#BeingMom - From anxiety to empowerment, the journey of Latha Venkatesan
In our month-long campaign #BeingMom, we present the story of Latha Venkatesan, a mother from Chennai and co-founder of Tarang, a vocational training centre for young adults. Latha is also a member of Special Child Assistance Network (SCAN), a parent based support group.
When Latha Venkatesan's daughter was diagnosed with Rett syndrome with autism, it came as a bolt from the blue. She had never heard of this disorder which is a very rare genetic one affecting physical and mental growth and communication skills.
It was hard for me to believe this, and my I initially thought the diagnosis was wrong. I ran pillar to post to prove it was a wrong diagnosis, but sadly it was true, and grappled with the typical questions of 'Why me?', grievances, etc. Time taught me to accept her with all her disability. That's how my journey as a special mother started.
All of this was 27 years ago when it was difficult to find the resources to cope with this diagnosis. So, Latha decided to gather any information she could about her child's medical condition and educate herself. She did an advanced course in autism spectrum disorder to better understand her daughter's condition and state of mind. That was key to finding life less challenging.
She says the journey has taughther to accept life as it comes, and look at the positive side of everything. "It has taught me to live a selfless life. By catering to her needs, I have ended up helping other similar special needs kids. My daughter feels comfortable and safe in my presence which improves her self-esteem and confidence.
Latha decided to start a vocational centre, Tarang where children with disabilities and disorders learn vocational skills. A self-help group, Tarang has changed many lives and helped youth gain financial independence.
Mallika Swaminathan is among the few who has watched her transform. "Latha is a very down to earth person, who can easily connect with people. Her meticulous planning, hard work, dedication and understanding is her USP. Tarang was the outcome of that. Hard work, dedication and enthusiasm is seen in each and every member of the team and she is an inspiration".
For parents grappling to cope with their children's disabilities, Latha's advice is simple. "Accept life as it comes. No one can understand, help or teach our kids better than us. Give them unconditional love and provide them a safe and confident platform which is the foremost duty of any special platform".
Priya Sasimurli's daughter Saranya is a part of Tarang.
"Tarang has made many children economically independent. Many a time, it's not possible to even identify that the products made by the team are by special adults. Latha ensures that every trainee has his/her share in every order they work for. This obviously boosts their self-confidence".
A journey that began with confusion and anxiety has today transformed into one that is empowering many other families.
OTHER STORIES IN THE #BEING MOM SERIES: