Looking at 17-year-old Roshnee Tewari, it is impossible to believe that she was diagnosed as profoundly autistic when she was just 12 months old. She is a multi-faceted star on autism spectrum.
In the beginning, everything with this little girl seemed normal. She met every developmental milestone and her parents were delighted to see their little cherub grow. But when she was 12 months old, she seemed regressed and at the age of 2, she had fully retreated into her own world. Roshnee no longer made eye contact, no longer seemed to hear, no longer seemed to understand. That is when Astha Misra, mother of Roshnee sensed that there was something different in this child. Roshnee was diagnosed with autism, a developmental disorder that affects the brain in the areas of language and social skills, imagination and activity.
The family was in for a shock, when they learnt that their child is affected with autism. They took time to accept the fact but then it did not deter them from enjoying life. The family took special care of the child and supported in all her endeavours.
"When Roshnee was one and half year old we found that something is wrong with the child. Her reactions at 18 months were not the same like my elder daughter when she was 18 months. So we admitted her to a play school where Roshnee used to babble a lot and there were no emotions at all. She would not come to me when I called her," tells Astha on early stages of Autism.
"There are also instances like when I went out to work she did not bother, a one and a half year child is supposed to cry when mummy goes out and supposed to be happy when mummy comes back to home. That was not the case with her. So, those emotional disconnect from the immediate family, from me, her father, sister from everybody. That is when we started looking for a doctor," she said.
Bystanders were horrified, but my daughter has autism, so what?
We accepted the fact that Roshni has autism; we did not try to change it. We accepted it and dealt with it. Yes, my child has autism so what, If your child is a genius would you question the fact that why he is a genius, then why would I do that with my child. We never tried to cure autism rather we helped her in becoming more capable of it.
How to communicate with Autistic child:
We first started with the thought that a child with autism should not be left idle. Should be kept busy with some work activity or the other. We started with household work, as she showed interest in doing daily activity and put academics in back burner. We thought that she should be independent in whatever she is doing. We never thought that the child will get tired, whichever is easy and she is interested we let her do. So my first advice for parents of children affected with autism is "make them independent," says Shishir Kant Misra, Roshnee's grand father.
Roshnee, is now a star
With a great courage and support from the family, Roshnee braved Autism. She is now with all the smiles. She can do embroidery, cook, loves to face camera, does stage shows, sings well, does yoga and loves to listen to songs.
Cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is still unknown
One in 166 children affected with autism in India, yet the cause of autism spectrum disorder, which covers a range of disabilities, is still unknown, says Sushma who is involved with children like Roshnee, also Deputy Centre in charge at BMI HRBR Layout.
Autism, the third most common developmental disorder, is also one of the most misunderstood medical illnesses. It was only in the 1960s that the world began to identify symptoms specific to the disability. For decades earlier, Autism is often mistaken for mental retardation and hyperactivity. Many parents prefer to ignore symptoms than accept that their child needs help. Others make an effort but end up with a wrong diagnosis as doctors put them through the rigmarole of CT scans and MRIs, speech therapists and psychologists, she said.