South Mumbai school welcomes autistic boy

Jul 19, 2012, 07:01 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon

Moved by MiD DAY's report on eight schools refusing admission to Abhinav Tewari on account of his disabilities, trustees of Dunnes School in Colaba asked its principal to accommodate him

A day after MiD DAY reported on the travails of a retired army man and his wife to secure admission for their ‘special needs’ child in any of the city’s ‘regular’ schools, Dunnes School in Colaba opened its gates to the boy (‘Eight schools shut their doors on Autistic boy,’ July 18).

Lt Colonel (retd) S K Tewari and his wife Shweta had moved to Mumbai from Raipur a few months ago for the mainstreaming of their nine-year-old child Abhinav, but had been shunned by no less than eight schools in the city. MiD DAY’s report, however, touched the right chord and conveyed the story of their predicament to people who cared.

The trustees of the South Mumbai school called its principal, Charu Nautiyal, who then offered to accommodate the child. Welcoming the boy on board, she said that a few other autistic children were already enrolled as students in the school.

Nautiyal said, “The school trustees Viraf Chiniwala and Armaity Khrushahi were touched after reading the article and immediately phoned me, asking if I could accommodate Abhinav. The spontaneous reaction from my end was ‘yes’.”

“We already have a few special children in our school who are doing very well, and we will be happy to have Abhinav in our school. Also, since Abhinav stays in Juhu, we can allow his mother to stay with him during school hours,” said the principal.

Dr Mithu Alur, founder chairman of the National Resource Centre for Inclusion and a member of the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE), Delhi, rang up the newspaper to say, “I had mentioned that I had felt the pain and anxiety of the parents. It was the same feeling I had as a mother in this country 40 years ago when there was no school for my daughter Malini. They have all my support.”

“We are pleased with the response. We are hopeful that the school and other people of Mumbai will come forward and support our cause,” said S K Tewari.

Readers respond
MiD DAY’s mailboxes and phones were flooded with messages of support from readers willing to help the parents

Swati Gawde, Kandivli (East),
My son Sarthak Gawde also has ADHD disabilities with dysgraphyia (writing problems), dyscalculia (counting problems), poor motor development, short attention span. But he is not autistic. As we take him for therapy sessions every day along with homeopathic medicines, we can see notable changes in his overall performance. 

As a mother, I have suffered a lot of difficulties without firm support from my family or society. So I can understand the pain experienced by Abhinav’s parents. Please send me their contact details so I can offer them my support.

Rohan’s mother, Netherlands,
Let me begin by congratulating Shweta Tewari on the wonderful way she is bringing up her son Abhinav, who has been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyper Activity disorder. Hats off to you for not only training him at home, but also training yourself. Also, compliments to the Colonel, who relocated for the sake of Abhinav. Abhinav couldn’t have wished for better parents.

Having a four-and-a-half year old son who is diagnosed with PDD-NOS Autism, I know how day-to-day life is. But I must add that living in the Netherlands is much more easier than it is in India.

My son sat in an observation group for six months where he was observed by a team of medical experts and was given basic training on communication. Here in the Netherlands, they have not only special autism schools that cater to children, but also schools for children who are chronically ill, physically/mentally handicapped, deaf or blind. India has to go a long way before it can even begin to understand the plight of parents and their children.

Rayomand Banajee, Bandra,
I just happened to read your story about Abhinav Tewari in today’s paper. It is really sad to hear the way he is unable to get admission. I own and run a professional go-kart racing team. Along the way I have worked with a couple of dyslexic children and also a kid with Asperger’s syndrome. I have seen these kids improve tremendously with the work we have done with them. I would appreciate it if you can please give me the parents’ contact details.

Katie Bhathena, Juhu,
I just finished reading your article. It was heart wrenching indeed, but does Lt Col (retd) S K Tewari know what is in store for his son if and when he does get into any of his preferred schools? Children can be very cruel and their attitude towards a ‘special’ child can be very disturbing and heartbreaking, especially to his parents. And Abhinav needs to be tough to face the onslaught of these more ‘priviledged’ students. I am not finding fault with anyone, just stating bare facts. Ask any parent of a dyslexic child. But Mumbai has some very good schools for children with ADHD where teachers have an amazing rapport with the children under their care. It’s a full time job for them. I have known many such children ... all of them have grown up doing very well for themselves, achieving much and making their parents proud.

Please give me the contact details of the parents so I can help them and put them in touch with people who can help. To you, a big thank you for bringing the plight of the Tewaris to your readers. 

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