According to her mother, those around her realised that she was intrigued by music and rhythm at a very young age and seemed to have an especially remarkable memory for whatever song she had been listening to.
And so along with therapy her parents have introduced her to the piano.
Her parents have also introduced her to the piano in order to nurture her musical skills.
“We are encouraging her to play the piano in line with this love for music. But we are trying other things as well. My internet research has told me that autistic individuals, if supported, do very well,” says Kerubo.
Natasha has also taken well to swimming and is excellent at it, according to the mother.
The mother of three says she has always set small goals for her in an attempt to impart new life skills as they go along.
We have learned not to make plans for her, but to accompany her progress instead of mapping her life," she says.
She thinks of her daughter’s situation as, differently abled and doesn’t like the idea of her being called disabled.
She says her siblings, a set of twins now one year and four months, have helped her development milestones.
“I was worried when I gave birth to the twins because I thought she would sit on them or mishandle them. But she has been very good with them. If she finds them doing anything she wouldn’t approve of she will pick them and bring them back to me, The twins have helped her out in terms of developing her social skills, because of the level of interactions,” she says.
For instance, Natasha breaks into bouts of outbursts a few times in protest for being held “hostage” for the photo shoot we have to do for the story. Her mum notifies us: “She’s probably tired. She has been having her pictures taken since early afternoon. She doesn’t take too kindly to interruptions. She is intolerant of people interfering with her personal space and gets frustrated like this when her routine is interrupted for too long.”
“I have taken to speaking openly about Natasha’s condition, anywhere I go with her…at the mall or supermarket even at the salon… to improve understanding of her behaviour, I talk about autism. You can imagine being with her and then she throws herself on the ground. I always make an effort to explain and people are always very understanding. Talking loudly about it has helped me accept it further. I feel this helps create general awareness too, but I didn’t ever try to hide her away from the world.”
But things haven’t always been rosy. There are times when she would just pick her daughter up and retreat to the comfort of their house after sensing rejection from others.
“When she was little, I worried about her little interest in interacting with others, including children of a similar age. I tried to help her by taking her outside to play with her peers, you know to see if the social skills would develop… but then I’d find that every time I took her to a group of kids, the parents came picking their kids one by one as if she wasn’t supposed to be there. It really demoralised me,” she recalls.
She briefly wondered is having Natasha at such a young age had anything to do with her autism but her research proved otherwise so she let go of any guilt she might have felt.
STOOD BY EACH OTHER
Kerubo says her and the husband had to put up with all sorts of negativity including that from close relatives.
“Things were said…ooh this isn’t from our side of the family ooh…I need to go to a certain witchdoctor, but my hubby and I have stood by each other all this time. If I had listened to all the things that were being said I don’t know if I would be where I am.”
“Today as a family we have fully accepted and continue to do what we can to improve Natasha’s life, but because we realise what a struggle it is finding support and institutions that are suitable for kids like her we started Feruzi Charter School in April this year,” she adds.
The school which is based in Karen, has a capacity of 40 children. “There are no schools specifically dealing with this condition, and that is my worry because we are not helping these kids develop to their full potential,” she points out.
The couple started the school after the twins came as they could no longer afford the fees Natasha’s previous school charged and also wanted a school with special focus on autistic children.
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