Rainbow moments with Autism

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Living with Autism is no easy feat. It is like being in a room full of people and still feeling you are all alone. All of them moving their body, making noise, the face changing with every word they speak and they also look at you. It is difficult to make sense of anything that’s going on. It is just too many things at once, and worse is all of them looking at you expecting you to look at them. All I do is stand as still as a rock not meeting their eyes showing I don’t care, but I am really scared.

Wanting something and suddenly feeling lost with words and not knowing how to ask for it. Out of desperation I cry out loud, throw things around and bite myself. Don’t know which of this behaviour got me what I needed. So I repeat all of those behaviours, whenever I wanted something.

I am interested in knowing everything that’s around me. And like to learn new things. But I have no idea how to tell you that. I don’t know how to tell that I am done with colouring cookers.

First time I met A , I found a child lost in a world of his own. His way of expressing anything was by throwing things around and biting himself and laughing aimlessly. But what I also found by the end of my observation was his willingness to learn new things. And also that he was done with colouring cookers.

We introduced Maths and English to him and slowly the “behaviors” started vanishing. He could speak or rather repeat whatever we tell him, but what changed was he also learnt to say what he wanted in one word. The reward we get for all these is an eye contact from him, time to time and a smile of acknowledgement. And that is our cue to know that we are on the right track, and we are in this battle together in a differently wired world called Autism.

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Fashion Consultant

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I am often asked what I do for living. People do understand the role of a facilitator for life skills and leadership skills. Special educator is also understandable. But Fashion consultant, I just get a lost look…..

And hence this blog……

As a Fashion Consultant my job is to give professional fashion advice and recommendations to individuals, customers or companies. We use our knowledge of trends and fashion principles to help others in the realm of fashion. Well that’s somewhat of a definition. Now let me explain.

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I typically work with individuals, or groups to help them make their fashion decisions, and also with corporates in their environments to help them build a brand/ Image that matches their companies brand/Image and their roles and responsibilities.

Now the question is how I arrive at the recommendations and advice for the client.

My core job is to advise customers and clients in making their fashion decisions. I make recommendations on clusters, entire outfits, colour palettes, styles and fabrics. This involves a lot of understanding about the customer’s needs in order to personalize and tailor suggestions to the client’s aesthetic preferences and personal style, body type, price range and the occasion for which the customer is looking for help.

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This also calls for a need to remain up-to-date with market trends and current fashions while maintaining a timeless knowledge of fashion principles and concepts so that it can be tailored based on the clients. And also analyse seasonal trends and implement them into the client recommendations.

We all need advice sometimes whether it is on finance, career, relationship, or for that matter style. So when it comes to style trust your fashion consultant….

Yours truly,

Indu Venugopal

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Happiness is having crazy friends!

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Maya Pillai, when I met you last month after a gap of 16 long years, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. We have had  crazy times together when we were roomies. You know what I’m talking about 😉 And let me refrain from explaining about those days here, I will save that for another time.

People change with times and that is inevitable with the lifestyle you choose to have, The jobs that we take up, the experiences life throws at us and for many more reasons. I believed I had changed. The things people have to say about me at times sounds like they are talking about a stranger. When I saw you walking in I could see few changes in you too. The obvious one being how you looked after 16 years :-P(that goes for both of us)  and then we were trying to be nice, with all that pleasantries . Gladly pretending to be nice did not last for long, as we are horrible actors.

One thing I realized the moment I saw you was how much I missed you. And I could see that in your eyes too. And both of us knew immediately that somethings….. Just don’t change!

It was that eureka moment where I realized few things about life.

  • It is very difficult to find someone with the same mental disorder.
  • If you are lucky to find one, don’t ever lose them.
  • And if you do happen to lose them, every second of your time spent to look for them is totally worth it.
  • Once you find them do not pretend that you have changed for good and everything now is normal. As it takes hardly a moment for them to read right through you. And remember they are the one who always knew that normal scares the crap out of you.

Friends like you often bring out the crazy, stupid, weird side of you. But when I look back, those are among the most amazing memories of my life.

Let me end it here by saying “Behind every successful woman is a best friend giving her crazy ideas”.

Let’s create a beautiful world with our differences

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Accept and respect our differences and prevent it from becoming the center of any relationships.

The world will be a better place to live in only if we start to embrace the differences and celebrate the individuality.

What children today need, is to develop the ability to function in this world beyond their classrooms. And to achieve this, mainstreaming and inclusion is the right way to turn to, where typically developing children and children with special needs are learning together. And in this space they get to learn much more than just academics as here an atmosphere is created of compassion, tolerance and understanding.  The beauty of this structure is to see kids who have no idea about all the labelling that we do, and yet how beautifully they understand each other. How they get along by adjusting to each other’s challenges and short comings, and how they help each other to cope with the situations and how they find their own way to coexist.

I also believe that a little knowledge and familiarity about Children with special needs will help in terms of better acceptance and more tolerance. So here we go..……..

This time about Autism

Before I list out things, let’s get few things right.

Fundamentally, all human beings are created equal, worthy of the same respect, dignity, rights and access. Equality regardless of race, sex, religion, gender, culture, disability, number of limbs, intelligence and the list goes on is the right of all. Being autistic and therefore neurodivergent does have some different outworking’s in the way they put their life together.

Commonly they have differences in communication, sensory, and social aspects of life. All these are difference and not a deficit.

Their communication is different because they process information differently. in the realm of both verbal and non-verbal. They process sensory input differently and so their emotional, physical and intellectual responses to that input are also different. Their social interactions are also different, because of the combination of the way they experience the world due to the different neurological build that they are born with.

Let me explain this further……

  • They may appear uncaring and unsympathetic to others, but believe me they are just simply waiting for you to enter their world so that they can show you how much they love you.
  • They might not make eye contact and so be unable to interpret facial expressions or sarcasm. They are totally fine with you telling them what you actually mean.
  • They may make social faux paus by standing too close while talking; all you need to do is let them know the right way of conduct in public.
  • They speak uncomfortable truths and embarrass you or others, if you are not ready for the truth, all you need to do is to not ask for it.
  • They might flap their hands or Stim because it provides a sensory input that helps them regulate the neurological state. Just like how you would bite your nails or shake your legs when you are tensed….
  • They just might cover their ears at loud noises or shut their eyes at pulsing flash lights because it helps them deal with the sensory overload. Yes their sensory issues are huge and beyond our comprehension, which means they see, hear, smell, taste and feel in different ways. For example, the feel of grass under their feet may make them upset, the sound of a car horn may hurt their ears, the smell of vinegar may make them cry, or the texture of upma in their mouths may make them gag. When they say no just respect their NO.
  • Their intonation might be less varied than others. But if all of us spoke alike the world would be so boring….
  • They follow certain routines and get anxious about being unable to complete a routine. Help them finish what they started.
  • They may become agitated at sudden changes to the agenda, so it’s a good idea to keep them posted on what’s the plan for tomorrow. Unlike us they don’t like surprises.
  • They may not use their mouth parts to talk. Not being able to speak is not the same as not having anything to say. They are communicating what they feel even without saying a word. All you need to do is watch.

Autism is not, and never has been a disease; it is an expression of human difference and diversity. The world needs all kinds of minds.

Autism has always been around us only the numbers are increasing by years.

It is time we know that it is not our differences that divide us, it’s our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences that do.

The retro look

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80’s were defined by the unique blend of different styles, especially the over –the-top clothing in bold colors and patterns. Everything in the 80’s had to be big, bold and loud. So any outfit that includes bright color contrast, extravagant designs with shoulder pads or puff sleeves will nail the look.

The old school fashion fascinates me. It helps us reconnect with a past which was not nearly as complicated. I feel it’s amazing the way these designs can be showy and casual at the same time.  The classic cut and design of many retro style dresses makes them very easy to wear as well.

I am a huge fan of belts. A belt is an easy, versatile way to really make your outfits look unique and interesting. A wide belt is one of the most flattering and eye-catching accessories when paired with the right outfit, especially worn with a poodle or swing skirt. Keep in mind that wide belts won’t work with every outfit, but if paired well they look awesome.

Here I went for Unique Vintage cocktail polka dotted dress with poodle skirt and fitted bodices.  I had accessorized it with a wide buckle waist belt, which looks absolutely perfect for hopping across the dance floor.

 

If not now, when?

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Women Empowerment refers to increasing and improving the social, economic, political and legal strength of the women, to ensure equal-right to women, and to make them confident enough to claim their rights, such as:

  • freely live their life with a sense of self-worth, respect and dignity,
  • have complete control of their life, both within and outside of their home and workplace,
  • to make their own choices and decisions,
  • have equal rights to participate in social, religious and public activities,
  • have equal social status in the society,
  • have equal rights for social and economic justice,
  • determine financial and economic choices,
  • get equal opportunity for education,
  • get equal employment opportunity without any gender bias,
  • get safe and comfortable working environment,

Coming to think of it I fail to understand when and how women ever lost these rights? If you see decades back women always had these rights and they knew they have it and used it appropriately. A seismic shift in the attitude of people should have happened over a period of time. Now whatever was the cause of it, religious, political, situational… the sad part is nobody saw it coming. Even worse, it was let to happen.

Women’s day is celebrated every year, where one day in a year everybody talks about women empowerment, treat them with respect, show love and it goes on and on……. Next day it is forgotten and everyone eventually minds their own business. We rather celebrate a human day. And we all decide to act like humans, so that the whole issue of inequality doesn’t even exist. Man and woman are both born with different characteristics. Both stronger in their own way and that’s how it is meant to be, Nature likes to keep the balance.

 A women is born physically different from a man, she has the right blend of strength with grace, courage with compassion, wisdom with vision and tenacity with tolerance above all this a nurturing instinct. Nobody can take these qualities away from her unless she gives it up herself. All the messages talking about giving a woman confidence, courage, back them up to prove themselves etc.… etc.…. amuse me. Why should we wait for someone to give us what is there within us? Why should we lose ourselves and then try to find ourselves again? So ladies and girls, let us stop expecting others to stand up for us, instead stand up on your own. And if you fail, it does not matter, bounce back. Let it take time, it does not matter. Nobody is keeping a count. Do not play the victims card.

It all starts with a decision how you choose to live your life. There are lifestyles that either support or damage success.  Create lifestyles that support your success. Do not get addicted to approval and have a thick skin when it comes to rejection.( no” is just someone’s opinion, anything is actually possible.)

To all the women out there, just remind yourself that you are good as you are. You don’t have to wear a designer dress to look good, but when you walk in, look like you own it. Stand as tall as you can, shoulder back, head held high.

Never miss to make eye contact with everyone in a room when you enter and when you do it, do it with an engaging smile. (Remember you are a woman, grace and compassion is what you are born with)

Hand shake, make it strong and firm even if you get a wimpy one.

Sit down with grace and don’t hesitate to take space. Never cower.

Be resilient and admit that you are not perfect. (That’s the law of universe; nobody is born perfect admitting that does not make you small.)

Be the best in what you choose do!  Being a homemaker does not mean being jobless, it is also a decision, I would say, a rather tough one.

There is no force equal to a woman determined to rise!

Let’s beat the heat with some blues…..

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Blue is the favorite color of all people. It’s nature’s color for water and sky, but is rarely found in fruits and vegetables. It can either be calming or cold depending on the shades of blue.

Most blues convey a sense of trust, loyalty, cleanliness, and understanding.  And I always wonder why the color is connected to sadness…..Feeling blue, morning blue, Monday blues L  I don’t find sadness in blue. According to color psychology exposure to the color blue causes the body to create chemicals that are calming.

Rather blue is associated with the fifth chakra, located at the throat and therefore connected to communication. Someone who speaks the truth is “true blue.” J

Now coming to clothing in blue; Blue is the only color which maintains its own character in all its tones… it will always stay blue;” as told by Raoul Dufy, French Fauvist Painter.

A dark blue suit is professional business attire next to black. Rather the only color that can compete with the mighty black.  I would say, if you’re going to wear blue, go dark for work and light for parties.

Life is black and white only until you paint it bright!

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When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes.But when you photograph people in black and white you photograph their souls! – Ted Grant

Black and white is just right and simple, until you create something different and beautiful and make it colorful!

Colors are more than what they seem to be. They impact your mood and emotions because they have an influence to the flow and amount of energy in the body. Colors can affect your aura and  color therapist can vouch on this.

The colors you choose  throws light on your personality, it’s a way of self-expression.

Color Pink is very contradictory. In western culture it is associated with  feminine traits and in some countries like Japan it is associated with masculine traits. Pink has a calming effect on  people when used in moderation, but over use it and it will lead to irritation and  inspire  feelings of weakness in men. Now you know why it’s contradictory, it is complicated.  😉  

 

This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine………

 

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Open the news paper Monday morning and what you see on the front page” Kerala actor raped in her moving Audi”.

Just got back from a trip to Kerala. My father insisted as always that he would drop me to station and he did. As we were waiting I could see the tension in him as he was looking around to find women who would be travelling along with me in the same compartment and found none. Finally one lady walks in and he has a sigh of relief as he confirms she is traveling to the same destination and more important in the same compartment. They had a brief conversation on how girls need to be more careful now a days and by then the train arrives. As I settle he says bye to me not before asking me to cover myself well as it will get cold soon. I’m more or less used to this, as it’s going on for the last two decades. Today’s news just confirmed why fathers worry about their daughters no matter how old they are.

We are in the age of the Aquarius. It is said to be the time when women will rise. It is the time when we will come to the awareness of female strength. And one can see it all around us. Mary kom, P.V Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Saina Nehwal, Sania Mirza, our Dangal girls Geetha, Babitha , TV Anupama IAS and many more. Now this does not mean we create a matriarchal society. We don’t want either, let us just chuck the patriarchal/ matriarchal nonsense. It is just high time we bring up our kids as “human beings ” just a good human being and not just as a “boy ” or a “girl”.

A boy need not be brought up saying he has to take care of the girls in his family. Instead he can be brought up by teaching how he should respect a woman and elders be humble and do his own work. Do household chores together. Help each other and watch what you speak, even if it is to the beggars on the streets. Have conversations with them and help them understand what they want to do with their life and guide them towards that. Let them chase their dreams, help them to be expressive. Be strong and  also sensitive,so that you are sensible enough to face the challenges. Most importantly, tell them boys can cry too as they are also human beings.

To the girls – a girls body goes through so many changes as they grow up. Now that cannot be a reason to start helping them to build a negative self image people. Kids are meant to go out and play and that applies to girls too which will help them build their reflexes. This helps the child to react appropriately to any kind of situations.Give them appropriate clothes so that they don’t have to feel conscious when they run or walk. Yes, I mean the sports bra for teens. Bring them up as human beings. Be humble, respect everyone, be polite, be strong, do your own work and do not wait for others to help. Help them find their strength and guide them to that direction. Their life purpose is not just to find the right guy and set a home. Let them chase their dreams. And more importantly bring them up to believe in themselves, no matter what challenges life throws at them. More importantly teach her that their dignity and purity does not lie in her vagina.

Is love overrated?

I am a sucker for romance. No one enjoys a love story, no matter how silly it may be, more than I do. Everything I’ve ever read or seen has taught me to believe in love’s existence, and that eventually, we’re all meant to find it. Every time an Ana was united with her Christian, or a June meets her Roy, or a Rahul/Raj met his Simran/Pooja/Anjali, I fell in love with the idea of love.  And God forbid if  I happen to watch a Romeo and Juliet or  Qayamat se Qayamat tak where there is no happy endings, I cried for days.

For me love is for those who have the audacity go through the grind of romance, fun, passion, craziness, boldness, pain, happiness and sometimes stupidity all at the same time. And I believed that being loved like that was my birth right, and the universe owed someone like that to me. I guess this is what made it so difficult for me to find love in this universe. And being a logical person on top to that, ruined it further. I know I sound a bit confusing, but I figured out that I am someone who swings between two worlds. An imaginative world and a totally logical world. This logical way of thinking should have set it during my growing up days when I realized that, that kid of guys don’t exist in real world.

So of course I researched and here’s what I found. Love is any micro moment in which we share a positive emotion with another person — mother, sister, soul mate or stranger. It’s marked by a bio behavioral synchrony that unfolds across two bodies and brains at once. You’re not only sharing a feeling but also body movement, like nonverbal behaviors, and there’s a mirroring of biochemistry and neurofirings. There’s a mirroring in what you can see and also what is unseen but can be detected with different scientific measures.

But also, people can’t experience these micro moments unless they feel safe. Loneliness and depression and anxiety are enough to make people feel unsafe when they interact with other people.  One can make another feel safe by  planning fun things that allow you to experience these micro moments, which serve as booster shots. You do actually need to be proactive about creating opportunities to share positive emotion. And believe me this works.

Now this made so much sense to me as much as the movies and the books did too.

This led to me thinking what if some of us weren’t meant to find love outside of our own selves? What if life didn’t throw a hero our way? Is it possible to be a heroine without a hero anywhere in sight? Like no knight in shining armor!

The version of love will then be one that revolves around mutual respect, understanding and compatibility in contrary to kind of head-over-heels, passionate, inconvenient, all-consuming and often devastating love. When you give a relationship so much of yourself and it still isn’t enough, it’s very draining.

I only wish everyone were also prepared for this side of the reality while growing up. That instead of being constantly assured that their knight in shining armor was somewhere on the horizon, they were also been told that it was just as easily possible that he didn’t exist and that they have to do their own rescuing. I am glad I was brought up by those few strong women who told me stories about a girl who doesn’t fall in love, is happy nonetheless, has great sex with a man who she respects and who respects her back, makes babies, goes on exotic vacations, sometimes alone and sometimes with him, and lives happily ever after. And the girl (the heroine) in these stories was always typically charming, hardheaded, determined, and polite. Remembers her manners but will drop them on a dime to teach someone ‘What’s right’. And yes she would always be a dusky girl with beautiful wild eyes and hair and with a killer smile too. This more or less explains where my logical brain comes from.i-dont-want-a-knight-in-shining-armor-just-a-man-in-boots-and-plaid