Against All Odds: A Story of Hope

against all odds


“He was writing independently”


That was the message accompanying a short video from a teammate. There are few people who would be moved by the words above. Yesterday afternoon, I was moved. It was a goosebumps moment. And might I remind you, goosebumps happen when you experience a strong emotion (among other things).


How does a child’s independent writing give you a goosebumps moment? Z is a child of almost 5, who started schooling with us a few months ago. Last year, his parents received a diagnosis of autism. Heartbroken, they set out on a journey to seek help for their child. The odds were stacked up against the child. Z could not speak more than a handful of unintelligible words, his motor skills were far behind those of his peers and he struggled with other every day activities as well.


My squad, armed with dedication, accepted this challenge head on. We worked with Z and his parents as a team. In the ensuing months, Z learned quite a few things. His vocabulary improved as did his functional language. Z is now a champion at following simple instructions. He graduated from diapers and is now toilet trained. We achieved these milestones together, with care, consistency and conviction.


Yesterday, we had a major breakthrough. Earlier, therapists and educators had to help him hold a pencil/crayon/marker so he could draw and write. Yesterday, he did it on his own. He wrote ‘Monday’ and ‘Summer’ even though it was a Tuesday and Summer was behind us. And then he wrote ‘Autumn’. He wanted to write these words – that’s what he told his therapist.


From a point where “he couldn’t even” to this major milestone, where “he can”, it’s been quite a journey. Agent Z still has a long way to go. I watched the video several times. It wasn’t because it was unbelievable – I believe in miracles now – it was because I just wanted to savour this small victory. I was short of words and merely a few seconds away from weeping tears of joy – I am certain I would have if I watched the video again.


In our lives, we always look out for the major milestones: enrolling in an Ivy League university, landing a much coveted job, buying xyz make and model of a car. But we ignore the little steps that bring us closer to those dreams. That’s what I’ve learned from Ms. Naila, our therapist – appreciate the efforts. We love to dream about the end results, but we forget to enjoy the journey. And if Fate has other things in store for us, many of us give up, without appreciating what we achieved as we chased the dream. I’ve learned to enjoy and celebrate little victories because everything matters. Everything. One word, a touch of someone’s tiny hand, little gestures that show you that someone placed their trust in you, a look or a smile or waving hand. They all indicate that whatever it is that we’re doing, it’s working.


Z’s giant leap is a message of hope for so many. If your child has been diagnosed with a neurodevelopmental disorder such as autism, there is a way and there is hope, you just need to reach out and find someone willing to believe in your child.


– Noor Rathore



Read more:

My Story: No Shortcuts for Autism 

I Can Hear Everything

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