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Sachin, Tu Jah Yahan Se – The Long Road to Inclusion

In 2020, Anshuman, 7, was getting into trouble at school for his aggressive behaviour and language. Diagnosed with autism at Gubbara, our assessment center, he began after-school remedial lessons four afternoons a week at our Child Development Center (CDC). In addition to academics, we worked on helping him express himself constructively.

In the ‘chit game’, the players took turns picking a slip of paper with a drawing of an everyday object – a house, a flower, a pencil – and saying two or three things about the drawing. “This is a house. I’m going to pass a current through it and set it on fire!” he’d yell. We gently guided him towards more positive vocabulary. “Is this the house you live in with your Mummy-Papa, Anshuman? Where Mummy makes you tasty food?”. We rewarded him with star stickers which he loved so much that he began asking for extra homework so that he could build a collection. We advised his mother on using praise and attention to reinforce good behavior. “He’d learnt that being inappropriate was the path to attention – ‘Don’t say this, Anshuman! Stop that, Anshuman!’ It was negative, but still, it was attention, a powerful driver of behaviour. When he started receiving generous praise for good behavior, he started doing more of it,” says Sunita Singh, Project Head, CDC.

Anshuman’s also been working hard on his reading, writing, attention and comprehension. “Sunita didi, is my Mummy coming to the meeting today? Are you going to show her how to teach me?” he asks in complete sentences. He contributes meaningfully in the classroom, such as at a recent session on personal boundaries in the Personal Development and Growing Up class. Once a bit of a loner – and not by choice — he now interacts happily with peers and grown-ups alike.

The happiest development has been the discovery of his talent and passion for singing when his mother followed our suggestion to play music and sing with him at home. When the school his father taught at organized an event, we approached them to let Anshuman participate. He performed before an audience of thousands, winning a medal and a trophy in the process. The family is now looking to move closer to the Foundation so that Anshuman can take music lessons at Latika Vihar, our inclusive after-school play center, every evening.

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