A mother's journey of nurturing her autistic child's musical gift

Combo image of Sabira and Ansia. Photo: Special arrangement

Sabira can still hear the words of the doctor. “The best therapist for a child with autism spectrum disorder is her mother. Especially when it comes to speech therapy. So please keep talking to her. Observe and offer training accordingly. There would be change for sure,” was what Dr P Krishnakumar of IMHANS, Kozhikode, told her. This was 14 years ago.
The mother religiously followed what the Doctor prescribed. And her hard work paid off.
Sabira was studying for an MA in English when she married Shamsudheen, an NRI working in Kuwait. Their firstborn was Anshad, and seven years later, they had a daughter, Ansia Farheen. She was a precocious child, Ansia would give her spin to lullabies. However, when she was one and a half years old, Ansia became silent and stopped responding to her name or making eye contact. When they consulted a psychologist, the child was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Sabira-Shamsudheen couple enrolled Ansia in a therapy centre in Kuwait. She couldn’t control her bladder and bowel movements. And she became impulsive. However, music connected with Ansia and it had a soothing effect on her.
Sabira decided to quit her job as a lab clerk and shift to Kerala to provide better care to her daughter. When Ansia was five, she was enrolled in a government UP school. Sabira's daily routine included dropping Ansia at school, bringing her lunch, and attending training sessions for mothers of autistic children.

Whatever Sabira learned during this training was passed on to Ansia. Once a therapist even asked Sabira to try sign language to communicate with her daughter. But the mother refused to give up. Ansia started to respond and she learned to read, write and sing. Motivated by this, Sabira enrolled for a certificate course in caregiving.
When Ansia was five, Sabira took her to a workshop for mothers of autistic children. At the venue, Ansia ran to the stage and stood by the side of Dr Vijayalakshmi, who was the speaker. The doctor handed over the mike to Ansia and encouraged her to sing. Ansia sang four stanzas of a song beautifully and Dr Vijayalakshmi predicted that the child would be a singer one day. Today, Ansia, a plus-one student, sings in four different languages without any formal training. Sabira now dreams of seeing Ansia attain fame and glory as a singer!

(As Narrated by O Sabira to Manoramaonline)

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