Saturday, January 31, 2009

Life does not suck for Her !

A very close friend of mine works with a school for special children. I have great respect for her.

Like any other expectant mother she too had great expectations from her second issue, because it was conceived after some planning and speculation than her first-born . She did everything for the expedient of the little one. Be it doing light yoga or be it reading scriptures; be it drinking warm milk with a dash of saffron (to enhance the child's skin tone, as per her mother-in-law's advice ) or be it talking and singing to her unborn child. So infectious was her exuberance and enthusiasm that from time to time I could not but call on her, to discuss about the foetal development .

"Today it kicked me for the umpteenth time. This little brat is obviously in great hurry to see the light of the world. Or is it mistaking my poor womb to be a soccer stadium?" She would joke.

That was six years back.

Today she is the mother of an autistic child.

She realised her baby was autistic when even at the tenth month the infant did not respond to the love and affection showered on her .She would simply look at them blankly and blink. First they consulted an expert ophthalmologist to verify if it was an eye disorder. Nothing was erroneous. The child would simpy NOT react to either the mother or the father's touch. This was a heart-rending and a nerve wrecking phase. But in due course of time, my friend realised that it was nothing compared to what was ahead of them in future.

She would ask me, "Why me? Did I do something very terrible to deserve this?"

I would console her, "God chose you above us because He knew that , you and only you have the patience, resilience and courage to fulfil this daunting task of nurturing your sweet little one . We lack all that it needs to upbring a special child. We are perhaps worthless in His eyes, because if we can proudly call ourselves mothers , tackling our pretty little darlings ( and feeling what great jobs we were doing , when actually, all we do is Much Ado About Nothing ! ), I have no problem in calling you a supermother."

And indeed she is one. Besides looking after her two daughters and family, she has got into a school for autistic children.In this way she perceives and understands her child better . Here, she handles fifty more such children, fathoming to know more about this brain development disorder. Nowadays she even handles ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder ) cases with a few children who study at her daughter's school.

Today she is able to tell me that autism has :
*no cure
*no clear unifying mechanism
*no study focussing on midlife
*no chance of independent living
Autism is a communication disorder characterised by a child's inability to relate to the outside world. Such children are hypersensitive to external environmental stimuli. They love to remain withdrawn in their own world which is accessible only to them.
She now knows how to tackle her. She does it by :
*being consistent in discipline
*making frequent and mandatory eye-contacts
*doing her work in a routine or fixed schedule
*touching her frequently(earlier she was aversive to touch)
*calling out her name everytime she talks to her
*tries not to react to her tantrums irritably
Despite such bleak prospects she has indulged in the studies of this dysfunction which begins during the embryonic stages of development.

" Most children are undisciplined, rude ,erratic and very unpredictable.Acquiring language before age six and having an I.Q. above 50, plus having a marketable skill - all predict better outcomes ...." She tells me.

Her daughter fortunately falls in this category, to her and my great relief !

When I asked her one day what gives her so much enthusiasm even in the face of such adversity to slog on, she replied to me with a laid-back yet serene tone - "I have simply learned what I can do, and what I cannot do. With my elder daughter I can share a joke or share an emotion. And with my younger one I cannot share a joke or an emotion. With my elder daughter I can be angry, with my younger one I can't" .

Her words reminded me of Jack Canfield when he quoted Roger Crawford - who is a certified tennis player and professor of the United States Professional Tennis Association having everything except two hands and a leg ! - in his article, ' Everybody can do something ' :
" The only difference between you and me is that you can see my handicap, but I can't see yours. We all have them...I've learned that I can't play the piano or eat with chopsticks like you. But what I can do is play with my heart and soul."


"joyshri" said...

Not to mention, its a herculian task to upbring a Autistic child.
My sincere regards to the 'super mom" who puts in so much effort for her younger daughter.
i also pray to GOD not to curse anybody by giving a autistic child.
i slept many sleepless nights because of the word Autism.
we ran from pillar to post to get our four year son eliminated from autism symtoms.our child's eye contact was very poor when he was 2 years old and he spoke very late.this worried our paediatrician and kept us in metal agony for almost a year.
we visited "School of hope" and many other places for diagnosis. and finally came to know that our child is ADHD( attention deficiency and hyperactive syndrome) .medical statistics say one out of four baby boys is ADHD in todays world.
ADHD childs need special care and upbringing.Doctors specially train the parents with ADHD child.
my humble to all parents with ADHD child not to abuse their childs for their hyper activity because childs are the victim of neuro- chemical imbalance in their body.
they need to be carefully handled,regular counseling will slowly improve the condition.with our continuous effort and constant counselling by neuro psychiatric our son has improved a lot.

Gulshan kaur said...

i think you have managed a great deal in bringing out the agony and anguish that your friend must be plagued with. I think this a quite a tribute to her and all the pther women who receive an autistic child as a so-called gift from god. I salute these women of unflagging spirit and dauntless courage with which they take up the challenge and never let their pure love get tarnished.

Arundhati saha said...

Well written and thought provoking. It took me somewhere on a personal level.

Lata pinto said...

Truly Q.queen. You write with so much heart and soul that right now I feel like giving you a standing ovation.
Your tribute to your friend was so well paid. I wish I had friends like you.

yasha sinha said...

Touching and sensitive.You must be a great friend!

Simmi seth said...

Humanity is still alive and kicking.You proved it via your tribute to your friend!

Sandra Hillock said...

Really heart-wrenching. I didn't know about autism. It was an eye-opener.