Autistic champ swims through turbulent times

However, despite their son’s successes, Narasimha acknowledges that acceptance is still a challenge for individuals with disabilities.
National gold medalist Nikhil Gowtham with his parents | G Satyanarayana
National gold medalist Nikhil Gowtham with his parents | G Satyanarayana

VISAKHAPATNAM: A disability should not be considered as an excuse but rather as an opportunity to explore life beyond its limitations, says Manda Narasimha, the father of 12-year-old Nikhil Gowtham, who is autistic and has Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Believing in life beyond disability and looking at the brighter side of the life hoping it would achieve great things, Nikhil’s parents reflect on their journey, the challenges they encountered, and the crucial need for global support for children with autism.

Nikhil, who was diagnosed with autism and ADHD when he was three-year-old, recently won gold medals at the National Para Swimming Championships conducted by the Paralympic Committee of India.

“Nothing much has changed since we learned about our son’s condition, but the amount of care, affection, and respect we have for him has immeasurably increased. We were suggested to try swimming classes for him, and the coaches who hadn’t taken up classes for such children were taken aback by our son’s achievements,” recalled Narasimha.

However, despite their son’s successes, Narasimha acknowledges that acceptance is still a challenge for individuals with disabilities. “There is a need for the public to accept people as they are. Even if the school management is willing to enrol, parents are not comfortable with it,” he lamented.

Despite facing rejection from many schools, Nikhil found support from his home school teacher, Vandana. She has taken on the responsibility of teaching him basic academic subjects. Vandana believes that with a little extra effort, children like Nikhil can achieve great things in life.

Nikhil’s family believes his story should serve as an inspiration to others with disabilities, proving that life beyond disability is possible with hard work, dedication, and support.

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