Every child is special

Every child  is special
Highlights

Every Child Is Special. learn how to learn before he could start to learn.

He was born on a cold winter day; Manjula’s bundle of joy; a little miracle-Rahul. She caressed her hands on his smooth forehead and felt the little joy. He turned nine on November 15. But there was something unique about Rahul and Manjula feared the worst.

When Rahul was two-years-old, she started to realise that he was different. He was quiet and shy. If he needed anything, he pulled her clothes, but never made any gestures to communicate. If Manjula failed to understand him, he yelled, kicked and rolled. She confided her fears in her mother. Her mother saw Rahul every week and she spent time with the child. She dismissed Manjula’s fears. Rahul can’t be autistic.

Reluctantly, Manjula took her fears to her husband Vikram, “He doesn’t hear when I speak to him and doesn’t answer when his name is called aloud. He does not like any physical contact. He sits on my lap for a few seconds and then runs. He is unable to concentrate. He flutters like a butterfly, like a butterfly that stops to collect nectar and moves forth. He loves to spin. Though we may try stopping, he continues till he falls.

He does not play with the other children in the playground. He just stands alone in a corner.” Somewhere, deep inside, a fear was building in the mother, “is my child suffering from autism’?”

As Manjula spent sleepless nights, the family physician advised them to meet with a speech therapist.

They took their bundle of joy to the speech therapists’, bribing all the Gods enroute. Dr Nandan Singh, the therapist sought to understand the growth dairy of the child. He realised there was no baby babble at six months; at 11 months Rahul did not understand a single word; at 20 months he did not speak a word like ‘ma’ or ‘dhudu’(milk). The doctor prescribed hearing tests. The results showed that the right ear was fine but for the left, the test was inconclusive. Rahul did not suffer from hard of hearing.The speech therapist picked up a figurine from the table and asked Rahul about the object. He was silent. A car; Rahul looked blank. But when the doctor spinned the wheel, he pulled the car from his hands. A ball; and he immediately threw it across the room.

The speech therapist concluded that Rahul’s delayed speech development may be the result of autism.

Manjula put up a brave front. She picked up books. Everything she read made her understand the need for early intervention. She started surfing the net and found information on speech disorders and autism. She started to develop her own teaching therapy. She used films and photos to train Rahul’s ability to name persons and things in the surroundings. He started understanding the language. Then followed pictures of food, animals and toys. They asked him to use pictures if he wanted anything.

He had “learn how to learn” before he could start to learn. As he was grew up, his parents wanted to see if Rahul was indeed growing-his understanding. A speech therapist, a psychologist and a specialist teacher were called to assess his growth.

His training continued. He didn't speak much but his passive vocabulary evolved. He was four years old. Despite lots of efforts, Rahul had trouble learning colours. He started showing stress symptoms. He wet his pants. Manjula was frightened. Was she playing a God in her child’s life? She felt she was controlling his inner instincts. She felt she was hurting him.

She felt a void. She had to change her teaching strategy; her notions of behavioural therapy. It involved working on Rahuls’ concentration and listening abilities by practicing different exercises.

Rahul joined a pre-school. Besides pre-school, he had his individual exercises, and other goals for the day-to sit still and listen to the morning assembly, to raise his hand when his name was called, to eat lunch in a group, and to participate in outdoor activities like other children.

Manjula was fighting both her and his fears. She wanted him to handle his life like any other child. She arranged for an individual gymnasium for him while other parents sat outside the colorful gymnasium. Parents kept questioning her presence in the school and Manjula had to explain the need for extra support for her son, “Rahul is a tourist in a strange country. He has difficulty in language and interactions. He can’t read, write and count like other students.” He has now joined swimming and golf and is excelling in these too. He is a cheerful nine year old boy. He attends classes, reads, writes and makes calls to his mom. He enjoys watching Kung Fu Panda and loves swimming.

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