24 November, 2020

She Has Helped Parents Enjoy Life With Autistic Children

She Has Helped Parents Enjoy Life With Autistic Children
Gamine, irrepressibly bright-eyed, there's nothing about Merry Barua,once a freelance journalist and an advertising professional, now the head of the ngo Action for Autism,to suggest that she is not Fortune's child. But 17 years ago, her world had fallen apart. Something was crucially amiss with her son, Neeraj. Unnaturally shy, he would not speak, was extremely withdrawn and seemed to have no contact with his world. Merry, who'd barely moved to Delhi, could find no one who could tell her what was wrong. Finally, a psychiatrist in Calcutta diagnosed that Neeraj was autistic.

There were no safety nets then between Merry and the abyss. No counsellors, no programmes, no understanding. Merry spent a year in Vellore, working intensively with Neeraj. Back in Delhi, she put him, then six years old, in a 'reputed' special school. That's when the real downhill journey started, says Merry. According to received wisdom, the school treated Neeraj's 'aberrant' behaviour by tying him to chairs, locking him up, sometimes slapping and beating him. He responded with frightening...



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