April 19, 2019
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A dad who went above and beyond for his daughter

“A father is not someone to hold back with us forever, rather a guiding light whose love and support confer us the way of life.”

Parenting a Child on the Autism Spectrum is never easy, they have to gain a unique set of challenges and plan pattern accordingly.  Here is a story of an exceptional special parent, especially the father who confidentially admired their daughter’s life and potentially brought her up  “doing everyday things..but with love and showed her the path of independence”.

A bit about you and your family?

We belong to Thuravoor village in Alappuzha district of Kerala.  My wife Asha is from Trivandrum.  We speak Konkani at home. 

After my graduation from the College of Engineering Trivandrum, I had my post-graduation at IIT Madras.  After a couple of years of work in Northern India, came back and joined IIT Madras as a faculty member, and also worked towards my PhD.

Our family in Mumbai comprises of me, my wife, Pratibha, and my parents.  Prashant (Pratibha’s elder brother), his wife and daughter are in the US.  I was into teaching and research at IIT Madras, and later (when Pratibha was 10 years) we moved to Mumbai, to get a better social ambience for Pratibha.

 What was that unique energy you possessed to raise that Challenge to Change moment?

I think the unique energy was the spiritual flex of mind in my family.  We made our mindset that “God has chosen us to take care of someone who is very close to him”, and we considered it as a privilege.  Most of us in the family are different and it is this state of mind and the common spiritual chord that runs within us provide that special energy.  Though anxiety was there in the back of our minds, that was not a hindrance in working towards change.  

What do you enjoy most being a father of Prathiba?

It is the ‘unconditional love’ that I get from her, is the most enjoyable experience.  She manifests it in many different ways. Never-give-up attitude, doing things what she feels right, a sense of detachment that she practices are my learning’s from Pratibha.

Prathiba Kamath

Your experience/feeling of sharing a stage with Prathiba?

Sharing the stage with Pratibha while performing music is something very divine.  I started learning music very late in life, and it also helped me shape up Pratibha’s musical journey. Initially, Pratibha was performing alone.  I joined later, as I felt it helps her.  I initially started it with an intent to improve the reflexes of Pratibha, and that worked really well.  We communicate a lot through our music during the performances.  It was a privilege to have our first musical jugalbandi at the Sree Krishna Temple at Udupi. 

What’s that special happiest moment in your life so far?

Difficult to pinpoint one happiest moment. Pratibha coming out successfully when facing difficult challenges in life gives me immense happiness.  Some of such moments:  her first speaking a word, when she was 4+ years old; her dancing few steps; her playing Sa re ga ma on Sitar; and she being referred as chatterbox by a third person [Pratibha was almost non-verbal when she was 10 years old]. The contribution of Pratibha to Café Arpan is also yet another milestone I count.

HappyBirthdayMy LoveHow does a family trip work like? How do you make Prathiba understand or is there special techniques used?

All our family trips have been for some specific events such as visiting relatives, going for family events, going to a concert etc.  She does understand why we are going.  We tell her well in advance about such visits, so that she gains interest and naturally she starts dreaming about the events, meeting cousins etc. I have felt she enjoys meeting people, but not so interested in seeing places. I have also felt the connect of arm in arm with her Mother is a big confidence booster for Pratibha, especially outdoor.

A message from you to the readers?

People with special needs are part of our society and be empathetic to them and they are not looking for any sympathy. Understand them and do your bit to include them in the society so that they live with pride and happiness.

 

PC: CADRRE – The Autism School

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