Personal Story of one father of an autistic child in South Asian Community
From last few days, I started this post and then I stopped not because I was out of words or didn’t know what to write but because I was trying to absorb and understand myself the struggles or I must say a remarkable journey of a family of an autistic child. On one hand my heart ached on listening to the challenges of one South Asian father whose daughter was diagnosed with Autism yet on the other hand I also felt embarrassed for not knowing too much about Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism as I gathered by listening to this 29 minutes interview in Punjabi/ Urdu Language @connectfmcanada hosted by @TarannumThind –https://youtu.be/KiHUk3QkDYg is as explained by the father of an Autistic child that it is a neurological disorder and can affect both children and adults. Autism presents itself in a wde range of spectrum from low functioning to high functioning and the symptoms of each autistic person varies from another autistic person. A father of an Autistic child also explained that Autism is a life long disability and there is no cure for it.
After listening to the audio interview I thought to myself that over the last few years where much emphasis is made to remove the stigma around Mental Health issues similar to that Autism has gained much needed awareness around the globe among many communities with the exception of South Asian Community as admitted by the courageous father of an Autistic child. In his audio interview, he not only shares his challenges that him and his wife came across in getting diagnosis for their daughter but at the same time facing the taboo around Autism in South Asian community and how they worked and sticked together as a family to get passed it.
This approximately 29 minutes interview that I have listened couple of times now is an eye opener for many. Each time I listen to it, I find myself learning about not only what is Autism but how the parenting style changes around raising an autistic child, developing structured routines for the child , practicing those set routines, therapy sessions, seeking out resources, and above all keeping yourself motivated and informed as a parent in this journey.
As I gathered from this very heart touching story and journey of an Autistic child’s family that today when on a global level, Mental Health Awareness Week is celebrated yet lot of South Asian families are still struggling to get past the stigma of mental health disabilities and till today are afraid to overcome the shame of seeking out help, diagnosis and much needed therapy for their child from very early ages upon recognizing signs of Autism.
I was left speechless when I learned that some of the few signs of an Autistic child is how they structure themselves around playing with their toys as explained by the father in Punjabi which summarizes that an Autistic child will play with dolls and cars in a specific pattern unlike other children where they will test the car by driving or rolling the wheels about.
After listening to the audio interview and by reading the following news article published in Huffington Post for the same father, I felt I have an obligation as a human being to share this knowledge with my audience to do my part and give back to the community. We all have a part to play and must come together to mutually hold each other hands for those who are struggling with various disabilities, neurological disorder such as Autism and many Mental health challenges.
News article in Huffington Post: Autism Is Taboo In Our Culture. Our Daughter’s Diagnosis Made Us Face It
The father of an autistic child not only took a courageous step of sharing his family own personal experiences in raising an autistic child but he took it one step further and created a social media platform two years ago around the same time by the name of “Sikhs for Autism”. The sole purpose of this platform is to create awareness around Autism and other disabilities specifically among the South Asian Communities. Not only him and his wife themselves embraced and accepted their child’s disability, went above and beyond to provide their daughter with the tools, therapy and support she needed but also wanted to help out others in their South Asian community who are in the same boat but are keeping themselves in dangerous denial by not taking steps to reach out for help thus making the window of opportunity to improve for their child smaller and smaller.
One inspiring message that I took away from the interview that changed my perspective as stated by the father of an Autistic child is that ” Asking for help and giving help are both courageous tasks and one should ask for help and one should give help in their capacity”.
Be a part of this incredible social media platform taking steps to create awareness around Autism and other neurological disabilities especially in South Asian Community which truly got inspired by a young child with Autism and her take on life even with her disability.
Sikhs For Autism on Twitter: @sikhsforautismAutism
Review and Recommendations by Noor Reflection
Author of a Poetry Book A Purple Handbag and The Rising