When Aniket Wagle, now 16, turned six years old, he started experiencing problems in speaking and expressing himself. He soon needed support to walk and had difficulty in climbing stairs.
Ten years on, Wagle, who suffers from cerebral palsy, a condition that affects muscle coordination and body movements, will appear for his first Secondary School Certificate (SSC) exam on Saturday.
Wagle, a student of Little Flowers' School, Andheri, puts in at least five hours of study every day and is anxious about his board exams like any other student. Since he has no control over the movements of his limbs and cannot write, he has opted for a writer for the exams.
"He uses an iPad to study," said Wagle's father, Dhiren, who works in a multi-national bio-technology firm. Since Aniket has weak muscles and finds it difficult to type, the iPad's touch screen makes it easier from him to refer to his notes, Dhiren added.
Wagle's mother, Aditi, said that they were lucky to find a school that was sensitive to his son's needs. "The school has been co-operative and has also provided a writer for him," said Aditi, a homemaker.
Till Class 9, Wagle's grandfather would help him study. When he got promoted to Class 10, Wagle took classes from a private tutor in Andheri.
"Initially, it was quite challenging to teach him since he has speech problems. It was difficult for me to understand what he was saying," said his tutor, Isha Sane. "But he has a good grasping power and will surely fare well in the exam."
Aniket and his writer study together for practice.
Children suffering from cerebral palsy usually develop involuntary movements that interfere with speech. They also have weak muscles and have problems maintaining posture for sitting and walking.