“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans”. – John Lennon
23rd July 2015: I received an unexpected call that changed my life forever; a call that expressed concerns over the delay in my son’s speech and social engagement; a call that introduced me and my family to Autism.
The background that I come from, Autism was an unheard term and so were its nuances. We struggled with a multitude of questions. What the hell it is? What is next? What should we do? Where should we go? Where do we find our answers? Why us? How do we treat it? How long will it take? And so on.
Like any parent, I went into a blank state of mind where darkness, fear, uncertainly, loss of a dream, and unimaginable pain took over my mind and thought process. After the initial trauma, I decided to fight back. I realized that crying will not help me or my son. If we don’t try then failure is guaranteed, but if we try, then tomorrow can open up a new set of possibilities for my son.
There started my unexpected journey that involved various therapies, social engagements, home plans, diet control, reading, and taking the whole thing as a mission. Early Intervention Program, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Special Education, Mendability Program, Music Therapy, GFCF Diet & tonnes of social exposure are the things that worked for me. Here is a glimpse of various interventions that my son was put on.
All the interventions helped him in some or the other way but one thing that changed the game for me was the Mendability Program. It came across too simple to be effective but its impact was visible within a week. I could do it at home without any complicated tools, and it took less than 30 minutes a day. It was one intervention that I found easy to sustain and possible to do even on a bad day.
The number one thing that it improved for my son was his sleep pattern. Before this, my son had major sleep issues, and it used to take me as much as two hours to achieve success in this seemingly natural and simple routine stuff. His sleep pattern improved within a week of me starting Mendability, and that resulted in a dramatic improvement in his behavior and faster achievement of goals in all the other interventions.
Soon, he became a happy child who had started enjoying all the activities and therapy sessions. He also became a lot more glued to the environment, which is one of the main challenges with kids on the spectrum. He started noticing people around, which was a new development for me. Earlier, he used to look through kids and avoided participation in all sorts of play with them, but now, he was not just observing them but was also happy in their company.
Below is a glimpse of my son doing some activities under the Mendability Program –
The next step was to change gears and help him become independent on activities of daily living along with getting him a school admission.
I strongly believe that nothing changes overnight, but when we keep taking tiny steps, one day we achieve what most people dream of. Studies have proven that 1% improvement a day makes you 37 times better in a year. In my son’s case too, his progress was slow if looked daily but all those tiny steps added and he grew into a completely different child altogether.
Not just autism, this is true for everyone and everything around us. Whether it’s someone who studied quietly for 16 hours a day and left millions behind to get admission into a reputed college or an unknown company, that becomes the headline of all the news articles after an IPO.
Have you ever wondered what’s common among all these so-called overnight successes?
It’s their hard work, commitment, discipline, and perseverance that they demonstrated relentlessly for years or at times decades before becoming a huge sensation.
“Timing, perseverance and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success”. – Biz Stone
Coming back to my story, it has been an extremely challenging and lonely ride. Financial constraints, no government support, social stigma, and judgmental approach from people around, only added to the everyday pain. Despite all these experiences, I am happy to say that it was all worth it. I am really proud of the way my son has been shaping up. Today, his future no longer looks as scary as it looked on the day I had heard of autism for the first time. There are still a lot of challenges that my son has, but there any many more that he has overcome.
Of course, we still have a few bad days, but on a good day, there is no child better than him. He is affectionate; he is genuine; he is mindful of how his actions make me feel; he is truthful; he is innocent; he is pure bliss.
It is true that kids on the spectrum cannot just grow out of it one day, but it is also true, that they too have a lot of potential, and customized interventions can help them become the best version of themselves.
Let us not give up and help them shine.
To know more about my experiences of raising a child on the spectrum, check out my book on When I Met The “Unexpected” – A Guide for All Parents. I hope it provides hope and direction to someone struggling with the fundamentals.
PS – In case your domain does not support the link, you may search for it on amazon
Visit my website: https://anunexpectedjourney.in/ to know more about me and my book.