KOCHI: Simmi Santha, a behavioural therapist from Toronto in Canada, was taken aback by the stress on Reena Mathew’s face. “Reena was desperate to get the right treatment for her eight-year-old autistic son, Vinu,” Simmi said.
“Apart from that, her personal life is in a shambles.” she said. Reena had fallen in love with Roy Mathew and got married. When Vinu was born, both got a shock of a lifetime as the child was autistic. After two years, Roy divorced Reena. “Reena has been left alone to fend for herself and her son,” said Simmi, adding that she seemed to be heading towards depression.
And Simmi, who grew up in Rourkela, is starting an autism clinic at her mother’s home town of Mallapally in Pathanamthitta district. “This is a humble beginning,” she said. “I hope to set up more clinics across the length and breadth of Kerala. The state needs advanced health care facilities for autistic children.”
Her clinic, Reeta Peshawaria Centre for Autism, will be inaugurated here on Monday in the presence of former IPS officer Kiran Bedi, after whose sister it has been named. Dr Reeta Peshawaria-Menon was one of Simmi’s teachers at the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped in Secunderabad, where she completed her bachelor’s degree. Not many people know that Reeta, who died of breast cancer on July 14, 2012, is Bedi’s sister.
At the inauguration ceremony, Bedi will release Simmi’s “Manual for Parents and Caregivers”, which has been brought out with the help of the Rs 1-lakh Reeta Peshawaria Fellowship which the latter won. (Some names have been changed)