Crucial Days of Mahi’s Autism Diagnosis at NIMHANS India
Mahi’s autism diagnosis was the greatest shocking news in our happy life. We could never imagine that he would remain disabled throughout his life. He was diagnosed with the various features of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) along with Attention Deficiency Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) by a group of specialist in the National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) at Bangalore, India in the year 2000. I think those days were most crucial in our family life.
After his birth in 1996, Mahi was delayed in the every milestone during the development stages in his life. Initially, we thought that he would be all right in course of time. But his developmental progress was not that much significant. For example, he did not talk like ba-ba, ma-ma till the age of 12 months; he did not start walking even when he was 18 months and so on. Even at the age of 2 years, he was unable to talk, walk and there some autistic features being observed in him. Then we started visiting different doctors for the diagnosis and treatment of his problems.
It may be mentioned that we were not at all aware of autism at that time. Even we did not hear the term ‘autism’ at that time. Many doctors of Bangladesh were not acquainted with autism spectrum disorder. We have visited many child specialists, psychiatrists, psychologists and ENT specialist to get a diagnosis about Mahi’s problems. But no doctors in Bangladesh could give any solution to his problems. Finding no alternative we decided to visit NIMHANS, India for his diagnosis and treatment.
At that time we had been living in Chittagong. We prepared our passports and obtained the visa for visiting India. On February 11, 2000, we (me, my wife Lucy, my daughter Moutushi, and my son Mahi) started our journey for India. We crossed the border through Benapole of Jessore. We reached Calcutta on the same day at about 6 pm and boarded in a hotel.
On the next day (February 12, 2000), I went to the Fairlie Place for collecting train ticket for Bangalore. We got the ticket of February 14, 2000, to travel Bangalore by the train Coromandel Express. We started our journey from Howrah station, Calcutta at about 3 pm on February 14, 2000. It was about 40 hours journey from Calcutta to Bangalore with a transfer at Chennai station. The journey was a terrible one especially for Mahi due to lack of comfort. He was so hyperactive that it was very difficult to control him on the moving train. Finally, we reached to Bangalore at about 7 am on February 15, 2000. After getting down from the train we boarded in a hotel and left the luggage in the hotel room. Then we visited NIMHANS which is located inside the Bangalore city.
Mahi’s Autism Diagnosis Process in NIMHANS
At about 10 am we arrived at NIMHANS and confirmed our appointment with the doctor. Mahi’s name was registered in the Hospital’s register. At that time he was about 4 years old. Dr. Monish Tomar interviewed us (me & my wife) to know the different problems of Mahi’s life since his birth. We narrated all the problems including his delayed milestones and the hyperactive behaviors. The doctor noted down all the necessary points.
Then we were taken to a Senior Doctor named Dr. Shekhar Seshadri. He interviewed us on the same issue and told to do some medical test. He also told us to stay in the dormitory of the hospital for at least 2 weeks to observe Mahi’s day to day behaviors. We were allotted a beautiful room at the dormitory which was sufficient to stay 4 persons. It was a fully furnished room. We brought our luggage from the hotel and took shelter in the dormitory.
Every day morning at 9 am and evening at 7 pm we had to report to Dr. Monish Tomar and let him know about different activities of Mahi. He used to maintain a checklist about the reported behavior of Mahi and gave some tips to handle him. Mahi’s behaviors were also monitored at the morning and evening. We were highly satisfied with the dealing of the doctors, nurses and other stuff of the hospital. All of them were very cooperative and friendly. We could narrate all the problems of Mahi in front of the doctor. They used to give us enough time. After 2 weeks of assessment, the doctors gave a diagnosis of the problems of Mahi. The doctor also gave some observation and suggestion for his development.
Though we were highly satisfied with the behavior of everybody, we were too much worried about Mahi. We were always thinking why the doctors were not giving their opinion about Mahi’s treatment. However, we were never prepared for such a heartbreaking news of autism. It was very difficult for us to pass those crucial days at NIMHANS.
After 2 weeks of assessment, the doctors gave their diagnosis of the problems of Mahi. He was diagnosed with the features of ASD and ADHD. So, on that very day, Mahi’s autism diagnosis was confirmed by Dr. Shekhor Sheshadri. Extract of the findings are given below:
“….it was found that the child had attentional deficits, hyperactivity, tantrum behaviors, stubbornness & impulsivity. The child also had poor eye-eye contact and inability to speak words. His self-help skills and social skills were also found to be deficient.”
We fall from the sky hearing the saddest news of my life. We were so upset that nothing was entering inside our ears. The doctor also gave some observation and suggestion for his development. He also told us to dedicate ourselves to Mahi’s development. He gave us hope that he would be all right if we took proper care of him.
The doctor suggested us to admit Mahi in a normal school (if possible). He also suggested visiting different places at leisure time to keep Mahi happy. At that time we did not understand the requirement of visiting different places for the betterment of an autistic child. Now, we understand that it is one of the requirements for development of an autistic child.
I could gaze that our bad days were imminent. We did not understand how to give consolation to our mind. So, I decided to visit different places in India to have some sort of mental peace and keep everybody happy on those bad days. I choked out a visit program and started our visit.
Visit different places at Bangalore
We left Bangalore on March 1, 2000, by the train Rajdhani Express to visit Delhi. The train was fully air-conditioned and a non-stop train. There were only two stoppages in 42 hours journey. We were very much worried about Mahi if he creates any problem. However, he did not create any problem and our journey was very much comfortable.
Though the journey was comfortable, there was some problem regarding security at night. It was about 1am at night. Most of the passengers were sleeping on the moving train. All on a sudden, a young girl started shouting at the top of her voice and bullying somebody. Afterwards, we came to know that one man molested the girl while she was at sleep. She could identify the man. The railway police and guard of the train arrived there and settled the matter. We reached Delhi at about 10 am on March 3, 2000.
Visit Azmeer Sharif at Delhi
My wife showed her great interest to visit the religious place at Azmeer for the development of the behavior of an autistic child. I also could not control our temptation without going to the Azmeer Sharif at Delhi. It is a very renowned religious place for the Muslims in India. We went to visit the dargah and pray to Allah for the betterment of Mahi.
Visit Tajmahal at Agra
We visited Tajmahal at Agra as a part of our visit program in India. It was really a fantastic monument to see and to acquire a lifetime experience. We were feeling a little bit uncomfortable while entering at the underground level of the Tajmahal.
Visit Delhi City
We visited the different places of the city Delhi under a package program. We visited Delhi Gate, President’s House, Kutub Minar, Lotus Temple, Delhi Jame Masjid, Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial, Trimurti Bhavan, Indira Gandhi Memorial Museum and so many places at Delhi city.
Visit Calcutta City
We returned to Calcutta on March 9, 2000, by the train Rajdhani Express. Rajdhani Express is a train which leaves from Delhi and goes to different important cities of India. Calcutta is also a very nice place to visit. After reaching Calcutta, we stayed there on that day and the next day and visited different at Calcutta. We visited Calcutta Zoo, Recourse maiden and some important markets. We left Calcutta on February 11, 2000, and reached Bangladesh on the same day after completion of a month-long visit to India.
Return to Bangladesh with a message of autism diagnosis
We started our journey for Bangalore with a great hope of diagnosis and fruitful treatment of Mahi’s problems. But his autism diagnosis made our life frustrating. While coming back to Bangladesh we carried a negative message of Mahi’s autism diagnosis which was a lifelong disability. We could not imagine that we have to carry a burden of autism throughout our life. All hopes were eliminated from the corners of our mind. We started nurturing Mahi for further development as an autistic child.
We went to Bangalore, India for the better treatment of Mahi as he was facing some developmental disorders since his birth. He was delayed in most of the developmental milestones. We did not find any good diagnosis and treatment in Bangladesh. So, we visited NIMHANS Bangalore, India for his proper diagnosis and better treatment.
But we had to hear most shocking news in our life which was Mahi’s autism diagnosis. Before that time we did not know anything about the lifelong disability of autism. We could not even imagine that our only son would be dependent upon others throughout his life. Mahi’s autism diagnosis has changed the course of our life. Now we are the member of a typical autism family. So those crucial days of our India visit with the connection of Mahi’s autism diagnosis were the most memorable days in our life.
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