Most of us don’t believe in bringing about a change in the system. We complain but give up easily. But if you read this article about how a few parents of children with autism worked tirelessly to bring about change in the system, it will give you hope, immense hope to work for change. Jaya Sudhakar, Dr. Sharada Rao, Swati Vispute and a few more parents took the initiative and with the solid support of the Forum for Autism ( Ffa Mumbai), and Dr. Sanjay Oak, (the then Director of Medical Education and Dean of KEM Hospital) worked hard to get the academic concessions for children with autism sanctioned from the Maharashtra State Board (SSC). It took them not a few days or months but 3 years, from 2007-2010, to actually get the concessions sanctioned. Those who participated in the process could sense that these concessions would bring about a revolution. And it did. It meant that children with autism could study in regular schools. Before the concessions, they would be packed off to a special school in first or second standard itself. Since 2010, every year the number of children availing these concessions is rising. Initially the concessions were announced only for the Board’s 10th & 12th exams. But as children went for higher education, Jaya & other parents kept up with their efforts and the concessions are now available till graduation. (And may be also for post-graduation.) Of course, the difficulties at every stage are far from over. The struggle of individual parents continues. But yes, things are changing. A few children with autism completed their graduation this year and many more are on their way…

Every parent who wants to avail of these concessions, should know about the efforts that went into making it happen. The details of the concessions and the procedure for availing the required ‘autism certificate’ (for the concessions) are given in the second article.

(Both articles were published in the column ‘Autismchya Betawar’ in ‘Zee Marathi Disha’, in May 26 and June 9 issues respectively)