Neelam describes her son’s autism as a great sea in which her family floats, searching for help.
“We pray the God gives us the solutions,” she says in English, her third language. “God shows us a light house that is a Ashish Centre. You are the light; we are swimming towards the light house … please don’t avoid us; please help us.”
Before her family learned about the Ashish Centre, Neelam had run out of hope and had attempted suicide twice, being crushed under the pressure of raising a child whom she didn’t understand how to love. Her husband, an alcoholic, blamed their son for his addiction.
“My birth is a wasteful one,” Neelam used to think to herself. “Why the God gives me this life I don’t want to live? I’m a useless person, I thought.”
“Every day, I was crying in front of God; I prayed God take me as early as possible or show me the way. Now, I got the way that is the Ashish Centre,” says Neelam, above on the right.
Neelam learned from a friend that the Ashish Centre was the only autism institution willing to work with a poor family. For many poor Indian families with disabled or differently abled children, there is no help and no hope.
Neelam’s son, Pravit (front, right), received almost a full scholarship from the Ashish Centre, so the family paid only $12 of the $6,000 annual fee.
At the Ashish Centre, while Pravit was in school, his mother attended a parental-counseling group and other trainings for parents of kids with autism. She learned more about the disorder and how to handle her son, and she learned how to modify her family’s lifestyle accordingly. Neelam also came to understand that Pravit can’t learn in school like most kids do.
The Ashish Centre focuses on developing activities for daily living, putting traditional academics second. Above, Pravit (far right) accepts a silver medal he won in a roller-skating competition.
Today, Neelam has transformed from a woman crushed by her son’s disorder — so hopeless that she wished to die — to an unstoppable champion for autistic children and their families.
She has moved her family to South India to open an early-intervention center for autistic children (Neelam, above, in green, teaches children).
Having received training in a biblical worldview from the Ashish Centre, Neelam will offer counseling services to parents while their children receive special education. Her husband, while still drinking, no longer gets to the point of drunkenness.
Please pray for Neelam as she starts this new venture and for the Ashish Centre as it continues to serve the forgotten children of India.
*Note: The names Neelam and Pravit are used as pseudonyms in this story, to respect the privacy of those represented.
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