Hi everyone! I'm back again for my 22nd birthday to raise funds for Autism! This year, I hope to raise $120 for Akhil Autism Foundation, an organization that has taught me so much since April 8, 2015, the day I began volunteering for them.
A few days ago, I went to help out for a musical event that was raising funds for Autism. I have been a part of this foundation since the summer after my freshman year. It was truly amazing to be back after being away for almost a year since I was taking time to co-lead the Autism chapter I started at my University. I took a moment to think about why I started and what made me continue this journey with the foundation, and it all came down to making a difference. Celebrating 10 years of this organization, the amazing founder, mentor, and mother continues to support families affected by Autism in the United States and in India, through providing Methyl B12 shots, and organizing MNRI and RPM workshop. That same summer, Akhil Autism started a new initiative that provided a more personal opportunity to work with a child with Autism called Care for a Friend through an intervention called Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI), named after Dr. Masgutova. “Never judge a book by its cover” is the perfect quote to summarize what this project aims to do; it aims to break the barrier between the disorder and child through an intervention called Masgutova Neurosensorimotor Reflex Integration (MNRI), named after Dr. Masgutova. This intervention involves an MNRI specialist mediating the conversation between a child affected by Autism and the volunteer, with the use of an alphabet stencil. It aspires to show that beneath the disorder, the child is just like any of us; they have goals, dreams to go to college, crushes and pet peeves.
The first ever MNRI session I watched was of a 5-year-old, non-verbal boy. The parents never knew their son was capable of understanding and comprehending what they were saying, including discussions about the difficulties and fear of raising a child with Autism. Despite all the negativity and doubts his parents unintentionally expressed in front of him, he persisted on being this beautiful, joyous boy. Once the boy’s first session began, he was overwhelmed that he found means to communicate (alphabet stencil). He curled up in the arms of the interventionist and wept in happiness. He was finally free from being captive in his disability. He could finally communicate with his parents the world around him and was not trapped anymore. This powerful and emotional experience has motivated me to break barriers and support the Autism community in global initiatives; educating families affected by Autism, providing resources and workshops necessary for their children’s development and ease in life. That summer, I have embarked on a journey that stays close to my heart till this day. I am going to end this with one of my favorite quotes: “we only rise by lifting others up" and I hope that today, you choose to lift someone up. #Autism