As an eight-year-old, Rohit Ranjan (name changed on request) always had a way with words — of the typed kind. As an autistic child, the keyboard provided an avenue for expression that speech did not. His parents urged him to type out his daily experiences.
Now as one of the first students to avail of the SSC board’s recently-introduced concessions for autistic students, the 15-year-old has been typing his answers in his school’s computer lab. Ranjan is one of the 10 autistic students from Mumbai division who have benefited from these concessions. “The computer has given my son wings,” said Rita, his mother.
“The issue of communicating with a writer or facing handwriting problems has been avoided. And the extra time has let him take breaks and write at his own pace.”
The concessions were announced last year after the state board received a proposal from the non-profit group, Forum for Autism. It also includes the possibility of using a writer, choosing lower level maths, dropping two languages and appearing for exams in vocational subjects.
“After we got our first application from an autistic student, we directed all the divisions to ensure that such students could avail of the concessions,” said S Dhekane, secretary of the board.
Autistic people usually face difficulties in social communication, emotional expression and might display obsessive behaviour traits. Many are unable to complete schooling.
“It is because of such provisions that these students can go through otherwise they wouldn’t have had a chance,” said Achama Mathew, chief executive officer of Bombay Cambridge Gurukul, which operates the S Radhakrishnan Vidyalaya in Borivli where Ranjan studies.
“It’s good to know that more and more autistic students will have the chance to make it through a qualifying exam.”
On April 2, Ranjan will write his second-last exam, fittingly on the occasion of World Autism Day.