Thursday, April 20, 2017

Parents are the Change Agents - Thank you MFOFC

As parents, we are everything for our kids, a friend of mine says –job description- cook, teacher, driver, cleaner, launder, planner, organizer, care taker, personal assistant, nurse and many more. I am sure you can add some more to that. Last 3 weekends I learnt a new term- we are “change agent” for our kids.
I, with 18 other parents took part in MFOCF’s family leadership series ( When I applied, and got selected for I was not sure what will this entailed for. All these conferences bring a new perspective in life and teach something new and widen our world. I knew we will learn about laws and process. What I didn’t know how it will change my philosophy.
Growing up in India, the corrupt political system turned many of us away from any civic duty, we were turned off by the ugliness of the system and decided to not do anything with it and eventually moved out from India. Decision to move out of our home wasn’t easy and we had to factor in many things but corrupt political system and harder life due to that was a major reason for many of us.
I got to know about this series and decided to take part in it. I didn’t know much about it but the desire to make things better for our kids prevailed and I signed up for the program.
The first session is always exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. Meeting new parents, listening to their stories and struggle and then seeing their determination- it’s all very heartwarming and inspiring.
The first weekend made me realize this series was something I had never done before. It was all about getting our voice heard on a bigger platform. It was more than IEP or inclusion or school system, It was all about our and our kid’s vision for their future. We learnt that our politicians need to hear from us so they can make informed decisions. Passing a law is always not all about doing the right thing, It could be about our opinion and getting our voice heard.
I realized I didn’t know so many of these steps. Never thought the leaders will be so accessible. By the end of series, the parents who are the change agent came out as a force to reckon with. I learnt so much more about myself through other’s. Many of the activities made us aware of our strengths and weaknesses, gave us tools to deal with our struggles and disappointments, above all we all became part of a tribe. Our special tribe. we went to state house the last day to be part of something we never imagined. We tool a vow to never give up and keep working for a better future. Not only for our kids but many more who need their voices heard.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Wearing blue is the first step towards acceptance.

Please know that I am overwhelmed and thankful. I have been thinking over it whole day today, what Autism means for us, for you and for everyone else who is touched by it. Each day is a reminder how far we have come and how custom made this journey is for all of us.
The color blue specially in April represents Autism. Autism speaks not only brought this condition on world stage it gave Autism a color - color BLUE.
Personally I am not a fan of “Autism Speaks” they have done a lot, no doubt about that, but at the same time I don’t agree to everything they portray about Autism. But one thing I am thankful for is – Blue for Autism Awareness and acceptance. I very well know my colorful saree would have gone unnoticed but a blue Saree in April (now any time for that matter. Thank you #100SareePact) reminds everyone of Anand and his mom.
 There are millions of horrifying stories of ignorant and mean people being rude with Autistic people, hurting them, teasing and bullying them. Just recently a mother wrote about her Disney trip, how a dad watched and did not say anything when her son was being bullied and mimicked in the line. A son was hit by classroom aid, locked in the room, countless stories of abuse. But for me today is the day of gratitude.
Couple of days ago I wrote about Autism Awareness and Acceptance day and asked people to wear Blue on April 2nd. Today my inbox, text msgs, emails, Facebook and what’s app were filled with such pictures and comments. Many participated in Runs and walks. Today I received many hugs for Anand and many of my friend came to me showing their Blue for Anand and many like him. Blue in solidarity some one said.
I want to thank each one of you to share our journey, hope, aches and celebrate our victory with us.
My friends please know your wearing blue today is the first step in making the world a better place, not only for Anand but for every 
1 in 68 children and 1 in 42 boys. 
Today I request you to take care of your tribe, yourself and people around you. Be kind to people who need your empathy, teach your children to be gentle and above all lets celebrate the goodness around us.