Understanding Autism Through the Prism of a Child
Before I begin to share my journey, I would like to introduce myself.
But how should I introduce myself? I don’t know anything about myself. How old am I? ……Hmmm….I look older than the kids playing in the park and Mom once said they were 4-5 years old. So I might be 6-7 years old right now. Am I a boy? Yes, coz everybody calls me so. What’s my name? I think it’s Raju….No, but Mom calls me Baba and Dad addresses me as Champ so I am not quite sure of my name. What do I like to do? Well, I love to do a lot of things but I fail to understand why everyone stops me from doing those activities. I love to stare at the sky, flap my hands in excitement, smell and taste different objects, lie upside down or under the table so that I can look at things from a different perspective but everytime, I am interrupted and distracted by my parents. I wonder why? I tried asking them but they couldn’t comprehend my speech and shrugged away. I can’t speak as clearly as them and thus, the communication gap.
I feel helpless many times, especially when I am in pain or need assistance with daily activities as I am unable to perform tasks myself. I try to call out but no one understands my needs. What should I do then? I shout, I shriek, I throw things around to get attention…..I get the desired attention but in a negative way, I am shouted at back or reprimanded. They are equally helpless, I guess. So I give up eventually, cry and sulk on my own.
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I am loved immensely by my parents though as is evident by their constant efforts to make my life easier. They hug and kiss me often, take care of all my basic needs and make sure I am never alone. But in the outside world, I am looked down upon by other kids who are unlike me. I tried to play with them but couldn’t match up to their speed or follow the rules of the play. I have stumbled in the park quite often as I fail to judge any potholes or other obstacles in my path and hurt myself. Some kids make fun of me while some sympathize and run to help but I feel out of place with them. So I prefer to stay in my own little world of the moon, the sky and the likes…they never treat me differently.
Why am I like this? I have no idea. Since the time I began to realize my existence, I have been the same. The other kids around laugh and play together, go to school and are able to convey their feelings easily but when I open my mouth to speak, I can only hear some incoherent sounds. I try to make gestures but they are often misunderstood. I hit myself or others in exasperation and that worsens the situation. People run away from me leaving me lonelier and sadder.
Will I ever overcome my disabilities? I really hope so. Some say there’s no solution to my problems and that worries everyone around me. I see them pray regularly to the Almighty for my well being. I don’t even know how to pray. So I just look at the stars and wish. Wish I could tell my Mom and Dad how much I love them. I wish I could be independent and explore the world on my own. Wish I could make friends and play with other kids. Wish I could wipe off the tears my loved ones shed for me. Wish I could make everyone proud and not be ashamed of me.
I wish……I just wish……each day….each moment ….all the time…waiting for a miracle to take all my pains away!!