Alapati Naga Sowjanya takes pride in introducing her daughter Alapati Tejasvi who has three developmental conditions.
The 10-year-old was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, microcephaly and autism at a young age, after her first seizure attack. She can barely sit, understand instructions or recognise her parents but last year she surprised many with a water-related feat. Tejasvi entered the India Book of Records for floating on water for 33 minutes 42 seconds. The certificate issued on March 2022 says this is the longest duration undertaken by a special needs child.
A big credit for this goes to her parents Sowjanya and Vamsi Krishna who with a positive outlook on life continue to give the best of therapy to their daughter. They have been trying different medical treatments to see Tejasvi cross milestones.
“Tejasvi was eight when she was first taken to a pool in Neelankarai, where her trainer and aqua-therapist S Nataraj noticed her ability to float on water without much support,” says 37-year-old Sowjanya. Breathing is generally a challenge for children like her but Tejasvi was able to pull off this feat.
She is trained at the pool thrice a week and has no fear of water.
Her parents are now encouraging Tejasvi to surpass her own record, this time by floating for more than an hour. “The biggest milestone she has crossed is being ale to sit with some help,” says her mother.
Besides caring for Tejasvi, Sowjanya has been in the forefront of a few initiatives to help parents of children with special needs.
‘Shake Hands with Special Needs’ was started by Gayathri V, another special mom, and Sowjanya in 2018 to help families struggling to meet the medical expenses of children with disabilities.
“Therapies and other medical expenses can burn a hole in the resources of a family with special child and I have seen it, so we started this in a small way. I reached out to my old students for help and we pooled in ₹1.2 lakh in two years to support three families,” says Sowjanya, a former school teacher and a resident of Nanganallur.
Sowjanya makes it a point to jot down her learnings from taking care of a child with multiple disabilities, on her Facebook page. “I never knew I could do so much and we are happy in our small world,” says Sowjanya and quotes her favourite line — “Smile back to the staring eyes’.
Twenty special moms honoured at awards event
Sri Arunodayam, a home for abandoned children with intellectual disabilities (ID) in Kolathur, hosted the ‘Special Mom’ Award function on August 6, honouring 20 mothers for 2022-23. More than 100 applications were received this year from families of children with intellectual disabilities across South India.
The winners — mothers of children with ID — were selected through a stringent vetting process by an eminent panel, said a release.
The winning mothers are: Alapati Naga Sowjanya, Chennai; Ambiga S, Tiruvannamalai; Bargavi K B, Chennai; Dhanalakshmi P, Coimbatore; Jayakodi S, Tirunelveli; Kalarani, Kanyakumari; Kamala S, Chennai; Maheshwari L, Coimbatore; Mary C, Chennai; Nirmala M, Chennai; Ponnammal K, Tiruvannamalai; Pooma, Kanyakumari; Pothiyammal G, Chennai; Prathiba Sudhakar, Chennai; Ruckmani S, Chennai; Sajeetha Parveen Syed Ibrahim, Chennai; Santhakumari J, Madurai; Sasikala Baskaran, Chennai; Srikala V, Chennai; and Subbulakshmi M, Tirunelveli.
The winners received a certificate of excellence, a trophy and a cash award of ₹ 15000 each and gift hampers, said the release.
Launched in 2017 by Iyyappan Subramaniyan, founder and managing trustee, Sri Arunodayam, the event is aimed at extending empathy towards families that have persons with disabilities.
In a release, Iyyappan says that mothers of children with disabilities have to brave many odds and this award is to showcase the inspirational role they play in society.