordinator, asking her where would I take my child if an inclusive school, itself refused to help him.
So, first I trained as a special educator, figuring that since autism is not well-known, let alone treated, I had to take a stand by myself. Truth is, those who know of autism, usually do so because someone in their family is affected. Meanwhile, Kartik joined a special school called “Orane Kids” in Noida.
It’s here, I can proudly say that with the help of his teachers, he became independent in many essential life skills. In fact, in a recent assessment his progress was verified by an occupational therapist.
I started to learn everything and anything I could about autism by doing my B. Ed in Special Education. Started my field experience setting up the Early Intervention Centre for the clinic, Hearing Point, in Noida, back in 2014.
Having gained that little initial confidence, it spurred me to keep going on.
Currently, I have worked in the areas of:
• Special Education: language, play and cognitive development therapies
• Special needs workshops and webinars with parents and other professionals
• Blogging and information dissemination
• And I am the Principal of Orane Kids Special School as of now.
My advice to those who face a similar situation is never lose heart.
• Never lose hope, yes! There would be good days, bad days and worst days, but as parents we are the only hope for our child.
• It’s never too late, don’t blame yourself for things that happened to your child. Autism is a neurobiological disorder it’s just that the symptoms manifest late. So just start when you come to know about it and keep going.
• Wait & watch is the worst approach you can do to your child, just because the child’s uncle, dad spoke late doesn’t mean the child will also speak late. The sooner you accept autism easier is the journey ahead.
• Most important take care of yourself, engage in a hobby, think of your young days what all you wanted to do. Do it now!
I am a long-distance runner, a fridge magnet souvenir enthusiast, stamp collection related to Indian Mythology, I have a collection of key chains. I am passionate about collecting old books especially fond of every copy of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels. Whenever I feel I pen my thoughts in a diary and that’s a big de- stressor.
Be always like a wide-eyed child curious to learn. (And yes, I also have 24 hours)
• All these makes the journey of Autism never a cake walk, but gives you the energy to bounce back the next day.
Signing off with one of my poems…
Each Day is a new dawn
Each day a promise.
Sometimes the day shatters
Like a broken mirror,
The shards embedding, leaving me with scars
Still the next day I find a light reflecting from those thousand pieces,
breaking into a riot of colours.
Each day is a new dawn
Each day a promise.
Author Simmi Vasu