When her son Aahan was only nine years old, Sweta Patel was told he would not be able to study in a regular school beyond Class III by his treating doctors. Suffering from PDD-NOS (pervasive developmental disorder — not otherwise specified) of autism, the 17-year-old student from Orchid School, Baner, fought the odds and scored 8.2 CGPA (77.9 per cent) in the CBSE Class X examination. Aahan, who has difficulty in social interaction and language comprehension, has not just made huge strides in academics but achieved tremendous heights in social interaction as well.
“He is totally independent and travels from Pune to Mumbai alone by train and to Gujarat by flight. By god’s grace, he has achieved what was deemed unachievable,” said Sweta Patel, Aahan’s mother.
Asked about his most difficult subjects, Sweta said though Mathematics and Science were too complicated for him to understand, yet he scored 71 and 61 marks in the two subjects. She said subjects like Book Keeping, Information Technology and English, in which he scored 90, 85 and 80 marks respectively, which gave him lesser trouble.
His mother said the journey was not an easy one, as it took 12 hours of study per day. “He was so committed to studies that if I had to make him listen to me to do something, I would threaten to take his books away. That would make him listen to me,” she recalls.
She said Aahan’s school teachers played a pivotal role in helping him achieve this feat. She recalled how his school even tweaked his timetable to ensure he could go home early thrice a week. “They scheduled the subjects, which he had not chosen, post lunch break. I cannot imagine any school doing this for a student,” she said.
He now plans to take up Commerce and start a business in the future. A sensitive teenager who aims to help autistic children, he collected around Rs 1.5 lakh in donations last year, which he gave away to an organisation called Ummeed, which works for autistic children.
“All I want to tell the other families, who have a similar case at home, is that never lose hope. There’s always light at the end of a dark tunnel,” said his mother.