One well known fact in the Autism community is – Every child with Autism is different. Raising two children on the spectrum, so very different and unique is indeed a challenge. Allow me to introduce you to a family who faced this challenge and came out with flying colours. Pranav and Latika are two gems on the spectrum. Let’s start our interview by chatting with their mother, Priya Kannan.
Q) Please share your Autism journey with us ..
Thanks for giving the opportunity to share our experience with children with Autism.
I am Priya Kannan, mother of two children Pranav and Latika. Our journey began in the year 2002 when our son was diagnosed in Autism Spectrum. We started early intervention at “CommDeall” run by Mrs. Prathiba Karanth & Mrs. Nalini Menon at “Spastics for Behavior Intervention” and “Sensory integration therapy” by Mrs. Shubangi. He started with sounds then words followed by phrases, long sentences, questioning and conversations. By the age of five and half years, he was out of the Autism Spectrum.
My daughter was fine till 9 months. She used to wave hands to say bye bye, play peek a boo, used to have a social smile and used to call me Amma. We noticed the regression of social milestones after 9 months. We started the intervention as early as 12 months. At the end of first year, her hearing ability was limited to 10 feet distance and she responded only to my voice. By 1 year and 2 months she was completely into her own world.
Both of our children are unique and gifted in their own way. Their strengths and weaknesses were very different. Both their journeys were entirely different. I was able to accept my son as the way he was and started connecting with him without any expectations. I was very creative and open to explore many different ways of playing with him. This connectedness helped my son to progress along with all the other interventions.
I was completely broken down when my daughter also was diagnosed with Autism. As a mother, accepting her diagnosis was very difficult since her milestones were normal till the age of 9 months. During that time I had lot of fear whether I would be able to bring her out of Autism Spectrum.
I began to work with my daughter in the same style as I worked with my son. Though there was great connectedness and bonding between me and my daughter, her progress was slow because of my expectations on how she had to progress. Later I realized that I had to unlearn all my ways of teaching her. It took 5 years for me to understand that both my children are unique and different and methods of teaching has to be based on her strengths. When I accepted my daughter as she was and dropped my expectations, she started moving forward.
As a parent I would like to insist on to start the early intervention as soon as the child is diagnosed, Accept the child as he or she is, drop all the expectations, build on connectedness and bonding and provide unconditional love. Also whenever you are getting stopped in realizing the goals, take a break, reorganize yourself and bounce back with new ideas. Many times we don’t realize that the child has moved forward so getting aware of “child’s need is very critical”.
Currently my son Pranav is doing his 10th grade. He is loving, caring and honest. He is passionate about technology used in gadgets and the mechanisms used in devices around him. Physics is his favorite subject. He loves to draw images of vehicles loaded with weapons and he plays video games. At the beginning of this year, he wrote Ted-Ed talk about “Advantages of Virtual World”. His ambition is to become Game developer.
My daughter Latika is now 13 years old. She is doing her 6thgrade. She is a keen observer and loving by nature. She loves to perform on stage. She loves people around her especially children. She has ability to tell the day for the dates of the year. She is passionate about dancing and cooking. She loves gathering information about Actors. Currently we are giving her ABA therapy under guidance of Mrs. Jeyameena and working on the goal of sharing her emotions. With regard to my daughter, we are looking into creating new opportunities based on her strengths.
Being a parent in this field for 15 years, every day is a new day for us and the challenges we face are also new. Unlearning and discovering new ways of connectedness and creating new opportunities help us to move forward.
A truly inspiring journey made by Priya and her husband Mr. Kannan, a software engineer. Now let’s chat with Pranav.
Q) What are you studying?
I am studying tenth grade ICSE.
Q) What is your favorite subject? A few details about your hobby for electronic circuits please.
My favorite subject is Physics because I love to explore how the things around me work.
E.g.: Knowing more about details of gadgets and how they function; how does the fan work; how does the monitor function?
Q) You like playing video games, what are your favorite games?
Love to play multiplayer video games and also love open world games.
My favorite video games are Need for speed, Call of Duty and Battlefield
Q) Why are you so passionate about Video games?
I like to play video games because we get an opportunity to do things which cannot be done in real world and connect with many people around the world through multiplayer games.
Q) What are your other hobbies Pranav?
Drawing vehicles that are loaded with weapons, playing video games, making creative models.
Q) Tell us about your friends. How do you spend time with them?
I have many friends in school. I spend my time by going outside with them, talking during breaks and class hours and by taking selfies.
Q) Tell us about your sister. What do you like about her?
My sister Latika is very cute. She is fond of Disney Princess. She tells creative stories. She makes me laugh sometimes when I am sad. She dances and sings well.
Best moment with my sister is coming to know her hidden talent of telling day for the dates of the year when asked.
Though sometimes she gets angry and loses control on me, I still love her.
Q) How do you spend time with her?
Occasionally I get time to spend with my sister. During that time I talk to her regarding the school, watch videos with her and go out with her on weekends.
Q) Would you like to share your future plans with us?
My ambition is to become game designer.
Now lets chat with Latika ..
Q)Where are you studying? Which grade?
I am studying 6th grade at Lourdes English High School.
Q) You participated in group dance, Fashion Show and Skit. Tell us more about that.
I participated in Wiztara Platform to perform in Group Dance, Skit, and Fashion Show.
Group Dance – I danced for Aaluma Doluma with my friends Zakina, Harsha and Vijay.
Fashion Show – I was dressed like Madhuri Dixit for the song Indian Raaga Shape of You.
Skit – Skit about healthy food. Harsha, Vijay, Zakina and myself participated in the skit. Mrs. Rajatha helped us with the skit.
Q)How many times have you performed on stage?
Many times I have performed on stage.
Q) Do you like music? What music do you like to listen?
Yes I like music. I like to hear Disney princess songs.
Q) What are your other hobbies?
I like to Dance, listen to music, making word documents about Disney princess, collecting details about Hindi actors & actresses and cooking
Q) Do you like your Brother?
Yes. I like my brother.
Q) Do you play with your brother?
No. I don’t play with him.
Q) What are your brother’s hobbies?
He plays computer games and mostly studies.
Q) Tell us about your school and friends Latika ..
My friends are Praneel, Zakina and Sujith. Yes I like my school. Madam Geetha is my favorite teacher. Madam Manjula helps me at school. I like to dance with Jennifer, Monica, Chandana, Teju, Zakina and Sonu.
Q)Which movie do you like to watch? Would you like to share the names with us?
Adventure of Tintin. I like to see Haddock. Haddock is a pirate. He fights Red Shakkarin. Tintin flies the plane. At the last Tintin put a hat on Haddock.
Q) Tell me about your dance class.
I like to dance. I go to dance class. Mrs. Rajatha is teaching us.
I liked to dance for Belagedu song.
Q) What are your favorite toys?
I like to buy Big Toy Aeroplane, Jasmine, Anna, Elsa and Olaf.
I salute this strong and resourceful family. They have shown us that no matter what difficulties we face, we can overcome them with unconditional love and acceptance. A valuable lesson! God Bless You Pranav and Latika. May all our dreams come true!
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