EVERGREEN MEMORIES – 2
( The Night Stories)
EVERGREEN MEMORIES- from the Random Reflections series by Jaya Sudhakar and Siddhanth Palaparti
Siddhanth was diagnosed to be on the spectrum only at age 5. Much before that, maybe in his third year, just prior to entering playschool and even afterwards, he started displaying traits which surprised us but we did not read anything more to it.
I have vivid memories of a New Year Eve party. It was held on the lawns of our Office Quarters. It used to be a much – awaited annual affair as we could get an opportunity to mingle with the families of our colleagues from various branches across Mumbai. Amidst the colours, bright lights, music and chatter,what fascinated Siddhanth the most were the patterns formed by the lights.They were beamed at different places on the walls of the compound and there was a sequence to it.The design formed in each segment was different and all of them were beautiful. Siddhanth kept tracking them and would move across the lawn, correctly judging where the lights would be beamed next. I kept following him like Mary’s little lamb and keeping with the party mood, many of the fellow guests were like ‘WOW’ at his powers of observation and pulling my leg about the free exercise that I was getting.
We had another unforgettable experience around the same period.Siddhanth had learnt to recognize the alphabet and very organically gravitated towards spellings.We happened to be vacationing in Hyderabad where most of my in-laws lived. Whenever he met someone for the first time and came to know his/her name, he would immediately spell it out. One evening there was a power cut and we were sitting with our extended family in the courtyard. The kids were running around and playing. One of Siddhanth’s cousins asked him to spell the number ‘one’ which he did correctly. She went on to ‘2’, ‘3’ and so on, asking him to spell upto number ‘15’ or so and he delightfully spelt all the number names correctly, amidst squeals and peals of laughter from his cousins. It was a game that he was thoroughly enjoying. This was a big surprise and revelation for both my husband and me, as prior to this the number names had neither been taught to him at playschool nor had we ever touched upon it at home. It took me around 3 days to figure out that the source must have been the book of numbers in our Mumbai home. We used to browse through it in a fun way to show him the pictures( indicating the count) and to recognize the numerals. It had never struck me that his attention was also being attracted to the associated number names(spellings)which he was grasping by himself !
In hindsight with more awareness about autism and after being familiar with terms like ‘pattern recognition’ and ‘hyperlexia’, one could relate them to these incidents. Needless to say, every neurodivergent child or individual has many unique perspectives to share. It is for us to be more and more open and receptive to their thinking to discover and get enthralled by the myriad colours of life that they have to offer.
Author Jaya Sudhakar
Jaya Sudhakar has done her Masters in Physics and was employed as an Asst.Manager in a PSU. Her son’s diagnosis urged her to seek voluntary retirement from service . She is actively involved with Forum for Autism, Nayi Disha and The Spectrum Autism. Friends,tending to plants, reading, writing, music, movies, travelling and a little bit of spirituality are her perennial energy boosters.
Typing of story in Word and Creative graphics done by CreativeSaathi Siddhanth Palaparti, Jaya’s son
Siddhanth is a budding graphic designer, coder and music lover. He has graduated in computer applications and completed several certificate courses. His work trajectory includes internships, freelancing and voluntary work for social causes. He derives immense happiness from remembering birthdays and wishing everyone for it. Swimming, travelling and playing music on the keyboard are his other passions.