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All you really need to love.

“Big black eyes and tiny nose,

I love you down to your toes.”

I hummed my daughter’s favourite rhyme while waiting at the Clinic. Nirav had finished his appointment and Anne, his therapist came out the swinging doors.

“He’s doing so well, Pavi! Did y-”

“Anne, I’m worried!”


“Why? He’s making progress.”

“No, not about him. Reya. She isn’t meeting her milestones, and she’s 6 months old.”

Anne nodded. She’d been a physical therapist for a long time and worked with many autism parents like myself. With gentle movements of her expert fingers, she gave Reya a thorough checkup.

“Ok, Pavi I won’t lie. Reya is more delayed than I’m comfortable with.”

I blinked and excused myself to the bathroom where I sobbed for a good 10 minutes.

That night, in bed, I mumbled into my husband’s chest.

“What…what if Reya’s autistic too, Raghav?”

“So what? We’ll deal with it.”

“I’m not worried about the autism. How do I care for TWO children with special needs? Day-to-day stuff? How do we work out therapy timings? And if she’s more severely impacted or needs more support? What if he’s having a tantrum, and she calls out for me at the same time? What if we’re both sick and the childr-”

I was working myself up until Raghav said something.

“Pavi, you’re their mother. You’ll figure this out. You always do. And I’m here, too aren’t I?”

That simple show of support at 1 am, was exactly what I needed. Something clicked deep within my core, and I slept like a log for the rest of the night.

The next morning, I signed Reya up for physical therapy. We went diligently every Tuesday and Friday, where Anne taught Reya how to roll over, creep and support her weight. For months, we practised at home, the park and every extra minute we got. Every time I felt a twinge of fear, I embraced it. I was bigger than my worries, and while I didn’t have a say in my children’s challenges, I could impact how we responded to them.

Reya crawled at 11 months. Said “Elmo” just after her first birthday. Walked at 15 months, while her mom wiped her eyes surreptitiously.

Today, she’s a typically developing 5-year-old. Loves her toys and worships her big brother who is 9, smart as a whip and will always be autistic. They are most happy, loud goofballs, with a delicious sense of humour. They’ve enriched my life and helped me rise above my fears. See, I was a very average woman, and they’ve pushed me to become someone I’m proud to look at in the mirror.

As I whisper kisses on their sleepy heads every night with their favourite lullaby, I can’t but help smile. One intense boy and one spunky girl. Between the two of them, I’m doubly blessed.

“Twinkle Twinkle tiny nose

I love you down to your toes.”

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