“Autism doesn’t have to define a person. Artists with autism are like anyone else. They define themselves through hard work and individuality.” -Adrienne Bailon, Artist
Let me ask you this, what is the first thing that comes to mind when I say the word “AUTISM”?
Illness? Disease? Mentally related problem? Contagious?
All the above words absolutely don’t define the word autism. Autism is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication and social skills. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.
It is not a disease and autistic people are not “sick”.
As today is World Autism Awareness Day, Varnam Malaysia has taken the initiative to share the story of a twin mother who unveils the reality of raising children with autism.
Meet Maragathavally, the mother of 14-year-old autistic twin boys, Navvin G.Sivam and Pravin G.Sivam.
Curiously asking about when she first discovered that the twin boys had autism, the mother of 5 children said “I first knew that my sons have autism when they were 3 years old in 2012.”
“After the doctor told us about autism, my husband and I had no idea what it was,” the mother revealed, saying that they were shocked and worried over the future of their children.
Who to console, what to do next, was what lingered in the minds of both parents who had little exposure to autism at that time.
Daily routine of Navvin & Pravin is same as other children ~
Sharing in details with us, Maragathavally said she will wake up around 5am, bathing and giving breakfast to them and sending them to special school. After school is over, they will be having ‘me time’, relaxing and napping before heading to the playground in the evening.
Spending quality time with family; Communication is the key ~
At night, after dinner they will be having family time. To help them develop their speech abilities, they will interact and communicate with them.
Having Pravin and Navin is a god-sent gift to us ~
“We always believed that God chose us to bless us with these twins as he knows that we are able to take good care of them.” the humbled mother says.
How did you deal with misconceptions in the community?
The community will have this odd look when they see my kids. Some people will come and question whether this is a mental problem or something else. I will nonetheless explain autism to them.
“Autism is not an illness or disease.” the housewife firmly said.
It makes me cry ~
“Sometimes, one of the twins will be hyperactive and it’s too hard to control them. It makes me cry,” Maragathavally expresses.
However, with the help of her supportive husband, her three understanding children, it helped her stay strong while she looked for her twin autistic children.
A mother makes the best teacher for children with autism
What amazing things did your twins do that you find incredible?
“They are able to write, colour, engage in physical activity, and even follow instructions properly. Making them accomplish these things in my eyes is a success.“
What would you like to tell or advice to the parents who have autistic kids?
“I would like to advise other parents who have autistic kids: do not feel ashamed and worried about them. Educate yourself about autism. Treat them equally as a normal child. Be patient with them.” she said.
All of the kids who have autism have special talent and amazing skills ~
Yes, it will be hard for them to mingle and communicate with others, but if we train them properly and with the right guidance, you can change that. Approach with an open mind and heart.
Discover their hidden talent and skills, as only parents can do this. Parents need to work together to raise these kids.
“Most importantly, talk to them and let them know that you are always there for them,” the twin’s mother said.
“Naa iruken” is all they need to hear and know…
Furthermore, with the passing of time, the government, NGOs, and therapeutic communities have increased their public awareness of autism. Get engaged and educate yourself.
“With the proper guidance and training, they can be independent and have a bright future, even if we are not there to help them,” the iron lady wrapped.
With these handy sharings, I hope that more people will learn about autism and that the community as a whole shows more compassion for these children. Learn the dos and don’ts. Remember, autistic kids are very susceptible to meltdowns. Treat them calmly and show them as much love as you can.
Thank you, Mrs. Maragathavally, for sharing such an insightful and thoughtful message in conjunction with World Autism Awareness Day.
Autism is like a rainbow. It has a bright side and a darker side. But every shade is important and beautiful – Rosie Tennant Doran
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