Mumbai: Board allows autistic student a writer after months of struggle

Exams can be a stressful affair even in the best of circumstances, but for an autistic student, the run up to the HSC exams has been particularly nerve-wracking as he wasn’t even sure whether he would be able to appear for the exam.

Also read: Autistic Std XII student fights for right to writer

mid-day report
mid-day's report on Nov 13, 2014

After months of fighting for his right to an exam writer, however, the state board finally approved his request yesterday. This comes just in time to ensure the 18-year-old can sit for the written exams that begin in less than two weeks, on February 21.

This paper had highlighted Rajeev Nimkar’s (name changed) struggle three months ago, when doctors at the testing centre at Nair Hospital denied him approval for a substitute writer (‘Autistic student fights for right to writer’, mid-day, Nov 13, 2014). As per rules, any student who needs concessions during board exams has to submit Form No 5 along with their registration form to the board. This form first needs to be approved by the school or college principal, and then by doctors at any of the recognised testing centres.

Nimkar, in fact, is known to be a fairly good student at Guru Harkrishan Junior College, but needed a writer during the SSC exams two years ago due to stress issues.

“His only problem is that when he gets too stressed, he can’t write and this can be a problem during exams. Therefore, we insisted on a substitute writer but the authorities refused to budge,” said Rekha Vijaykar, a senior director (school operations) at ADAPT — an organisation working to support children with special needs. It was this very stress that prevented him from performing during the tests at Nair Hospital, but this was not taken into account.

Despite the fact that he had documents to prove he was autistic, and had already been allowed the use of a substitute writer earlier, the doctors did not approve his request. Refusing to give up, his parents and the school management approached the state board directly for help.

Board says
“We approve writers based on the case, and in this student’s case, we needed the approval of the Pune director as well. We are glad that it worked out for the student,” said Laxmikant Pande, chairman of the Mumbai divisional state board.

While the student and his parents are ecstatic and are busy with exam preparations, Vijaykar said, “Students with disability need support from everyone in the society and the board’s quick response just brings hope to many other students. We are glad that this student will not have to miss an academic year.”

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