By Kaitlin Fleming
Local writer Mamta Mishra recently published “Autism: Our Journey and Finding Happiness,” a book detailing her family’s journey with an autistic child.
This book describes what it was like when her youngest son, Parag, was diagnosed with autism at a young age.
“I knew by acquiring knowledge, I would not only be able to teach Parag but I would also be his educated advocate,” said Mishra.
Through the journey, Mishra learned that she could help her son, and other autistic children by overcoming negativity and confusion and showing acceptance and love for each unique person.
“This is what every person wants,” said Mishra. “It creates the strong foundation to help each other.”
In her book, she discusses the challenges of raising two children.
“Raising children is demanding and it is an even bigger challenge to raise a child with autism,” said Mishra. “Thus there is a high burnout rate among parents, teachers and caregivers.”
Mishra’s family has grown even stronger over the years as they face this challenge together.
“The question is how can a family grow strong,” said Mishra. “The answer is simple: by keeping communication open between all family members.”
The book details each family members’ responsibilities, starting with the parents, siblings and grandparents of an autistic child.
Mishra describes her personal struggles throughout the book and how she overcame each struggle.
“I overcame my negative thoughts and confusion and started evolving a clutter free mind and heart,” said Mishra. “Once negativity and confusion diminished the path to help, Parag started charting its own course.”
Mishra attended Jacksonville State University in 2000 to obtain her masters degree in special education. Most of her research papers and projects were based around her son Parag.
“I want to reiterate what I have said in the book, that a degree in teaching and special education in particular is meaningless without a loving heart,” said Mishra. “A service industry like this requires Mother Teresa’s heart in every teacher.”
At first, Mishra did not want to write the book. She values her family’s privacy. However, she was convinced to write the book in the hopes that it may offer some advice to fellow caregivers and parents of autistic children.
“The fact that Parag is happy and he has found a vocation that he enjoys makes the story worth sharing,” said Mishra. “This book has a potential to give new perspective and hope to parents, teachers and caregivers.”
Mishra hoped to get across two major points in her book. Her first point is, “Children with autism do not want to give anyone a hard time.”
“They do not have control over some sensory inputs which manifests in behavior problems,” said Mishra. “Before teaching them how to control those behaviors, we need to give them coping skills and then come up with an intervention plan.”
Mishra’s second point is, “We must talk and explain to the children with autism because they do understand.”
“Through this book I want to convey to the people dealing with autism that we are all together in this journey: Our journey,” said Mishra.