Teenager Jai Gupta is out to break stereotypes about autism through Facebook page All About the Spectrum
Growing up with a sibling on the autism spectrum has made 16-year-old Jai Gupta aware and sensitive about the condition in ways that many others are not. He wants to spread this awareness and help build inclusion through his Facebook page All About the Spectrum.
For Jai Gupta, his younger brother Vir’s smile and big heart is no less lovable than the quirky traits and differences that come with being on the autism spectrum. When speaking to his friends about Vir, however he realised how little they knew about autism.
“Over the years I realised many people did not know what autism is and many consider people on the spectrum as ‘mental’ or incapable of independence”, says Jai, who turns 16 soon.
This summer, Jai, a student of Modern School, Barakhamba Road in New Delhi, decided to do something. He started a Facebook page, All About the Spectrum, dedicated to erasing the stigma about autism.
Fight the stigma
People with autism are like anybody else and just need support. They need to be accepted by society as they are and that is the attitude change, I want to help bring about. Right now, I am focusing on families with children on the spectrum. Over time I plan to reach out to a wider audience. – Jai Gupta, Has a sibling with autism
Featured on the page are diverse voices from families, caregivers as well as people with autism doing interesting work. Jai’s mother Nidhi Gupta is helping him reach out to the wider community. “I am helping him connect with people I know, and he is separately speaking to friends who know nothing about autism”. Jai also plans to speak to his school principal to help take the initiative further.
The page brings out interesting and moving aspects in the lives of families. Take a recent series on the relationships that siblings share.
Diverse voices featured
“The sibling is the person who is with the person with disability all the time and it is good to see that people like Jai are starting things to build awareness”, says Akila Vaidyanathan, Founder, Amaze Charitable Trust, Coimbatore. Akila’s children were part of the Sibling Series on Jai’s page. “My daughter Nivriti is younger than my son Nishant, who is on the spectrum. Nishant came into my life at 30, and autism at 32. I had to struggle with a new kind of experience while it was a part of her life from the start. Siblings have a different insight from what we have as parents.”
Rohit Ninan, brother of talented artist Brian Pradeep who has autism, was also a part of the series. Such initiatives, he says, help build awareness. “A major aspect related to working and guiding children in the spectrum is “inclusion”. This happens when we as family or mentors involve the child in daily activities and most importantly, when people around are aware of autism or generally considerate of children with special needs”.
“Siblings really feel they are one with their brothers or sisters”, adds Charu Sharan, whose son has autism and appeared in the series with his younger sister. “They have lived with the stares and questioning remarks and it is understandable they want to question that”.
Going ahead, Akila hopes to see Jai raise some problems faced as well.
“It’s not all rosy and as he goes along it would be good if he can also focus on some of the undue problems and issues that siblings face as well. After all, they are the people who will be living with the disability for the longest time, well after the parents are gone. I appreciate Jai for putting up this forum and given his age, it is remarkable”.
Check out the page here
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