Aditi Sowmyanarayan’s journey from a person on the autism spectrum to a writer

Small Stories Big Thoughts is an endearing collection of stories by the 17-year-old Aditi Sowmyanarayan, who did not let her neurodiverse condition hinder her creativity

March 02, 2023 04:39 pm | Updated March 03, 2023 04:41 pm IST

Aditi Sowmyanarayan

Aditi Sowmyanarayan | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

How would you feel if you set out on a trek along a beautiful mountain path with many interesting sights along the way and you reach the pinnacle to see a view so beautiful that dulls the sights along the way, in comparison ... that sums up my feeling when I first laid my hands on the final copy of the book.

This is the response of Aditi Sowmyanarayan to her recently-released book of stories Small Stories Big Thoughts, published by Bengaluru-based Bookosmia.

Aditi is a 17-year-old with non-verbal autism and believes the ability to put her thoughts to words is her superpower. Author of three books to date, her latest, Small Stories..., is an endearing collection of 21 short stories. Whether drawn from her experiences or fiction, the stories depict the writer’s assimilation of ideas and situations. While mentioning she enjoyed the creative process of writing every single story, her favourite ones, she says, are Canine sabha and Still stubborn. “I love to find humour in everyday situations and Still stubborn sums up my attitude,” she says.

Tech triumph

“Aditi’s journey from a non-speaking person on the autism spectrum to a published writer has been a long and exciting one,” says her mother Shwetha Srivathsan, adding that Aditi was introduced to Avaz, a text-to-speech app on iPad to communicate, at Ishanya India Foundation, a special school in Bengaluru in January 2020. “With time and practice, Aditi developed the skill to communicate with people. It was at the beginning of 2021 that Aditi began to type out her thoughts on her MacBook. What began as simple writing exercises based on picture cues given, became a catalyst to Aditi’s creativity.”

Having begun blogging in November 2021, Aditi has 23 blogs to her credit and contributes blogs regularly to Bookosmia.

“When we first realised that Aditi could write, we provided her with cues, exercises and opportunities to build on her skills, many of which resulted in the stories in this book,” says Shwetha.

Parental challenge

Shweta took a break from her finance and marketing career after Aditi was diagnosed with autism to face one of the most challenging phases in her life. “Raising a child with differential needs and finding meaningful engagement for the child as she grows into adolescence and, eventually, adulthood is a path less traversed, one that comes with unique challenges. For instance, the time when Aditi was first diagnosed with autism, we were fairly clueless as to what that entailed, and finding the right programme — one that eventually helped Aditi find her voice — was one of the challenging phases.”  

Shwetha recalls an incident when Aditi got agitated at a crowded restaurant and, in her hurry to rush out, stumbled and fell leading to a fracture in her leg. “The orthopedician treating Aditi stated that in such situations Aditi would need support and help. He suggested that having a sibling would be a good idea. We had our second daughter when Aditi was eight-and-a-half years old. Seeing her baby sister talking all the time made Aditi a bit anxious but finding her voice through Avaz and the ability to express herself made a difference in her life,” says Shwetha who is happy that they need not second-guess their daughter’s mind.

Aditi loves listening to the music of different genres, reading fiction and watching movies and shows on Netflix — the latest favourite being K Drama. Does she plan to write more stories? “Writing is my passion — the thing that makes my world go around. I plan to write more stories, novellas and even full-length novels. This is just the beginning. The best is yet to be!” says Aditi.

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