With growing lifestyle disorders the youngest of us are prone to inexplicable ailments. While globally the rate of autism in children is on the rise, India is far behind. Though most parents want to give time to their children to settle down on their own and learn, some of the parents are rushing to get them diagnosed to rule out any possibilities of autism and developmental delays. Doctors, specialists also suggest the same. Every child is special and needs constant attention to reach their full potential and all parents want to do that. But once a child is diagnosed to be on the spectrum of autism, they go down a spiral of fear, sorrow, and pain. This is where they start searching for a good place for therapy where a trained specialist works with their child to improve.
In those dark clouded days specialists and doctors who can help us, guide us become rays of sunshine. Priya is one such bright ray of HOPE and could be your child’s best friend. We caught up with Priya and saw how she works with children and had to bring her to the blog. Reserved she is, camera shy she can be, we convinced her to slightly #OpenUP. This is what happened when Priya of HOPE talked to Tiger.
Priya, Good morning and welcome to our blog. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Good morning and thank you for having me featured. I am Priya and I work with children with developmental delays. I love animals and am an environmentalist.
Tell me about your childhood. Where were you born? Any fond memories.
I was born in Bangalore and grew up in the cantonment area. I had a wonderful childhood. Remember most the sun-drenched summers cycling around Ulsoor lake.
Where did you go to school?
I went to school at St. Francis Xavier’s Girls high school, under-grad in Jyoti Nivas college, post graduation in Bangalore university, B.Ed. Sp.Ed in SNDT Mumbai and training in neuro-cognitive development from Texas.
What were your dreams as a child?
I role-modeled on my aunt who was a teacher. Few years later I found that it was children that I wanted to work with. Psychology became a deep interest in college years when I realized I had an innate understanding of people and a deep ability to empathize.
Tell us about why you started this as a full-time work.
I want to reach out to people by providing quality service. Do good work without advertising and the necessary PR that goes along with. I want to always stay simple, grounded, and true to myself. I want to make my therapy affordable to all. I started on my own after working with various organizations realizing that this field has no controlling and guiding body. I was working with two schools and special children for few years before I started with Hope.
Why the name HOPE? What is the USP?
I started Hope with Sowmya Kuduvalli almost a decade ago. We named it ‘HOPE – the early intervention centre’. Hope is what I want to provide to the parents and their child. At Hope, I provide intervention programs for children with developmental delays. My therapy stimulates play skills in children. It also looks into every aspect of the child’s development, be it toileting, tantrums or learning a language. A child is so much more than just speech or motor skills or academics. I focus on the child.
When should a parent contact you for their child?
Usually, a pediatrician would be able to see if there are any developmental delays or we have specialists who can assess. Every child is different. Though there is no specific time for reaching out to an assessment, the earlier the better. I have worked with children as young as three months. You can reach me by whatsapp/text @9886646250 or by mailing email@example.com.
What can a parent do to help improve the child’s growth apart from therapy?
I always mention this to parents that therapy is just one form of putting things into a rhythm. There is no one better to help the child than their parents. Parents should form a routine at home and spend quality time to work out the plan and help children develop. I can be the catalyst to that. Therapy sessions at Hope or any other place compliment the efforts in guiding the child in a different environment. We all should chip in to help the child grow to their fullest potential.
It can be quite challenging to work with children with developmental delays, autism, ADHD… and that too all day. What drives you?
I realize the challenges as a parent but we have to understand that we are working with a child and for a child, everything is in the present. I keep my focus in the present. Every child is special in some way and the love and affection they give me, keeps me going. The most important person in this interaction is the child and we should do everything to help them.
Tell me your best experience after you started Hope.
It’s hard to pick out the best. There have been many. When parents come back after years and say you gave us back our son, or when a parent says whatever we have learned is because of you, or when parents come back year after year to make a donation because their child is now doing well. Or when parents who have moved to another city or country say we can never get another HOPE. Of course, I know that whatever happens is a result of much more than what I do, it’s overwhelming nevertheless.
Can we talk about the reach Hope had in the last few years?
HOPE completes 10 yrs old in July 2017. I have no idea how many children I have seen, in terms of finances we earn enough to pay my therapists and the rent!
What are your plans for the next five years?
I want to do more. Reach out to more families. Help more children. Help older children. Start a new program and much more.
Tell me about your family?
My father was the editor of Deccan Herald and my mother retired as a pediatrician with St. Johns. I love animals. All animals. I have 3 cats. I am currently taking care of 4 more in my building, hoping to find homes for them. I am a mother of 2 boys, both teenagers! Need I say more.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up and last thing before you sleep?
I rush to the kitchen to get things done. I start my day with two glasses of water. I made a habit of reading for at least half an hour before I go to bed. I am re-reading Fountainhead now.
Any quote/book that inspired you?
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget the perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the sun gets in.
Do what you have to do with passion, sincerity, and commitment. Everything else will follow.
If you have a passionate story to share, write to us with #TalkToTiger as the subject line at firstname.lastname@example.org