SOCIAL SKILLS (Acceptance and Inclusion – 9 )

SOCIAL SKILLS (Acceptance and Inclusion – 9 ) by Jaya Sudhakar and Siddhanth Palaparti

In his schooldays, Siddhanth was blessed to have many understanding teachers. Their unconditional support went a long way in building his self – confidence in his formative years.

When Siddhanth was in the 4th grade, I was once speaking to his class teacher, Ms Indrayani Surve in the basement of the school. It was one of the regular weekly Parent – Teacher meetings before school hours. After the meeting schedule, ten minutes prior to the school bell, the teachers would position themselves in the basement. As the school buses would arrive,they would ensure that the students alighting from the buses formed a line while going up to their classrooms.

On this particular day, two buses rolled in early, much before the teachers could position themselves. Siddhanth’s bus was one of the two.The exuberant students rushed out from both the buses.There was a slight chaos.With all the students running at great speed and Siddhanth competing with them, one teacher was genuinely concerned that he shouldn’t get hurt and called him out loudly in a bid to slow him down. Another teacher held Siddhanth gently by his shoulder and started directing him to the teacher who had called him. Siddhanth meanwhile was trying to struggle free from her grasp to catch up with his friends. At this point, Indrayani Madam excused herself, quickly moved to the spot and called out the names of Siddhanth’s classmates. “Karan, Somnath, Amit form a line,” she said. As the boys formed a line, Siddhanth went and joined them. The rest of the students followed suit and soon all the students were moving in a single file. A potentially chaotic situation was diffused within seconds by Indrayani Madam’s out of the box thinking.

In the same academic year, I went to attend a monthly Parent – Teacher meeting scheduled in the classroom.The students were singing songs sung by the contestants in the previous evening’s popular reality show on television. As the bell rang and Indrayani Madam entered the classroom, the students stopped. Siddhanth however continued with a mischievous smile. Indrayani Madam ignored his attention seeking behaviour and started addressing the parents. Siddhanth stopped singing immediately.It was a bit embarassing for me as I caught a few parents turning towards me and smiling.

That day the topic was ‘Hindi Reading’. Although there was a designated Hindi teacher, this particular session was being conducted by the class teachers. Hindi had just been introduced as a language to the students. They had been taught the alphabet and basic vocabulary. On this particular day, Indrayani Madam started calling out a few students to read out from a chart which had small sentences made up of a few words. Facing a new challenge, the students fumbled through the sentences. Indrayani Madam had been walking along the rows all the while. As she passed by me, I requested her to give Siddhanth a chance as reading was one of his main strengths – he was hyperlexic. She obliged immediately.

As his name was called out, Siddhanth walked up confidently to the chart and in a very loud and clear voice, read through the whole chart in a jiffy. The clear distinction between his rendition and those of his classmates was very apparent – he was way ahead of them in terms of diction and fluency. There was a gasp of disbelief amongst the audience and then the entire room broke into thunderous applause. Needless to say Indrayani Madam was also extremely happy.

Looking back, it was the extremely positive attitude of Siddhanth’s teachers that made our journey more enriching – Indrayani madam has a very special place in our heart for the way she touched Siddhanth’s life in so many positive ways.

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.

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