May Special Needs Parents find HOPE. The following may make parents of neurotypical children want to know more about their neighbours, cousins,friends or colleagues who have Special Needs Children.
WHO AM I?
I am Sangeetha John from Kochi, Kerala. I am a happy and contented wife, mother, daughter and of course a friend to those who love me. I am now sharing with you my experiences with my eldest daughter's autism.
INTRODUCING MY SPOUSE
My husband Zacharia Joseph is the strong pillar that supports the family. He gives me confidence to do what I believe is best for the family.
HOW MANY KIDS TO I HAVE?
Two girls- Sherin, now 15yrs, wants to write more and more about the world and Shreya, now 10 who loves music and art.
WHAT DO WE DO FOR FUN?
All of us try to enjoy every moment of our lives. Being together on holidays, travels, movies, shopping, restaurants ... meeting relatives and friends.
WHO IS THE STRICT PARENT?
We feel the most important responsibility of a parent is to inculcate values in our children.
We treat both Sherin, who is diagnosed with PDD NOS and Shreya the same way.
To be kind and empathetic to others and to trust God Almighty is required of both. They do work hard to the best of their abilities.
WHY IS MY SPECIAL NEEDS CHILD SO SPECIAL TO THE FAMILY?
My eldest daughter Sherin is on the autism spectrum. But over the years we learnt that autism alone does not define her. Her ASD should be considered only as a personality trait like her skin color or texture of her hair.
The long journey till this point will be an interesting story for many other parents with children on the spectrum. I have been helped and supported mostly by other moms of autistic kids.
Sherin had problems right from birth. She refused to suck, refused to be cuddled... In 2002, no one among our friends had heard of autism. I worked as a lecturer of Computer Science and believed that Sherin's speech and self-help skills would improve as she grows up.
When I used to put her in my lap and read story books she seemed to enjoy... and comprehend too. By age 2 1/2 she was sent to a play school and her teachers gave the first hint that she is not like other kids.
By that time, she had managed to learn 26 alphabets of English and 56 of Malayalam.
But to make her write legibly I had to give physical prompts.
Soon we learned that Sherin had autism and we parents were given guidance and counselling at Nimhans Bangaluru. I met several mothers of autistic kids who gave me good advice and assurances to set goals and gear myself up for the challenges that lay ahead.
I believed that Sherin had something to share with us, hidden beneath her silence.
After my second child was born I quit my job to become a full time trainer for Sherin. The sisters share a strong bond of love as they grow.
Around age 8 Sherin wrote on a piece of paper. "Now can you realise how sad I am ".
From then on I explore maximum opportunities for her to communicate in different methods
Soon she was writing very short stories and articles in English and Malayalam. As she read more she wrote more. You can read her works at www.musingsofsher.in
Expressing herself made her happy and confident.
Challenges are many but Sherin can contribute something to the society and she definitely will some day
WHAT ARE OUR CHALLENGES?
Mainly sensory, communication and psychological challenges. She has difficulty in staying focused on task. Due to the above challenges, she is still not able to interact in groups.
HOW DO WE OVERCOME THEM?
I let her experience the world, help me with daily chores in the house, regular exercise yoga etc. Sensory issues have reduced considerably. This also helps her to learn ADL skills.
She prefers to write, in-between speaking out few words or short sentences. Using an AAC helped her discover how liberating, communication can be. Sometimes she writes on paper with pen or she writes on my palm with her finger, or on the screen of her tab or types on her computer.
She has lots to share and we pause in our tracks to listen to her wherever we are, whatever we are doing.
She messages her friend Neerada, another autistic girl from Kozhikode. Both share the passion of creative writing.
She emails her uncle sometimes to discuss what she had read…
Replies to comments on her blogs.
Keeps a diary in her NetBook computer
writes a list of snacks her grandma should bring her. ...
Still at times she fails to communicate when under extreme stress- sensory or emotional.
She gets depressed when others pity her and during her pms. Keeping her engaged and active helps. With minimal supervision, she is now an active member of the family.
WHAT DO I HAVE TO SAY TO OTHER FAMILIES WITH SPECIAL CHILDREN?
Believe in yourself and in your child. Never lose hope. Spend quality time with your child to discover your child's potential.
Lots of love