(Five out of ten leading causes of disability around the world are mental health issues. As part of a series of articles leading up to World Health Day on 7 April, The Quint is focusing on raising awareness and mobilising support.)
Growing up, one keeps a close eye on their child’s development, right from day one. When will they start speaking, when will they start walking; there’s a chart for everything.
The same happened with Sharmita Bhinder. Speaking at an event, she narrated the ongoing journey of her younger son Manav, who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger Syndrome exists as part of the autism spectrum.
She doesn’t want people to hear about him as a sob story, but with an attitude of equality.
Over time, they realised that Manav was physically slow, but his thinking abilities were much higher than an average child of his age.
Sharmita BhinderWhen he was 6 or 7 years old, there were emotional issues, no eye contact and couldn’t button up his shirt properly, but had all the general knowledge. We didn’t know where he was picking up all the information from.
She says he was brilliant on one side, but odd on the other.
He took things too literally. If angrily, you told him to get out of the house, he would literally go out and stand.
There is a lack of knowledge and information around special needs children. Sharmita says that nobody is interested in them, we don’t accept them socially, and we only do charity work.
She wants to change that and has been working towards it through her NGO EmPOWER.