DR RADICA MAHASE
Arav, My Shining Star
by Veena Ramroop-Kissoon
As I write these words, I highlight your name
For there will be a day, you may read the same
Know in your heart you are truly loved
Our autism journey is a blessing from above.
In my eyes you are my shining star
As long as I am here, I will never be afar
Your words to me are to be kind to others
This I have been being your mother
Each day goes I am proud of you
For all the incredible things that you do
I love you always till my days are done
You will always and forever be my son
The above poem was written by Veena, a proud autism mom. This week, Veena is sharing her experiences with us:
“My name is Veena Ramroop-Kissoon. I am a proud mother of a kind, compassionate and genuine kid, Arav Kissoon. He is nine years of age and has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism is different for each person and so too is the journey of each autism parent. Arav always tells me 'Mummy, sharing is caring' so I have chosen to share our autism journey.
"Nine years ago, when my shining star was born, we were blessed tremendously with his presence. We took precautions for his safety and care as he was premature. As a toddler his mobility and speech were not on par with the ‘books’. We did not see this as a hindrance and proceeded to shower him with love. Without any form of therapy, Arav’s speech began just as he turned four years. His reading was self-taught – he would read books of different volumes, story books and even the newspaper. At age five, he was fluent in the English, Spanish and French alphabets.
"Arav has been home-schooled and he is a smart, intelligent, observant kid with a very creative and inquisitive mind. He is passionate about cars, Legos and any other gadgets that require cognitive thinking. He enjoys helping and often wants to give his toys as charity. Whenever we indulged in charity he will say 'Be kind to others and God will bless you'.
"He is not a kid to participate in ‘normal’ play. He prefers to draw, or be creative by building, constructing or attempting to make potions. He will not stop until his mission is completed. He refers to himself as ‘Arav the scientist’ but changes his career spontaneously. He is overwhelmed in crowds and does not like his things rearranged, otherwise he becomes emotionally distressed.
"Each child may have a favourite toy – Arav is fascinated with Hot Wheels or cars in general. He would neatly arrange his cars in a line – in his mind he is constructing parkades, car meets and even highway traffic. He would often accompany his dad to car events with some of his replica Hot Wheels and proceed to name all the vehicles present. His memory is astonishing.
"In his early childhood, Arav displayed delayed development and characteristics of autism. Family members saw it, but being a mom who always believes in God, I was in denial that my child could be on a spectrum other than being normal. I would always say he will strive when the time is right, not aware there was an actual term to categorised his motions and behavioural patterns. To me, he has been a God-sent angel and he did strive in his own time and in a way unbelievable to many.
"Since both his dad and I are employed, he got the best childcare and support – that of his late grandmom. He would say he attends 'Grandmom Preschool.' My mother-in-law played a major role in the upbringing of Arav. She never fell short in nurturing him with motherly love. My son had the ultimate privilege of receiving her unconditional love. It’s sad that she is no longer with us and he does not recall all that she did but he is aware though that his super grandmom is in heaven in God’s care. After her passing, thankfully there were his aunties and nanny, especially his Aunty T. who play a pivotal role in his upbringing. He still had the security he needed while we worked and with family support, we continued to home-school him.
"We became aware of Arav’s diagnosis when we were seeking advice on his motor skills as he has a low tolerance for writing. His diagnosis gashed me a bit but I was not shattered. By then I had seen his growth, development and progress within his toddler years without any form of professional therapy, just our love and encouragement. I have full faith in my child’s ability and I know that his development is not done and there are more accomplishments to be seen.
"I have learnt that patience, understanding and resilience are key factors in dealing with the sudden tantrums. It can be overwhelming at times, especially being a working mom, but I am my child’s comfort zone. I chose to pick myself up and go again as he is my motivation, my strength and my shining star. There are days I may be breathless, but when I think of him and the comfort, care and guidance he needs from me, I am determined to get through it.
"I want that he is accepted and included in society and not be seen only as a child with a disability. I want that the world can see him for who he is, as this is where he ought to be. Even though his abilities are exceptional, he is also God’s creation and I am blessed to be his mom. Each day I pray that his wishes always become a reality.
"There are so many lessons kids on the spectrum can teach us – kindness so the world can be a better place; forgiveness; faith to accept/overcome life’s challenges; and the gift of love. In every ‘imperfection’ there is perfection and if we look within our kids, we will see perfect little angels awaiting their time to bloom.
"Our failures do not define our parenting, but the strategies we use to overcome them. It’s ok if your journey is different than others; just believe that you are doing your best. The struggle may be challenging, demanding and complicated at times but within all these is a hidden blessing. Motherhood shows us who we really are, as we discover strength we didn’t know existed. Our kids’ autism world is beautiful, embrace it with love and see how each one of them makes a difference. Your autism journey is not a competition to meet a certain milestone. It’s embracing your own unique pathway and finding joy in every step along the way. Remember, behind every young child who believed in him/herself is a parent who believed first.”
Radica Mahase is the founder/director of Support Autism T&T