Anindita & Suvra Paul
Age of parents:
50 and 51
Age: 18 Years
Is this your only child?
Diagnosis of child:
Raunak was born with Down Syndrome of type trisomy 21. What this means is that there is an extra chromosome in the 21st pair of chromosome in every cell of the body.
This extra chromosome is responsible for his “special” physical features and his delayed cognitive ability. People with Down syndrome may have some or all of these physical characteristics: a small chin, slanted eyes, poor muscle tone, a flat nasal bridge, a single crease of the palm, and a protruding tongue due to a small mouth and large tongue. Some other common features include: a flat and wide face, a short neck, extra space between big toe and second toe.
What are the biggest challenges facing your child on a daily basis?
When we learnt at birth that Raunak had Down Syndrome, we went through the normal emotions of “why us”, “what now”, etc etc. After a week or so, we suddenly woke up – hey! Raunak is our very own and by the way, he has Down Syndrome. Like any other child, a child with Down Syndrome has his own potential.
Knowing this has helped us to help Raunak. This has became our goal in life and we moved on -no more looking back or crying! As he has grown, we have reprimanded him for his mistakes and rewarded him for his achievements. The journey continues - no different from any other parent.
Would we call them challenges? No, we’d rather say these are the “joys of living”.
What are the happiest moments you have with your child on a daily basis?
It starts with seeing his smile when he wakes up. Every moment is a happy moment when he is around. He makes us smile and laugh all the time.
His favourite phrase is “be happy”. Life is full of fun for him. He goes to school, plays tennis and soccer (if you are not a Man U fan you are in trouble ). He loves to eat out, loves to dance, loves to go on holidays and he has an amazing sense of humour.
We feel so proud when his teachers are full of praise about his lovely attitude! He never stops amazing us with the way he is growing, developing and maturing! Truly, he has made us believe that nothing is impossible.
Are you married?
Has your special needs child had an effect on your marriage?
In a very positive way. We are more connected then we thought we would be.
Are your family and friends supportive?
We consider ourselves very lucky to have such a supportive family and wonderful friends who love Raunak as their own.
We came to South Africa just after we got married in 1995. When Raunak was born in 1997, we decided that it would be best to stay in RSA for him to receive therapy and other interventions. This was not an easy decision to make but we are in constant contact with our families. As the years have gone by, we’ve made new friends and are now surrounded with so many good people in our lives - they are our extended family.
What has your child taught you about yourself, both positively and negatively?
Our lives have changed since we’ve had Raunak. We have learnt so much about life. Everyday we grow and learn through him. He has taught us how to love unconditionally. He has taught us how to respect everyone - no matter who they are and what they do. To be compassionate and caring.
Raunak has taught us to stand up in difficult situations and to never give up. He has taught us to smile no matter what happens. The immense pleasure you can get from the tiniest of things in life. Life is very simple for him - enjoy and be happy.
He is a inspiration to a lot of our friends. This makes us feel so proud to be his parents!
We are blessed to have him!
Do you take time out, if so what do you do to relax?
We have never felt the need to take time out by ourselves - without him.
Raunak loves people and loves to have them over. So we have friends come over – that’s our relaxation.
What has made the biggest difference to your child’s quality of life?
A whole lot of factors put together have added to Raunak’s quality of life.
After his birth his paediatrician told us - “Always remember he is your child first and then comes the fact that he has Down Syndrome”. He also reminded us that every child has their own potential. We have always kept this in our minds and have treated him as we would any other child. We have never given into the Down Syndrome diagnosis. We have always taken him to every social gathering or outing we have gone to.
His second home is his school Unity College. Unity have played an important role in getting him to where he is today. In building his self-confidence and independence.
We have recently started practicing Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism – a practice that works through self-empowerment. This practice has brought a huge change to him, he has become more compassionate and confident. He seems more peaceful and happy.
Our friends and family who adore and respect him for who he is, have also made a huge difference in his life.
A huge thank you from the bottom of our hearts to our families, friends and all his teachers for being in our lives. And for their love, affection, support, guidance as this beautiful journey continues with Raunak.
What is your dream for your child?
First and foremost we want Raunak to be happy. We want him to be independent in life. For him to be able to have a job that makes him happy which gives him a sense of responsibility and fulfilment.
We want him to always keep smiling and be blessed with the best that life has to offer.