The world celebrates ‘World Autistic Pride Day’ every year on 18th June. Autistic Pride was first celebrated in 2005 by Aspies For Freedom. Soon after, it became a global event which is still celebrated widely online. It is a day where the world comes together to celebrate, recognize and embrace the autism spectrum disorder. It is a day to mark autistic people as unique and not as something weird or someone to be treated.
Autistic Pride day recognizes the innate potential in all people, this includes those who are on the autism spectrum. The aim is to promote the belief and knowledge that autistic people are unique individuals and should not be seen as cases of treatment.
AUTISM IS NOT CONTAGIOUS, KINDNESS IS.
This day basically marks solidarity and people coming out in support of autistic rights. It also aims to promote awareness around this sensitive topic.
We got in a conversation with Deepika, mother to 4-year-old Advik. As I spoke to Deepika, I realized that there is only one thing parents with autistic children want from the world and the society- To not be judgemental and be normal and gentle at the same time! She said we don’t need sympathy from the world. What we need is acceptance and raising awareness about the autism spectrum.
TETE-A-TETE WITH THE PARENT:
MyLifeMyKids: How old was your child when he was first diagnosed?
Deepika: My son was 21 months old.
MLMK: When was the first time you encountered something different in your child?
D: We started noticing when he turned one. He had no eye contact, didn’t respond to his name and didn’t point towards things.
MLMK: What was your initial reaction when you heard about autism? How did you manage to channel your emotions?
D: We had heard about autism only in movies and serials, but it was a fairly new term for us. We were shocked. We cried for days but then when I saw my child being so dull seeing us like this, I realized we have to put our best foot forward to help him. It never gets easier, we just become stronger.
THERE IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF, EVERY CHILD IS SPECIAL.
MLMK: What are the life changes you made when you came to terms with your current situation?
D: I didn’t get back to my job because my son needed my time more than anyone else.
MLMK: Is there any specific decision you have taken regarding your child’s education and future?
D: I took a decision to never force or pressurize my child to learn or write. Now we move according to his pace. He is a smart kid and I know eventually things will fall in place.
MLMK: Would you like to share one memory of a treatment or therapy of your child? What was it like?
D: The first day of his therapy, I vividly remember and can’t ever forget how a therapist was forcing my son to match colors at 21 months. I think even neurotypical kids of that age too can’t match colors. As a mother, I’ve always trusted my gut and at that very point I knew that was not the right place for my son and we never went back. And I searched for a new place.
AUTISM IS NOT A TRAGEDY, IGNORANCE IS.
MLMK: How is your child doing now?
D: My son is doing so much better now. His expressive speech is very good and we are working on receptive speech at home.
MLMK: Tell us something about a typical day in your life.
D: My day is the same that any mother has with her child, except we go for occupational therapy in the evening for 2 days a week.
MLMK: Is there any message you would like to give to the world? As a society, Indians are still not considerate or better still are not knowledgeable enough to understand this. Instead, they might give some weird suggestions which is not even related to the medical terminology of autism.
D: I would like to make a point ~ that is, autistic kids aren’t recognizable through facial features so please don’t confuse it with down syndrome kids and whenever a parent tells you about autism, don’t say “oh your child looks normal”.