Apurva Joshi Damle hopes to set an example to prove nothing is impossible
Apurva Joshi Damle is India’s second person with a hearing impairment to become a speech audiologist. Mumbai-based Apurva is also a speech therapist who works with both children and adults. Being a motivational speaker too, Apurva reaches out to India’s hearing impaired community in many ways. In My Take this week, Apurva talks about her inspiring journey.
I was born with a hearing impairment since birth, but was diagnosed when I was around eleven months old. My parents noticed that I was not paying attention to noises and sounds around me. I never responded even when a pressure cooker made a sound when I was right next to it.
My parents immediately consulted me to a doctor. After many tests, I was diagnosed with a hearing impairment. So my parents doubts that began when I was six months old, was confirmed in a few months. My parents were shocked because there were no children with disabilities in our family. But they knew they had to accept it.
Soon after the acceptance, they decided to empower me. The first step was early intervention and that began at a very young age. I feel I’am blessed because my parents acted wisely. Diagnosis and early intervention happened at the right time for me. I had to get ready for life. I also got my first pocket model hearing aids too.
I started speech therapy at the age of two and joined the Ali Yavar Jung National Institute. Being a part of the institute helped me a lot to improve my speech.
From class 1 to 12, I was in a normal school. When I was in class 10, many people told me that I must go for exam concessions since I had a disability. But I thought, why should I? If I’am OK with my academics, then I need not apply for concessions and I never did. In class 10, I scored a 91 percent, one of the unforgettable moments of my life!
I always dreamt of building a career in speech and therapy. I got admission in science group after class 10 so I could pursue what I like.
One of my most precious gifts are my parents. My mother is my role model and has always stood by me in all my ventures. She has supported me and made sure that I get the best. Last year, I got married. My husband Kedar Damle and parents-in-law are always with me through thick and thin. I feel extremely blessed!
Path to empowerment
From childhood, I have come across speech therapists who have had a profound influence on me. They inspired me to take up the profession that I’am in right now.
I started my job as a therapist and have been able to work with many children. I feel that I can give in my best in this job because I know what each person who needs speech therapy goes through because I have been there! I know how certain things would work because it has worked for me. I can combine all the practical and theory knowledge to give out the best.
Hearing impairment is a hidden disability unlike many other disabilities. So it is tougher to diagnose and start early intervention. But without that, the child cannot succeed in life.
Children who come to me are comfortable with me because I connect well with them. Parents are more confident about their children and they have given me some great feedback. What most parents need are effective guidance and I’am able to do that.
Achievements in life
I had participated in a camp at Gujarat which was exclusively for hearing and speech impaired people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was guest at the event where over 6000 people participated. Hearing aids were distributed and I was one amongst the members of the event. That was truly an unforgettable and proud moment for me.
I always wanted to be independent and driving my own vehicle was one way of doing it. Since 2015, I ride my own two-wheeler. I got a license given to hearing impaired people. There is an eligibility that needs to be fulfilled for that.
“Diagnosis and early intervention must begin as soon as possible. No child must undergo problems in life due to their hearing or speech impairment. I want to set myself as an example and show the world that with persistence and efforts, anything is possible”.
Watch in Sign Language
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