World World Autism Awarness Day special: Children of a better god
It’s said that we all have one unique talent gifted to us at the time of birth. Those of us who are lucky, discover it soon, while others spend a lifetime trying to find it.These young adults with autism already know their true calling and they are making the best of it to live an enriching life.They remind us of these beautiful words by psychologist Colin Zimbleman, “Autism offers a chance for us to glimpse an awe-filled vision of the world that might otherwise pass us by.” Using their unique talents such as painting, singing and designing, these incredible young people are doing their bit to make this world a happier place. We took them to meet luminaries from various walks of life to help carve out a career they love. Read their inspiring stories:
A number wizard who loves design
Devesh Kumar’s autism was detected when he was eight months old. At two, he joined a school for children with special needs. “There were times when we had to tie him to a chair because he was super active. I got heartless remarks from people and stopped taking him out,” says his mother, Anjali Kumar. Now, 27, Devesh is a design and technology enthusiast and Anjali is proud of her son. Devesh works from home to create e-commerce ads. He met noted tech guru and columnist Rajiv Makhni and surprised him with his calendar calculation skills. “He is a genius. I can’t believe that he is so good with numbers,” said Makhni.
A song on my lips, a prayer in my heart
Rahul Menon, 23, is totally fascinated by cops. When he enters his school, he salutes his teachers. He is also religious and goes to the temple every evening. When we requested Rahul to sing for us, he impressed us with his soulful rendition of dohas from Ramcharitmanas. A fan of all things Bollywood, Rahul came to Fever 104 studios to sing along with popular RJ Stutee Ghosh. He switched from his favourite bhajans to Bollywood hits. Rahul will be soon learning Indian classical music at Gandharva Mahavidyalaya. “His singing reminded me of old bhajans that we learnt in school. It was such a pleasure to have him. God has blessed him with utter innocence and his voice reaches straight to your heart,” says Ghosh.
Baking beautiful dreams
When he was a kid, academics didn’t interest Ankit Bharadwaj at all. His parents were worried about his future. At 16, Ankit and his parents realised that nothing excited him like baking. He would spend hours in the kitchen watching his mom bake, and soon he started baking cakes himself. In 2007, he trained to be a baker at Tamana Special School. Now, the 32-year-old is an assistant at the bakery in the school. We took him to meet talented chef Siddharth Chogle at Kiara Soul Kitchen, a restaurant that focuses on vegetarianism. The chef taught Ankit how to plate dishes creatively. Ankit impressed everyone with his enthusiasm to learn.
Duty, dedication define this young man
Gaurav Bahuria, 27, loves working on the computer. He always wanted to be a white-collar worker. After training, he was appointed as a front desk officer at one of Tamana Special School’s centers. We took him to meet corporate honcho Vinamra Shastri, of the professional services firm, Grant Thornton. Gaurav’s eyes lit up with joy as we entered the posh and newly built office in Aerocity. When Shastri gave him a tour of the highly technologically developed space, he said, “I would love to work in such an office.” Shastri was very impressed by Gaurav. “Gaurav is an inspiration. Young people like him shatter all myths about autism. What his school and family have done is phenomenal,” said Shastri. Gaurav also got a few invaluable tips from Shastri on how to succeed in corporate life.
Painting the world pretty
Jitin Kewalramani, 30, paints beautiful flowers on walls and landscapes on canvas. He joined Tamana Special School when he was eight. “When Jitin came to us, his parents had no hope that he would grow out of autism and learn anything. We realised that he had a desire to paint. When he paints, he gets completely absorbed. He is doing great,” says Dr Shayama Chona, founder-president of the school, a noted academic and Padma Bhushan awardee. The school has set up an art gallery to feature Jitin’s art work. “We wish that someday his artwork gets recognised. We want him to hone his art and be able to earn for himself,” says Dr Chona.