Hello Friends!

Continuing with my blog series, ‘Education of Neurodiverse Kids’, in today’s blog, I continue with exploring legal status of homeschooling in India and its various approaches.

Homeschooling or other alternative approaches of education is not new in India. Rabindranath Tagore’s Visava Bharati University, Sri Aurobindo’s Sri Aurobindo International Center of Education and Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas about “basic education” are prime examples how educational theorists have discussed and implemented radically different approaches of education in India, as early as 20th century.
However, the legal status of homeschooling in India is still a grey area and hot topic of debate since long amongst parents, lawmakers and educators. Over the years, many petitions have been filed by parents and alternate schools for granting relief from formal schooling. Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE) makes formal education a fundamental right of every child between the ages of 6 and 14 and specifies minimum norms for schools. However, as per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (to which India is also a signatory), “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.”

Various approaches of homeschooling in India
Homeschoolers use a wide variety of methods and materials and customize them to fit individual learning styles. The most prevalent methods of homeschooling in India are Montessori method, Unschooling, Radical Unschooling, Waldorf education, traditional school at home, etc. Some of these approaches like Montessori and Waldorf are available in school settings also.
Many homeschoolers also follow formal education methods at home through CBSE, NIOS and IGCSE. Of these, IGCSE and NIOS are especially suited for homeschoolers.
National Institute for Open Schooling (NIOS) is the official platform for home-based schooling by the government of India that caters to students through

its academic and vocational education department. It is one of the most popular alternatives to school education in India. For more information, check the link
With the increasing popularity of homeschooling in India, many online homeschooling providers, kind of online schools, have also cropped up. Some of the popular ones being 21K School, K8 School, AOL School, etc.
In 2019, Maharashtra government launched ‘Open SSC board’, a platform for athletes, artists, disabled people, seniors and anyone who wishes to continue their academic journey while pursuing others interests and obligations surpassing all hurdles. This move by Maharashtra Government was much welcomed by homeschoolers.

Homeschoolers Support Groups

There are many online support groups for homeschoolers in India. Though most participants are based in major urban Indian cities, these a days there is a considerable presence of homeschoolers in small towns also who either independently educate their children or are associated with alternative schools.
Some of the prominent support groups are
• Swashikshan – Indian Association of Homeschoolers
• Homeschooling by Handholding
• Pune Homeschoolers
• Cascade Family Learning Society , etc
These support groups regularly organise conferences, social meetups, apprenticeships and other activities that allow for mutual support and knowledge-sharing.
In recent years, some homeschooled children in India have been accepted into top higher education institutions such as the IIT and MIT while a number of them also choose to be integrated into mainstream education at some point. The number of homeschooling families in India has been increasing over the years.

In the next blog, we will explore the different homeschooling approaches in detail to understand which of these approaches is best suited for your child. Till then, feel free to share your thoughts on WhatsApp number +919910353219 or email

Author Shivani Lohia

Shivani Lohia is a Chartered Accountant by profession and mother to 9 years old child on the autism spectrum. The cause of autism awareness is very close to her heart and she strongly believes in equal education for all & strongly advocates inclusion. She has been homeschooling her son since he was 5 years old.


A Father’s Journey with Autism

A Father’s Journey with Autism: Early Days and Diagnosis

I am Srinibash, a 57-year-old man from a middle-class family in Delhi-NCR. My wife and I are the proud parents of an adult autistic daughter, Simi. Raising her for the past 21 years has been a beautiful yet challenging journey filled with immense love, learning, and acceptance.

Today, through this blog, I want to share our experiences, hoping to offer guidance and support to young parents who have recently received the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in their child.

The Beginning: A Dream Start

When our daughter, our firstborn, arrived, our hearts overflowed with joy. We meticulously followed every doctor’s advice, ensuring her a healthy pregnancy. Every ultrasound and test confirmed a healthy baby girl, growing right on track.

However, a few days before her due date, a chilling fear gripped us. The baby’s movement ceased for several hours. Rushing to the doctor, we were relieved when movement resumed. Though the doctor assured us everything was fine, a tiny seed of worry had been planted.

Our daughter entered the world through a caesarean section. Initially, she thrived. But due to negligence at the nursing home, she suffered a severe stomach infection, requiring high doses of antibiotics. Years later, we learned this high dosage was unnecessary.

Despite this early hiccup, she met her developmental milestones on time. She babbled, crawled, and even hummed songs, filling our lives with music. We were ecstatic, oblivious to the challenges that lay ahead.

The Turning Point: Regression and Red Flags

Around 1.5 years old, we noticed a regression in her speech. She started uttering meaningless words, fixated on specific areas. Lacking knowledge about autism, we attributed it to a temporary phase, confident she’d soon be back to her chatty self.

However, by age 2, some red flags became impossible to ignore:

No eye contact
No response to her name
Self-talk with gibberish
Repetitive play, lining up toys in a specific pattern
Obsession with TV commercials
Social isolation
Inability to call us “Papa” or “Mummy
Difficulty recognizing herself or us in photos
Hyperactivity, unable to sit still for more than 5 minutes
Repetitive actions, like throwing stones in water for hours
Despite these challenges, Simi’s intelligence and emotional attachment shone through. She understood the use of locks and keys, door-opening mechanisms, and dressing herself. We were clueless about the invisible world she inhabited.

Little did we know, this was just the beginning of our extraordinary journey with autism.

From Play School to Diagnosis

My daughter, was a bright child. She could pick up on TV ads and recite slogans word-for-word. But when it came to social interaction, she struggled. She wouldn’t respond to her name, make eye contact, or play with other kids. At two and a half, we put her in play school, hoping it would help her blossom.

The school principal’s words were a gut punch. “Take her to a doctor,” she advised. “She might have a hearing problem.”

We were sure she could hear, but we followed her advice. After initial investigatios, Doctor advised to do a IQ Test at Guwahati Neurological Research Centre (GNRC). We visited GNRC and took her to a Clinical Psychologist who did a test called VSMS (not IQ test) as she was not responsive and said her Social Quotient (SQ) was 37 which implies she is mentally a 1 year child although her age is around 3 years. She diagnosed my daughter as an ADHD child (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). She informed that there is medication available for ADHD but can be given by a psychiatrist after my daughter attained 5 year age. She advised to take the help of a speech therapist & behavioral therapist. We tried to search for the same in and around Guwahati.

Finally, we got a therapy center at Guwahati Medical College (GMC) and visited there for a period of 1 month on daily basis, but didn’t notice much improvement. My daughter was very reluctant to therapies and used to cry throughout. The Clinical Psychologist mentioned in her prescription that my daughter is MR (Mentally Retardation) with Mild Autism. Though, we didn’t take it literally.

Subsequently, on the advice of a Child Specialist we visited a Psychiatrist (HoD of Psychiatrist Department of GMC). He after examination confirmed the child is ADHD and prescribed Mentat syrup and Dipsonil for a period of 3-6 Months. I then prepared a detailed medical history file of my daughter and sent to one of my relative working as Professor at AIIMS New Delhi for his opinion. After few days I got a call from Head of GNRC as my relative referred my case to head of Neurologist at Guwahati Neurological Research Centre (GNRC). I visited him and he also confirmed that there is no abnormality with my child however advised me to see a Clinical Psychologist joined with GNRC recently.
We met her and while discussing with the Doctor in her chamber, my daughter tried to reach out to her Desktop but we resisted her. Doctor told us not to interfere as she was observing her behavior. Whenever my daughter tried to go near the PC, she hold her both arms and obstructed her and not allowed my daughter to go there. My daughter tried a lot but pushed away by the doctor and hence she cried vigorously in this whole process.

Doctor asked us to come next day with our daughter for further investigation and report. On reaching home we noticed scar mark with injuries below the arm pit of my daughter which was caused by lifting by the doctor. My wife was very upset by seeing the injuries.

Next day we again visited the Doctor and I was about to ask her regarding the injuries of daughter, but before that she enquired whether we noticed any change in behavior of our daughter. Yes, there was change. Although she was very excited about the Desktop but was not tried to go there. I informed the same. On hearing my reply, the comment of doctor surprised us. She told that she had applied PAIN THERAPY to modify her behavioral issues. We became confused and want to know more.
Her diagnosis was my Daughter is a case of Pervassive Developmental Disorder (PDD) and it could be AUTISM. As told earlier, the word AUTISM was very new for us so I enquired to know more about it. Doctor advised me to go through Internet to know more.

Doctor after doctor, therapist after therapist, we sought answers. Labels were thrown around like confetti: ADHD, mentally retarded, MR with mild autism, Pervassive Developmental Disorder (PDD). Each diagnosis felt like a blow.

Though the word “autism” was new, scary, and confusing for us. But as I researched more, the pieces started to fit. Her repetitive behaviors, her echolalia, her struggles to connect – it all made sense.

The fear of our daughter being nonverbal for life loomed large. The doctor’s words ignited a fire in us. Our journey began, a winding path of therapies and interventions.

In the next blog, I’ll share the ups and downs in this journey, from tears in therapy rooms to breakthroughs big and small. I’ll talk about the therapies that helped her, the challenges we faced, and the unwavering love that fueled us forward.

(To be continued)

Author Srinibash Mishra

Edited by Shilpi Mayank Awasthi


Navigating the Sensory World: Understanding and Supporting Visual Seekers in Autism Spectrum

A Guide to Identifying and Supporting Visual Seekers

Sensory sensitivities, both hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity, are prevalent among individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, often impacting their daily experiences and overall well-being. One such sensory preference is visual seeking, where individuals crave and actively seek out visual stimulation.

Understanding What is Visual Seeking in Autism

Visual seekers, also known as visual sensitives, are individuals who exhibit a heightened desire or need for visual input. They crave stimulation and may be drawn to bright lights, flashing objects, spinning patterns, or specific colors and textures. This visual seeking behavior stems from a desensitization to sensory stimuli, leading individuals to seek additional stimulation to feel engaged and self-regulated from light, patterns, colors, and movement. This sensory seeking behavior can manifest in various ways, including:

●Being drawn to bright lights, colors, and patterns
●Frequently seeking out visual distractions, such as spinning objects or flashing lights
●Enjoying activities that involve visual input, such as watching TV, playing video games, or drawing
●Struggling to focus in environments with limited visual input.

What are the Common Characteristics of Visual Seekers?

While visual seeking can be a trait in anyone, it is often more pronounced in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some common characteristics of visual seekers include:

A heightened sensitivity to light- Preference for bright or visually stimulating environments

A strong fascination with movement- Fascination with spinning objects, flashing lights, or moving patterns

A preference for specific colors and patterns- Insistence on clothing and toys with specific shapes, colors, or patterns

A preference for busy, stimulating environments- Crave for screen time and prefer stimulating movies and games

Difficulty focusing in visually bland environments- Difficulty disengaging from visually stimulating activities

*Important point to note: While visual seeking can be a source of enjoyment and self-regulation, it can also lead to challenges in everyday life. Individuals may have difficulty focusing in environments with excessive visual stimuli, become overwhelmed by sensory overload, or engage in repetitive behaviors that interfere with daily routines.

How to Identify Visual Seekers?

If you suspect that your child or someone you know may be a visual seeker, there are a few key signs to look for:

●They are constantly seeking out visual stimulation.

●They are easily distracted by visual stimuli.

●They seem to crave sensory input, such as spinning objects or watching flashing lights.

●They struggle to focus in environments with limited visual input.

What are the Strategies to Support Visual Seekers?

There are a number of strategies that can be used to support visual seekers and help them regulate their sensory needs. Some of these strategies include:

1. Identify and understand triggers: Observe and document the specific visual stimuli that trigger seeking behavior. This can help in creating a personalized sensory diet, balancing stimulating and calming environments.

2. Provide alternative sensory outlets and access to visual stimulation: Offer alternative sensory experiences that provide appropriate stimulation without causing overwhelm. This may include fidget toys, weighted blankets, or calming music and videos.

3. Create a sensory-friendly environment: Creating a calm and visually organized environment. This could involve minimizing distractions, clutter and using calming colors in the home or classroom. Provide designated areas for quiet relaxation and focused activities.

4. Promote sensory breaks: Integrate regular breaks into daily routines to allow individuals to engage in preferred sensory activities. This can help prevent sensory overload and maintain self-regulation.

5. Encourage social interaction: Engage individuals in social activities and interactions that promote communication and engagement with others. This can help reduce reliance on sensory seeking behaviors for self-regulation.

6. Encouraging activities that involve visual input– This could include things like drawing, painting, or playing video games.

7. Using visual cues to help with transitions– This could involve using timers, visual schedules and cues, or social stories.

8. Teaching self-regulation techniques- This could include deep breathing, mindfulness exercises, or weighted blankets.

9. Be patient and understanding– It can take time for visual seekers to learn how to regulate their sensory needs.

10. Work with a professional– If you are concerned about a child’s visual seeking behavior, it is important to work with a professional and seek professional guidance. Consult an occupational therapist, sensory integration specialists/ sensory processing specialist, who can provide personalized strategies and interventions tailored to an individual’s needs.

Additional Resources for Parents

The Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation:
STAR Institute for Sensory Processing Disorders:
Autism Speaks:
National Autistic Society:

Visual seeking is a common sensory processing issue that can impact individuals in a variety of ways. By understanding the characteristics of visual seeking, we can better identify and support those who experience it. With the right strategies and support, visual seekers can learn to manage their sensory needs and thrive in their daily lives.

I hope this blog post has been helpful. If you have any feedback, please feel free to leave your feedback and comments below.

Author Shilpi Mayank Awasthi
Founder SpecialSaathi

BloggerSaathi Learning with your Child at Home

Developing Whole Body Communication with Indian Natya

The last week has been eventful!
Movement and Storytelling Activities Ebook
We completed version 1 of our e-book “Movement and Storytelling Activities.” This e-book is the first in the LIFESMART Parenting e-books on Learning with your Child at Home. It includes 10 activities based on Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) developed by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar.

View the e-book here:

Thanks to Morpheus Nag for the beautiful picture of a mother and child that helps us convey the message of the book. Learning with your child at home is about connection!

Bridging the Neurodivide
I also participated in a panel discussion on Bridging the Neurodivide hosted by SpecialSaathi.

Ananth’s Birthday Session on SpecialSaathi
We were excited to end the week with a session hosted by SpecialSaathi on Ananth’s birthday. This session included
1) a dance by Ananth,
2) a message on learning with Indian natya/ Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) by Sri Ujwal Jagadeesh, and
3) a presentation by Dr. Rama on Whole Body Communication using Indian natya

This session is also Parentsaathi lesson 3.

We are grateful to Shilpi Mayank Awasthi for these wonderful opportunities. The TAHD way is a fun way to celebrate birthdays! SpecialSaathi has made it possible to celebrate Ananth’s birthdays, in this way. These events are a way to bridge the neurodivide by bringing together family members, LIFESMART community, and SpecialSaathi community.

Author Dr Dasaratha Rama

Dr. Dasaratha Rama is a professor and home educator. She was the editor of a monograph on service-learning published by the American Association of Higher Education. This monograph was a part of a series of monographs on service-learning published by AAHE. She was also an Engaged Scholar with the Campus Compact, an association in the US dedicated to higher education civic and community engagement at colleges and universities. She has served as the Chair of the Teaching and Curriculum Section of the American Accounting Education. She is a certified leader in systems thinking, mapping, and leadership under a program offered by Cabrera Research Lab. She is currently doing a certificate in Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) from RASA (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya).

"A Journey to Bharat through Natya" BloggerSaathi

Bridging the Neurodivide: Thinking with Circles

A Production of Ananth’s Fold, Color, Talk

Why think about complex topics such as neurodiversity, neurodivergent individuals, inclusion, and bridging the neurodivide using only words? Building visual and tactile models clarifies ideas and helps us think and talk about our ideas. Have fun exploring ideas in different ways with visual and tactile tools.

I have been folding circles since 2007. I use Wholemovement, an approach developed by Bradford Hansen-Smith. I used to fold circles to create tetrahedrons, octahedrons, icosahedrons, Vector-Equilibrium Sphere, and many other interesting structures. After folding, I enjoyed coloring it. While some children like my cousin liked to fold many circles in a day, I folded one or two and spent time coloring.

Since I kept folding and coloring, my mother started organizing ideas on the circle creations. We used these foldables to think about different topics and to talk about our ideas.

See the video below and try folding!

I enjoyed folding and coloring because
• It was relaxing
• I enjoy coloring
• I could learn better with visual and tactile tools

I did an entrepreneurship summer camp in 2014. I created the concept and logo for Fold, Color, Talk.

Bridging the Neurodivide

When my mother started preparing for her presentation on Bridging the Neurodivide, she asked me to fold a tetrahedron and then an icosahedon using four colors.


The first fold divides the circle into two parts. We used one side neurotypicals (NT) and another half to represent neurodivergent (ND). Once folded into a tetrahedron, the bottom two triangles represent NTs and NDs having experiences in environments that work best for them. As they learn in their own ways, different people (learners, parents, teachers, etc.) discover ways to bridge the neurodivide (triangle at the center). These discoveries enable them to bring NDs and NTs together in different environments.


I used four tetrahedrons to create an icosahedron. The icosahedron can help us visualize the process of bridging the neurodivide more clearly.

Sustaining (green)

NDs and NTs have experiences in environments that work for them.

Initiating (yellow)

We initiate activities to bring these learners together.

Adapting (orange)

Students, teachers, parents and others adjust to changes

Extending (blue)

New activities and ways of bridging the neurodivide are discovered and implemented.

We have started tracking our progress in bridging the neuro divide using this Icosahedron.
Watch the video below to see how we are using it.

About Ananth
Ananth Raghunandan is a student ambassador for (Ramana Sunritya Aalaya) RASA and Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD). Ananth Raghunandan is doing a diploma in Bharatanatyam.

He enjoys folding circles and created Fold, Color, Talk with his mother Dr. Dasaratha Rama during an entrepreneurship camp.