‘My mother prevented me from being a vegetable’

Creative: Tito with his mother Soma Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore on Tuesday.

Creative: Tito with his mother Soma Mukhopadhyay in Bangalore on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: Sampath Kumar G.P.

Staff Reporter

Tito penned his autobiography at

the age of eight

Bangalore: “My mother prevented me from being a vegetable,” Tito Rajarshi Mukhopadhyay, who was diagnosed in early childhood with severe non-verbal autism, wrote on Tuesday.

At an interactive session organised by the Autism Society of India and Spastics Society of Karnataka with his mother Soma Mukhopadhyay, Tito took questions raised by parents of autistic children and gave written replies.

Disturbed with his mother’s red bindi, he asked her to take it off by flapping his hands frequently. The 20-year-old, playful as a child while replying to the parents and teachers, at times walked out and had to be brought in by his aide. His mother said this was his way of showing emotion.

Tito, who spent three years at the Spastics Society of Karnataka before he went to the United States with his mother, said he still remained a student of Geeta Shankar, his teacher there.

An individual distressed with the label of being “mentally retarded”, Tito rose to fame after penning his autobiography at the age of eight years. He was recognised by Richard Mills of National Autistic Society of the U.K., who visited Bangalore and discovered this extraordinary child in 1998. He got Tito’s story documented by the BBC .

Before Tito flowered, his mother Soma Mukhopadhyay, exhausted by her son’s hyperactivity, tantrums and sleepless nights, left her home in Kolkata and travelled to Mysore and then to Bangalore in search of support.

“Here, with the help of some therapists and friends, including his teacher Pratibha Karanth, I worked with him day and night, teaching him step by step to find himself. Initially, his flapping of hands and extreme behaviour disturbed me because I saw him from society’s point of view. Later, I realised it was his way of showing emotions,” she said.

When another teacher at the society asked him to suggest to integrate autistic children into the mainstream, he immediately wrote: “Sorry about Dhawal.”

His mother explained that Dhawal was his friend at the Spastics Society, who had passed away recently.

“When he heard about it, he became very emotional and wrote a poem on him. The moment he saw the teacher, he remembered him,” his mother said.

He had a word of advice to teachers and parents.

“I think you should forget to label your child and educate him. Education is a key towards a better life and teachers should not forget that,” he said.

Does he think about his future?

“Yes and no,” said his mother. “Thinking about the future means anxiety. So it is better not to think. We are good friends and he will stay with me till my last years… till I go to a home and he goes to another home.”

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