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  • She Says


  • IWB Post
  •  April 11, 2014


April is the World Autism Awareness month. We want to take this opportunity to tell you a beautiful story of an autism girl. We reached Umang – the Jaipur based school for special kids and met its Director Mrs. Deepak Kalra. We know Mrs. Deepak for long now but today was special.

She told us about Riddhi, a twenty something beautiful girl with big eyes and warm smile, whom she describes as one of the most beautiful souls in the school. Tells Deepak:

Deepak-Kalra“Riddhi was 8 years old when I met her. She was diagnosed as intellectually impaired in her childhood but one meeting with her made it very clear that she had Autism. She did not make eye contact, was hyper sensitive to sound and touch and communicated only one way, only to express her needs.”

So was that difficult to have her at first place? Deepak says: “Not at all. We embrace every child with open arms. How can it be difficult living with another human? This is all about the positive attitude. When parents come to me with their special kids, I give them an activity work. I tell them to make a list of happy things about their kid. And I tell them that ‘I can’ list is always bigger that ‘I can’t’ list.”

She continues: “In case of Riddhi, though she was hyper sensitive, she was unique too. She loved to collect the wheels of toys and constantly played with them. She never hurt or hit anyone else. She is very sharp, we used to hide her toys & she would find them in no time. To reach her favorite toy or food item, she could find solution to her barriers. She would hold teacher’s hand and lead to what she wanted but did not respond to instructions or conversation. She did not like music class and would shut her ears when we would play drums or sing. Today after 16 years she can tolerate sounds, touch and does not have obsessions because of the training and therapy sensory integration. I must focus on her family too which is very loving and supportive who could understand her unusual behavior and did not compel her to do things that she did not like.”

Today Riddhi is working in Umang’s production unit where she puts beads on coasters along with her friends. She is a much loved one in school and at home.

Later Deepak told us about Riddhi’s mom, Mrs. Renu. Renu has twin daughters – Riddhi & Siddhi. Siddhi is married now, and Riddhi lives with her parents. We had an urge to talk to Renu as well, the strong woman behind Riddhi’s smile. After all, it is home where a child learns the most of life lessons. We contacted her and she told us the story of her side. Read below:

“It was only after 9 months that we understood Riddhi is a special child. Before that and even today, both our girls are treasures for us. It was the love of our joint family that nurtured Riddhi the most. Whenever I was not present, the elders of the family would take care of her. She was never left alone. Till date she takes no medicine as we believe in naturopath. Only love and care can help these people grow. I feel bad seeing parents and people reacting to such kids, but aren’t they the very part of God, generated from the parents, and trying to live every day? Who are we to judge them?

Yes, the parents face difficulties handling special kids, but then this is a part of your fate. Accept it and nurture your baby with love, happily. Even I faced hurdles, during initial days when she was admitted to a junior school. I had to sit with her while her classes would go on because she used to disturb other kids a lot. I had to take care of her behavior. This was back in Kota, later Umang was inaugurated in Jaipur and we took it as an opportunity. Within no time we got Riddhi’s admission done at Umang. I am thankful to Deepak mam who took responsibility of special kids in the city so many years back. She is a woman of steel, where people don’t want to take responsibility of their only special kid; she was all set to embrace hundreds of them.

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At Umang, Riddhi learned a lot. As I said, she was very mischievous when small; she learned to behave well after few days of joining her new school. By this, I want to tell parents like me that don’t stop your special child from going to school. They deserve it as much as a normal child deserves. The school and meeting new people outside family helps these kids grow immensely. Today I see Riddhi coming back home smiling and not irritated, considering she is hyper sensitive. She now understands food issues like how much she needs to eat, what she likes and dislikes, etc. Earlier it was more of tantrums but now she expresses herself and this helps us connect to her quickly. She loves to eat spicy food so I cook her preference at times.”

Today Riddhi is just like any other 20+ girl who is tender and is in the phase of womanhood. So what is she like now?

Renu smiled and replied: “You know she is like a Princess and wants things perfect and on time for herself. She is beautiful, literally. She has a bright smile and her skin is something most of the girls can envy about. Her beauty trick is to drink lots of water!”

So, does this Princess of any help to her mommy at home?

Renu: “She lends me hand when she is in mood. At times, she voluntarily offers help to me. In kitchen, at times, she cleans and sorts the veggies before lunch/dinner.”

Funnily, Renu expanded about Riddhi’s unusual habit. “She loves to collect Pan-Paraag packets.” – says the giggling mother.

She continued: “She has lots of them. But because of this habit, once she almost gave us a heart-attack. On her way back from school in the auto rickshaw, she saw pan-paraag thrown packets on the road side. The auto must have stopped for some reason, and she took this opportunity to get down and collect them. The auto rickshaw driver, unalarmed, went ahead. Thankfully, locals noticed Riddhi and took Umang’s contact number from her notebook and called the school authorities. She came back home safe later that evening.”

Undoubtedly, people with Autism need a little extra care as compared to others. But do you know – in return they will shower immense love and cuddles on you. They are sensitive, not only about themselves but for those close to them also. They love to love, they laugh when you pass them a smile. Most of them have minds so smart that can beat any mathematician. They teach us how to be happy and not hold grudges. They are pure-hearted without any hard feeling or strategies against someone. They smile to strangers and spread love and their one touch will make you realize what friendship is all about. You can call them moody, but full of innocence. They are just like kids no matter what their age is. Only thing they crave for is – Love – just like us.

As Mrs. Deepak Kalra and Mrs. Renu put it – “Don’t feel victimized. Acceptance is the 1st and only step.”

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