Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Celebration of Neuro-Diversity

June 18 is Autistic Pride Day and it is celebrated by people with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome world wide. It is a day for them to celebrate their ‘neurodiversity’ and for the others to learn about Autism and develop our understanding towards them.

“Autistic pride is pride in autism, about shifting views of autism from "disease" to "difference". Autistic pride emphasizes the innate potential in all human phenotypic expressions and celebrates the diversity various neurological types express.” Wikipedia

Our lives revolve around our senses and the responses they give to the stimuli in the environment. We hear people saying “I need my tea to be cold”, “The labels on the neck of my dresses irritate me”, “I can’t remember things unless I see them”, “I can’t eat anything mushy” etc. We ourselves would have these not so common, little limitations.
At instances our lives become so uncomfortable even when simple things don’t go the way we want them; There is extra bit of sugar in the evening tea that you enjoy most after a tiring day of work, or there is a loud ‘papara band’ outside when u have a report deadline tomorrow.

People with Autism Spectrum Disorder fight their way through life day by day in a world designed for the neuro-typicals. Being neurologically atypical or one should call them neurologically diverse, Autistic persons don’t register the sensory inputs the way we do. Eventually their responses to stimuli also differ. Due to the lack of understanding many of these responses are labeled as ‘socially improper’, ‘behavioral deviation’ or simply ‘problems’.
An Autistic child starts screaming while waiting in a line to go to the assembly. Reasons could be, there are a lot of noises around which come as a sensory over load to the child, hence to drown those noises the child screams loud; the child is exposed to an unfamiliar situation with a lot of unfamiliar faces, the child is not simply able to feel ‘at home’; or it could be another sensory issue we fail to see and the child is not able to explain to us.

Sensory disorientation is only one dimension of Autism Spectrum Disorder. Lack of social interaction, very limited communication, limited ability for abstract thought and in some instances metabolic disorders are other issues associated with the spectrum.

As some of us believe, not every Autistic child is blessed to be a savant; not every Adult with Autism is destined to become world famous like Temple Grandin (a scientist with Autism). These children and Adults need a lot of support and understanding from the other side of the world so they can be who they ‘AUT’ to be.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

God is a public servant.

Do you have a lawyer to advocate on your behalf?

No, sir, I speak for myself. I don’t know anyone here.

Fine. You may do so.

“Did you create them?” the judge asked the ‘God’ pointing at the human beings. God, standing in his stand, looking very worried replied in a low voice, “yes your honor, but it was not a deliberate mistake, and I am not intending to make the same mistake again. It was just an experiment that went wrong. What ever I did was for the betterment and nothing else.”

The judge with a smirk “I understand that you don’t intend to create them again as there’s no need. They are capable of duplicating themselves on their own. Do you have any witness to produce on the courts to prove your 1st point, i.e. you claiming the act in question as not a deliberate act?”

God, even more worried and with tears filled to the rim of his eyes, “I never thought I needed a witness for my experiments.”

The public prosecutor is called upon to present his case.

A human being for sure he is, with all the qualities of his species, walks tall to the centre and with a voice that could be heard to miles without a microphone goes “your honor, the accused, as I have already mentioned in the petition, did an atrocious, selfish act which had no base of interest in the world nor commonsense. It was purely an act to fulfill the accused self interests, the mere urge to prove an experiment, has now grown into the complicated unsolvable problem as we see it now. Therefore I ask your honor to punish him with a life sentence by which he will be restrained from further outrageous experiments and also make him realize the depth of his act. I rest my case here.

The Judge after a brief silence, wears his glasses and reads out from a piece of paper:

since the accused has no witnesses to prove his case, and since the damage caused by his acts are obvious to everyone, I see a strong need to restrict the accused from further such deeds as punishment and precaution. I condemn the accused to life time rigorous public service. I further instruct the officials not to allow release on the basis of good conduct or even ill health. It is in the best interest of the world. Public should be allowed to view the accused at any time. This is to create awareness among the public not to engage any such experiment in the future. Since the witness has no relatives or friends in the world, interested charities or individuals should be permitted to support his basic needs, food, clothing and shelter. I want to say that I pray that this is the first and last time in the world court an accused is let to be punished by the out come of his own crime. May it be a good lesson for any so called ‘Gods and saviors of the world’ who wish to prove their points to the world. ”


Court adjourns.

This is how ‘God’ ended up in temples, churches, monuments and even trees. God is still serving man kind and is a public servant, only unpaid.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Flag

It was all like a bad dream
Of yeater years
One fine morning
Peace has arrived

Peace has arrived
So we are told
So we believe
So we behave

The flag on the light post
One side still tangled
No one notices
As the smoke from the crackers
Blinds the eyes

inspired by a photograph by a SriLankan blogger whoes name unknown

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Top 10 reasons why my life is so full and fine :)

Reason 1: I have a life.

Reason 2: I have been living it for the past 25 yrs.
So, eventually I have become quite an expert in living my life; Living it with my whole heart.

Reason 3: There are four other people whom I call my family; my father, mother and two sisters.
Never too indifferent or too curious about my life and for some weird reason, they have been interested and been part of every inch of my life. They have been my morning cup of tea, the breakfast news paper, the evening walk and the midnight stars and they always left the afternoons to me. They knew when I needed them; they knew when to keep away.

Reason 4: I happen to bump in to the most interesting and fascinating job assignments.
The numerous number of projects I’ve worked in, all of them different and yet the same. My colleagues, those familiar friendly faces that greet me with cheerful hellos when I enter the office at quarter to 10 on most mornings. The offices and its people, they have been tolerating me like nothing. Bless them all.

Reason 5: My cousins, uncles, aunts and their homes.
When ever I need a break from home, when ever I need a different environment, when ever I want to feel at home and yet don’t want to be home, I can always go camp at one of these places.

Reason 6: My friends.
Some of them I met in a cool white building when all of us used to wear white frocks, socks and shoes and carried books in a bag, lunch in a box and pencils in cases. Some others I met on the street, in other buildings, offices, classes etc. etc. Another group I call them my chat friends, some of whom I have never met in person. They are always there. They are always there to listen to me, to talk to me, to reply to my emails, to flood my email inbox with a million chain mails and never expect me to reply to a single one of them. They greet me on my birthdays sharp at midnight. We talk, and a lot. We chat, and L-O-T.

Reason 7: SriLanka is a paradise.
You can take my word without second thoughts. Hot, humid, humanized Colombo, sun burnt Southern cost, chilled Hill Country, salty Northern cost, lagooned Eastern cost, ancient North central, crafty Sabragamuwa…………….
People so colorful, very noisy, always late, with smiles and eyes that smile.
I never get tired of this place.

Reason 8: Little luxuries of life.
24/7 internet, Dialog mobile with my friends and family list full and over flowing, Eagle CD shop with all latest movies (some camera copies sure have tried to ruin my evenings, but who cares, after all I pay only 60), Barefoot, MC, ODEL and the likes,100, 101, 155, 154, 138 and the rest, the rickety criss-crossing three wheelers and the friendly three wheeler guys who always want more, Sunday Observer, NDTV, a million reality televisions, the restaurants, the super markets, the rotti kadeis, the road side fruit shops, the 2729729, the 688688 and the 588588, the mee kiri uncle at my door step every weekend and many more.

Reason 9: Tea and chili. Both very hot.

Reason 10: The exciting future.
Every morning when I wake up and walk up to grab my tooth brush, I have no clue what the day is going to be like. This clueless-ness is bliss.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It is not all over

I just finished reading this post, from a blog I follow. I was attempting to write my feelings about this whole ‘it is all over’ scenario since the day they showed the remains of Prabakaran on TV; could not pool up the mood for it till a minute ago. It is a time of confused emotions. I am happy, I am sad, worried, anxious, feel betrayed etc. Am I happier than being sad? Am I more hopeful than being anxious? I am clearly, positively happy about the victory over terrorism which was born just before me and has lasted through out my life till they showed him dead on TV last weak. (Does it still survive in a corner? Will it take root in a different form? I’m in no moods to give these a thought. That could be my next post.) It is pretty disturbing to see him and his colleagues, many I assume truly believed in their leader and are way too young to die like this, on TV again and again. Very saddening to hear about the ever growing numbers on the lives lost tally; Heartening to hear the president ensuring ‘One Nation One People’ with guaranteed dignity to all minorities; Disheartening to learn that the Elam notion still lives in some Tamils and there is wee bit of possibility for all this chaos to strike again; Very annoying to see some Sinhala siblings still struggling to distinguish Tamils from LTTE. I am in a hurry to see that ‘One Nation One People’. I don’t see it yet. Since the time I remember, there was war; there was violence; deaths and grudges. I am sick and tired of all these. But, beyond all these, the one question that is ringing inside my little head is WHAT IS NEXT?

So what’s next?
Celebrations going on, fine. A9 is been cleared, great. Talks of Yal Devi are once again brought in to discussions; it was on news before and later disappeared. What is next? The question still remains valid and so is the problem. Problem in the sense, on which name it all started, on which name we lost so many lives, that problem still remains unsolved. None of the political leaders have so far presented a practical ‘step forward’ to solve the real problem. A9 is surely going to be an important player in linking the South with the North. It can only achieve that and nothing more. Yal Devi will bring back memories, pleasant memories of once upon a time co existence in my Father and his contemporaries. What about my generation who were born and brought up at a time of war? What is to be done with the remnants of the Elam notion that is left hurt and wounded and still haunting some Tamils? How do we deal with the Sinhala Only and recently budded Sinhala Buddhist notions, which flames are burning quite high at the moment fueled by the recent updates? May be, we didn’t have any issues with each other before the LTTE times. At least we didn’t have THIS many problems. I don’t think it is time to go digging in to the history books. Obvious cracks have been made during the course of the war and the cracks need to be mended and fixed ASAP. More sensitive time has arrived.

Let’s accept the fact that not all of us SriLankans are happy at the moment. There are concerned citizens. There are fears in some of our minds. These concerns and fears surely have reasons. It is fair by a people who have lived through more than two decades of war to have concerns about their future. These concerns and fears should be first accepted and then attended to.

So many of us are struggling with our memories. True life experiences have left life long memories in us, and many are not very pleasant. One of the worst feelings in life could be to see someone devaluing our life experiences and misinterpreting our memories to be something else other than what we think of them.
I can to some extend, if I tried, understand what a Sinhalese mother goes through when she remembers her little son who lost his life in an LTTE suicide attack. It would be pretty much the same with a Tamil mother who remembers her daughter who was killed in a government military air strike. They have lost their only hope. They have lost it in the name of something which they never wanted or were part of. I think it is fair by them to be angry at ‘the other group’ and wanting to ‘give it back’. These feelings are 1st to be understood and then accepted.

Once I feel that I am understood and accepted, I’m ready to understand and accept the other. When my feelings are hurt and devalued, I don’t care about the other person. We are all humans after all aren’t we?

The politicians failed to ‘talk things over’ and solve problems. May be it is time we take over. A heart that is ready, a mind that is open with a resolve to see change, not to forget ‘language’, our sister languages I mean (It is important to note that there is a school of argument that points fingers at the language issue for being the main cause of the war), with all these ‘One SriLanka’ is not very far. It is not all over, it has just begun.

Let me now go and add a few words to my Sinhala vocabulary.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Memory Game

Memories live as long as you remember. Memories keep you alive; memories kill you. Memories are sweet; memories are bitter. Memories are lullabies and insomnia. You remember to forget and forget to remember. This whole memory business is a highly complicated dizzying roller coaster.

I remember memorizing a numerous things since the day I remember and now I don’t remember even half of the million things I memorized. I remember my 3rd birthday well. At least I remember the ‘I am 3’ pin I wore on my white shirt that day. I remember how it hurt when I got one of my ankles in my father’s bicycle, I remember going to the doctor, I remember her house, I remember her pair of scissors but I don’t remember the doctor except that the doctor was a woman. You’ll never know what to remember and what to forget. You remember everything you try hard to forget but you easily forget your friend’s birthday!!!!!!! That is funny isn’t it?

Scientists believe memories get stored in the brain. I bet they are wrong. My belief is memories are stored in the heart. That is why “Oh noooooo, I have his Name in my throat, but can’t get it out shaaaaa!!!!!!!” happens. Memories are stored in the heart and they travel from there via the throat to your tongue. Get it?
May be the scientists are right and I am wrong. Forget about that. Remember this, memories live as long as you remember.

“Will SriLankans remember to forget?” I read this somewhere on a news paper article. ‘A million dollar question’ I thought then. Some of you have guessed it right, the article was about the ethnic conflict and war in SriLanka; looking forward to the next step, i.e. the period of reconciliation after it is all over.
Are we going to forget the past and start all new? Are we going to re live the struggle and turmoil by carrying our bitter memories forever?

Is it fair to forget? Does it help if we remembered?

It is not fair for all the lives lost if we forget; it is not fair for the new generations to come if we remembered. Memories may help in validating the meaning of our past; memories may keep us wrapped up in our past and never get us out forever.

As I said in the beginning, this whole memory game is complicated. I never seem to have the clue to win, or even to loose. I am not even sure where the memories are stored to start with.