Saturday, February 28, 2009

The journey so far...

The Initial diagnosis
Our son was diagnosed with autism as early as 18 months.Our first concerns were his lack of speech, and social skills.The pediatrician expressed his concern but did not push it futher, more so because we are a multilingual family in that we speak 4 languages at home.In our subsequent visit he sounded the first warning bell.We followed it up by a hearing test. The test confirmed his hearing was normal. We were then referred to a psychologist and then began our journey .We had already started reading up on some material on the Internet on autism.Call it coincidence.I used to take him to a playgroup, where one of the mothers was a pediatrician again.I expressed my concern. Luckily for me,she observed him for an hour in natural settings. She called me up and asked me if I heard of the word autism. All of a sudden things were moving too fast. We were in the United Sates at that point of time.We had never heard of this problem back home. We got a second diagnosis at UCSF;California.I was taking Harish to a program called the Parents group at Pacific Grove. The instructor put me on to the county program for special children. Sitting in the drawing room we suddenly found we were the parents of a under privileged child. Before long services for him were being made available to us at our doorstep. The Monterey Peninsula Infant program services were offered to us. This was the best part of it, with the therapist being very reassuring. They did an initial assessment. We started out with speech, OT and floor time method. As he was totally non verbal we started with PECS and he made impressive progress in a short time. We did a whole lot of things such as screening of allergens with THE Great Plains Laboratory, followed it up with antifungal therapy, vitamin supplements, chelating for toxicity and monitored his behavior. We did not achieve any great success with these. We practice floor time with him to this day but in a much toned down manner, as his social and communication skills have also come a long way looking back, there was no time to reflect, shed tears or wallow in pity. We had six months left before moving back to India. My husband was there on a 2 yr masters program at NPS. We were in a hurry to pick up available resources, techniques, tools and that includes books and even people toys such as Jack in the box. Once you have a diagnosis on hand, it is much easier to draw up an action plan. It is like confronting the beast by its horns. It is true we did have a period of self denial after coming back to India, but it really saddens me when parents 4-5 yrs into the diagnosis, deny the problem. They try to shrug it off as hyperactivity/ADD.

The Return Back To India
We were quite apprehensive of our return, as to the resources that would be available. These fears were put to rest once our son had his first session at AFA at Chirag Delhi. The building was depilated and had to be reached by a narrow by lane after climbing two flights of stairs’. Harish and his therapist got along well, in their first session itself. That was very comforting. I was bringing him here for his remedial intervention once a week. They follow the TEACCH system. AFA gave me the much needed confidence. One learnt one doesn’t need expensive toys. In tandem with their philosophy AFA believes in making mothers equipped to handle this problem. They use the most indigenous, inexpensive tools ingeniously to work with the children. Harish stared out with matching and mastered it in no time. Apart from that I was going along with him to a MONTESSORI School. This was not out of choice, but I learnt Montessori system is ideal for our kids. As for the Montessori system the children work with various apparatus. This greatly helps fine tune their sensory, motor, spatial skills. The school had an arts class, music class, circle time, snack time, play time. The curriculum was made to order for him. Besides, he was learning more important skills such as peer interaction, class discipline, greeting his superiors. Our experience in the school taught us to stand by our convictions. We had enrolled him in the school, stating his problem. Once the management changed we were asked to leave midyear with the usual excuses of “in the interest of the child”,” we are not trained to handle this problem”. We fought with them and finally they agreed on the terms I take full responsibility for him. I faced total apathy and the teacher would turn her face when I would walk into the class with him. Those days he was hyperactive, would not sit in the class, throw tantrums, grab from other children’s plate. We persisted, when the matter came up for review, the teacher walked up to me and told me I have no problems having you both in my class. I have told the management also the same. We continued for another year here. When due to age restrictions we had to move on, he was the most loved child in the school. Luckily again we got admission into Santa Maria, Vasanth kunj.I am yet to find a school so accepting of the problem and the generosity of their spirit. We had planned to put him in nursery, but they felt he was academically ready for the lower kinder garden. By the time we left SantaMaria, he had 1 friend he associated himself in his class.I did some conventional speech therapy.He also began verbal behavior under the tutelage of Ann Jose varuvuala, one of the few certified practitioners in India. She felt his motor imitation skills would help him pick up few signs. There is an Indian version of the Makaton book with signs for roti,dal etc.He also picked up swimming and cycling in Delhi.These were the initial years.

The interim years
Later we moved to Pune, and he did his upper kinder garden in a regular school with the help of a shadow teacher. Again due to age limitation, we had to move him to another school, the experiences of which being one of the most sordid ones. The school was a big letdown. They had promised integration. Finally he was in class with a single teacher handling 8-10 kids with disability and 5-6 on the spectrum. How could she ever do justice even to a single child? The sad part being the principal and the psychologist knew exactly what was to be done but shirked responsibility shamelessly. He regressed badly. Three months into the school I pulled him out and stared homeschooling. I had a lady come over to help me with him. We tried homeopathy, but he developed a lot of sensory issues. Later somebody suggested a DNA/RNA treatment .We had to give up on that as it didn’t seem convincing. Later we found a therapy centre, but as my husband’s posting came along I had to pull him out. The only positive outcomes were I tried RDI more earnestly at home, ensured he had peer interaction in the evenings by being regular at some of the parks, I frequented in rotation, and made some progress on the academic front. The biggest gain was in his gross motor skills. He picked up skating, basket ball, throwball and little cricket. On the communication front I started a communication folder under the guidance of the speech pathologist at Khatraj University. I could not follow up on verbal behavior. We started the GFCF diet, just in desperation, hoping something works. My husband pushed me to adhere to it.

Now, at Jabalpur
He now attends a special school. He is much calmer, more present after he is now into the GFCF diet for 8 months and still going strong. The turning point in our lives has been somebody mentioning the son- rise program. The one web seminar I watched motivated me to try speech therapy with him at home. I have been doing this religiously for the last two months. Our little son has started to talk. He started with sounds, words and is gradually progressing to sentences. It is all about timing. Call it divine intervention or the success of the GFCF regimen.Yes; it is very much at the basic level and very need based. As long as he is able to communicate, I should be happy. I followed it up by a CD on the Hanen program. I also play the keyboard and ask him to sing with me during his sessions. I have started with the initial notes the sa,re ,ga ma of classical carnatic music. The purpose of doing this is so that he gets to vary the speed of the notes; the intonations he picks up all might eventually help him in his speech. I also do oral motor exercises such as rolling his tongue. I do rhymes with him such as Johnny,Johnny yes papa……I do circle time where he has to call out the names of other people. I ask his sister to wait in an adjacent room and make him call out her name so he has to raise his voice. His speech is not yet clear and will require lot of work. After all, he has been a silent for the last 8 years. He has picked up badminton recently (he gets 10 shots in a row), got himself a big boy’s cycle. His writing skills still have a long way to go. And so, the journey continues….
In retrospection we are stronger as a family (quantitatively and qualitatively).My daughter was born when he was 5 years old. We have got to meet innumerable people, many who have been exceptionally kind to us, rediscovered our own strengths and weaknesses. Only regrets being we should have given him more stability in terms of schooling, therapist and communication systems. Hoping and praying for the best, wishing things work out well for all four us.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our Sunday sojourns to ICH -The lessons we have learnt

For the ignorant, ICH stands for Indian coffee house. Started by the coffee board of India, it is a chain of restaurants, spread across India. Much before the advent of Baristas and Café coffee Days’, people would sit over a cup of coffee here. My husband is in a transferable job. After we moved to Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, (central India) we rediscovered ICH. ICH is a no frills place, but for the frilled turbans of the waiters who are dressed in white uniforms. Sometimes the waiter takes his own sweet time to present the bill and so we just walk up to the counter and pay the bill. It is generally bustling on Sunday afternoons with the holiday crowd, but we manage a table for ourselves. My son relishes his two plates of Sāmbhar vada and washes it down with a glass of strawberry tea from café coffee day, a one km drive from ICH. ICH has been a blessing to us in many ways. He continues with his GFCF diet, he has a place to eat out. Since the ambience isn’t too classy or formal he gets away with an occasional scream without drawing undue attention. Since we are regulars now, the waiter also knows our order. The food is good. There is a park nearby where my son picks up a packet of chips at the entrance, enjoys the slides. The park has a toy train which both my children enjoy. Sometimes life throws up surprises in the most unexpected ways. These are the pleasures of being in a small city. Life moves at a leisurely place .We are not caught in traffic jams; we don’t have to refuse him a pizza, as there are no pizza outlets here. Everything is available in a 2-3 km radius. To be very frank, GFCF has been made possible to a large extent primarily because of our stay in Jabalpur. This is one such example,if I may say, as parents of an autistic child we get to explore and discover possibilities,within the given constraints.It makes our families stronger to face the daunting challenge of autism. In the normal course of events, we would not have cared for ICH. And also a 5 star dining experience may not have given us the joy we get when he devours his vada. With our hero, we greatly appreciate the simple joys of everyday living immensely. There was a time when he would not sleep at nights and so today we appreciate the worth of a good night’s sleep. I am sure families with disabled children will have such similar experiences to share. Never ever stop trying.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Bonda is a typical south Indian snack. It is basically cooked potatoes in a coating of chickpea flour. One can also use water chestnut flour (Singhada atta) for this purpose. Also refer singhada pooris in an earlier post. One needs boiled potatoes, 2 in number, finely chopped coriander leaves, curry leaves ginger, 1small onion and I small tomato. Take 2 tablespoon oil, add jeera (cumin), let it sizzle, and then fry onion till translucent, add ginger and tomato Add salt, chili powder and coriander powder to this. Add the cooked potatoes. When cooked, garnish with coriander leaves. Make a batter of chickpea flour. For this, take a cup of chickpea flour. Add salt, chili powder, asafetida, coriander powder and water to make a smooth batter. Make a ball of the potato filling and roll it in the batter to give it a coating. Deep fry in oil. One can add shelled peas, to the filling. Serve hot with chutney

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What is functional academics

Recently, I had been to a bookshop to buy some books for my daughter. Eventually I picked four books for both my children. As I presented the books for billing, the lady at the counter, seemed more like an apprentice to me, went about her work diligently. She wrote out the titles and their costs. She then pulled out another piece of paper and started to calculate the total. This is what she had to total. (30+30+30+45).She had to redo it a second time and unable to do it she then pulled out a calculator. I prompted her, the answer. (More out of habit).After having got her answer, she entered the “totel” with a flourish on the bill. The incident made me think. This is just not about her, but many people who rely heavily on technology. Here was this lady in her late twenties/early thirties, “normal” in all aspects struggling with a class 1 addition problem. I am badgering my 8 year old autistic son with addition and multiplication every day. It might be a simpler solution to teach him to handle a calculator, with everything from addition, subtraction, division and multiplication. After all he is going to use these skills only for everyday living not some high end mathematical formulas. A calculator would do the job. Why am I doing this? He needs some money skills to go buy himself a couple of things, time sense to go about his routine, self help skills, and at a later stage some vocational skills for a living. Is it that I pride myself that my son can do addition, or that I can leave the options open for mainstreaming at a later stage. Or is it the simple joy that he is able to do all this and maybe has the potential for more. Why can’t we have a different set of benchmarks for them? Sometimes we reach, a dead point,what next? It is like a checklist of things to do say you are done with number identification, counting, then addition ……….subtraction Maybe it is important to focus on some other skill sets .Don’t blind children have Braille? Is it necessary to know by rote the tables? Why should a child with fine motor difficulties, be expected to write like a 2 grader? The education system is such that, and we are so much part of it that we have imbibed these values. What if I just wanted to focus only on language skills that my son is good at? Teach him to type;use a word document for instance,something that could be put to use as part of his vocation. Everybody harps on functional academics but who is to put it to practice? Please leave your comments on this.

Pearls of wisdom

"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change;
courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference."
I read this on the net put up by another parent, and found it most appropriate for our lives.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Sago kichdi

To make sago kichdi ,you need, sago -1 cup, ¾ th cup groundnut, roasted and peeled , 1Large potato,  cooked, peeled ,diced, 2 Tbsp sugar and salt to taste. Rinse and soak sago in enough water (just to cover sago) overnight. Gently mix in roughly ground peanuts, sugar and salt to taste and keep it aside.
Now heat oil in a pan and add jeera and curry leaves .When jeera (cumin) starts to sizzle add slit green chilies and diced potatoes and sauté for few minutes till potatoes turn light golden. Mix in seasoned sago and stir gently for about 5-7 mins. Cook for another couple of minute. Serve hot garnished with finely chopped coriander leaves and enjoy. A blogger has described it as “as a medley of sago pearls tempered with peanuts and spices”.  Eloquent words. Surprisingly this is had by people more so on fasts on various auspicious days, not as a staple breakfast dish.


Poha is made with flattened rice, again a Maharashtrian dish.
Ingredients 2 cups poha ,1tsp mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chilies slit vertically,1 large sliced potato, a handful unsalted peanuts,1 medium onion, a pinch of turmeric, lime juice-2tsps,salt to taste. Wash the poha under running water, and soak it for 5-10 minutes depending on the poha used. The soaking time will vary. Take oil, heat it and add mustard, curry leaves, chilies and onion. Then add peanuts, potatoes and fry till cooked. Drain the water from the poha and add to this. Let it cook. Remove from fir add the lime juice Garnish with green coriander leaves. Serve with mint chutney.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Ven Pongal

Ven Pongal is a south Indian dish, made with rice.
The ingredients are
I cup raw rice,1/3 cup split yellow moong dal, cashew nuts broken 1 tbsp, 1tsp jeera, 1tsp black pepper, curry leaves,1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger, salt,1/2tsp asafoetida, 4-5 cups water . Wash the rice and dal mixture. Add salt and water. Cook in a rice cooker.Fry the jeera, (cumin) cashew, and curry leaves black pepper in ghee. The dal can be lightly fried before adding it to the rice. Serve with sambahr and chutney.

kothimbar wadi

This is a typical Maharashtrian snack. Kothimbir is cilantro and this recipe has tons for it. I went for this recipe because cilantro has chelating properties. The more the merrier. You need
2 bunches (fairly big) cilantro
11/2 glass besan (chickpea flour)
¼ tsp baking soda
1/2tsp Jaggery/molasses
2TBSP tice flour to make the wadis crisp
1/ 4tsp tamarind paste
Green chillies-2
Salt to taste
seasame seeds for garnishing
Mix all the ingredients into a batter like consistency and keep in the cooker. Steam it for 15-20 min without a whistle as in the case of idli.(  Check GFCF breakfasts). Insert a toothpick and if it leaves no residue on the stick remove from the cooker .leave it to cool and cut it into small squares. Deep fry and relish with sauce or chutney

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Recently Harish was down with flu and was refusing to take solids. The collection of soup recipes I had come in very handy. Many a times as with children on the GFCF diet one cannot offer them any beverage for that matter. Some do give soy milk.I have not tried it.The last 2-3 days he had soups and idlis. Please check GFCF breakfasts for idlis. Idlis is steamed food and hence safe and healthy. Now on to the soups.
Dal-vegetable soup:Take one tablespoon each of dhuli masoor and moong dal. (De-skinned and split red lentil and yellow lentils)Add vegetables such as shredded cabbage 100g, beans 2-3 in number, carrot-1 and pressure cook.
Add salt, pepper, oregano and serve. My son loves the flavor of oregano.
Tomato soup:Tomatoes-2 in number, 1carrot small-medium size, 1 inch beetroot for the color, salt pepper, mint leaves for garnishing. Boil the vegetables. Make a puree of it and filter it. Serve hot. It is ideal to use the seeded (desi/organic) variety as it has a better flavor. Add GFCF bread cubes. Add boiled GFCF pasta for tomato-pasta soup, if available.
Spinach/palak soup: Palak leaves 15-20 in number, tomatoes -2, garlic pods -2 ,green chili, ¼ tsp sugar, lime juice ¼ tsp. Boil the vegetables ,filter to remove the pulp. Serve hot garnished with salt and pepper.
Spring onion soup: Spring onions-2, Cabbage-50g, 1 small potato, green chilli, carrot. MAkea puree of the vegetables, filter it. Cut fine pieces of onion, green pepper, ajwain (carom seeds),stir fry in oil and add to the soup as garnish.
Rasam soup: ½ tsp moong dal dhuli, 2 tsp yellow lentils (toor dal), 1tsp cooked rice, 3 boiled tomatoes.
Beat the dals in a mixie. Add salt, chili powder1/4 tsp, coriander powder1/2 tsp Boil the tomatoes, make a puree and filter it. Add to the dals. Add the boiled rice. Fry carom seeds and add for garnishing.If the child is ok with ghee, add a1/2 tsp ghee to this.

Interesting quote

I know of nobody who is purely Autistic or purely neurotypical. Even God had some Autistic moments, which is why the planets all spin." ~ Jerry Newport


Jerry Newport, 58, grew up in Islip, NY. Diagnosed with Asperger’s in 1995, he has a BA in mathematics from the University of Michigan. His life was the basis of the 2005 movie Mozart and the whale.

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.

GFCF breakfasts

In my earlier posts on breakfast I had written about idli, dosa and upama. Here are some more options
Uthapam: The idli dosa batter after 2-days   begins to get a little sour. This is basically a receipe for leftover batter. Add finely sliced onions, tomato, coriander leaves, and green chilli (optional) to it. Pour the batter with a spoon into a girdle with a curved base. Pour a tablespoon of canola/refined vegetable oil around the edges. It is similar to a dosa but much thicker. Let it cook on low flame, cover the girdle.Once cooked on one side flip it over and let cook on the other side. One can also garnish it with onion over and above the onion already in the batter. Serve with chutney
Ada: raw rice -2cups
urad dal-1/4 th cup
 arhar/toor/yellow lentils-3/4 cup
Soak the above for3-4 hrs. Grind coarsely. While grinding add the required quantity salt, curry leaves, asafetida maybe 1 tsp, red chilies. It is preferable to use powdered hing/ Asafetida as the solid one as gluten as the binding agent. Serve with chutney. A variation to this is to add, drumstick leaves. This is a rich source of vitamin C, A, calcium and potassium
Besan/chickpea flour cheela. This is an option when you run out of batter. Take the required qty of besan, add water and bring to a batter consistency .Add onion,ginger,green chilli,green coriander, salt, chili powder to this. Stir to avoid any lumps. Pour it on to a heavy bottom girdle. Cook for 2-3 minutes on one side and then turn it over and cook similarly.
Palak cheela 300g sabut moongdal paste/green gram paste
1tbsp ginger
1tsp garlic paste
1tbsp green chilli paste
a pinch of asafetida
100g spinach finely chopped 2 onions finely grated.
Soak moongdal for one hour in lukewarm water . Grind to make a paste. Add ginger garlic paste,salt ,asafoetida and green chilli paste. Spread it evenly on a non stick tawa /pan. Put drops of oil on the sides.S prinkle onion and spinach on the chila pinch of salt too. Prepare it well and turn it over to cook the onion and spinach. It should turn green; Serve hot with green coriander chutney or tomato sauce

Friday, February 13, 2009

Ragi biscuits/Finger millet biscuits

Ragi biscuits
Ragi flour 2 cups
powdered sugar-1cup
ghee-1 cup
cardamom powder-tsp
Baking powder -1tsp
Roast  t he ragi  flour, so that it does not leave a muddy taste  in the mouth. Take care to see it does not burn. Sometimes you also get roasted ragi flour. Add the other ingredients to the dough. Make small balls and leave enough space between these in the cookie sheet. Slightly flatten them with the back of a spoon before starting to bake. Bake at 180c for 20-25 min. Ragi is used extensively in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. In Karnataka it is eaten as ragi mudde. It is made by boiling raagi in water, and letting the water to condense. It is made into balls and had with sambhar .Please check my previous posts for more on finger millet paratha/Indian bread and ragi laddus/sweet balls


 Laddu is a traditional Indian sweet ball made from flours. In this case we shall be using GFCF flours such as chick pea, finger millet, GFCF sooji. Substitute butter with ghee (clarified butter). I use homemade ghee for Harish, in which I skim the top part and leave the residue. The residue has brown sediment like particles which is casein.
Chick pea/besan laddus
2 cups chickpea flour
11/2 cups sugar
1 cup ghee
 in a heavy bottom vessel fry ghee and besan. Stir continuously so that lumps are not formed. Remove and add sugar. Mix it well. Make balls by rolling the mix with your fingers.
Raava  laddu.
Repeat the same process with sooji of sunira foods. It might be a good idea to run it in a mixer, as sooji is coarse. One can add finely grated nuts. Usually milk is added in the final mixing I have added water.  As an afterthought I felt I could have added almond milk/coconut milk. After the laddu has taken it‘s shape roll it in dry coconut powder so it has a coco nutty feel. The shelf life is not more than three days. Again the quantity of sugar can be varied depending on how sweet one wants it.
Ragi flour laddus/finger millet laddus.
Ragi is also called nachni. The ingredients needed are
healthy atta from sunira foods-3/4kg
ragi flour-1/4 kg
sugar1/2 kg
Ghee-1/2 kg
cardamom powder-2tsp
sieve the flours. Roast the cardamom and powder it. Mix the flours, ghee and sugar. Blend it in the mixie. This is essentially as only then the mix is tight enough to be rolled into ball and baked at 180c for20 min. Taste very good, it is nutritious and I have one myself every day.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Not today !

They say man proposes and God disposes, today Mom proposed and Pop disposed. The new recipe was meant for Hari but he expected something else and so did not even try. Chicken Rolls. He just did not want to even give it a try. No point pushing it, we will reintroduce it later in a different way. For today his pop had to relish the new dish. Collataral advantage. It was yummy and am sure if introduced when he is really hungry, maybe as some evening snack, he will love it. Many a times we have had great expectations and after lot of effort it would be frustrating to see him not eat it. Not anymore. Now we laugh it out and decide to modify the setting, display, taste or whatever and try again. So its got to be another day. For today, thanks son, I loved it!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Kati rolls

The basic kati rolls begins with paratha ,toasted on a tava. The kati roll is similar to a Frankie. Whipped egg is poured on the hot girddle and the bread, as in this case the   paratha is placed on it. The stuffing is placed in the centre. For vegetarians it could be fried vegetables, spicy potatoes.I have used chicken. Any GFCF all purpose flour will serve the purpose to make the paratha. It should be very fine. To make the chicken stuffing, use boneless chicken. Fry onion, tomato, ginger and garlic. Add salt, chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala to this. I had a dollop tomato sauce to this, preferably use an organic one. Garam masala is a combination of various spices. Pressure cook the chicken and sauté it along with it.The chicken should be chopped finely( minced meat). GFCF soy sauce, mustard sauce is optional. After placing the filling roll the sides of the paratha and serve hot with a chutney/sauce.
                                        I had built huge expectations because my son loves chicken. I presented it with great gusto, but the suddenness of it put him off. To him chicken is all about eating chicken gravy with parathas/ rice. Who cares for rolls, anyway? My husband happily polished them all. Anyway it is a lesson in change management. I will leave it for another day, another post. I shall upload the photos soon. 

Yoga for children in the autism spectrum disorders

The authors of this book, Dion E.Betts and Stacey W.betts, mention in their preface, yoga helps children in this spectrum to increase balance and strength. It also reduces stress and anxiety. Stacey’s eldest son is diagnosed with Aspergers. The book has photographs of various poses/asanas.
                       Another book along these lines is the Brain gym written by Paul. E. Dennison and Gail.E. Dennison. The book is full of illustrations. It targets specific skills such as reading skills, writing skills…basically academic skills. Each skill has a set of exercises such as lazy 8’s, cross crawl etc. The book is recommended for everyone, those  who wants to improve the quality of his living, learning.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Most parents in this spectrum are desperate to provide peer interaction for their children and that includes me.  Some of the games I have adapted from RDI, some are my own.Over a period of time harish has actually begun to enjoy these games. This is a collection of games I have tried and it has worked.  Most of the games have been designed keeping in mind that Harish is nonverbal.
Indoor games
Game 1: Pass the parcel/ball.The ball is passed around with the children sitting in a circle.Simple commands are written in slips of paper and placed  in a basket. Music is played and when it stops the child who has the ball has to pick a slip of paper and perform the comand written on it.Or the instructions can be verbal . Keep the level of your child in mind. For example, I would tell Harish to perform simple actions such as brushing, touch everybody’s head.
Game 2: This is to increase eye contact. 3-4 children sit on bean bags placed in different corners. It is a must that nobody talks. The signal to interchange their seats is only by eye contact. Should somebody nod their head in a no, then nobody moves.
Game 3: Mask on mask off. Another way to increase eye contact is to use a mask. Make funny faces every time the mask is introduced. Play games where you have to simultaneously put the mask on and remove the mask off.
Game 4: Have a bag with various things in it. Give it a name. The bag is to be passed around. Each participant has to pull out an object. For example, he pulls out a ball and pretends to pop it in his mouth and says yummy laddu. At a later stage, one can have modifications to this game asking him to rate an idea with a thumbs up / thumbs down sign. Once the child understands the game he begins to enjoy it.
Game 5: Pile all the bean bags to make a throne .Let the children take turns to become kings and queens. Keep a set of items such as plastic swords, paper balls for canon .Create a situation where there is monster in the forest and is out to harass the animals. The king sets out to rescue them.
Game 6: Shoot paper airplanes trying to hit each other and teach the child to duck. Same can be done with paper bulls. You can also get him to crush paper to make the balls.
Game 7: Do role play enacting stories such as, The little red riding hood, The shoemaker and the elves, The frog and the princess. Another game is to dress up your child as a washer man, vegetable seller. For the vegetable seller game the retailer sits at one end and pushe s the truck to the wholesale market with his demand. There is to and fro interaction in this game as the truck moves back and forth. My 4 yr old daughter is around to help me with these games she loves pretend play. So when we play doctor –patient, thief -police she is a very willing partner.
Game8: Memory game: Each child is given the name of fruit/vehicles/vegetables. The child who gets the maximum number is the winner. A nonverbal child can point/touch the person when  the name is called out.
Game 9:The airplane ride. I count to 10 and befor the plane takes off the children have to board it. I ususally stand at a distance and so they have to come running. The 10 is then graduall y reduced to 5 for a faster take off.

Outdoor games
Game1: Balloon games. Tie balloons filled with water at a height and ask the child to hit the balloon till it burst. My son loves it when the water falls on him.tie balloon again filled with water tied around the waist of the children .The child who burst maximum balloons is the winner. Keep a set of change ready with you.
Game 2: Treasure hunt. Keep something exciting maybe few candies wrapped in a paper, a favorite toy and let him go hunting for these. You can also blind fold one child and let him catch the other. Initially my son had a problem being blind folded, later he slowly adjusted to the idea.
Game 3: Tug of war. Play the game of oranges and lemons where two people stand on either side with their hands held together. The children have to pass thru and some of them are caught in at trap when the song comes to a finish. The trapped children agree to be a lemon or an orange and take sides to play the tug of war. The suspense of getting caught adds fun to the game.
Game 4; Make a long human train that goes around the park, stops at the station.
Game 5: if there is a small mound or something let the children have a rolling down race. Initially Harish used to be very rigid. Let them do the frog jump up and down the mound..
Game6: All children form a circle and hold hand to form a human wall and the child trapped inside has to get out.
Game7: The children sit in a circle. One child runs around in a circle and drops his napkin next to one child who is sitting down. Then this child gets up and chases the running child. He either manages to catch the runner who might give up the chase and sit down, in that case he drops the kerchief near another child and the game continues.
                                         These games should be played regularly and slowly or children also begin to take an interest. The three E’s energy, enthusiasm and excitement should be very high. The train ride is usually the closing game, when I paly with my son.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The first small BIG steps

The first time we shared an interest. Earlier he would not look at the same object that I was trying to draw his attention to.
The first time he scanned the room to reassure himself we were there. He kept returning his glances.
His first meal in a restaurant with  harish sitting at his table using a visual cue we used at home, his table mat. This was suggested to me when I was taking harish to AFA at New delhi.
The first time he tacted that he was hungry. This was using the principles of applied verbal  behavior, where he signs and asks for something that is not in his immediate environment.
The first time he pulled a stool, climbed on it and opened the latch on the top of the door for his father who was getting back from work after a late evening.
The first time he jumped to reach out and pluck a fruit from a tree. Earlier he would look around for somebody to lift him up.
The first time he played a prank on his father. He father gave him a friendly pat on his back when he was sitting engrossed with his picture book. He put the book down, ran to my husband, gave him a pat and laughed.
The first time that he played run and chase with his sister.
The first time he said TATA to his teacher when it was time to go home.
The first time he got his first three shots in a row when playing badminton.
The first time, today morning, when he tried to frame his first question He should have written and asked “where is my book?” Instead he wrote “how foods book”? To me it is a beginning.
 These are first confidence building steps that we should watch out.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Diamond cuts

This is what I call them because of their shape. I have used Sunira foods maida.
The ingredients
Ajwain/carom seeds
Ghee -2 tablespoons
   Knead the dough. Roll it out ½ inch thick with a rolling pit. Use a pizza cutter or a knife to cut diamonds of it. Should it stick to the surface just lift it off with the knife? Deep fry in the oil. As a variation to this you can put it in sugar syrup for the sweeter version of this
As for the end result it is quite hard and the sweeter version gets even more harder. Another option would be to mix some maida with besan in 75:25 ratios and try.I would give this receipe maybe 4/10.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

GFCF for dummies part-2

Substitutes for margarine in India include apple sauce, apple butter and even some fruits like banana.
Apple sauce fine or coarse textures is puree made from peeled or unpeeled apples. It has additives such as sugar and spices. Of course there are GFCF margarines available abroad.
Substitutes for egg: 1tbsp milled flax seed and 3tbsp water or an egg replacer. For the egg replacer follow the instruction on the box. Generally it is 1 heaped tablespoon Egg replacer plus 2 tablespoon warm water.
Substitute for soy sauce
240ml/8fl.oz Molasses
90ml/3fl.oz. Balsamic Vinegar
Sugar to taste   
Place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix until well blended. Source: TACA
Maple syrup 240 m l: 240 ml honey
Molasses240 ml: 240 ml honey/240 ml maple syrup/ ¾ cup (180 ml) light or dark brown sugar heated to
dissolve in 1/4 cup (60 ml) liquid. Source: Joy of
Vinegar: Use distilled white vinegar. Red, white wine, balsamic vinegars are gluten free. Balsamic vinegar is made from grapes and used as a tangy salad dressing. It is definitely not available easily in India. As a substitute for balsamic vinegar, try this recipe from receipezaar. Combine ½ tsp sugar, 1/2tsp red wine vinegars to form 1tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.
Substitute for shortening: In India an easily available substitute could be dalda. (vanaspati).Did try it once, anybody for raagi biscuits
J.Will put it up once I try it.
Substitute for wheat: I have used sorghum/jowar flour, orgran all purpose flour, singhada(water chestnut),rajgirah flour made from the seeds of the plant Amaranth, tapioca flour, finger millet flours. .I have used tapioca to make papad, chips and for baking, The papad is flat wafer like preparation.I have tired rajgirah as a substitute for gluten free oats in a recipe that called for a combination of two flours.. I have made Indian breads such as poori, parathas and rotis with jowar/ fingermillet/water chestnut flours
What is the difference between self raising flour and all purpose flour?
Self raising flour has a leavening agent such as baking powder added to it along with salt.
Is potato starch and potato flour the same thing?
Potato starch is peeled potato made into a slurry and watery mix, dehydrated to form potato starch. It is very fine and bland. It can be heated with water in a saucepan to make gravies. Potato starch can serve a thickener substitute for corn starch. Potato flour is less dense and less white that potato starch. Sometimes potato flour and rice flour combined and used for gluten free baking.
I have learnt whole lot of things after having stared GFCF cooking. I shall share all that I learn in this process.
GFCF flours:

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Chole Baturae

This has been a “sundara “Sunday with sunira foods. Harish had upama with GFCF sooji for breakfast and chole baturae made with sunira‘s maida which is gluten free. To make baturae you need
Sunira maida
water preferably luke warm as the label says
Make dough with the three ingredients. Heat the oil in a kadai. Divide the dough into balls. Just before rolling out the dough, dip the ball in hot oil and roll it out. As with paratha do not dust with flour. In all fairness they look like baturas. Normally batura dough is made with maida and curds. When served with a chatpata chole slightly on the spicier, khatta side it makes a great Sunday brunch. As an afterthought also serve kuchumber salad, pickles with it. Speaking of pickles available in the market many of them contain vinegar which may not be gluten free. If one can make gooseberry pickles at home then it has great nutritive value and taste. Maybe will give it a shot.
Singhada atta pooris/water chestnut flour pooris
Pooris and baturas belong to the same family of deep fried Indian bread .Initially I started making pooris with singhadia atta. Add mashed potato, ground nut powder and salt to it. Knead to make dough. Make balls and repeat the process. They taste very good. They don’t really get fluffy always, that being the disadvantage, again that being my experience. One has to make smaller pooris.


GFCF sooji-200g
Beans finely chopped 2-3
Carrot I small finely chopped
Green chilli as required
salt as required
Ginger 1tsp finely chopped
Onion I finely chopped
            Fry 200g of Sunira foods sooji,which is GFCF. Heat oil1-2 tbsp, add mustard, urad dal, curryleaves, ginger and green chilli and sauté. Add onions to this and fry. Add the remaining vegetables. Add salt. After the vegetables have been fried for sometime, add a little more than double the quantity of water. If you have used a measuring cup of 200g for sooji take 21/2 cups of water. Let it boil. Add the sooji to this cook till it solidifies. In terms of texture and look it resembles the upama of  regular dahlia.

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