#BeingMom - In empowering her daughter, Sangeetha John's life became richer
Her fans admire Sherin Zachariah skills as a writer and poet. Standing behind her is mom Sangeetha John, who is the subject of our May campaign #BeingMom.
When Sangeetha's first child Sherin Zachariah was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, she was devastated. Like many parents she had never heard of the developmental disorder before. She put that initial shock aside and looked at what to do next.
Today, Sherin, who is 17, is a poet and writer, gifted with communication skills, something many people with autism struggle with. If there's one person who has helped her hone that aspect, it is mom Sangeetha,
Sangeetha, who lives in Kochi with husband Zachariah Joseph and a younger child Shreya, quit her job as a college lecturer and devoted herself to Sherin. She calls it the best decision of her life.
Sherin was diagnosed with autism just after her third birthday. I always knew she was a child with special needs because she was different. Managing home and work does not go hand in hand, especially when you have a child with autism. It was my duty to stay with my children and ensure that they are taken care off well. Hence, I quit my job and that was one of the best decisions of my life. . -Sangeetha John
At the time, there was no Google Search to turn to and Sangeetha left no stone unturned in seeking the support of therapists and doctors. She knew Sherin had many abilities, especially an interest in stories and poems, So, Sangeetha would read out aloud to her every day. This fuelled her interest further. Sangeetha then encouraged her to write and express her feelings.
"Sherin wanted a medium to express herself, and writing was the best way she could do it, says Sangeetha. "I never used to regard Sherin as a child with special needs but like any normal kid. She strongly believes that while the advice therapists and doctors give is useful, the onus of empowering the child finally lies with the parent.
A Super Mom
In empowering her child, Sangeetha also underwent a change and process of learning. A science student all her life, she was clueless about English literature. For Sherin's sake, she tested new waters.
Sherin has published a few books and is now starting to edit her work as well, a huge step forward. A caring child, she also urges her mom to take it easy.
"Recently, she told me that I need to take rest and that I am too stressed out, laughs Sangeetha. "This is truly a milestone in Sherin's life. She is ready to take care of herself and me as well.
Sherin's journey confirms her belief that every parent of a child with a disability must let them follow their dreams. "The child will know what is best and as a parent, help them follow their instincts, says Sangeetha.
Arun M, a close family friend has played a strong part in getting Sheron's work published. He says Sangeetha's approach has been her biggest success mantra.
"Sangeetha knew what Sherin is good at and worked towards it. Coming out of her initial trauma and working towards improving your child is where real strength and courage lies.