Many of us find ourselves broken, sad and disappointed in life when we face rejection or a setback.
But, only a few heroic fighters show the courage to see rejection as an opportunity to bring change! And, one of those few heroic fighters is Saswati Singh.
When her beautiful perfect life was shattered in a moment, Saswati took it as an opportunity to pick up the pieces and create something even more beautiful.
Recalling one of the most critical setbacks that changed her life forever, she shared with TBI,
“During the delivery of my first child, there were a few complications.
My son had suffered from asphyxiation, and I was scared that we both might not survive. For the next 15 days after delivery, he was kept in the ICU. Slowly I regained hope when he got better after five months, and we decided to move him to Delhi.
But the weather change made him worse, and on the very next day of reaching the city, he had to be hospitalised. Even after he got better a few years later, at the age of four, he contracted fever and had to be hospitalised where he suffered two massive attacks of epilepsy in one month.”
These two massive traumas to the brain and body pushed her son into Autism, but unfortunately, it wasn’t diagnosed till he turned eight.
“I could sense that something else was also wrong. He was extremely hyperactive, and despite telling the people around me of his hyperactivity, no one would take it seriously. Due to this, schools and teachers would complain, but I had no help recognising my son’s problem.”
Saswati recalls how 42 schools in Delhi rejected her son’s admission because of his hyperactive nature and severe behavioral issues.
As Saswati was struggling with her son, a special educator came forward like a ray of hope to help. She was the first person who suggested Saswati get her son checked for Autism.
Recalling how she reacted when she came to know about the diagnosis, Saswati shared:
“I was pregnant with my daughter, when my son was diagnosed with ADHD. For the next 4 years or so, no doctor even mentioned the possibility of Autism, so when I heard this, it shattered me.
I remember crying uncontrollably for the next few days, but I was not ready to let that fail me. Instead, I was stubborn and changed my problems into my strength! And my daughter, Prerna was instrumental in this.”
What Saswati did next is not only inspiring for any mom, but also for any individual who strives to bring change in society.
When she got aware of her son’s autism, Saswati quit her job as a senior biology teacher, and dedicated her time to home-school her son, while building awareness about Autism.
“I remember meeting the principals of prominent schools and explaining and sensitising them about Autism. It was alarming to see how low the awareness was even among top educators and how this had hindered the right to education for so many children. I knew I had to do something.”
Disappointed by the situation, Saswati decided that it was time to make a change. She decided to dedicate her life to give Autistic kids another chance at life. She started a school of her own, where these kids were welcomed and not rejected.
“This school was to allow these children to grow up among peers while overcoming their respective conditions,”
But her journey to bring the change in the lives of autistic kids have not been easy.
While recalling her earlier days, she shared:
“I began the school in 1995, at my flat in Delhi. As the awareness about such schools was still very low, I started reaching out to the parents of students who had been rejected like my son.
Initially, the response was really low.
I started with just three students, but with the help of friends, the number increased to 12 in a year with a long waiting list. I realised that the school could not function in the confines of my apartment anymore and that I had to move,”.
Driven by sheer determination and willpower, Saswati’s promising work was not only appreciated but also supported by prominent people like Kiran Bedi and Maneka Gandhi. She was finally allotted space at the Community Centre in Tilaknagar in 1998. And, the school now had 80 students receiving education and being taken care of by mothers just like her.
But, after running the school for almost ten years, Saswati decided to move to Dehradun in 2005.
“It’s just a few hours from Delhi and its overwhelming pollution and population, but it made a huge difference, especially in helping my son, who was around 16. Since then, I have noticed how the surroundings here help in making considerable improvement in persons with Autism,”
Through her venture, she has managed to implement a holistic approach toward Autism through behavioral therapies and a Gluten Free and Casein Free Diet (GFCF) diet.
Her methods have not only helped these kids in overcoming their behavioral challenges but has also empowered them into learning various vocational and self-help skills for an independent life.
Sharing a very important ingredient in the treatment, Saswati shared:
“It’s important for mothers to take charge of the well-being of their children. I learnt it the hard way, and so I make sure all parents coming to me for help, especially mothers, are well informed about their role in the process.
They cannot be isolated or be away while their children are undergoing these therapies. It’s a huge effort to help these individuals be the best of themselves, and like in any other family, each member, including siblings, have to be fully invested in the process,”
With her grit, Saswati has worked with more than 2,000 children and young adults with developmental issues and has touched the lives of more than 15,000 individuals in the last 24 years.
Saswati is an inspiration to all those parents who are struggling as their kid suffers through similar issues.
The way Saswati found her life purpose in her son’s autism shows how strong mothers could be when it comes to their kid’s future.
If you would like to reach out to Saswati, you can connect here.