Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Vikram Satish Menon comes through with flying colours...

Vikram Satish Menon, 16, passed his 10th standard exam at the first attempt.  This may seem commonplace, but not if you have been diagnosed with Autism before your third birthday. Getting a normal education seemed impossible, until Vikram got admission in Holy Cross Convent Special School at Thane.  Autism spectrum disorder places a tremendous handicap on a person's ability to communicate and interact normally with their environment. Educators face difficulty in getting feedback; responses, when given are rarely more than single word or resemble SMS like sentences. Writing an essay-type answer is a huge challenge for someone like Vikram.

When Principal, Sr. Ancy, mooted the possibility of appearing for his matriculation through the National Institute of Open Schooling (N.I.O.S.), it seemed a daunting task to all except Vikram. Vikram always had an academic and competitive streak in him and that determination was instrumental in his passing the exams. The N.I.O.S. accredited centre at Holy Cross Special School helped in selecting the papers to attempt, put together a study plan and through their classes the teacher coached Vikram in improving his responses to questions. Vikram's mother Geetha took a break from her career and took on the challenge of training him at home.

Over the course of the year, Vikram had to sacrifice his TV and internet time, which he did willingly and stuck to daily targets for completion. Autistic children have the wonderful quality of needing completion of tasks and predictability. This means that Vikram would burn the midnight oil till he had mastered the tasks set for that day. This need for predictability has a downside though, Vikram cannot tolerate seemingly harmless events like a delayed school van or an unscheduled school holiday or power cut. After completing his exams Vikram gleefully went back to his hobbies of Bollywood trivia and Japanese animation characters. When asked about the sort of career he wants to pursue the single word answer that he gives without a second thought is, “Businessman”!

Vikram will now prepare for his 12th standard N.I.O.S. exams, while attending the Career Training Centre of Holy Cross Convent Special School, and has set his sight on graduation. One interesting question he had is if there is a special school "Why not a Special University?"


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