Child, the mentor of every parent : Mallika, mine

I have been deferring writing for some time. Every day brings forth so much, worth penning an article a day. Lazy or I can say misplaced priorities, I must say about myself.

Yesterday was a very eventful and memorable day for me! All thanks to our lovely daughter Mallika. She was awarded the scholarship in school for her meritorious work and excellence in Music, through her middle-school, classes 6-8, at Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, her school. Music is one of those intelligence that is not so common as maths and sciences, still we usually look down upon. Thankfully at our home, it is appreciated. The right brain enriches the left brain effectiveness and we invest significant time to facilitate the right.

Collecting the scholarship from eminent public servant, Mr. Lakhan Mehrotra formerly Secretary in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Government of India

Here are a couple of favourite compositions of the school. The school has many a music album to its credit. Mallika features in the choir..

Yes, over the last six months there has been a concern with her performance in other subjects, especially Maths and Sciences. Mallika is brilliant there too, but interest and passion is lacking. I have been running with her a little more purposefully to infuse the passion. I always feel bad if one does not perform to ones potential. I am sure she would realize hers soon.

What made me introspect more is one more episode that happened last night. We have been talking to Mallika about a great opportunity in a fellowship, Counter Speech Fellowship, that aims to expose a very young mind to a variety of perspectives, especially in the world that is getting influenced by the proliferation of Social Media. We have been having talks with Mallika about her inclinations and engaging interactions over Social Media, both overt and covert, in the last few months. We felt, some of them are not only unproductive but energy sapping and rendering her ineffective.

It was Oct 31st, the last date to fill the form for the Scholarship and time 8pm. When we went through the form, we realized it demands introspection and expression of oneself, not only in words but also she has to design a poster. Mallika was revising for her weekly test scheduled this morning. We spoke to Mallika, whether she would still like to fill the long form for the fellowship. She said she wants to. I just spoke to her broadly about the purpose of the questions and went to my room. She filled the form and did everything to be submitted before she called me to show. I said, if she is happy, just submit. It was almost 11pm.

And this morning I saw a copy of the form that came my way from the fellowship office. When I went through, I felt so inspired by Mallika’s expression, I am still overwhelmed. CHILD IS A MENTOR OF PARENT, Mallika mine. I felt like expressing. Here insights into what our young darling is blossoming into.

What excites you about the Counter Speech Fellowship?

The mind of an adolescent is always a tumultuous one, the heart is one that is often unexpressed and the thoughts are always confused ones. Many feel alone, unsure and weak. Many around us , harm those weaker than themselves to feel powerful. Many seem to feel eyes judgemental eyes on them even in an empty corridor. We are surrounded by individuals who frequently use the term “depressed” to describe their state of mind. People think its a joke and that it is okay to put somebody under a term that is not a very friendly one, something that may be racist ,sexist ,casteist or any other term which makes one feel low and discouraged. A lot of our ideas are influenced by the internet, which may or may not be giving our thoughts the right shape and direction. One always feels the need to be guarded and protected.This is the time of discovering oneself and of self-realisation . People should realize that it is NOT okay to close your eyes and take it or see someone else take it. Your voice, can make a difference.

As I see it, the counter speech fellowship is an opportunity to voice my opinions and engage with others who are my age and who believe that these same set of problems should be tackled. I want to know more about Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Well being, Embracing Diversity, Safe Spaces Online and Violent Extremism and learn better ways of making people aware of these issues .
This is why the Counter speech fellowship excites me.

Have you held any leadership position at school or outside of it? Tell us about some life lessons from that experience.

Yes, I have held a leadership position before. I have been elected as the representative of my class at school (Sardar Patel Vidyalaya) quite a few times.
Something I learnt while I was a class representative was that, all people are very very different. We all have our own set of likes and dislikes. You cannot control somebody ( it makes them rebel) and you should not take such condescending behaviour either . Everybody’s idea of an ideal individual differs. It is important to respect other’s thoughts as well as have your own opinions which one should have the courage to express. This is what, in my opinion , can make us better. I also think that one can be a good leader only when one listens to other opinions and learns to accommodate others.

The themes for the 2017 Fellowship are: Bullying, Body Positivity, Mental Wellbeing, Embracing Diversity, Creating Safe Spaces Online and Countering Violent Extremism. Tell us about a personal experience that makes you passionate about one or more of these themes.

I come from a modest middle class family. Ever since I was young, I have been taught to share, to include people , to always be open to learning. As a family we travel widely and try to experience and interact with new places and people.

I have attended various workshops on a variety of topics and am interested in the performing arts (I am trained Bharatanatyam dancer, a Carnatic music vocalist and a theatre person).

All my experiences have given me memories which I will cherish forever. But would it have been as memorable if it weren’t for the people? Would it possible to learn so many new things from new places and to gather such experiences randomly?
The beauty of life is in differences. In different cultures, traditions, thoughts , ideas and lives. Differences make our life more exciting , they give us something new to learn, to behold, to try , to explore.
It is funny , that one would feel more at home with their warm and friendly neighbour than a relative who appears to be cold. Relations are made not pre-decided. Diversity should be celebrated. A canvas is more beautiful when it has many colours. 🙂

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What a clarity in the young mind. So much we can facilitate to help her blossom. I shall commit more of myself to facilitate both Mallika and Svwara, along with Indira. God bless every young mind. Love.

Will add videos to this, as and when I find time.

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Empowerment to Excellence Program @ Dibrugarh University

The EMPOWERMENT TO EXCELLENCE Programme by CL Educate at Dibrugarh University has been a big learning experience for every active participant of the programme, including me in some sense. The impact in the four days has been no less than ‘transformational’, as most students shared. Of course, a 2-day outbound program preceding this would have been even more impactful and life-changing.
‘Empowerment to Excellence’ at Dibrugarh University was a four-day intense, interactive programme to initiate and facilitate every student of Engineering and Management faculty to –

  • Understand one-self
  • Create a vision for oneself, for one’s career and life
  • write a “Statement of Purpose” : Set Long term and Short term goals
  • Realize the elements of personal effectiveness, and plan to work on self
  • Understand the secrets of an effective communicator
  • Identify ones strengths and areas of concern for improvement
  • Be a good participant and contributor in group discussions and group activities
  • Be an effective presenter and communicator
  • Reflect, introspect and realize areas for action, from ones participation in the program
  • set an agenda and action plan for personal growth
  • Commitment to one’s own development and also development of the entire group

The program schedule, session plan and process were as per the agreed frame work. We adhered to the schedule given, to a great extent. The session plan for GD / Communication underwent a little change due to change in the number of participants.

My reflections at the end of the programme –

  1. “Awakening”: Managed to infuse energy and purposefulness among the participants
  2. Every participant has been shaken, active ones have woken up to his or her potential and the possibilities; they are charged to push themselves to give their best
  3. Many have started working on their “Statement of Purpose”; the dialogue is on regularly in the whatsapp groups
  4. The barriers between the departments have been broken; For the first time they got to know about the students from other departments as they worked in cross-functional teams in various sessions. By the end of the programme they gelled as if they all are one.
  5. The realization among the students that the campus has enough resources within to create productive interactions and activities to sharpen their skills; They have promised to engage themselves at least once a month
  6. The participants realized how they can effectively use the social media platforms to further their career goals; They shared about these as the sessions progressed

At the end of this program, and with my experience at IWSB and other universities, I am convinced that –

  1. “Empowerment to Excellence” programme should be preceded by an outbound program, where the participants have to challenge themselves in many situations, mostly physical or strategic in nature; that helps every student push boundaries and realize his or her immense capabilities.
  2. “Empowerment to Excellence” should be integral to every university programme, especially every university that we are facilitating. All our other programmes will be immensely effective if we take student through this programme.
  3. This program should be in the second year of the four-year undergraduate program (like BE/BTech) and in the first year of Post-grad programme; We should have this before the academic year commences. And must be a compulsory programme, as it is beyond imagination of any student, how it can really impact.

With such a series of initiatives, students will become very purposeful and it will become integral to every students thoughts and actions. This could make a huge difference to their journey in the university, with student working towards his/her goal, empowering oneself with all that he or she needs to excel in career and life.

Student’s Presentations, Reflections and Feedback

A. Kindly watch the videos of a few presentations and reflections of the participants at the end of the programme, uploaded on the youtube channel of CL Educate, under

Dibrugarh University : Empowerment to Excellence playlist –

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYIF2mj1kyOCmToc2rx3pJsgw3qMI-3dx

Presentation sample – Most of them were presenting for the first time ever in front of a couple of hundred audience from across the departments of the University

Reflection of learning – Sample –

These set of videos also showcase the effectiveness and impact of the programme through

– The reflections of shifts made by the participants and

– Commitment of participants for their own future and that of the group


Delighted to see the feedback of students on SURVEYMONKEYt –

– Over 80% of the students have rated the conceptual sessions ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very good’

– Over 70% have rated the Drills / Group Activities / Presentations sessions ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very good’. We made sure that every one got a couple of drills, still that is not enough. More and more practice needed here. Unfortunately we had time constraint. I have asked the students to do their own drills. Shall continue to push them through Whatsapp.

– Over 90% have rated the facilitators ‘Outstanding’ or ‘Very good’

Of course we can always be better than what we are. Hope we will continue on that path.

In another post, I shall share part of the PDF with detailed feedback that a few students shared. Their delight in their personal growth through the four days comes through these sharing.

Inspiring Excellence of Families and School : DPS Patna

It was a pleasure facilitating both teachers and families in separate sessions at DPS Patna. Each session was of over two hours, though short, were very invigorating and inspiring.

Can we enable ourselves, our children, our families and communities to be –

a. Eager learners,

b. Have courage to push the boundaries, not worried about “failing” and

c. Be humble whatever we achieve

If we are able to instill these three values, then our job is done…

Glad to have parents getting out of car on their way back when they spotted me by the drive way to say, “I came with a very different intention to talk to the Principal about future of my son, I am going away completely transformed. I will make sure that I invest at home and also with the parents work with school to make all the difference to every child”

 DPS Patna - Facilitating families excel

One of the teachers said, “I have been struggling with a challenge for the last six months, I found the reason and solution to it in these two hours. Thanks”

 DPS Patna, workshop for teachers - Striving for Excellence, Realizing potential

It was one of those days where I had to touch down at 8am and take off at 3pm, for I had another session with art world in Delhi, as my baby SPANDAN festival of Performing Arts has been underway at India Habitat Centre, with large format exhibition paying tribute to Iconic Institutions, movements and Gurus.

Thanks to Anup and Ragini of Career Launcher Patna, for facilitating and inspiring families in Patna to EXCEL.

Challenging the body, Challenges the mind! The universe is my playground then….

After almost a month long break, due to very cold early mornings, in the last couple of days I started getting again on my all terrain bicycle, for the customary 13 km ride. I have embraced the cycling mode of physical fitness a few months ago. I have always felt really good exerting myself every morning, or evening, if I miss the morning fitness regime. It has been running usually, and the six months of summer sees me in the pool, for an hour of non-stop swimming, very serious one – covering about 2 kms. Of course, the month long dance classes that come a couple of times in a year are also a great way to infuse energy!

Over the last couple of years, I have been inspired to see two of my friends, Sunil Batra (An eminent educationist) and S Jassal (An erudite, cultured, entrepreneurial Sardarji in our Sarita vihar neighbourhood) gaining extraordinary fitness, cycling. They lost oodles of flab and started looking younger by a couple of decades (both are in their fifties). I have been thinking of taking to the pedal for a while, as my knees and shin have given in to the wear and tear of three decades of sports, especially running.

The shift to our own house in the fringes of the green belt, the ridge that extends from Gurgaon through Delhi, in the neighbourhood of Asola wild life sanctuary, has been a blessing. The fresh air, the long winding ridge road that is out of bounds for heavy vehicles prompted me to quickly embrace cycling. And the morning 13-km ride, that takes about 45 minutes, is a revelation for me. It is for keeps, for life time perhaps.

I revel in physical exertion, as the hour invested in stretching the limits of my body, does a world of good to my mind and soul too. Every idea of my life has emerged from these strenuous, yet regaling hours on the road or in the pool. When the adrenalin gets pumped, the chemicals released create a compelling ‘thought space’ for me to explore my own self; grand ideas have got conceived and plans to execute them naturally flows. I never would want to trade this hour of self-exertion with anything.

Recently, the power of my physical fitness came to fore, a revelation, a reassurance to me too, and also a shocker for many CLites, when on the day of Sports Srijan (monthly creative activity at office to engage the entire CL family) at the Greater Noida campus; I challenged everyone to finish three rounds of the track; and I was the only one to finish and had so much more fuel still left within. And the very evening, for the finale, the finals of the cricket match, I was called in to play for one of the teams. Lo behold! I scored 38 of the 49 runs the team made in eight overs and we defeated the much fancied team by a dozen runs.

My regular attire of Indian kurta and pyjama conceals the real me and creates a false image, I realized, when every one came and asked, “Sir, kya raaj hai sir… aap dikhte nahin ho” [what is the secret, you do not look so]; I felt good and also got inspired by my own fitness. It has always kept me very positive and pushed me to think big.

This morning, when I woke up, and browsed my mobile I came across a very invigorating video on an adventurous mountain biker, Danny Macaskill. I could feel his vision, passion and compelling life of pushing boundaries! Here is the film….

Whenever I meet Sunil, I invariably also talk about his 40-km bicycle rides over the weekends. Recently he shared about his experiences of going on a 400-km ride in Rajasthan with fellow bicycling enthusiasts. I always felt doing it. Today, January 25th, Indira’s birthday (also being a Sunday), I chose to gift myself and the whole family a bright beginning, by pushing my body and mind further. The 42-km weekend cycling ride, my dream for long, took two-and-half hours and made me feel really good about myself. My body feels good, I feel good that I have been able to regale myself on this ride. This is going to be part of my regular regimen over the weekend now on.

I know for sure, that if I do over 100-kms every week, I shall be conquering more heights in my life, painting more canvasses of ideas, and the universe will certainly continue to be my play ground. I am making it happen for sure.

“Widen your horizons, build a well-rounded personality” – S K Munjal exhorts the youth at CL’s Career Junction

Career Junction @ constitution club, New DelhiSri S K Munjal, Vice-chair, Hero motorcorp, extolling the youth at Career Junction

INDIA is a very very interesting place to be today
– Every govt has done better than the previous one

– When we got independence, we called ourselves socialist democratic country, with market economy; very unusual and one of its kind
– It was a bipolar world, founders of non- aligned movement
– It address the needs of people and meets the needs of people
– We followed five year plan, borrowed from then USSR

– Everything was licensed, where, even quantity to be produced was also mentioned
– efficiency was penalized; greater production was penalized
– industry created liaising; how to get license, and how not to allow others from getting it
– monopolistic markets formed
– quality, consistency, choice, etc customer had no choice
– in 60-70s .. 2% GDP growth rate…Hindu growth rate
– Historically, a couple of hundred years ago, we were growing at 20% china grew at 30%

– Soon, India will be the single largest, in population
– we need to find an employment for 12-15 million people year on year for next 20 years
– We run a school in Ludhiana, for children of industrial workers, all come from UP, Bihar
– we are encouraging people to bring families, so that children get educated
– in the last year 12 in the top 50 of the state, last to last year state topper
– I am sharing this coz, if not for such opportunities, these would have never been benefitted

– if one of you becomes an entrepreneur, you will create jobs; imagine what one can do
– Now 8 year olds, 11-12 year olds are becoming entrepreneurs
– education gives added advantage

– We are trying to build a university that will be nursery for world leaders
– We bring in leaders and corporates to create learning experiences

– A large part of our economy comes from services
– Manufacturing is 16%
– Agriculture creates less and less jobs, we need tech, systems and process to make it better
– We are the largest producer of veg, milk, ….
– We are low on yield
– 54% of population still dependent on agriculture

– Every manufacturing job creates, 6 services jobs… Whole host of activities get created
– If we are to grow in every sense, it is expected that in real terms 3rd largest economy in 13 years
– Opportunities are immense
– there are areas within manufacturing that are large multipliers
– the policies on infrastructure creation can make a huge difference
– You create industrial complexes, suppliers, institutions…..entrepreneurs..
– Auto motive complex attracts ancillaries, suppliers
– In the US – steel, auto motives, home were in the order…..
– Example – 107 companies produces stuff for home infra
– Lack of infra, red tape, corruption are putting India down

– One of the recommendations made is to change interfaces between govt and industry, govt and people
– Get rid off all human human interaction. Get technology for interface…
– Please only looks at the best and better it; look at the country and better it …
– starting the companies..let us better Singapore; Law, better than Malaysia..
– you should be able to go and settle anywhere in the country

– plan your work, work your plan
– have passion, you can cover all the handicaps
– if you are driven by passion, no time limits
– today ministers are working overtime
– ‘why should not we be a 20 trillion dollar economy’ – Modi said; very inspiring, a profound statement
– biggest problems gives best opportunities

– infra is the biggest problems…..largest conceived Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor
– high speed rail network corridor….100 Kim’s of industrial belt, smart cities
– smart cities are planned cities
– we have created only 5 cities in 60 years, china has built Over 100
– these cities will have tech, energy, food, logistics, places and work close, efficient mass transport system; water management systems… Clusters
– 7 seven smart cities have been signed
– modeled after Tokyo-Osaka corridor
– kol- Amritsar, Bangalore-chennai
– airports, highways
– waterways

– find opportunity for yourselves
– Abraham Lincoln failed so many times before becoming the President of the US
– Sunil Mittal failed seven times,….look at their perseverance,
– Sunil changed every model to become the best model in the world..

– You experiment with life..take sensible risks
– do not take wild gamble, take smart gamble
– opportunities in the new economy are new
– ecommerce companies valued higher than retail companies
– tech and communication is breaking all the barriers
– we are servicing the world
– we have opportunities; are literally all around us
– food processing, transportation; water, education, financial education
– SIP – saving and investment plan is an interesting

– 16% of world’s gold is in India lying idle??? if we can convert an instrument in making this financial opportunity
– world class companies have huge percentage of Indians
– never teach any one the answers, always ask them questions, so they go to find answers

– widen your horizons.. Learn about liberal arts, humanities
– Work towards lateral thinking, well balanced and well-rounded personality.

Wishing you all the very best.

Reinforcements and Realizations this week !

Do what you really love… Life is such a beautiful gift to unfurl the infinite potential within. What ever do, do it in such a way that none in the world could do it!

DO NOT get trampled by others expectations! DO NOT feel guilty and carry the burden!

When you excel, all those who dissuaded you or opposed you will come around. They will first grudgingly acknowledge, then reluctantly accept and then finally celebrate.

YOU CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE EVERY DAY WITH EXCELLENCE!

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SPANDAN 2014 - SPACES and CURATION - dedicated to all gurus who have excelled in their journey of infinity

The World is your arena, play with purpose; The world is your stage, dance with dedication; The world is your canvas, paint with passion. No one can stop you… go! Just do it!

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Aham-Bramhasmi – I am the creator! Life is all about purposefulness; work with that focus and perseverance; turn every adversity into an opportunity. If your really want it, you will make it, as you will chase it at any cost. No one can stop you…The whole world is within.

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ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः
सर्वे सन्तु निरामयाः ।
सर्वे भद्राणि पश्यन्तु
मा कश्चिद्दुःखभाग्भवेत् ।
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥
Om Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah
Sarve Santu Nir-Aamayaah |
Sarve Bhadraanni Pashyantu
Maa Kashcid-Duhkha-Bhaag-Bhavet |
Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

Meaning:
1: Om, May All become Happy,
2: May All be Free from Illness.
3: May All See what is Auspicious,
4: May no one Suffer.
5: Om Peace, Peace, Peace.
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Purpose, Vision, Passion, Conviction and Execution…. make an individual push new boundaries in the journey of realizing potential !

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“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” – Salvador Salvador Dalí

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“Autism and a dad” – Yash Gupta (batchmate, class of 1996, IIMB) shares his learning in a book

Albert-Einstein GenuisI was the chairman of one of our schools, Indus World School in Hyderabad, between 2006 and 2008. We were scouting for a principal and eventually narrowed down to one gentleman, lovingly called JP, a father figure, who had a strong grounding at JIDDU Krishnamurthy’s Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh. Since IWS has been envisioned as child-centric and learner-centric school, we co-opted JP to be the principal of the school.

Soon, we came to meet a young man into his 20s, JP’s son, who was very sharp in thinking yet child-like in behavior, at times seemed to be very adamant. We realized that he was autistic. He loved being with other children, and was very active too. JP, his wife and daughter took good care of this child-like young man. Our schools made sure that we follow inclusiveness and help such children to get integrated with the normal children. We succeeded in integrating quite a few children, with tender care.Different but no less

This morning, I received a mail from one of batch-mates of class of 1996, IIM Bangalore, sharing his journey with Autism, when his family realized at the age of two, the condition of his child. The last five years have been a great challenge, and they are facing it with a great resolve, which made YASH write a book on how to face Autism, from the perspective of a dad! Here is his mail….

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I have authored a book – yes, an actual book. A paperback.

Many times life throws a curve ball and we try to deal with it. My kid, now seven, fell into autism at age two. He is a lovely child. He was lovely and sociable before age two and is lovely now and getting there.

This is my story – from the eyes of a dad facing autism. This was something I was unprepared for in 2006, when autism came home to us. If you see one of the videos in the book, it shows my kid as a gregarious one year old in Singapore. He was the darling of all. All that changed in a short time. The last 5 years have been tumultuous for our family. Initially there was disbelief and heartbreak. Then of course, we started on the arduous task of getting him back on track. As usual, Vijnan, my dear friend, played his part in helping me.

To cut to the chase, I wrote this book primarily to pass on the guidance and help I received from various parents in similar situations. In some ways autism is worse Someone with autism has taught me to think outside the box[6]than cancer. It strikes the young. It changes families. Then there are parents who have taken their kids totally off the spectrum using therapies and other techniques. I know of at least one kid who is now excelling in mainstream school. However, the spectrum is broad and something which helped one kid may not apply to another. That is the challenge thrown to parents. I cannot tell you how many times I have felt my brain exploding just thinking about what to do and how to do it..

It’s my heartfelt wish to get this book in the hands of all the fathers who feel powerless and unsure of what to do. It is neither a panacea nor intended thus. Even if it helps one kid through the parent, I will be glad. I am positive it will. We have come quite some way in our struggle to understand, accept and move forward with determination. I am waiting for the day when autism will be found, tried and exiled. Till then the kids need all the help they can get.

My work is available at Amazon.com, Amazon.in, Amazon.jp and across the world as “Autism and a dad”. It took me 4 years to write it with everything else that was going on.

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Autism and a DAD, listed on AMAZON.,  the brief states…

Autism and a DadThe book explores the role of Dads as the focal point in the struggle over autism. Since most books are by mothers, I felt the need to write down my experiences as a father with a child on the spectrum and share the guidance received from other fathers.
Dealing with autism needs to be considered a race. Many times dads seem to think better on those lines – Something akin to the Iditarod in Alaska – A project to be embarked upon with the ultimate challenge to be not only completing the race but most important, planning for the milestones in advance. These are Insurance, Biomedicals, Special services and Therapy. Dads need to aim to get a coterie of important professionals around them early on and believe in them to avoid information overload in terms of therapies and biomedicals.

All of us are autistic. We differ only in degrees. It is difficult to tell at what point in our upbringing our caregivers should have intervened to broaden our vision. However, when we do see a young child of two struggling to make a connection, we cannot sit back and let nature take its course. We have to rise to the challenge nature has thrown to the child’s parents.

There are many aspects of dealing with autism. Running away from the problem is a way out. Why not take up the challenge instead, as for a long-playing activity. The benefits are too many to enumerate.

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We all are with Yash and Neera in this challenging journey! God Bless !

(thanks to the www and the original creators of these beautiful quotes, that have embellished my post)

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