Priti Gomes is a childhood friend, an earlier neighbour and we also worked together briefly in a bank. Always cheerful, egging me to learn jiving and full of life, Priti settled in a happy marriage with Conrad. A blissful life was blessed with a timely conception and Raul was born. Being the first born in the maternal family, he was the most pampered kid. Raul’s eyes had the best twinkle and Priti’s eyes gleamed with joy and sometimes glistened due to tears. Raul is a Special child and Priti is a Special mother. Few years later Runa entered their lives as a sibling to Raul. Life seemed a full circle.
Priti relates to the early days as a ‘phase’ when they discovered that Raul was special. There were therapies, new routines, arranging finance, domestic chores, raised eyebrows, questioning relatives, quizzical stares by strangers and some days were overwhelming. But she was adamant when life challenged her. She recounts that the regular school was something that is unforgettable. She was made to sit out or wait for Raul but she was happy that Raul went to school. It got tough when she was pregnant with Runa but her determination was high. Conrad regularly supported her and was a great help at home too.
Priti says, ‘Special children make their parents special. I soon realized that he needs a special school that will take care of his needs and bring focus on his abilities. As our big boy is approaching the tenth grade, I have decided to home school him and take up vocational courses. Actually, Raul never troubles me, he is very adjusting. He has his own charm especially when he dons the formals. So I only need to adjust a bit. The only tough thing about parenting a special child is ‘ACCEPTANCE’. Accepting that they need a different routine, accepting that they live in a different world and understanding that they are blessed with special qualities and accepting they need special education. The last one is the toughest decision.
Priti feels that support groups and forums are lacking in India. Though the concept of NIOS is helping many students enjoy education in a special way, it is important to have more vocational approaches so that the children are independent. Also, when you have a special child, opportunity does not always knock at the door. More so, you will have to build the opportunity and knock many doors.
She recommends that having another child is always important for special parents albeit after all medical tests and evaluation by experienced doctors. Priti says, “Having Runa I realized that it brings in a different perspective and siblings bond so well. Runa and Raul are inseparable and share a special bond. They have their tiffs and vie for my attention. We have our regular family outings and Raul simply enjoys the day outs. The most important thing is to make an effort to travel with a special child so that they get good exposure and slowly they outgrow their inhibitions. Also it is essential to invest in therapy, special educators and also learn a few skills to revise with your child. Raul loves cooking and I am a great cook too. Right now we are exploring what is best for him, till then we shall cook a few meals together”.
Talking to Priti, I realized that a mother always dreams big for her children, bigger dreams if the child is special.