Thinking in my Mind
Being Polite: a social story

Thinking in my Mind
Being Polite
Author : Simmi Vasu
Artwork Courtesy : Sunflower artworks- Dhrov Tikoo, Nina, boy and girl artworks by Morpheus Nag, Kind net artwork by Vinayak Raj; and some Google images
Story idea :

Hello! I am Nina, Today my buddy Sunshine (a sunflower) is going to make you learn the super duper cool ways to be polite.

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo

What is being polite?

Being polite means, we care for the feelings of others. We do not use rude & nasty words even in anger.
Let me explain this
Our head has a “Thinking Bubble” & a “Talking Bubble”

Well, well this is a “Thinking Bubble” 👇

and this a “ Talking Bubble” 👇

Nina: There are so many thoughts which run in my mind.

Nina [artwork by Morpheus Nag]

Sunshine : Yes, I think a lot too. Like, I think of the sun, when will it be up and I can see all my friends, or what if the bees don’t come to have their fill of my nectar? (Well! this thought itself is scary)

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo

Nina: We all think about many things in our mind throughout the day. But we have to be careful when we speak or talk about (express) these thoughts loudly.

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo

Sunshine: yes, yes, I do talk to my bee friends.
Thoughts can be good when you express them. They make others happy.

Boy: Hi your dress looks really nice.
Girl: Thank you!!

Artwork by Morpheus Nag

It can be unkind too
Boy: Your hair is messy..
Girl: That was rude!!

Artwork by Morpheus Nag

Sunshine: Rude and unkind words hurt my friends and family

Talking Bubble

Everyone can hear these as I say them loudly.

Thinking Bubble

No one can hear these words, these are words in my head.

Sunshine : Before I speak out my thoughts I take it through my “Kind Net

Here’s the kind net my brain is using.

Artwork by Vinayak Raj

Nina: “Kind Net”, What is a “Kind Net”
Sunshine: Well, “Kind Net” is a net in my head through which I run my thoughts before I speak.

So, before the thoughts come to my “Talking Bubble” I check:
• If what I am saying are kind words
• They are not rude & nasty
• They are not hurting others.
• I don’t speak out secrets someone entrusted me with.
• I am not constantly talking out loud when no one is around.
• I am not humming, talking to myself constantly or when others are speaking to me.
I sieve my thoughts in the “Kind Net” and only speak out good thoughts, and thoughts which are to be spoken out.

When I use the “Kind Net”, I am being Polite.
I am also paying attention to what others are saying to me.
I am caring about others feelings. My teachers, friends and family are also very happy.
Nina: True Sunshine, A “Kind Net” makes you the super shine blossom .. and people love to have you around and be your friend.
This is a social story to be used for children and children with special needs. It can be circulated Free of Cost and should NOT be used in parts or whole for any monetary gain.

Author Simmi Vasu

changemakersaathi centers

Orane Kids,School for Special Children,Noida

Changemakersaathi Special school and therapy center for special needs children in Noida, Delhi and NCR region.

Orane Kids, School for Special Children, Sector 72 Noida, has been making remarkable progress in the field of special education since its inception. We believe in the worth, dignity and unique character of the individual. The school strives to provide quality education and training to its students, where learning is limited only by the ability of the learner.

Here are some of the notable achievements of the school:

1. Cohesive Education: Orane Kids actively involves networking and a comprehensive trans-disciplinary team approach with reference to identification and diagnosis of ASD. The school facilitates an embracing, therapeutic, supportive and psycho-educational environment which operates in cohesion keeping in mind the student, parent and social bonding that forms an integral part of our education.

2. Multidisciplinary Team: The school has a dedicated team of experienced professionals, comprising special educators, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and behavior therapists, who work together to deliver personalized learning programs for each student. Members of staff at Orane are trained in internationally-recognized methods such as TEACCH, etc. to incorporate visual and verbal stimuli and enhance their interactive cross curricular learning programmes.

3. National Open School (NIOS): Orane Kids is one of the few special schools which designs Individualised Education Plan, tailor made to the child’s learning style. The school has a well-equipped sensory room, and other therapeutic tools to provide Occupational Therapy that caters to sensory needs and other motor skill development of the students. The school also provides Speech Therapy as per the child’s needs and requirements. Some of our children have appeared for the National Open school exams and since inception we have had three batches successfully clearing the National Open School Exam of Grade 3 & 5 respectively.

4. Inculcating Life Skills: The curriculum of Orane Kids is not limited to academics but also focuses on the holistic development of children; imparting life skills, social skills, pre-vocational and vocational training to the students. The vocational centre Sai Yogya equips our young adults and adults for vocational training and life skills. Products made by these young adults have been showcased in MNC’s like HCL and Nagarro Software and were a huge success in Diwali Fairs and Durga Puja Fairs. Social clubs like Inner Wheel and Rotary Club have recognised our efforts and supported the cause with donations and guidance.

5. Respite Care & Day Care: Orane respite care provides a home away from home for our young children. During the times when going to that meeting or family wedding is inevitable or if there is a medical emergency in the family, we provide day care and respite care to your child. Under the care of competent staff, the children are provided home cooked food and actively involved in various activities.

6. An All-Round Development Centre: At Orane we have always believed in overall development of the children. The children participate in almost all sports competitions held in Noida and Delhi. Preparation for these events go on throughout the year. Yoga is a part of the regular curriculum. The children are also taken to various outings to develop their social skills and as a part of our training in making this world all inclusive. Our Carnival is one such event which is thrown open to the public and all the special schools in Noida.

7. Annual Events: Orane Kids has provided differently abled children and adults across India a unique platform to share their skills and celebrate them together by hosting online Gardening and Cooking competitions for them.
The Super Special Chef Contest over 2 seasons has witnessed over 100 entries every year from differently abled individuals sharing videos and then cooking live online.
The Super Special Gardener Contest had our special participants come up with amazing gardening skills, live for the viewers online.

8. The Lockdown Challenge: The Covid lock down situation saw Orane at the forefront with various webinars on different topics not only in training parents but also encouraging fellow parents too. Online therapy be it speech, Occupational Therapy or special education was also some of the major initiatives we incorporated.

Orane Kids School, has been doing commendable work in empowering children with special needs and providing them with equal opportunities to thrive as we believe in the worth, dignity and unique character of every individual. An initiative founded and managed by parents of autistic children, Orane Kids strives to support every special individual and their parents with love, learning and warm guidance.

Team Orane Kids

Artwork for the ChangemakerSaathi story is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associates Morpheus Nag and Dhairya Kumar Pal


Each day is a new dawn

Changemakersaathi: Young leaders

A sketch of Simmi Vasu by our supertalented CreativeSaathi associate Morpheus Nag

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
and bleeding.
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


Let’s be Curious ….5 W’s & 1 H Series – 2

“”Wh” Questions, With Examples”.

They say “ A picture is worth a Thousand Words”. Well, to that I would like to add, “provided you know how to use it”.
What you see above is one of my favourite pictures, I use for picture description. This is an activity we do with all children to enhance their language. Generally, most of us ask a few questions like, “Which place is this?”. “What is everyone doing?” max to max the emotions or expressions we can see on the face of the people. Our children also most of the time stick to the nouns, verbs sometimes prepositions & emotions in one- or two-word phrases and that’s all, i.e. They may describe the actions, position and expressions of a few people.

A picture description gives us a plethora of details and using it to arouse the curiosity of the child, improve his observation skills is the duty of the adult, using it as an activity.
So, we become, that curious neighbour, who has to get all the information about, what where, who, when, why, how etc, etc things happened. Here again I would request the parents to know the level of the child and modify the questions. If the child doesn’t know the answer use it as an opportunity to teach him. We adults generally start with questions with our children, never realising the child may not know the concepts or assume he already knows so when the child is looking lost, or not able to answer, use the opportunity to “TEACH”. Use phrases like, “wow you learnt a new word today”, “let’s use it again in another way”. So, use the new word in different sentences.

Now let’s start with the picture above at the first stage we will start with a few basic questions. (You can use a simple picture with lesser details when starting with smaller kids. I have shared an example later in the blog)

a. Start with the place. (Which place is this?) Here, I chose a park as a child is very much aware of a park. If the child is quiet and not able to answer, give him options, is it a bathroom or a park? Make sure the options you give are so diverse that the child is able to answer easily. Here in a way, we are subtly helping the child without directly prompting him.

b. When describing make sure the child is going either clockwise or anti-clockwise describing each detail. This way he will not miss anything. Initially just keep pointing at each detail systematically following the directions mentioned.

c. Now comes what each person is doing? The verbs in the picture. Here is the best opportunity to add a few adjectives, “the old woman is feeding birds”, “the small boy is playing with a heart shaped balloon”.
Add little, little details, especially when you are child is trying to finish off the sentences in two- or three-words phrases

d. Identify each and every object in the picture, the open gate, the fountain, the water flowing in the fountain, the pram or stroller, the bird behind the boy, everything. Any new word you teach him say, “wow! that’s a new word we have learnt”. Go on to explaining the word.

e. Always use appropriate words in reference to the context. For example, a giant or monster will be “huge”, not just “big”. A lady bug is “tiny” not just “small”. Remember synonyms makes the language more beautiful and appropriate.

g. Who do you think is he waving at? (The boy with the glasses.)

f. If your child has a good understanding go on further. Example, what is the boy with the ball doing? (waving)

h. Why are they waving at each other? (Because they are friends.)

i. Here we are asking inferential questions. Looking at a scene we are now deducing or inferring what must be happening. This is actual thinking. Your child will need a lot of help initially. Be ready to help him.

j. Remember you are now teaching things which are not apparent to him as it is to you.

k. Another inferential question you can ask, “Does the boy with the glasses know that there is a bird behind him?”.
Most of our children will say, “yes”, because they can see the bird. This is, “Theory of Mind”. Thinking from another person’s perspective which doesn’t develop naturally for children with Autism or other developmental delays. We have to teach them this.

l. Theory of Mind is a tough concept, your children should have a good ability to understand cause and effect, a good vocabulary and problem solving ability to grasp it. So, work on these concepts before introducing them in picture description. I will be writing a separate blog for that.
m. Another inferential question, “How do you know the boy on the bench is listening to music?”. “How do you know he is enjoying music?” (His expressions, the way he is sitting on the bench. Draw the attention of the child on to the body language of the boy)

n. Next question, “Why is the girl behind the tree looking so amused?”, or “Why is the girl in polka dots looking so cross?” (Because she can’t find her friend hiding behind the tree). If you notice I am using words like “amused”, “cross”, because those are the exact expressions on the respective children’s face. We are slowly adding more emotions, other than angry, happy & sad.

Source : Scholastic, First Little Readers . Story: Hide & Seek , by Deborah Schecter
(This series is available in Amazon and excellent to teach reading, storytelling, picture description etc.. )

Some of the questions we can ask in this picture (Another favourite of mine)

• What is a mess?
• Can you find the girl?
• The book on the bed, is it open or closed?
• Are there more books?
• The ball next to the book is it small or big?
• Is there a single sock or can you find its pair?

Source: Scholastic , First Little Readers , Story : Bubble Shapes by Liza Charlesworth
Sharing an example of a simple picture for our beginners.

Some questions you can ask here
• What did the girl make with the bubbles?
• What do you do with your teddy bear?
• What do you sit on?
• Can you sit on a bubble chair?

Be very expressive when asking questions, arouse the interest of the child, draw parallels to the child’s immediate experiences too, if you find any, example, “Oh! You also go to the park daily to play; does it have a fountain?”
So, a picture description when done patiently opens a field for us to play. Our imagination is the only limiting factor.

So happy weaving stories!!!!

Author Simmi Vasu

Artwork by Morpheus Nag and Dhrov Tikoo

Creative representation for this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associates Morpheus Nag and Dhrov Tikoo


Let’s be Curious …5 W’s & 1 H Series – 1 “What” & “Where” Question.

Mummy, what is this? Mum. How did this happen? Dad when will my plant grow? Dad, why do we always see stars only at night?

Questions, questions and more questions, curiosity is what led man to all the discoveries and great inventions. The constant questioning mind of mankind and some pestering “Wh” questions and hey! the deepest mysteries were unravelled.
“Wh” questions or 5 W’s, “What”, “Who, Where, When & Why and 1 H, How, are the ways a child or man initiates questions to satisfy his curiosity. These when a child uses shows an inquisitive mind, one that is initiating conversations and taking stock of the world around him, inferencing probable reasons looking at a situation and problem solving.

But where does this all begin. How to bring the child to use these questions? how to make the child initiate?

To use language the child should have a rich source of vocabulary to retrieve and use. A sentence typically consists of nouns, verbs, prepositions and adjectives.
See how many of these your child knows? Otherwise make a list of these and start teaching him.

When we start with the nouns generally, we start with the “What” questions. Remember here the thumb rule, visuals, visuals & more visuals. Don’t let the child get lost in figuring out what was asked. A child with language delay cannot immediately create a visual image, for example when I use the word, elephant you can immediately visualise it, a child with inherent processing delays even if he knows the word elephant may not visualise it and that’s one reason there is a lack of to & fro communication. When someone asks you a direction, you can visualise the whole route in your mind. This is motor planning albeit in your head. This is a herculean task for children with language delays so one has to start with the prerequisites, i.e., vocabulary.

So, the simple solution to this is to use a lot of visuals to teach these. Show a picture of an apple and ask, what is this? Provide answer if the child is not able to answer the question. One way we teach a child to answer the questions correctly is by modelling technique. If the child’s mother is sitting in the session, I ask the Mom first, “mama what is this ? and once she answers , “apple”. I immediately ask the child the same question and eight out of ten times the child gets it.

While teaching verbs, show a picture of running and ask “what is the boy doing?”. Even if the child answers in one word, appreciate and reinforce the child. Always verbalise your actions, to add to the vocabulary of the child. Like if you are cutting vegetables, say “mama is cutting vegetables”, or “mama is combing”. Then only the child will be able to answer the question, “what is mama doing?”

Remember most of the children fail to communicate because they do not realise the importance of using words and then end up getting frustrated and have behaviour issues as they get older. Continuously praising the child even for his slightest efforts makes the child discover the magic of words.

Ask a variety of “what questions, “what colour is the ball?” “What is the shape of the table?”. If the child is not able to answer give options., “Is the ball green or blue?”
Initially make sure you are using objects, toys, big flashcards so as to avoid distractions and get the full attention of the child.

Prepositions are where we introduce the “where” questions …use toy table, chairs, boxes etc and make him place things (small animals, cars anything the child loves) on, in under, between, in front of etc. It’s best to introduce this as a table top activity at first so that the child is fully focussed and all the items are at the line of sight of the child.
Initially just work on the receptive language of the child asking the child to simply place the objects as you instruct, e.g. cat on the chair, or ball in the basket. Once the child is confident in it, start with the “where” questions, “where is the cat?” Or “where is the ball?”. If the child is unable to answer initially, provide the answer.

Once the child is proficient on table top make the child place things across the room. This teaches another important skill, “staying on task”. Which basically means when given instructions and a wider area to move, does the child remember the instruction and stays on task or does he wander off. This is an essential skill to be mastered by each one of us to finish our tasks successfully.

Make all this as interesting and fun for the children. The amount of small toy furniture, cute small animals, small sensory bean bags, etc I have, made these sessions a fun journey they hardly realise they are working with me.
“What” & “where” questions can be used with adjectives too. As stated, earlier colour, shape & size are the adjectives a child uses at first, they are easy, concrete or tangible. So, “What colour is mango?”, or “what is the shape of the wall clock?”. “What size do you want- small or big?”

Unless a child doesn’t have these basic parts of speech, he doesn’t have anything to say much in his personal dictionary. Moreover, he will not move towards initiation and will be stuck at need based communication.
“What” questions for older kids is also used for reasoning & inferencing, i.e., looking at a situation asking “what happened here?”, but for this sort of inferencing a child has to cover a lot of prerequisites in language. I will be discussing that once we cover our basic “wh” questions.

Another way to develop curiosity, and to go on a rollercoaster ride of “wh” questions and develop natural language is through play. Please use kitchen set, doll house, doctor set to encourage a lot of free play. Use lots of dramatizations like, the puppy is hurt so “what does it need? (a bandage) “or “Why is dolly so happy?” (Because it’s her birthday, we are going to cut a cake and have a party). “Where is the boat?” (Under the bridge)
In play the fun element is phenomenal and sky is the limit to imagine a play scenario. Most important in play all learning is incidental we deliberately don’t try to teach a child here. We let the child enjoy the process of play. So, make sure while playing you are not teaching anything by insisting say this or repeat that. You just verbalise each other’s actions and the questions are asked naturally in the flow of conversation (it’s dolly’s birthday party, “what would you like to have?”)

Picture description is also an excellent way to practice “wh” questions. This I will take as a separate topic.
So, let’s awaken the child in us, be bubbly and funny while approaching your kids. Start with the “what” & “where” questions to start the first step towards language development. Use lots of materials around the house to create a world where he can create visual image and cut down on processing the word. Remember “a picture is worth a thousand words”

So… let’s get curious!!!

Author Simmi Vasu

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo and Morpheus Nag

Creative representation for this blog is done by supertalented CreativeSaathi associates Dhrov Tikoo and Morpheus Nag.