Resilience is a much-admired virtue. However, the acquiring of resilience requires that an individual go through a trying situation, difficult circumstances, in some cases, even tragedy, to “strengthen the muscles in our backbone”, as Sheryl Sandberg writes so eloquently in ‘Option B’.
My moment of difficulty, my precursor to acquiring resilience, came 12 years ago. One crisp, sunny morning, my son Vir, my sweet, shy little boy, received a diagnosis of autism. With that, my world was shattered. I spent days crying my eyes raw and nights agonizing over Vir’s future, conjuring up worst-case scenarios in my head.
But unknown to me, during those wretched days and sleepless nights, the muscles in my backbone were slowly and steadily acquiring strength. This strength surfaced at random moments – when a well-meaning but obviously inquisitive aunt told me that there must be something “wrong’ with my son and I gently but firmly corrected her, explaining the condition to her in detail; when I hesitantly told Vir’s teachers of his condition, sometimes receiving support and acceptance, at other times, exasperation and rejection; when I first wrote about the fact that Vir has autism on a parenting website, confronting my worst demons and baring my deepest secret to the world.
Over time, resilience took over from sadness and pity, forming a glossy sheen over my countenance. Resilience enabled me to join Ummeed Child Development Center, an organization working with children with disabilities and their families, and work my way up over 10 years from junior therapist to Master Trainer. With every family I met, I learned lessons for life, and my resilience and resolve to help them grew.
Now it is this resilience within me that has given me the strength to take my story to the world, to share it with other parents and let them know that despite challenges, despite sadness, anger, grief and despair, they will be able to smile again and live with and love their child. My book ‘Beyond the Blue’, which releases in December 2020 is the first book written by a parent of a child with autism who is also a professional, within the Indian context. I hope that this story of my experiences helps other parents on their journey, to build resilience within themselves and acquire the joy and peace that we all deserve.