‘Inclusion means an action, state, practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources for people who are otherwise marginalised due to physical or intellectual disabilities besides others.’ — Oxford Dictionary
Differently-abled youth are usually shunned by society due to medieval thinking, more so in rural areas of India. Embarrassed parents tend to keep them behind locked doors from childhood. How long will they live on the fringes of society’s outer circle?
India needs ‘Inclusion for autistic youth’ in all walks of life — education, job opportunities, sports, arts, technology, etc., at an affordable or free cost. Currently, education costs alone hit the roof, and many parents cannot help their children to progress. Society must take a call to provide viable socio-economic solutions by including them in its inner circle. Autistic youth also have goals and aspirations which are achievable.
Joanne (15) and Brydan (13) Rodrigues, teenage children of Janice and Bryne Rodrigues, were born in Sharjah, U.A.E. The Rodrigues family moved to India in 2013. Both children were detected to be on the autism spectrum. The major decision of moving was for their children’s progress, as limited resources were available in UAE for autism at that point of time.
One step at a time, their parents started working relentlessly, with guidance from therapists, teachers and senior parents, to enable their children to cope with daily challenges. They began looking at the world through their children’s eyes and changed their thinking patterns. This, in turn, allowed them to channelize their children into sports.
Joanne and Brydan have won several accolades, creating a ray of hope for autistic children. Both have entered the Guinness Book of World Records for Skating (Bengaluru, 2019). They are also deep sea swimmers and were a part of The Special Olympics, Bharat.