It is a proud moment for Kapse family as their elder son works as a quality analyst at JP Morgan, a global leader in financial services.
But, 25-year-old Mihir Kapse had to face innumerable struggles to reach this stage of life as he has a mild autism disorder.
“All this has come after many hardships. We were not only fighting with his disorder, but with the outside world as well, where children like him are not easily accepted,” said Janhavi Kapse, Mihir’s mother.
The Kalyan-based family came to know about Mihir’s autism disorder when he was 10-year-old.
“Initially, he was suffering from learning disability and dyslexia. Though he finished his schooling till class X, he often had to face discrimination in school,” says Janhavi.
However, Janhavi takes pride in the fact that non-acceptance and discrimination did not deter her son, who enjoyed his own company and is a happy-go-lucky child. For her, he is living a normal and a successful life.
“From childhood, he was fond of computer. His laptop was his favourite possession and so, he studied B-Tech in Computer from Pune Engineering college in 2015,” Janhavi added.
Having endured the struggle for years, Janhavi said her son is not the only one battling to find acceptance in the society.
“There are many Mihirs in different parts of our country, especially in remote areas, who are struggling with autism or other mental disorders. They require right kind of attention, education and treatment. As a parent and a responsible citizen, I feel we need to sensitise our society about these disorders as only awareness can help us to treat everyone equally,” she said.
In India, about 18 million people suffer from autism. Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal and one-third of people with autism have an intellectual disability. Mumbai’s Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital at Sion receives around 80 to 90 cases of autism children every year.
As education is the key for successful life, Dr Harish Shetty, Psychiatrist at Dr LH Hiranandani Hospital expressed his concern over denying education to a child with autism.
“Child suffering from autism is still denied admission at normal schools. Among the different strata of our society, the lower socio-economic group child is still ignored. So, we still have a long way to achieve development in this sector,” said Shetty.
As an advice, he said all stakeholders should be made aware about autism or any other kind of mental disorder.
Dr Alka Subramanyam, Associate Professor and In-charge of Autism Diagnostic Centre and Autism Dynamic Interventions, at Topiwala National Medical College & BYL Nair Charitable Hospital , said, “For complete inclusion of individuals with autism, we cannot stop at provisions at an educational level alone, but must extend that to gainful employment . At present, there are only a handful of companies which hire individuals with autism in India. Hopefully, the new Disability Bill will change this (in the Bill, autism is included for the first time unlike earlier PDA) and we will see more opportunities for these adults.”
“These centres would serve as a stepping stone between the educational institutes and a full-fledged job, leading to preparedness in an individual with autism to deal with a job in the real world,” Subramanyam said.
Dr Samir Dalwai, Developmental Paediatrician at New Horizons Child Development Centre stressed on the point of early detection.
“Parents must insist on qualified teams- doctors and therapists working together-to ensure best results. They need to ensure accountability by asking for reports and notes and documented plans for intervention. Everything must be measured. Improvement takes time. Arbitrary intervention in anything leads to arbitrary results. Autism is not something that can be left to half measures. Because early and professional intervention can show remarkable improvements.”