Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi is the Tamil version of Kaun Banega Crorepati. Though I rarely watched the Hindi version, I was curious to see the Tamil version this year as Surya ( the leading Tamil actor) is the anchor ( and I am a big fan of his ).
The day before, as usual, I switched on the TV around 8 pm and found this white haired middle aged Chartered accountant, Mr NavaneethaKrishnan from Chennai, on the hot seat- he came across as a genial and warm person from a middle class background- so nothing prepared me, or the show audience, for his family situation. It turned out he has a severely autistic son (who is now 21) and a young daughter (his wife and he decided to have another child despite the age difference to ensure someone was there for their son, he said).
For those who don’t watch this show, and there would be many such, they show a small video clip of the family- and so viewers can see the participant and his family, in this case, his wife, little daughter and the autistic son. It was heart-rending- Navaneethakrishnan explained how they had detected the condition pretty early, and started treating it- and the son had made “decent progress” till he was 14. But after that, as is so typical with autism, there was severe regression, and now the young man is not in great shape.
Since we have covered this very same topic in Different Strokes in the latest issue of ParentEdge, and I have had discussions with Ramya, our editor on this, I was more informed on the subject and could relate ( in a once removed fashion of course) to what Mr N was saying. It was time for retrospection again, for me.
I admired Mr N’s resilience and pragmatic acceptance of the situation- his smile, devoid of any cynicism or self-pity, taught me a big lesson! As a parent, one has to put things in perspective. So many of us lose our cool and sense of balance over relatively trivial matters, especially vis a vis our children. We have such high expectations and feel let down when they are not met. At times like that, we should take a step back and think of the larger picture and make a genuine effort to modify our outlook and approach.
As Bala, one of the parents with an autistic child said in his interview for ParentEdge “Every parent has aspirations for his child. I have had to recalibrate mine. I do not wish, like other fathers, that he shoots a goal or scores the highest in Maths. My only ardent wish is that I live to celebrate the day he walks by himself to the corner shop and buys something for himself. So parents, please stop stressing yourselves and your family. Enjoy the miracles of your child every day. Live in the moment.”
I could not have said it better!
Also Read : Dealing with Autism and Spectrum Disorder