Kochi Marine Drive is literally a bibliophile’s paradise with crowds gathering at the venue of the ongoing Krithi International Festival of Books & Authors to browse through books with an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Among more than 100 stalls, stands out the modest Autism Club featuring posters, magazines and books — prose, poetry, fiction, including a thriller by autistic children and their parents.
Gladly welcoming the visitors, Dr. C.P. Aboobacker, a medical doctor specialising in rehabilitation medicine and whose books on the subject are also there at the stall, points at the fiction, poetry books. “All these are written by these gifted children. People stigmatise them and underestimate them, but in reality, with a little support, they can do magic,” he says.
Moonlight, the collection of poems penned by 16-year-old Sherin Mary Zachariah, released a day ago by poet Satchidanandan, surprises with clarity of thought and eye for detail. Tender Tweets and Dew Drops written by 17-year-old Neerada Saseendran, Journey of my Soul by Nayan S., Hridayapoorvam by Niranjan, Mazhavillu by Sherin and Chandrakanth’s Guyil Ninnu Ruvilekk are on display at the stall. There are translated works too, like the thriller novel Beach… Peter Sir… Lollypop, written originally in Tamil by Lakshmi Mohan.
Vouching for their special abilities, Aboobacker says, “Nayan is a kid who doesn’t speak but his language is profound and very mature. Niranjan knows three languages and writes with the help of the computer. Chandrakanth is another prodigy who has a sixth sense. There is no language he doesn’t know and he is a mathematical genius. They are more talented than whom we call ‘normal’ people, but not many recognise this.”
Having worked with the parents and caretakers of autistic persons for their rehabilitation for years, Aboobacker says they need to be given care and support. “Autism is not a curable condition or even a disease. People around the autistic are the ones who need treatment and adaptation. These books are proof of their great talent, we just need to give them a helping hand,” he adds.
The Autism Club Kerala, which publishes the books, has been bringing out the publication Autism Voice, whose various editions and subscription forms are available at the stall. They are also organising a panel discussion ‘Inked Reflections from Autistic Minds’ at 3.30 pm on Saturday.