Mr. Kuldeep Panwar: Rediscovering My Autistic Son
- IWB Post
- June 25, 2015
“Come on jump, Pranshu! Higher! Fast! Aur upar!”
Pranshu animatedly clapped his hands. There were moments at regular intervals, when he was completely in the air, all by himself, giddy with excitement.
This unadulterated delight of Pranshu mirrored on his father’s face, as he hopped high on the trampoline, following the instruction.
Mr. Kuldeep Panwar, father of Pranshu, an 11-year old autistic boy, was the fourth special father I chatted with for the Special Daddy Campaign.
We met in the sensory activity room at Disha School for Special Kids, which is filled with a plethora of what seemed to me fun activities, such as swing, trampoline, ball pool, etc. I couldn’t contain my excitement on seeing these, no wonder, Pranshu straight away leaped on to them.
“He is good at balancing,” Mr. Panwar tells me. “He enjoys jumping and skating very much. He often jumps on me at home!”
After Pranshu had satisfied his “jumping” leisure pursuit, all of us walked into a classroom for a little chitchat.
So, tell me about Pranshu’s early years, Sir?
Pranshu was born on the 6th of December, 2006. His growth was normal. He started speaking, he went to school. But after two years of age, things changed. All of a sudden he started preferring isolation. He stopped communicating with anyone. We were worried. We took him to a doctor, who told us, these were the signs of Autism.
But fortunately for us, his is a borderline case. He has mild autism. There are chances that he can recover fully. So, we started intervention at an early age. We got him admitted to Disha School at the age of 4.
I heard his mother, Mrs. Reena Panwar, is a teacher here at this school. That must have been very helpful, right?
Yes. She is a special educator here. When Pranshu joined Disha, they used to teach the activities to my wife, and she used to practice them at home with him. Sometime later, she decided to do B.Ed. in Special Education and joined Disha.
Your wife is doing a noble job, Sir! She is developing not only her own son, but also making the lives of so many other special kids better.
So, what else does Pranshu like to do, except jumping and skating?
He likes music and Bollywood movies. He loves using my laptop and phone.
Just then Pranshu got up and claimed this treasure: his dad’s laptop. And before you know it, there were bollywood melodies emanating out of the device.
He knows how to turn on and turn off the laptop. He knows where to find the content of his interest. Even if I change the location of folders, he’ll easily find them. In my phone, he knows the Whatsapp conversations where he can find songs.
Pranshu is one tech-savvy chap! Such are the kids of the x-gen.
Which is why I am teaching him to use laptop, I am also trying sight-reading with him. Through that, he is able to identify the formation of letters. Otherwise he cannot read. He also likes shopping. Whenever we go to a store, we give him his own cart, which he fills with things he likes.
Tell me about your favorite activity to do together.
I teach him to skate. I indulge him in physical activities. He waits every day for me to get back from the office and then we exercise, play. I am also teaching him Trishasan. He enjoys doing that. That is our mandatory half hour – one hour daily session. Other than that, as I told you, he is fond of songs, so I sing to him and he dances. I try to engage him in activities where he willingly wants to respond.
How is it the other way round? What have you learnt from him?
When he was diagnosed with autism, we took him to a lot of doctors, but received the same answer everywhere. As a parent, it is difficult to accept the news. But that brought in a lot of patience in us. He has taught me the virtue of perseverance. I have had a new-found optimistic approach in life, not only with him, but also in my career. He inspires me to keep trying. It is very difficult to teach him things, but I have never given up hope. I feel that one day he will absorb. And he has come a long way! We have been working hard with him since the past 8 years, and there have been improvements. He has changed my personality in various ways, and for the better!
Pranshu got up and sat on his father’s lap. Maybe the condition of autism makes him unwilling to communicate, but his gestures speak volumes! He was there with us, in the middle of and the subject of our conversation, but quiet all along. One could think that he didn’t understand any of it, but I could feel the endless non-verbal stream of love flowing between the two!
Please share with us your thoughts for his future.
The school will indulge him in vocational training once he is 14. If he excels in any of the particular skills, such as swimming, skating, I will try and build his future in the same. I am also trying to convert his love for music into writing. I don’t know. It is too early to say. Right now it’s like a ‘trial and test’ phase. I am exploring his likes, and trying to train him in them. A lot of centers such as KFC, McD have one compulsory special employee. If my kid comes up to that level, maybe I can accommodate him in one of such avenues.
Besides this useful advice, what message would you like to convey to everyone.
Special kids are not only their parents’ responsibility. They are the society’s responsibility as well. I feel the society doesn’t accept them and looks at them differently. This shouldn’t be. To get these kids into the mainstream, it is important for everyone to accept them. So, my only message to people is that please consider them as one of your own.
Mr. Kuldeep Panwar is a product designer by profession. But I think he is doing a brilliant job in designing his child’s life too.
After chatting with him and his son, I certainly have learnt something special. Innocence speaks what a thousand words fail to express. Listening to the unspoken love, and seeing the invisible bonds, is what we all should try and do. Shouldn’t we?
Photo courtesy: Ajit Kumar