Delhi mom Kreeti Mitra Bhatia launches platform for parents of children with disabilities
Parenting a child with disability is not easy. Right from diagnosis to interventions to therapies, the entire journey can be quite bewildering, sometimes scary. Having experienced that herself, Kreeti Mitra Bhatia has started an initiative called Buddies where experienced parents offer support to newer ones.
Flux, fuzziness, confusion, fear. Emotions Kreeti Mitra Bhatia vividly remembers experiencing after her child was diagnosed with autism about 10 years ago.
“The mere name autism was very new to us and we had no idea about what the diagnosis will bring. There were references online but human contact works better when you are in a situation where things are unpredictable. I missed talking to someone who had been through this journey”, says Kreeti, who is the founder of The Special Mom, an exclusive platform for mothers of children with disabilities.
That ‘someone to talk to’ is what Kreeti’s initiative Buddies aims to provide to newer parents of children with disabilities.
“When I interacted with moms of older children with special needs and saw how open they were to sharing their numbers and offer support, it brought me immense comfort as a frightened parent”, recalls Kreeti. “When my son presented a new challenge, the first reaction was to call one of the moms. Before rushing to a doctor or looking on Google, this helped”.
Only parents can be Buddies
Nine mothers from across India are a part of Buddies. All of them are senior moms, as Kreeti calls them, all parents to older children with disabilities. The platform, she is clear, is open to senior parents only. “Some professionals have shown interest, but I am currently not opening it to anyone other than a parent”.
The other notable feature is that Buddies is for parents with children across disability types. Not pan disability, but pan confusion, in Kreeti’s words.
A parent’s journey given the challenges happens on a different tangent and a different level of confusion altogether. The main idea behind Buddies is to empower younger parents so they can speak to somebody. When you view something from the eyes of parents, it is different because no one else has lived the challenges like they have. – Kreeti Mitra Bhatia, Founder, Buddies
Faridabad-based Shalini Kohli Murishwar is among the senior parents to sign up for the initiative. Shalini has an adult son with epilepsy.
“What I like about Buddies is that it’s a tangible platform to reach moms like me who are looking for various answers in raising children with epilepsy. I struggled for the past nine years trying to reach to a community but found none for epilepsy. It’s still very much taboo to talk about it especially with reference to your child”.
Support group for newer parents
Many parents have reached out to Shalini with questions regarding side effects, stress management tips and the academic progress of their child.
Another senior mom to sign up as a Buddy is Nikita Sarah. “I would have really appreciated something like this when my child was diagnosed or while growing up. I was totally lost. While on one side you are dealing with your child’s diagnosis, on the other you could be dealing with your spouse, family, or your own denial. I did not know of any parent I could connect to or pour my heart out. It can change your whole world”.
This support is especially critical as doctors and therapists often lack the time or sensitivity to really connect with parents. “Even many schools do not have this concept of connecting with parents”, points out Nikita. “With Buddies, our focus is parent to parent support, counselling, sharing our experiences and connecting them to necessary resources”.
Most important, it is knowing that you can talk to someone at any time. “It can be overwhelming to have a child with special needs. We count on each other to overcome much in life and hope we can make a difference to someone!”, says Nikita.
“We aim to tell parents to live each day to the fullest, deal with it and move on”, adds Shalini. “That’s the most important lesson I learned. Also, “‘normal’ is what you define” and don’t let any scale measure your child’s success”.
Invaluable advice coming from parents who live these words every day.
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