With Help, an Autistic Child Can Lead a Near-normal Life
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02 April 2011
By Anoop Jaipurkar
Children with special needs often have special abilities. With an understanding of the problem, coupled with identification of their strengths and weaknesses, one can make autistic children lead a near–normal life.
Twelve–year–old Akshay Shanbhag is a case in point. He was a year and eight months old when he was detected with Asperger's syndrome (high functioning and hyperactive). With the determination shown by his mother Geeta Shanbhag, and her understanding of his problems and strong points, Akshay has made huge advancements.
Doctors say that Akshay’s high IQ puts him in a position six years ahead of children his age. "My son has a high grasping power, a good visual memory, reads logic–driven books (encyclopaedias, not literature) and has the ability to perform most mathematical calculations in his mind," says Geeta.
Akshay studies in class VI at Vidya Valley School and is a quick learner. However, he does get stuck with comprehension in English. "We realised this problem early and have been working on it consistently. I must say he has improved with time, though it will always remain his weakness," says Geeta.
Of late, the Shanbhags have hired a shadow teacher for Akshay. "The teacher attends classes with Akshay and guides him where necessary. I also keep in touch with her to get updates about my son," says Geeta. Akshay consistently scores above 90 per cent at school and loves mathematics. His classmates are very understanding, especially the girls, who look after him. On the way ahead, Akshay’s mother says she has not set any goals for the boy.
"He tells me he wants to become a railway engine driver. I won’t stop him from becoming one, if he still wants to do that in the future," she says, smiling.
Geeta has a message for other mothers of children with developmental problems. "Work on their weaknesses and help triumph over their difficulties. An autistic child can lead a near–normal life, provided you are with him, always," she says. The Shanbhags also have a special word of appreciation for the Vidya Valley school. "Vidya Chikate, the counsellor and principal Nalini Sengupta have been there whenever we needed them," Geeta says.