Saturday, February 14, 2009

What’s in a name?

Recently we met a super specialist, doing doctoral thesis on autism. Widely travelled and well read on the subject of Autism, he narrated the incident of a father with a mentally challenged child. The father himself a well educated man, was advised by a saint to take his son to a holy river, to take a dip  once a year, on a particular day and time for 18 years to cure him of his mental retardation. Preposterous is what most of you would have to say. Count me in. He then asked my husband would you? He said yes. I was shocked. After all he was the non conformist, with three masters to boast. He then said Yes, I would, as a father, if it would help. When faced with a challenge of the magnitude as autism, we want to leave no stone unturned, there isn’t much to lose anyway. But what if and that if is a very big question, should the child turn around. It is this weakness many quacks in various forms sometimes as herbal practitioners and babas exploit. Why for that matter there are so many homeopaths who do not disclose their prescriptions. We are expected to follow them in blind faith. We have also done it, but no more.  
                               Having digressed, let me get back to the point, we have now been advised a name change for our son. This is nothing new and neither is it uncommon. We have Ekta kapoor to Karan Johar in Bollywood doing it. We have also friends who have felt the change in their lives. To quote some, “My daughter is doing much better in school”. “My son’s health has improved,” all this and more. But doing it with an eight year old autistic child is not easy. My mind did a quick flash back of the efforts that had gone in getting him to respond to his name. Is it worth the effort? The person who suggested is this truly knowledgeable and well meaning .One thinks of all the therapies, tests, biomedical interventions, medications, schools, therapists. Some of them did work, some did not, and some even back fired. GFCF diet has done wonders to him. It is a tough call to take .The whole process of unlearning will have to begin. Does Harish, have any say in this? I think handling autism has been a little bit of everything - spiritualism, faith, desperation, hope, despair, patience, devotion, science, acceptance, submission, courage. I just hope and pray that we take the right decisions for our children.

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