Austism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Kerry Magro: Autism can’t define me. I define autism.😊

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a set of developmental disabilities that affect a person’s ability to socialise and communicate. This neurodevelopmental disorder is sometimes diagnosed before the age of one year, but is usually not diagnosed until much later. Most children with autism are diagnosed after age 3, and some have been diagnosed as young as 18 months. Early intervention is the most effective step, so when children between 2 and 3 years of age show signs of autism, they should be evaluated by a professional.

Autism spectrum disorder symptoms vary from person to person and range in severity, so it is classified as a spectrum. Children with ASD communicate and interact differently from other children. They learn and think differently from others. Some have major challenges and need ongoing support in their daily lives, while others have high autonomous functioning. There is no cure for autism, but symptoms can improve with the right help of Professionals.

Autism symptoms in 2 to 3 year old children :
For some children, symptoms of autism become apparent in the first few months of life. Other children do not show symptoms until age 2. Mild symptoms are often difficult to detect and may be mistaken for a shy nature, or choleric.

We’re going to look at the most common symptoms of autism in children between the ages of 2 and 3.

1. Social skills
2. Does not respond to his name
3. Avoid eye contact
4. Prefers to play alone rather than with other children
5. Does not share with others even when asked to share
6. Does not understand what it means to turn, or turn, using toys
7. Not interested in socialising with other children or people
8. Dislikes or avoids physical contact
9. He’s not interested or doesn’t know how to make friends
10. Lacks facial expression or, conversely, makes inappropriate expressions
11. Not easily appeased or comforted
12. You have difficulty expressing your feelings or talking
13. Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings

Language and communication skills :

1. Compared to other children his age, he is delayed in speech and language skills
2. Repeat words and phrases over and over
3. Does not answer questions well, so communication can be complicated
4. Repeat what others say
5. Does not point at people or objects, or does not respond when pointed at
6. Do not use personal pronouns well, for example, say “you” instead of “I”.
7. Doesn’t gesture or use body language, or rarely does
8. Speak in a monotone or monotonous tone of voice
9. Does not understand role playing or simulation games
10. Does not understand jokes, teasing or sarcasm

Erratic behaviour

1. Makes repetitive movements, such as flapping, rotating, or waving their arms
2. Arrange their toys or other objects in an organized way
3. Get angry and frustrated at small changes in their daily routine
4. Have weird routines and get upset when not allowed to do them, like locking the door
5. There is a fixation for certain parts of the object such as wheels
6. Have obsessive interests
7. Has hyperactivity or short attention span

Autism in children aged 2 to 3 years: Other possible symptoms

1. is induced offensive self harm
2. Have persistent and severe tantrums
3. Have an irregular response to sound, smell, taste, sight or touch
4. Have irregular eating and sleeping habits
5. Lack of fear or more fear than usual
6. Having any one of these symptoms may be normal, but having several of them, especially with language delays, should raise some concerns for parents or caregivers.

Symptoms in boys and girls :

Symptoms of autism are usually the same in boys and girls. However, because autism is diagnosed much more often in boys than in girls, the classic symptoms are often described in a biassed manner. For example, a girl who does not play with trains, trucks, or dinosaurs may show other behaviours such as dressing or arranging dolls in a certain way.

High-functioning girls also have an easier time imitating social behaviour. Average social skills may be more innate in girls, making deficits less marked.

Author Sradhanjali Dasgupta

Consultant Psychologist, Speaker , Learning Developmental Coach, Teacher and trainer Miss. Sradhanjali Dasgupta has been extensively working in the field of Counselling and education for the past few years in several Clinics, Hospitals, NGOs and educational sectors. She also contributes her writings and blogs in various newspapers, magazines and e- magazines Her training and workshops are both for the corporate as well as for the educational sector and are geared up for learning and development,upgradation and capacity building. She have actively taken part in many debates.


Life is art, paint your dreams

Sarvagya’s first participation in an art exhibition

मन – day की बात SpecialSaathi के साथ

Hello Shilpi Ma’am.

Firstly, thank you for giving me this opportunity to write for ‘Special Saathi’. It’s an honour to be associated with your platform.

I am excited to share my experience of attending today my son’s first participation in the art exhibition organised by Kalaaakar Foundation.I would begin by sharing a bit about my son.

Art exhibition video

My son, Sarvagya is 8 years old. He got diagnosed at the age of 3 years. He was struggling with almost all autism related issues at that time. Holding pencil properly was a big struggle too. I could never imagine in my dreams he would ever draw or paint.

Around 3 years back, he started showing some interest in sketching. He used to make simple drawings like TV, AC, tree, basic shapes like circle, square, rectangle, etc. (with marker pens on my walls..!! ) . Gradually, he started copying pictures from various resources like books, newspaper, etc. Though, at that time, his sketching was really poor, but he was showing keen interest in it.

By God’s grace, I was able to identify his interest. Sketching & painting has been my hobby too since school days. His interest rekindled my passion. But since I am not a professional, I didn’t have the requisite skills to help him. However, I didn’t want to let go this opportunity. So, started doing various trials.

I started by asking him what he wanted to draw. Once he said ‘Kanha ji’. Together, we searched Kanha ji pictures on google and finalised one of them. I took a screenshot of that picture and then we together decided upon a point from where to start drawing. I zoomed the picture from that part, we discussed the curves and lines. Gradually, he started observing deeply and with consistent practice, there was a significant improvement in his drawing skills, specially in relation to symmetry in drawings.

Similarly, regarding coloring, he was not coloring in flow, he used to color in any direction/flow he wanted. I gave him the mantra “jaisa curve, waisa color” and for the first few drawings, I used to keep repeating this every one or two minutes. Gradually, it clicked and he picked up coloring.

I can never forget the day I got his first painting framed. When I showed him his framed painting, he was silent for a few seconds. After that, for the next 2-3 days, literally the whole day, he sat on the couch holding his painting close to his heart with his eyes closed. Being a hyperactive child, I had never seen him like this before. That day, I understood practically how art works like therapy.

That day and today, Sarvagya has come a long way.

An art exhibition was organised at Pearey Lal Bhawan, ITO, New Delhi on Jan 07-09, 2023 where artworks of a large number of distinguished artists were displayed. Sarvagya’s four paintings were also displayed here. My son couldn’t express but as a mother I could feel his sense of achievement & happiness on seeing his paintings displayed amongst artworks of distinguished artists. I believe he was one of the youngest participating artists. This was his first participation in a formal art exhibition. That ways, it’s a huge achievement and moral booster for both of us.

This exhibition was not only an achievement for him but has boosted my confidence too that as a parent of a special needs child, I and my son are not helpless, we can dream just like anyone else and achieve them too. Honestly, this was like a dream come true for me. A child who once struggled in holding a pencil, his fingers now dance with paints and brush to create beautiful masterpieces.

Though he’s not yet creating original paintings, he copies them from various resources, however, I am confident that with consistent efforts , a day will come when he will achieve that level of creativity too.

Today, I have realised that being a special parent, our journey is very difficult and unpredictable. However, with our hard work and consistent approach, there is nothing which our children can’t achieve.

CA Shivani Lohia

Author Shivani Lohia

Shivani Lohia is a Chartered Accountant by profession and mother to 8 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.

Creative representation of this blog is done by our extremely talented CreativeSaathi associate Shubh Pathak.


Different or Similar??…A Perception

It’s so common place to discriminate based on colour,height,gender, location. status and last but not the least capabilities…
Its basic human nature to see the black spot on a white sheet…
To project self as better,more important and abler than another being easier through belittling another than proving own worth that stands out in daily actions and deeds that make a glaring difference impactful.
This is a subtle social covert behavior that becomes most pronounced,open and overt in neuro diverse and neuro typical interactions
Is there another way to view everyone who’s DIFFERENT but in negation?!!
Definitely a YES!!
And reap rich dividends of all round wellbeing thereby!!!
Listing a few common grounds to prove the SIMILARITIES that get overshadowed by the celebrated DIFFERENCES AND
Its not unusual to see ALL LIVING BEINGS showing preferences towards convenience /routine/patterns/likes/ dislikes/abilities/leanings/weaknesses/ strengths/moods/choice making/ interests/initiatives and much more…
While some of us are able to show balances in all traits to moderation and enrich the more acceptable ones through CONSTANT learning,processing, filtering, connecting the dots, engaging- within and without -that build on these traits..
Others,not that much in any front..
Yet some others- disproportionately so
-from within and without- NEEDING A LITTLE SUPPORT in degrees
This may be termed as processing self regulation/introvert /underconfident/shy/ followers vs
Processing coregulation/extrovert/ overconfident/achiever /leader etc
While one BALANCES the other..they are an INTEGRAL PART of a WHOLE..a team…a buddy system without which there wld be
chaos…ego clashes with no listeners and/ or life coming to a stand still with no one taking effort/initiative or interest in the environment around themselves.

Mother Nature is a great and natural leveler..intervening..aiding..abetting..encour aging….reprimanded.. slowing down..mediating…contrasting where she sees the scales tipping either way,in her stride!!
She ensures her creations achieve patience…perseverance..
creativity..innovation…empathy..enlightenm ent..learning..growth…purpose..cohabitatio
n…contentment…values.. experience… excitement and much more for quality of existence in each living being through practical lessons in life.


Different or Similar??!!!…A Perception A page from the musings of life
January 2023

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo

Creative representation for this blog is done by CreativeSaathi associate Dhrov Tikoo


Journey of the Rodrigues Family

Journey of the Rodrigues Family

This is our Journey, The Rodrigues Family Comprising of our Children Joanne and Brydan and we parents Janice and Bryne.

Journey of the Rodrigues family

Our journey began way back in 2009 when we were based in UAE. Joanne was diagnosed with developmental delay when she was about a year and half. It was very little did we know about Autism at that juncture due to lack of awareness. We were already expecting our 2nd Child Brydan. The second blow was when Brydan too was detected to be on the spectrum – our lives turned upside down.

Like every parent, we too had a lot of dreams and aspirations in our minds – but then all that came to a standstill. We too went through a Denial phase with questions like..WHY ME etc..

We commenced with therapies for Joanne in UAE but there was just marginal progress. At that point of time the therapist did not empower us parents by providing us with the relevant information or the tools to work with Joanne. Basically we were losing on crucial time and needed to find an alternative.

Joanne and Brydan are poles a part, their sensory needs were extremely different. There were times when Brydan would go in a meltdown and we both together couldn’t control him (due to ignorance we would even feel as if there is a spirit reigning in him).

Thereafter upon our visit to Mumbai – India, we did our ground work on the schools and interventions available in Mumbai for Joanne and Brydan. We took a crucial life changing decision of moving back permanently to Mumbai in the year 2013 to look at the probable brighter side.

We embarked on our new journey from a scratch and started our own business of advertising with a focus that we needed to give more time to our kids as compared to the financial aspect. Bryne even works at odd night hours so that he could make time for the kids during the day. We did go through a struggling phase along with financial crunches. However all the sacrifice being done at the peak of our careers should bear some fruits. Later after a couple of years Janice too started working remotely from home. Her ex-employers from UAE offered her an opportunity knowing well about her dedication and commitment to work. Hence she was given a free hand on her work timing. She would plan timing with kids and work in a great way so we could give our kids the best time. This was also serving as her “Me time”. She loves her work.

We basically plan our activities a day in advance as generally kids on the spectrum prefer a predictable routine. We do a lot of brain storming on various strategies to work around with them. We do not have any gender biasness in our family, we multitask whether its kitchen or office work.

We wish to mention that many therapists, teachers as well as parent professionals have been an integral part of our journey who have empowered us. We have a great emotional support from our Extended Family.

We are now more known as The Rodrigues family. We are proud to state that people know us as parents of Joanne and Brydan and not vice versa. We have learnt a lot about the value of patience, understanding and to let go of things at times from our kids

We have created various Episodes on our Youtube Channel Autism and Beyond – A Positive journey of J & B It’s via our Episodes we try to connect with parents to spread a message that Nothing is Impossible with our kids. SEE THE ABLE NOT THE LABEL.

We require a lot of positivity, consistency, perseverance and dedication with our kids and wonders do happen. Every child in the Autism spectrum is different as the spectrum is Vast.
We need to identify the abilities of our kids and nurture it further and not compare with achievements of other Children etc.

We the Rodrigues family believe that role modeling is very important for our children. Activities done together as a family is more productive and better learning with good results as against typical desktop learning.

The more we get together, the happier we’ll be

Well with regards to the achievements of Joanne and Brydan.

1. Joanne and Brydan are both in the Guinness Book of World Records (2019) for Skating.
2. Joanne and Brydan are also Deep Sea Swimmers.
3. Joanne and Brydan are a part of Special Olympics Bharat.
4. Joanne is a recipient of Kanya Award from Gov’t of Award 2022
5. Joanne & Brydan are recipients of Global Excellence Award 2022
6. Joanne has secured 1st Position twice in consecutive years (2021 & 2022) in an Online Live Cooking Competition Pan India in the Teen Category.
7. Joanne & Brydan are recipients of Super International Kids Awards 2022
8. Joanne & Brydan are recipients of Asia Pacific Records 2022 for Road Relay Skating on the occasion of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
9. Both Joanne and Brydan qualified the State Level Skating Championship 2022 by receiving 2 Gold and 2 Bronze Medals respectively in a short race and a long race category. They have now qualified for the Finals.

Yes, we have the above achievements – which have come in with a lot hard work and struggles. We had initially introduced swimming and skating for both Joanne and Brydan with a focus to provide a constructive way to utilize their excessive energy which is a common trait in kids on the Autism spectrum. We had a tough time with Brydan in regard to swimming, which was back in 2014. He used to cry for the complete session, hide his swim suits etc – which went on for about a year. Nevertheless, we too didn’t give up and gradually Brydan became passionate for swimming. He now loves the pool and sea swimming activities. As mentioned earlier, we role model for our kids – hence we too learnt swimming at the age of 40 years.

Our on-going journey is steep with a lot of struggles and challenges, however we need to be positive as there are good times as well as not so good times.

“Just because our kids are achievers, doesn’t make everything easy. We go through and understand the pains of every day of every parent.
It’s difficult to explain to the children when things will be normal and safe enough to venture outdoors. When will schools reopen? When will academics regularize? The lockdowns don’t seem to end! Social interactions have become minimal. Plus, there’s a lot of negativity about the pandemic which affects people.
All this anxiety leads to aggressions and meltdowns in the children. When the children get into aggressive meltdowns, it is tough to explain certain situations, which they cannot verbally comprehend.
Also, the pandemic put us in an extreme financial crisis. We are in a dilemma about the very existence of our business. We are into Outdoor Advertising business With malls closed, it’s been a very, very gloomy situation. It still continues to be. Maintaining mental, emotional and financial stability in the new normal is a daily challenge.”

Well with regard to ourselves, we as a family love lighter moments at home with a lot of old country music. We parents make time for ourselves with Yoga, Exercise and often turn to Online content for some lighter moments especially after kids go to sleep. This “ME time” for oneself is extremely important to reenergize and rejuvenate for the daily battles. Here we will like to mention that parents of special kids need to take care of their health as our kids need us alongside them for a longer time.

Me- time is a must

At times we feel that we are better actors than Amitabh Bacchan or Shahrukh Khan as our life is full of acting moments without any Lights Camera Action. This is basically since children often pick up vibes from parents. Hence, we try to keep a happy pleasant environment despite the day would have been extremely stressful.

A small message from the Rodrigues family : We need to share our journey and experiences which give Hope to all. Well we have also taken a lot of inspiration with senior parents with kids on the spectrum. Early acceptance is the key, our kids are different. They think in a very different way and perceive things differently. Kids struggle with various sensory needs and hence it becomes difficult for them to regulate themselves. Hence, it is always better that we try and understand them by entering their world rather than forcing them into our world. This will make our life much easier and full of happiness. Please expose our kids to society, we need to practice advocacy on their behalf. Till we speak no one will listen nor will they be able to understand our kids. So we all need to create an inclusive environment for our kids.

Merry Christmas 🎅 🎄

Please also follow us on our Instagram @joannebrydan. The intention to move to Instagram was primarily to connect with the next younger generation and try to make them more aware about autism and inclusion etc. This new generation will eventually be the citizens who will live alongside with our children to form an inclusive community / society.

Lastly stay Safe and Stay Blessed.
Merry Christmas from the RODRIGUES FAMILY

Artwork by Ansh Batra

The artwork for the ChangemakerSaathi story of Janice and Bryne Rodrigues is done by our supertalented CreativeSaathi associate Ansh Batra.

BloggerSaathi CreativeSaathi

Turmoil of an Autism Mom Part 2

My journey with Autism By Megha Batra Jairath

मन – day की बात SpecialSaathi के साथ

Read the Turmoil of an Autism Mom part 1 by Megha batra jairath here…

I have a big problem, I think a lot, and my thoughts usually ponder over these areas related to my daughter Anaisha.

1) The Guilt!

The guilt of where did I go wrong, hounds me. The exact cause of Autism is still unknown, so I question, did it happen during my pregnancy, or was it due to bad parenting. Some people say, autism is caused due to MMR vaccination, some people say it was always there, and kids are born with it. But nothing is proven as of now. But the question is “Why me?” And the guilt is a never-ending one.

Anaisha is 6 years old now and she goes to the best inclusive school and is taking all possible therapies. And now finally when I have started giving some time to myself and planning to join my work full time as well, I wonder, am I giving too much time to myself and ignoring her? Because ideally, I should be doing a lot. But I often lose my focus and waste my energy on things that are just not required. I have lot of mood swings, lot of anxiety attacks, and they do affect Anaisha.


Why can’t she start speaking meaningfully, on her own, miraculously, as every child does! I have been waiting for years for this milestone to be met. Kids with Autism speak as well, but why Anaisha’s speech is not developing?Why her volume is still low? Why do her sensory issues keep on changing? Why do her issues keep coming back? Why do I have to make her practice, practice, and practice? Why can’t she converse with me and recall what happened in school. Everyone says I should keep on talking to her, and I do, but I get sad when I don’t get a response back. And then I lose my patience as well. Why don’t a miracle happens and fix everything alright. Why ?


Anaisha is the busiest of us all, she is the hardest-working person I know. First, she has her 8-hour school and then her 2 to 3 hours of therapy every day. But when her progress stops or goes slow, there is a discussion with her teachers and therapists on what else I can do to improve her. What’s her IEP, the next plan of action? But am I able to follow all the plans? The answer is no! Why do I miss some of the activities some days? I don’t know! Is it possible to do everything every day? I am not sure.


Why do some family members (not all), keep on poking about her speech? Why do they keep comparing her with other kids? Why can’t they just accept what the issue is and work on her instead of passing comments?
But I must admit, if God gave me a problem, it gave me a solution as well. I am blessed to have a support system. My biggest blessings are my immediate family and friends. I am glad that I am not alone in this journey, I have my parent’s support who are always available to help me and teach and take care of Anaisha. Anaisha has got the best teachers and therapists; she is going in the right direction.

Anaisha has got some amazing peers in school. Almost every classmate of Anaisha wants to help her. She has a left and a right hand, always ready to assist her!
Also, by God’s grace, I can at least afford her therapies and her school’s fee. I have seen lot of mothers who had to quit their jobs to take care of their child, but my office always supported me, it gave me flexibility to work part time for years.

With this struggle, I have started appreciating the process of achieving a target, and not just the success of achieving a target. It has given an opportunity to have unique experiences which have added value in my daily life. It has enhanced my problem-solving skills because of my ability to see them through a different perspective. It has helped me develop an ability to turn obstacles into opportunities. It has helped me rediscover myself. It has helped me realize of my innate potential. Anaisha is helping me do my HUMAN REVOLUTION every day.

Some days I wonder that may be its good that she doesn’t speak much, doesn’t demand much. She is such an obedient child (well not always, but most of the times she is!). Am I not lucky to have her? She finds happiness in small little things, not bothered about what world thinks of her, she is just happy in her own small world. And yes, she is the only person who loves me unconditionally. 😉

Sirf wo hi mujhe sachha pyar karti hai, aur mein bhi! 😉

Author Megha Batra Jairath

Megha is a mother of a 6-year-old girl on autism spectrum disorder. Megha is a working professional in an Energy Consulting firm in New Delhi. She has a strong inclination towards dance, which is her therapy for life. In her free time, you will often see her making Instagram reels @megbats2020

Artwork by Dhrov Tikoo

A beautiful creative representation for this blog depicting a bond between a mother with her child is done by a superbly talented CreativeSaathi associate Dhrov Tikoo