I am no bird, and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will – Charlotte Bronte
This is the quote that defines Chinmay Nair, a 14-year-old budding entrepreneur, born in California, USA. Everything seemed perfect in his early years till he was diagnosed with Autism at the age of three. Shaken by this revelation, his mother Preetha took a break in her career to look after him. It was difficult for the parents to come to terms with the diagnosis, but they were fortunate to have found support from people in the initial years. His academic journey began in a special education public school in the US along with immediate early interventions and then they decided to move back to Bengaluru, close to family. But it wasn’t easy for the family to accept his diagnosis, considering it to be merely delayed communication, and not realizing that a long and turbulent journey lay ahead of them.
Chinmay attended Speech, Occupational therapies, and special education in individual and group settings in India until the age of six, and then the family relocated to Dubai where he attended school in an inclusive setup with a support teacher. During the early years, his parents invested their time in educating themselves about Autism and how they could support his additional needs. His dad Vineet did a course in Special education from KPAMRC, Bengaluru. His mom Preetha is a BACB board certified behaviour therapist and worked with kids with similar conditions.
During the early years Chinmay’s parents noticed his musical abilities so they decided to teach him Carnatic classical music, and fortunately, he got many opportunities to participate in various stage events in Dubai. His first ever music album was released by none other than Ms KS Chitra early this year. Currently, Chinmay is getting trained in classical music, and is being encouraged to display his talent through his melodies .
Another skill that Chinmay picked up from a skill building workshop recently is fabric block printing. He gets to explore and experiment on various textures, and this really excites him. He has used this technique on sarees , cushion covers , table runners and highlights and promotes his products on his Instagram account. The pursuit to building his brand “Chinuzz” is on. His parents wish to gradually develop more skills related to his work, for example tracking inventory, packing, managing money etc. All this will lead him towards his financial independence.
Apart from this Chinmay also loves outdoor activities like swimming, skating, and bicycling.
Chinmay’s parents feel blessed to have incredibly supportive friends and family who accept him wholeheartedly and include him in their activities and festivities. They have always strived to build an empathetic and supportive environment around him where he is accepted and engaged constructively. In Dubai, they have found many parent support groups and communities for special needs people . This has helped him tremendously to build his social skills and give him a loving and enriching social environment.
One concern that every parent of a person of determination has, is about their children’s dependence on them. Chinmay too needs to acquire many skills to live an independent life . His parents are building those skills be like grooming, managing the house, cooking for himself, managing money etc .
Chinmay is currently following ASDAN curriculum in the Special school he attends in Dubai. ASDAN is a UK based curriculum designed for all kind of learners for building functional living skills. His parents are confident that this will definitely help Chinmay in his journey towards independence. They see a ray of hope after every storm that shakes their paradise.