It’s not every day you get a perspective of a mother with a child with Autism. Her struggles, her happy moments, and her fight against the stigmas related to mental disorders. Here is Shalu Sharma, mother of twins, one of whom has been diagnosed with Asperger (a type of Autism). Her daughters are two and a half years old.
The mother and her passion
Shalu is an Early Learning and Education Expert, who works in a start-up related to her expertise. She is also a blogger who writes about social awareness topics called The Dreamer Mum. Shalu leads a fairly normal life, albeit it’s not a simple one. Like many mothers she waits for her daughters to arrive from school and then does her real work begin.
Shriya is on the High Functioning end of Autism, which means she is gifted with above average intelligence. She has a vocabulary, sentence and grammar sense of kids almost a year older than her age.”
Child with an above average IQ
Taking care of twins is hard work but when one of them needs a little more attention, things do get tough. However, speaking of her daughter Shalu says, “Shriya is on the High Functioning end of Autism, which means she is gifted with above average intelligence. She has a vocabulary, sentence and grammar sense of kids almost a year older than her age. She is multi-lingual, has a great sense of rhythm, is gifted with a photogenic memory and has a good sense of numbers already.” However, Shriya lacks social skills, making it difficult for her to make friends.
How so many of us react
There are many just like Shriya, Shalu says, whose behaviours are misunderstood. “The knowledge around Asperger’s as a part of Autism Spectrum is very limited. But I have had some weird and absurd comments like “She doesn’t look like she has any mental issues.” or “She looks very normal to me.”, remarks Shalu. If this wasn’t hurtful enough, Shalu says that there are educational institutions who don’t want to enrol such children, no matter how intelligent the child might be or even if she or he has a higher than average IQ, or is gifted when it comes to sports, music or art.
People will sympathize and offer help in case the disability is in a physical form, but as soon as someone knows it’s a neurological uniqueness or in common terms a mental disability; people don’t want to be associated with the family or person in anyway.”
The truth about our society
The mother of two has never been personally attacked but she knows of many parents and children who have been isolated or ostracised because of their condition. Shalu says, “People will sympathize and offer help in case the disability is in a physical form, but as soon as someone knows it’s a neurological uniqueness or in common terms a mental disability; people don’t want to be associated with the family or person in anyway.” She adds saying that families often are made to feel so bad about their child’s “clumsy” or “mannerless” behaviour, that they stop going out for social events.
Twinning the love and growth
Shalu writes about such instances and more in her blog, fortunately, her family has been supportive and her other twin daughter, Saisha, has been a little bundle of support. Happy and proudly Shalu says, “My other twin Saisha I think is braver for her age in many ways. Now that her sister needs more attention and time as she has to go to therapy and spend time in home interventions, she has learned to be a part of these interventions and enjoys them herself.” Shriya too understands that it’s a two way street of affection, despite her difficulty in responding to external stimuli creating fear, excitement, happiness, her mother says, “Shriya is also slowly training her brain to respond to those love filled hugs and kisses by her sister and is trying to make an effort to play with Saisha and be a part of her world.”
How she sees it
This is how the tale of a mother of an autistic child looks like. This is how Shalu Sharma feels. Being a mother is hard work, and as Shalu sees it, cultivating a gifted child is a simply just a little more of an effort. After all it’s not every day one has a child with above average IQ.