Designer – Yuvaan is an energetic and a happy 5+ year old child studying in grade 1. • He loves his academics, coloring, computers, maths, reading books and writing stories. • He loves visiting new places, and leisure activities like swimming, running and playing • He’s amongst the top rankers in Genius Cerebrum International Olympiads of all the subjects. • He has bagged number of awards, certificates and medals in academics, sports and co-cirruclar activities. • He is a self learner.
Changemakersaathi Special school and for Holistic development of special needs children in Noida, Delhi and NCR region.
STORIES THAT INSPIRE for SPECIALSAATHI Dr Sonali Kataria Sirohi
She is the founder and Head of an organization called Sunrise Learning Foundation that provides education and training to children & adults with special needs, and their parents. Born and brought up in a family of doctors, her basic education is medical (MBBS), followed by an MD from AIIMS, with Neuroscience as her specialization. She is an Autism Specialist and a Fellow in Pediatrics.
She is a mother of two beautiful boys: Poorab and Yuvraaj. When her first child was born, she noticed some red flags in development, as early as 9 months, and he was diagnosed to be on the autism spectrum, by 2 years. Interventions started, but at that time, she was working as a full time consultant in AIIMS, a premiere Institute of the country. When her everyday struggle to balance work and child got tougher, she finally “quit the dream job” to be there for her child.
And that was when her new journey began. She found immense joy in her new world, yet there was a painful silence in her life. All she wanted to hear was a “mummy” !
Very soon, she conceived again, and despite the words of caution given to her by everyone, including her doctor friends and colleagues, that there are good chances of the second child having autism too, she went ahead to bring him into her life.
Yuvraaj came like a breath of fresh air. He broke the years of silence, by talking his way into her world. He started building little blocks of interaction and communication for Poorab. He entered Poorab’s bubble, like no one else could. And this was just the beginning….of a beautiful love story – of a new Sunrise.
Now, she was running a playgroup for play skills for children, and many parents began to look up to her for guidance & support, her inner forces urged her to take the next step- towards a better world for children on the autism spectrum – for their clueless mothers and lost fathers, for parents who felt like autism is a horrible disease.
And this is how Sunrise Learning came into being in 2014, as a pre-school, in a small 2-room place, in sector 122, with 2 students – Poorab & Yuvraaj. ‘Poorab’ means East (from where the sun rises), and ‘Yuvraaj’ means the prince of new learnings. SUNRISE LEARNING was now her third baby.
It stood to bridge the gap between ignorance and understanding, hopelessness and belief, and most importantly, between the parents and their autistic children.
Today, besides being a senior doctor, a social activist, an autism professional, a special-school head, a 2-times TEDx speaker and an autism parent, Dr Sonali is extremely passionate about INCLUSION OF DIFFERENTLY-ABLED PEOPLE (neurodiverse people) into the mainstream society by bridging gaps through INFORMATION-AWARENESS, ACCEPTANCE and CREATING INCLUSIVE SYSTEMS in health-care, educational institutions, and all public services. Currently, she is a member of the panel of doctors at IMA who are fervently involved in modifying the systems at OPD level & Hospital services, to ensure that they are more conducive for managing children & adults with autism. She is also on the advisory board panel of mainstream schools in Noida – Greater Noida – Ghaziabad & Meerut for creating inclusive set-ups for students who have unique needs.
In this journey of empowering families, she has shared the stage with Vidya Balan, Shabana Azmi, Sania Mirza, Smriti Irani, Saina Nehwal, and been invited to Dr Subhash Chandra Show, trying to create every possible opportunity for these influential people to understand the challenges faced by special families, and working towards creating more & more INCLUSIVE SYSTEMS at a larger level.
Some recent awards & recognitions: • Nominated for Sofy Women’s Awards in Social Excellence category 2015 (conducted by Zee News) • Received 19th Stree Shakti Award 2018 (Gantavya Sansthan), awarded by Shri Sunil Shastri (s/o Late Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri) for remarkable work in the field of women empowerment • Received PNI achievers award 2018 for outstanding work in the field of empowerment of persons with special needs. • Received International School Award 2019 at Dubai (Amity University), for phenomenal parental engagement • Received Forever Star India Awards (FSIA) The Real Super Woman 2020 in category Doctors in Social Achievements • Nominated for “Rashtriya Gaurav Puraskar” 2014 • National School Award 2021 (Best special School in Uttar Pradesh) • Bharat Shiksha Gaurav Puraskar 2021 (for her outstanding performance in the field of Special Education Leadership) • KTK FOUNDATION Education Excellence AWARD 2022 (for academic research in the field of Special Education) • Women Leadership Award 2022 (for exemplary leadership in the field of Special Education)
Her Educational qualifications • MBBS, MD (AIIMS), DNB, MNAMS • Autism Specialist (IBCCES) • Fellow in Pediatrics (Medvarsity) • Visiting Faculty (Dept of Neuroscience, University of Melbourne, AUS) • Son-Rise Program (Autism Treatment Center of America, Massachusetts, USA) • Post Graduate Diploma in Education Administration (Symbiosis) • Teachers Training in Special Education for Autism (American Tesol Institute)
When life gifted her a challenge, she chose to take it as an opportunity, she chose to “be the warrior” and not the victim of her circumstances. Today her motto is “Start where you are, Use what you have and Do what you can, to be your BEST”
Sunrise Learning Foundation It is a not-for-profit non-Government organization dedicated towards providing employment, empowerment, inclusion, independence, vocational training, education and support services to differently-abled people and their families. The organization is registered as a Trust, under The Indian Trusts Act, 1882 and Niti Ayog, DARPAN, FCRA, CSR-1, and MSME. It is also registered under sections 80G and 12A of Income Tax Act, 1961. With its head- office in New Delhi and a Special School at Noida, the Foundation works with families pan India through various outreach programs for providing Skill Training to differently-abled persons.
Sunrise Learning Foundation’s Mission Statement “Empowering Special Lives towards independence & dignity since 2014” is the mandate of Sunrise Learning. The guiding philosophy of their work is to ensure that the people with special needs are able to capitalize on their strengths, reach their maximum potential, and live a life of dignity and independence.
ABOUT SUNRISE LEARNING, NOIDA Sunrise Learning – a special school and a unit of SUNRISE LEARNING FOUNDATION, in Noida that provides education and support to individuals with special needs, in the age groups of 2 to 30+ years. The school offers a wide range of support & educational services, to diverse needs and different age-groups including Early Intervention, Early Learning, Pre-Vocational skill training, Employment Readiness Training, NIOS formal education, Vocational Training courses, sports academy, speech and sensory-motor therapies, and multidisciplinary activities. It offers a safe happy social environment, for children, adolescents & adults to “be themselves, discover and nurture their interests and strengths and actualize their potential” in a non-judgmental loving environment.
Sunrise Learning also provides empowerment for parents and professionals, through many webinars, workshops and courses. It also offers a learning portal with powerful free and paid courses for crucial & key areas of special parenting. Check platform here https://sunriselearning.edmingle.com/
The team at Sunrise Learning Sunrise Learning has a multidisciplinary team of professionals who work together to provide holistic education and support to individuals with special needs. The team comprises of Special Educators, Occupational & Speech Therapists, Sports Coaches, Computer educators, NIOS Subject teachers, Psychologists, Vocational Skill trainers, faculty for music, dance, art, cooking, yoga. many of them are parent-professionals.
Future goals of Sunrise Learning The visionary management team and the dynamic faculty are always trying to seek platforms of opportunity for the learners to grow, in their social & vocational abilities, and the next plan is to scale up the work, to reach out to many more specially-abled people to empower them, enable them and bring out their best potential to become productive citizens of this country.
Artwork by CreativeSaathi Sarvagya Lohia and Pranjal Mishra
1. Title- Shades of Autism
Artist name – Sarvagya Lohia Age – 8 years
Description for the artwork – Autism, like sun & water, has innumerable shades. Some are light, some are dark, but all shades are beautiful!
Specifications – Created on Ms- Paint
Sarvagya Lohia is the son of bloggersaathi Shivani Lohia. He’s 8 years old and on the Autism Specturm. He loves sketching, coloring, digital drawing in MS Paint & Sketchbook Software, playing keyboard, skating & practising yoga. He is enrolled with NIOS Level A.
2. Title- Rainbow child– Autism Spectrum
Artist- Pranjal Mishra, 25 years
Specifications- Created on Ms Paint
Pranjal Mishra is a Graduate in Sociology from IGNOU, is well versed with MS Office and does data entry in Excel. He likes to sing songs and play music on the keyboard. He has recently won the 1st prize in the Online Adyatma Talent Contest 2022 for playing his keyboard. He has also interned at Saamarthya foundation and AMBA for Life. This year i.e. in 2023, Pranjal made a calendar from his digital art which was launched at the Vizag Steel Plant New Year function. You can reach out to him at email@example.com