Our little Pranav was born in 2004 at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota (ranked as the #3 overall hospitals in the United States by U.S. News & World Report). Pranav has always been happy, loving and sweet. He crawled, walked and developed just like any other child. At 3-4 months he was cooing and babbling. Everyone said he would be talking early. Then around 15-18 months he seemed to become more absorbed in his own little world and often when we called out his name, he would not respond. He also seemed to be experiencing problems with sleep and social interaction. We were worried about his lack of joint attention and social disinterest. We started researching “language delays” on the internet, almost every search yielded the same result PDD or autism or ASD. When he was almost two year old, we specifically asked our pediatrician about the possibility. We were given an emphatic “YES” there is something going on, “He is looking for help”.
Everything snowballed from that point.
It was a lengthy evaluation. Pranav was evaluated by Speech Pathologists, Neurologist, Child psychologist and finally developmental pediatrician. After all the evaluations, Pranav was diagnosed with autism. “That was the first diagnosis”. Our younger kid, Krithik was due in December 2006. So exactly before 3 months of Krithik’s arrival, we were really alone, depressed with the autism diagnosis, and we didn’t know what it was in the beginning. We met so many special needs families with different ethnic background who has kids with Blind/Vision Impaired, Autism, Down syndrome, Epilepsy, Sensory Disorders, Speech Disorders, ADD/ADHD, Cerebral Palsy, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Developmental Disabilities/Mental Retardation. It helped us to share or learn the new ideas to make our Pranav as an individual and the best chance to make him happy in this world. We accepted that “God chose our couple for Pranav”. We began the long drawn war on AUTISM. We contacted the county services for help with all the documentation and they were so impressed with our efforts to help Pranav. They assigned an early childhood teacher to help us on how to play, teach, help and support our Pranav. We understood Pranav should be our top priority. His autism may loom large, but it’s secondary. No one can predict or should limit the future for any child with an autism diagnosis. We started supporting Pranav’s abilities, rather than focusing on the weaknesses. We have also attended seminars, conferences, awareness programs and education.
We as parents changed our life, path, career, direction, attitude and way of thinking. After 3 months of our research, we met our developmental pediatrician. He replied “You are going in a positive direction”. This is the only answer from him when asked about Pranav. Our boy was enrolled in early childhood education, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Music Therapy, ABA Therapy. As parents we learned the Sign Language, Speech tools, Occupational techniques, Sensory integration techniques, teaching social and behavior issues, and above all learned how to keep Pranav happy. We made our home a very friendly and best place to live for Pranav . Education charts, toys, sensory tools, DVD’s, books and so on all over the place. He was qualified for Kindergarten along with Special needs. At the age of 5, we started seeing the results. Our loving boy slowly started to turn into a very happy child. As parents we understood that there is a lot he has to achieve, but we know that he will get there, at his own pace and in his own time. We became more aggressive on the mission to make our son always smiling and happy. After our wonderful younger and terrific son Krithik arrived then we started seeing light again. We formed a team of early child hood teachers, therapists, and resources (technology, toys, books etc.).
We noticed that Pranav has great strength to learn more physical activities. He was enrolled for swimming, skating, basketball and music classes. Whenever Pranav has difficulty in group activities, we
as parents learned the activity or skill and taught him later at home. Pranav and Krithik love dancing and they perform on stage for most of the community events in our town.
Our younger kid Krithik looks beyond autism and play with his incredible brother and helps Pranav in all the activities. Krithik really brightened our lives and his support never turns the lights off.
We came to know that martial arts will help kids with autism. Dad joined National Karate academy for Black Belt program and made Pranav learn at home with his brother as a partner and he is good in Karate now. He says “Daddy, let us do Karate”.
This boosted his confidence levels for his age appropriate skills. To make him comfortable with social life we take him to movies, restaurants, malls, shopping, parks, rides, parties and travel as a team.
Pranav is 9 years old now. He is a lap swimmer and is undergoing training for competitions. He is a fantastic bicycle rider, mastered his skills in roller skating and ice skating. Pranav plays basketball, cricket and interactive video games. He is good in book reading, solving puzzles and working with IPAD apps. These made his life easier to learn the spellings, reading, speech and language abilities.
We do not worry about what Pranav cannot do. May be he can do it tomorrow. Also we sincerely believe Pranav has made tremendous growth and development during the past few years and we know
much of that is a direct result of hard work of teachers, family members and friend’s support.
We are the part of awareness campaign and we share our experiences. We spend time with families in need and request parents to try everything. It may work or it may not work. But do not accept defeat, as
it is easier than working with kids. The question of cure or scientific reasoning cannot stand in our way. Each and every strategy adopted and tried with faith does show some progress.
Believe in it. Keep trying. But to find that way, our hope needs to be very high.