Rajeev Dashrath (name changed) was diagnosed with autism in 2000 when he was two years old.
After admitting him into a special school for autistic children, his parents enrolled him in Bombay Cambridge School, Andheri, as they believed him to be up to the challenge of studying in a mainstream school. Rajeev didn’t disappoint, and recently scored 85 per cent in his Class 6 examinations.
Experts in the city have said, that while special schools for autistic children do help them get over problems in social interaction and self-expression, they are often not well equipped to nurture their abilities. They also claimed that while mainstream schools manage to better challenge the child’s intellect, most of them do not manage to cater to the child’s special needs.
“Each system has half of the puzzle. What we need now is to merge both the systems so that these children are given the right environment and the best instruction to build their stren-gths. They are often quite talented in some area or the other,” said Jaya Sudhakar, a member of Forum for Autism, an NGO that works for autistic children.
“There are a number of schools that have implemented such systems, so we know it can be done. People just need to take the initiative,” she added.
Dr Vibha Krishnamurthy, a developmental paediatrician who works with Ummeed Child Development Center, said it is also important that autism be detected early. “It is important for parents, teachers and anyone else who has access to children to monitor them as it is easier to help them when they are younger. Media initiatives like the movie My Name is Khan and television serial Aap ki Antara have also helped increase awareness,” she said.