Prathamesh Teaches Piddy

Mindful parenting is all about truly understanding your child, knowing and accepting him completely. Initially in the case of our son, Prathamesh, we had difficulties in recognising, understanding and accepting his situation. He appeared to be very normal in his early days. He started talking at 8 months and walking before he was one year old! He spoke fluently without grammatical mistakes and was able to recognise colours without much effort.

As he grew, we observed that he would not play with other kids. He preferred his own company. He took more time than others his age to answer a question. That too, he used to repeat the question before answering. He used to talk to himself a lot. At the age of 4, under doctor’s advice he undertook an IQ test. His IQ was over 100 and we thought that there was no problem at all.
It’s only later that we realised the severity of the problem, when Prathamesh was in 1st standard. He avoided reading and writing and was not able to understand math at all! He made no friends in school. There were complaints from his teachers regarding his academic progress and social behaviour. As it turned out Prathamesh was diagnosed with autism and zero concentration ADHD (Attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder).

Children with these problems do not like to talk or express themselves. So he never discussed things that happened in school. I wouldn’t receive from him any important messages sent by teachers. It was a daily battle. At the beginning we were totally clueless about what we should do to improve his condition. But then we found a way – through his soft toys.
I started playing with him – using his soft toys. We played ‘School- School’. We enacted various characters using Soft toys as students. I would make appropriate animal sounds for each toy and Prathamesh would switch between the role of an elder brother or a teacher. Through this interaction I began to get an idea of how his mind worked. I created a character named Piddy. “Piddy” did not understand anything. She could not do anything and always gave wrong answers. Prathamesh started correcting her and explaining to her just like his teachers did at school. That was a major breakthrough and an insight into his world. When I got Prathamesh to play ‘Teacher’ to Piddy and introduced various subjects he started repeating everything that happened in class. This allowed me direct access to all that was going on in the class!. I was overjoyed to realize that there was no major problem in Prathamesh’s grasping and comprehension capabilities. He was simply unable to express answers verbally.

In this whole journey we have had many good and bad experiences. Now Prathamesh is in 6th standard (KHS Aundh). He reads and writes accurately. Speed is slow but there is a lot of improvement.

By Sandhya Jadhav in Marathi (translated to English By Mr V V Deshpande)

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