Saturday, January 31, 2009

Myths about Autism

Children with autism can’t show affection. This is one of the most devastating myths. Autistic children express their love and feelings differently.
Children with autism are actually geniuses. Only one in ten people with autism have what are termed “Islets of ability or intelligence”. Like other children, the IQ’s of children with autism range throughout the scale.
Children with autism don’t speak. Many autistics develop good functional language while most others learn to communicate through sign language, pictures, computers or electronic devices.
Children with autism choose to live in their own world. Autistic behaviors arise from the different wiring inherent to the disorder. Some are hypersensitive to sounds, light, touch.Howe ever with regular intervention and therapies this is necessarily not the case.
Children with autism are spoiled kids.  This myth brings the curse of autism back to the parents’ door.

In their own words
“there are still many parents and, yes, professional, too, who believe that ‘once autistic, always autistic’. This dictum has meant sad and sorry lives for many children diagnosed, as I was in early life, as autistic. To these people it is incomprehensible that the characteristics of autism can be modified and controlled…I am living proof that they can.”-Temple Grandin, Ph.D., Co author of Emergence: Labeled Autistic.

Adapted from The Natural Medicine Guide to Autism Stephanie Marohn

Monday, January 26, 2009

The 4 o'clock snacks

Sabudana Vada/sago patties
Sabudana /sago----50g
Potato----1 medium sized
Ginger---1/2 ts p grated
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves finely chopped----1 tsp.
Garam masala-1/2 tsp
                       Soak the sago for 2 hours. Mix all the ingredients mak
e it into a ball. Flatten it with you hand and deep fry. This is a Maharashtrian snack

Dal vadas
·         Parippu vada
Chana dal-100g
Giger-1/2 tsp grated
Coriander leaves finely chopped-1tsp
Salt to taste.
                          Soak the chana dal for 2 hrs. Grind it coarsely to form a paste, add the other ingredients. Deep  fry in oil.
·         Urud dal vada
Urad dal vada-200g
Black pepper 2-3
Curry leaves 5-6 in number chopped.
Salt to taste
Green chilli-1 finely sliced
Ginger-1/2 tsp finely grated.
2 small onions finely sliced.
                    Soak the dal for 1-2 hours. Grind it to a fine paste. Make a ball. Flatten it on your hand. Make a hole in the centre. Add the salt after the batter is ready. Grease your palms with oil when flattening the batter on your hands. The batter should not be thin ,as it is then difficult to make holes in it.Deep fry till it turns golden brown. You can soak it in very dilute tamarind water .Then add sambar to convert it into Sambhar vada.

Kabuli chana/Black chick peas-1oog
Mustard -1/2 tsp
Curry leaves-5-6 in number
Urad dal-1 tsp
Red chili-1
Soak the dal overnight. Pressures cook the dal with salt. Strain the water if any. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a kadai. Temper with mustard, urad dal, curry leaves, red chilli. Add the cooked dal to this and mix. This is a dry preparation. This is very rich in protein and hence the nutritional value.This receipe can also be tried with groundnuts, sweet corn ,soyabean,greeen peas. It can  also be garnished with coconut pieces.
Orgran All purpose flour-100g
Salt to taste
Ajwain-1/2 tsp

Mix all the above ingredients and bring to dough consistency.
For the filling
2 potatoes, peeled,cooked and mashed
2 garlic pods, peeled and minced
1 cup peeled and finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoons garam masala
1tsp cumin seeds
1 tablespoon chopped  coriander
1 cup cooked peas
                        Heat oil in a kadai.  Add cumin seeds.Fry the onions till translucent. Add the remaining ingredients. Cook. Set aside.Take a big ball of the dough and roll it very thickly. Then cut it into half and put the above filling into it and close it with the help of water. Repeat the same thing with the other half also. Then heat oil in a kadai to fry the samosa.Remember that you should fry the samosa in a low flame. Shape it into a triangular stuffed pastry.  With orgran the crust is quite hard while with heathy atta of sunira foods it is much softer. My son has both.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tofu Koftas.
Throw the tofu, the firm one bought from the store into the freezer, overnight. Thaw it completely when you need to use it. The freezing process changes it into a more chewy texture, making it more panner like. It absorbs the marinade in this manner. After thawing remove water by tying it in a muslin cloth. T then placed some weight over it so all the excess water is squeezed out. I set out to make tofu tikkas but after having absorbed the marinade for 5-6 hrs after thawing it was crumbling easily. The marinade is the same as used in Chicken tikka, mentioned in my previous post. Hence I decided to convert them into koftas or dumplings. Serendipity :-) 
Marinated Tofu-200g
Potato-I large one
Ginger-1/4 tsp grated
Coriander leaves
Chat masala
Chickpea flour-2 TBSP

Mash the potato along with tofu. Add green chilli, coriander, ginger. Make balls; roll them in chickpea flour and deep fry. The Koftas have a minty flavor. One can throw these Kofta balls into gravy, or add it to rice like pulao. If gluten free soy sauce is available you can then marinate it accordingly and make fried rice. Maybe flattened and fried they may well pass off as kebabs .this can be garnished and served with tomato sauce. As to the nutritional value of Tofu, one raw half cup serving of Tofu contains 10.1 g of proteins vis-a vis milk that contains 5.1 g of protein. It is an excellent source of proteins more so for the vegans. Tofu is available in various forms including soft, semi firm and firm. Other options include Tofu fritters made with chickpea flour .Tofu is bland, so it does not taste the same as the Indian panner pakora. For the vegans, you can make bhujia, though I have not tried it. This is something similar to scrambled eggs in western cuisine. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Is There A Culprit?

The other day I was trying a recipe with chicken all raring to go, when my husband chanced upon soy sauce on my kitchen work table and that was the end it. Apart from the obvious like the biscuits, chocolates, cakes and pizzas many of us are not aware of the lurking dangers in our own kitchens. Again GFCF followers fall in a spectrum if I may put it that way, because there are families that use separate utensils to cook GFCF. I follow this in a limited way .I use a separate roti  tawa and rolling pin for him. I use fresh oil or a different vessel when I deep fry things for him, when the recipe calls for the use of GFCF flour. There are some families that allow a cup of dahi. This is so because GFCF diet is a self imposed thing that you have thrusted upon yourself and every family has its own permissible limits. But having followed if strictly last 6 months, I personally feel it has to be a zero tolerance to gluten and casein in any form to see perceivable difference. It is a huge balancing act of providing the child a healthy balanced diet, with so many restrictions imposed on you, but  at the end it is extremely rewarding. 
Here are some of the hidden culprits :
  • Soy sauce

  • Whey products

  • Chocolate powders

  • Milk in any form skimmed, powder , low fat, Non fat, non -dairy creamer, goat’s milk

  • Caramel colouringAsafoetida when bought in a solid form

  • Butter

  • Gravy mixes

  • Barley flour

  • Oats

  • Malt vinegar

  • White vinegar

  • Noodles

  • Pasta

  • Macroni

  • Yogurt

  • Buttermilk

  • Readymade sauces and ketchups

  • There are GFCF free soy sauce, chocolate chips, vinegar,yeast available  abroad, so one has to be that extra cautious and look at the labels before picking up something.Even your frozen french fries,chewing gum,packaged yeast,MSG,confectioner's sugar may also contain gluten.

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    GFCF Chicken tikka

    To give harish more variety we decided to give cooking non-veg a shot.
    GFCF chicken tikka
    To make chicken tikka, marinate 250g of boneless chicken 6-7 hours prior to cooking. The marinating paste is a mix of the following ingredients
    Pudina/mint leaves 150g
    Tomato1 mediun size
    I small size onion
    ½ inch adrak
    2 pods of garlic
    Salt and chilli to suit one’s taste.
    Lemon juice 2-3 drops
    Chat masala ¼ tsp
    Grind the ingredients together and let the chicken pieces soak in it .Heat some oil in a heavy flat bottom vessel and cook the pieces till well cooked. Garnish and serve. Makes 15 pieces
    GFCF chicken masala
    For this the whole chicken can be used. Clean the chicken. For 250 g chicken
    Make gravy as with any Indian preparation with onion, tomato, ginger and garlic
    Onion -2 large size
    Tomato-3 medium size
    Lasung -2 pods
    Ginger- 1/2 inch.
    Bay leaf -1
    Cinnamon-2 small pieces
    Cardamom - 2 pieces
    Heat oil in a kadai. First fry the garlic and ginger. Then fry the onion till it is translucent and there is no odour of it. Add salt. Add the spices half tsp each of turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder. Add pureed tomato, fry till it is cooked. Add the chicken pieces and cook. After it is cooked add chicken masala. Garnish and serve with coriander leaves.I intend to try fish as it is found to be good for the brain especially rich in omega oils.

    Thursday, January 22, 2009

    My first GFCF cake and cookie

    Carrot walnut cake 
    1 cup walnuts
    21/2 cups finely grated raw carrots
    2 cups self raising flour
    ½ teaspoon salt
    11/2 tsp ground cinnamon
    4 eggs
    11/2 cups granulated sugar
    1 cup refined sunflower oil
    2tsp vanilla essence/vanilla extract
      Roast the walnut until light brown, cool and chop coarsely.
    Peel and finely grate the carrot.
    In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt and ground cinnamon.
    In a bowl either with electric mixer/hand mixer beat the eggs until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored.
    Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated.
    Fold in the grated carrots and nuts with a spatula. Grease the baking pan; preheat the oven to180 degrees c.
    Bake for 5-6 min or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

    One can add raisins, it is optional. The first time around I was a little ambitious and added date. The cake got burnt around the dates.
    Vanilla essence and vanilla extract are the same for all practical purposes. As somebody had written the essence is chemical crap while the extract is natural and hence more expensive.
     This has been a foolproof recipe for me maybe the exception being  the first time around. Immediately after I stared the diet it was my daughter’s birthday. This was her birthday cake and it was a super success with the kids. Need I say more. they asked for a second and third .This receipe has been adapted from joy of of the receipes here can be converted to gfcf.  
    Gfcf cookies
    This is one of the first recipe I wanted to try, but for want of Xanthan, I refrained. This was the first GFCF cookie that IAll along in my posts I have been lamenting the lack of certain ingredients. Incidentally this was the first baking  baked.  I substituted Xanthan gum with gelatin.  Many thanks to Karyn Seroussi for the original recipe, author ofUnraveling the mystery of autism and PDD

    In a mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients
    Tapioca flour –21/4 cups
    1 tsp salt
    1/3 cup sugar
    ¼ tsp gelatin
    In a blender, mix
    1 cup almonds
    ¼ cup water
    ½ cup vegetable oil
    1tsp vanilla
    Grind the nuts very fine. I just added all the ingredients in one go. Bring to a dough consistency as for roti. Roll the dough to make cookie cutter cookies. Use a cookie cutter to give it a shape your child likes. Bake at 350 degrees. Set the time to your oven’s requirement. Karyn Seroussi recommends highly the use of an Airbake cookie sheet so as not to burn the cookies. I have not been able to find one, so I  have burnt couple of cookies every time. I sent the good ones in my son's snack box.Makes 30 cookies.
    Karyn Seroussi book i a chronicle of her fight against autism and how GFCF diet helped. She is also the co founder of ANDI (autism Network for Dietary Intervention)

    My two cents worth

    Never try to manage an autistic; it is easier to engage one. When one is managing one is just clearing up the mess. Instead it is better to keep them engaged.

    Try not to say don’t do something, instead try and give him alternatives.

    Be lavish in your praise, it gives their self esteem a boost

    The initial steps are the most difficult; it only gets better further down. Getting him to sit for 5 minutes to do an activity seems like a herculean task, once the barrier is broken, you will find him sitting longer as days goes by. Making him string the first bead is the biggest challenge. Always think the worst is behind you.

    When you put a question to him give him choices as it makes it easier for him to answer.

    Be accepting of his shortcomings, as he is trying harder than you. My personal experience has made me feel it is not always a straight trajectory that zooms once you get started. It is bumpy ride, with lots of UPS and DOWNS.

    It is important to make him feel he is understood even when you don’t comply to his demands immediately.

    Try and plan his day so that the empty slots are filled up. Don’t let him too much to himself. Temple Grandin, PH.D, one of the most accomplished autistics;  says that when to left to themselves they find it difficult to get out of the behavioral stims they get into .For example my son can line up for hours, left to himself. He needs to be distracted pulled out of it and engaged in an alternate activity.

    As the son –rise program puts it the need of the hour is these three E’s. It cannot be said better. You have to believe in yourself that you can do it, for the sake of your child.



    Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Why GFCF

    As this blog looks at GFCF diet as one of the great ways to make autism manageable it is important to answer this question WHY GFCF from a scientific view point. Diets play a crucial role in every individuals life. Especially for autism as these individuals have lot of mal-absorption issues. They may not be digesting and absorbing well. They may lack digestive enzymes due to many reasons. Gluten is a protein and is contained in foods, such as wheat, barley, rye and oats. Casein is also a protein and is found in dairy products such as milk, ice cream, cheese and yogurt. In the intestinal tract, gluten and casein get broken down into peptides; and these peptides then breakdown into amino acids. One popular theory is that when gluten and casein are broken down into peptides, they may pass through imperfections in the intestinal tract. Or what is called the leaky gut syndrome. These peptides are termed gliadinomorphin (breakdown of the gluten protein) and casomorphin (breakdown of the case in protein). Both peptides act like morphine in the body. They can also pass through the blood-brain barrier and have a negative impact on brain development...  is the study which explains Thus autistic individuals are spaced out and have drunken effect. Many behaviors may be coming from the gut and the only way to clean the gut is by implementing the diet.
    Adapted from Times wellness online.

    Tuesday, January 20, 2009

    Indian savouries

    In todays post the savouries mentioned are south indian. Differnt kinds of savouries can be made using the machine shown in the picture with minor variations in the ingredients.

    These are essentially rice and dal based preparations.Most of them can be made and kept with a shelf life of 2 weeks.This needs a machine available easily in all steel stores down  south.

    Nada pakoda

    Besan 1 glass
    Rice 1 glass
    slat to suit taste
    Chilli powder
    2 tbsp
    Til 1 spoon
    Pureed garlic 5 pods

                             Add water and mix all the ingredients. To test the consistency of the dough let it pass through the holes of the right plate. There are 3-4 plates with a given machine. Use the plate with two slits in it.
    Heat the oil in a kadai and when the oil is hot and ready to fry. Squeeze the dough through the holes of the machine.


    Rice 1 lass
    Urad dal 1 glass
    chana dal 1 glass
    ghee 2 tbsp

          Here we use a different plate,the one with three holes in the centre.Repeat the same process as with nada pakoda.


    rice 1 glass
    Chana dal 1/2 glass
    Besan 1 glass
    Urad dal 2 table spoon
    2 onions
    2.5 tsp of mirchi powder
    2.5-3tsp salt 
    ghee 2 tbsp

               Repeat the same process with a plate that has a star in the centre.

    Besan 1glass
    salt,chilli powder,

                   Repeat the process with the plate that has many holes in it.

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Baking and GFCF substitutes for dummies

    Baking is fun, pure joy when the end products turn out to be wonderful. Fluffy, soft, crumbly in the centre and firm at the edges. Sounds just like some recipes' one gets to read. GFCF baking is a challenge when one has to look for substitutes for the original ingredients. And it can be a bigger challenge when one has to look for substitutes for substitutes! One thing to be kept in mind is that when baking with substitutes, the end products varies in colour, texture and maybe the general feel.
    The first hurdle was looking for substitute for xanthan gum substitutes, otherwise available abroad easily. I stared substituting gelatin for xanthan gum. As an example substitute 1tsp of xanthum for 2 tsps of unflavored gelatin. For the strict vegetarians other options include guar gum which may be available in some parts of India.
    Diary and egg substitutes again is something one looks out for quite often. This information I have borrowed from various web sites.
    Milk substitutes
    1 cup milk in the receipe can be substituted with
    · 1 cup soy milk
    · 1 cup spring water or juice
    · 1/4 cup nuts or seeds blended with
    · 1 cup water
    · 1/3 cup shredded coconut blended with 1 cup water and 1 tsp vanilla
    · 1 cup any other milk substitute available in your grocery or health food store.
    I generally use coconut milk with vanilla . As mentioned in my ealier posts, I am a novice at baking, am not so sure as to how other substitutes would alter the taste.
    Butter substitutes
    I generally substitute olive oil for butter, and have used extra virgin olive oil wich is a superior grade in terms of aroma and is used in salads. 1tsp butter can be substtuted with 3/4 th spoon olive oil.

    1Tbsp butter can be substituted with
    · 1 Tbsp. vegetable shortening (check label for GFCF)
    · 1 Tbsp. canola oil spread
    · 2 tsp. vegetable cooking oil (check label)
    Now for the wheat substitutes.
    I use orgran all purpose flour, self raising flour or Sunira Foods all purpose atta. I have baked both bread and cookies with this product, and the bread did come out well. Another thing that crossed my mind when I started baking was the difference between baking soda and baking powder. Both baking soda and baking powder are leavening agents, which mean they are added to baked goods before cooking to produce carbon dioxide and cause them to 'rise'. Baking powder contains baking soda, but the two substances are used under different conditions.
    Baking Soda
    Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate. When baking soda is combined with moisture and an acidic ingredient (e.g., yogurt, chocolate, buttermilk, honey), the resulting chemical reaction produces bubbles of carbon dioxide that expand under oven temperatures, causing baked goods to rise. The reaction begins immediately upon mixing the ingredients, so you need to bake recipes which call for baking soda immediately, or else they will fall flat!
    Baking Powder
    Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate, but it includes the acidifying agent already (cream of tartar), and also a drying agent (usually starch). Baking powder is available as single-acting baking powder and as double-acting baking powder. Single-acting powders are activated by moisture, so you must bake recipes which include this product immediately after mixing. Double-acting powders react in two phases and can stand for a while before baking. With double-acting powder, some gas is released at room temperature when the powder is added to dough, but the majority of the gas is released after the temperature of the dough increases in the oven.
    One can substitute baking powder for baking soda but not vice versa. Baking powder has a neutral taste while baking soda has a bitter taste and has to be countermanded by an acidic component in the recipes. Baking powder is a common ingredient in both cakes and biscuits.
    That brings us to cream of tartar which again is not easily available. This can be substituted with white vinegar or lime juice in the ratio of 3 times of cream of tartar. one tsp baking powder is equal to 1/4 tsp baking soda and 5/8 tsp cream of tartar.

    Sunday, January 18, 2009

    Indian GFCF lunch and dinner options

    The lunch and  dinner options are usually rice,dal, sabzi and rotis with an ocassional GFCF pasta cooked in Indian style.
                           Rice is simple plain steamed rice.
    There are different rotis/parathas that we make for Harish.

    Raagi parathas
                              Mix raagi atta,a small boiled potato and1-2 tbsp rice,both mashed to a paste. Add salt, garam masala powder, dhania(coriander powder),fresh cilantro  to this.Bring to dough consistency,preferably  knead  it  by hand . There should no lumps..There is no need to add water.Roll into balls  and use a rolling pin to make it flat.
                               To make stuffed gobi( Cauliflower)/mooli(Radish)  raagi parathas.Roll out  two  small parathas.Sandwich the filling in between these two parthas. Seal the edges and roll it out rounder and bigger.Cook on a tawa with ghee/clarified butter.
                        For harish we make ghee at home,discarding  the brown residue which is the protein part ,caesein.
    For the fiilings . for 5-6 stuffed parathas,you need,
     1 med size cauliflower
    1 finely grated small onion
    Garam masala
                                 Fry the ingredients together till it is cooked.Repeat the same for mooli filling.

    Harish breakfast comprises the following.


    Idlis and dosa are primarily from  the south indian cuisine. There are variation to these.

    Raw rice- 3/4 glass
    Parboiled rice-11/4 glass
    Urad dal ---1/2 glass
    Soak the dal and rice for 3-4 hrs .Grind the urad dal till it increases in volume and is of asmooth consistency that it drips easily off from the spatula. Grind the rice together.Mix the urad dal paste and rice together,then add 2 tbsp salt and leave it to ferment for 7-8 hrs hrs.In a cooler climate it takes a little longer,preferaly leave it in a warm palce in the kitchen.
                                             I use this batter for the first day for idlis and the left overs for dosa the following day.
                                             Another option is to divide the urud dal batter into 75:25 proportion.Mix equal proportion of the rice and urad dal batters for idli . For example if one were to add 3 spatula of uruddal dal batter then add 3 spatulas of rice batter.Use the remaining for dosas.
    For idli the rice batter is ground a little coarse,in this case,while for dosa it is very fine.
                                         The idlis can be steamed in idli plates designed for this purpose in a regular cooker or use a idli cooker.Wet grinders also available in the market if  you intend to serve these regularly as you can grind larger volumes  and better quality with these.

                                       The idlis and dosas can be had with dugar, date syrup, which is a nexcellent source of  calcium and iron, or with chutneys.Sambhar is yet another excellent accompaniment.The are innumerable websites that  can give you receipes for chutney and sambhar.


    Friday, January 16, 2009

    An Indian GFCF regimen

    An Indian GFCF regimen can be successful all the way,especially with the diverse traditional dishes various parts of this country follows. I have try to include some of those receipes as some of them in their original versions,some modified to suit the regimen.One has to make allowances for cookies and cakes,for more often than not my son would prefer a cookie over moong dal halwa.Children have also issues with texture,colour and the presentation.All of a suuden a favoutite snack is out of favour,and one is again scrambling for a new receipe.This is basically a collections of receipes that have been put together from various sources for the benefits of parents who want to give GFCF a shot.
    In the receipes section, I shall try and classify the various preparations under easy to follow regimens
    as GFCF breakfast options
    GFCF lunch and dinner options
    GFCF desserts
    GFCF savouries
    GFCf soups and starters

                                              An Indian label Sunira foods , based at Kolkatta has  a range of products to meet the GFCF

    Wednesday, January 14, 2009

    Why not GFCF ?

    We dithered on taking the Gluten Free Casein Diet for a long time and did it half heartedly for many years. We asked why GFCF? Today after 6 months of strict GFCF, I ask why not GFCF? Even if it has no benefits whatsoever, why not try it. OK, the usual feeling, why deprive our child of some nice things. After six months, I am convinced, that a good diet can ensure that our children get everything they need, good taste, good variety and most importantly all the nutrients and vitamins. So why not ? And if I add, that our son, 'Improved 'PHENOMENALLY'  would you still not want to do it. Yes, it will take a little effort on the parents to get used to the diet, get the alternatives, avoid placing any thing that is not given to him at home ( at least for first 2 weeks ) and subsequently, being 100% committed to it. When we started, it was tough, tough to get him to sit and take what we offer, tough for us to keep searching for substitutes to esp wheat flour, tough to ensure that forbidden items are not left around. But as he calmed down life became so easy that the effort to get the diet going was well worth it. And now, we are into our sixth month, and  I am so happy to see Harish, sitting, watching TV, hitting the ball with his cricket bat, cycles well and a whole lot things, he has begun attempting and doing, that I feel we lost a whole lot of time, not putting one hundered percent into his diet. My better half has turned into a expert chef at GFCF and her only aim has been to ensure that Harish gets everything that others get, albeit a bit different. Other than Pizza, which he earlier loved, and Paneer, there is nothing that he does not have today. And the taste is yummy, there is lot of variety and new things like chicken which he never had before have become his favorites. His strict vegetarian mom has now turned into experimenting with Chicken Recipes, to keep Harish smiling, happy and most importantly Healthy. To all the Moms and Pops out there, just try it and do it 100%. We will put up various Indian variations on this blog which you may try. It has made our life so much more calmer and I pray it happens in all homes handling such lovely children.  I am aware of numerous theories like the leaky gut etc which say why this works, but I am not getting into that debate. My take is, I have seen it works, it has no side effects and no difficulty for our son. Today, he is under no medication and he is better with each passing day. 

    Tuesday, January 13, 2009

    We brought home a 'Hero'

    I have learnt ( or more precisely been taught by Harish)  that 'to believe that it is possible' is the key to achieving success in handling Autism. Learning to ride a bicycle is not an easy task for any kid, let alone someone with Autism. Harish first got his tricycle when he was, I think around 3 years. Getting him used to sit on it was the first target. It was his mom who felt we should attempt this feat. I was not sure if I had it in me to brave the world outside with his tantrums and screming. I was not yet a trained 'Autistic Parent' by then !! So the starting was executed by his mom who would pull him as he sat and enjoyed being dragged. His legs had to move in a circular fashion as the wheels rolled and that was a good exercise too. It was very hard to teach him to paddle. He would put equal pressure on both his feet and hence the cycle would never move. It needed a bid of physical work and I stepped in and focussed on Harish, the cycle and the road. It did not matter who looked and who said what. I was being trained to lead life in my terms. Harish had become a tutor in many ways. 
    It took lot of running along with him in a crouched position and pushing his knee down on the paddle as his left foot rose along with the paddle. One day it just happened. He got it, and I remember as he paddled endlessly at full speed as his little tricycle sped along the road. There was a big smile on the faces of the evening bystanders who otherwise watched this show of tussle between us daily with skepticism. The biggest smile however was that of Harish. Unlike all the other kids who would have run to tell their mothers and show off to their friends, here I found myself running up to tell my better half about it. After all I was his voice, and he gave a proud look as we hugged him with tears in our eyes. 
           He graduated to a bigger tricycle ( a bicycle with support wheels) when he was around 5. He enjoyed cycling. An adult always accompanied him and ran along side within the safe areas of the housing complex. Taking off those support wheels was the next big day. Surprisingly he was very confident and enjoyed the unhidered drive. Though, his speed increased and keeping pace with him was becoming difficult. The short height of the cycle helped him brake
     with his legs and also gave him confidence.
    Yesterday, he got his first big boys cycle. As we walked into shops along with Harish, the question that everyone asked was, can he cycle and most shop owners offered the tricyle as the first choice. I was wondering what was running in Harish's mind as he heard those remarks and as his proud father said .. he can cycle very well and show me the best piece you have. There was a 'branded Hero cycle' which we liked. But the final choice was of Harish's of an Atlas red and white cycle. He was eager to get on it and rode it like a Hero on an Atlas. We had brought home a ' True Hero' I thought as we all watched his joy riding the new bike. 

    I am writing this post for those parents who today are where we were years earlier. Believe that they can do it and they will never let you down. I have learnt it 8 years later. So dont think, just do it, for them.  

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