Mumbai: Sixteen-year-old Nehal Tiwari hasn’t had it easy. The teenager was diagnosed with autism when she was three years old. Since then, she has come a long way, but the journey has been a tough one.
“We enrolled her to one of the play groups and there they tied her with tape to make her sit in one place”, her mother Seema recalls.
But today, Nehal has passed her ICSE Class 10 board exams with 74 per cent marks – a result that has brought immense joy to her parents.
“She was able to overcome challenges she has faced as a child and come out with flying colours. It is a proud moment for us as parents”, her father Anupam told media.
Nehal isn’t just academically bright; from painting to playing the keyboard, she does it all too well. She can also tell you within seconds which day a particular date falls on – up until 2099.
“She has a fantastic memory. She remembers when we bought the washing machine, fridge and almost everything else we have at home. She remembers all the dates from when we visited Shirdi in the last seven years”, her mother said proudly.
Nehal is a high functional autistic child, which means she has some fixations. The fan and lights must be off when no one is in the room.
“There was also a time when she would stand in front of a lift for hours and watch it go up and down. We had to then teach her it was normal”, her mother said.
Nehal is uncomfortable with eye contact and has problems with her speech and motor skills but the biggest challenge still remains to be an active social life.
“She has no friends. It’s not that she doesn’t want to have friends, but because she can’t communicate it is difficult for others to maintain a friendship with her”, her mother added.
When it comes to her sister however, Nehal isn’t afraid of expressing her affection at all.
“I share an intimate relationship with Vaidicka”, Nehal said as she hugged her sister.
It may have been a challenging life for Nehal and her family, but there is one message they’d like to give out.
“We have been told medication is available. We have to understand it is not a disease, it is a disorder,” her father told media.