HEAR MY NEEDS…..

Updated: Jun 28

Autism seems to be the lesser of many disorders facing a child entering this world.

A child could face greater disabilities.

Yet, autism is a disorder all the same; one that could cause the parents and loved

ones a lot of concern and worry throughout the child’s life since there is no cure for

autism, at least till today as I know.


Please note that for obvious reasons, all names have been changed in this article.


I have come across autistic children in the past.

Some children were almost normal, with autism manifesting itself occasionally as

in sudden blankness or in wandering off mindlessly.


However, there was one child, a girl whose behavior saddened me.

Saddened because I thought of the pain the parents would be undergoing on a daily

basis as they watched their daughter grow up with a slim chance of leading a normal

life like other girls.

Divya was around nine years of age when I last saw her which was about fifteen

years ago.

Usha, her mother, was a good friend of mine and we would meet often.

She would come over to my place or we’d meet outside for lunch occasionally.

On festive occasions, she would invite me to her home where I was most

comfortable.

It was on one of those festive occasions that I saw Divya and was touched.

She was sitting on the sofa, dressed in a pure silk red pavada and matching

blouse. It had gold threadwork and was a fabulous outfit.

Divya had gold ornaments on, but as usual, she was oblivious to everything.

She sat, rocking back and forth, occasionally making some guttural sounds.

Her brother Prakash, was in another area of the room, doing something on his

Ipad.

A brilliant student, he was, in every way a total contrast to Divya.


It was an open floor plan so though I was sitting in the living room, I could see and

carry on a conversation with Usha, who was in the kitchen.

She was cheerful as usual and if she had her moments of depression, which in her

the case was most understandable, she never showed it.

She had everything a woman could want - a loving and hardworking husband, a

beautiful house with a large well-manicured garden and much more.


Yet, to me, it seemed that knowing there is no foreseeable resolution to her

daughter’s condition itself could be a permanent blot on her happiness.

I admired Usha’s mental strength.

Usha and her family have now gone back to India with no definite plans to return

anytime soon.

Divya would now be in her early twenties, on the threshold of womanhood.

Sadness engulfs me when I think of her and her mother and I often wonder how

they are now……….


To move on to another scene……….


Sneha, another friend of mine has four kids, one of whom, Sai, is autistic.

Like Divya, he was silent most of the time, living in his own world, making

occasional noises and unintelligible sounds.


This time when I visited Sneha, he was at school.

The house, as usual, was noisy.

Her other kids were playing and making a lot of noise.

Sneha’s in-laws were talking to a couple of guests.

The television was on though nobody was watching it.

The noise level was high though nobody seemed to care.

There was no discord though.

No one was arguing.

Yet, with in-laws and guests talking, kids shrieking, tv blaring and Sneha and I

trying to have a conversation above it all……….it was stressful.

Maybe it seemed so to me because I live alone and am used to a serene atmosphere

most of the time.

It must have been stressful to Sai too when he returned from school.

The moment he stepped into the house, he covered one ear with his school bag and

pressed the other, with his palm.

The ever-doting mother that she was, Sneha rushed to hug him.

Sai walked hurriedly with him to his room.


Some minutes later, having changed his clothes, he came to the living room.

The moment he sat on the sofa, he grabbed two small cushions and began covering

his ears, pressing hard.


Sometimes, even small sounds can seem piercing to an autistic child’s ears.

It was clear why this child was covering his ears and it was also clear nobody

understood his need for quietude.


True, one cannot silence everyone for the sake of an individual, but I felt a lot of

the noise could be reduced, if not eliminated.

The television could be turned off since nobody was watching it in any case.

The children could be sent to another room to play.

Although the adults were not shouting, they could have been more mindful.


I believe serene surroundings and a peaceful atmosphere could contribute to an

improvement in Sai's condition.

I am no child psychologist, nor am I a doctor, but the child’s actions spoke loud

and clear.


To me, it seemed he was trying to say, “Hear me. Hear my needs.”


പ്രഭ

**********

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