I Stand by him!


“We are each other’s harvest; we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” – Gwendolyn Brooks

The deep bond that is shared between a brother and sister is indescribable. There is a sense of forever commitment, belongingness, security, support and inner strength that helps them achieve bigger things together. It is a pure source of courage in the face of adversity. Such a special bond is shared by Dipti Lalchand and her sibling Avinash Lalchand, who was diagnosed with Down Syndrome.

Dipti is a Special Educator and Job Coach, Head of Work Placement Unit, at Al Noor Center for Special Needs, Dubai and her sibling Avinash Lalchand, aged 30 years, resides in Mumbai India, and is currently employed at Sofitel BKC, Mumbai.

When asked about the relationship she shares with her POD sibling, Dipti lets nostalgia overcome her as she recalls the bitter-sweet memories of their growing years with so much to be thankful for. Today, they live in different cities, but their bond has grown stronger through time and trust. He remains restricted to a regular form of communication due to his speech challenges, but whenever she visits, she is his confidante to whom he expresses the unspoken without any apprehensions. He shares all his problems with her, whether at home or in the office, they open their hearts out to each other, and he expects her to be his voice.

When asked what challenges she faces managing her POD sibling, Dipti says it is a lifelong process, quite similar to the occasional issues one faces with other neuro typical siblings or family members, only they are a bit more intense and unpredictable. One needs to be on a proactive mode most of the time and expect the unexpected. The key is to communicate at every stage, to work together, build trust and find solutions. She confides that it isn’t easy always, sometimes you do not find a middle ground, but in the real world, it’s harder to convince neuro typical than to handle a POD.

Dipti says she tries to extend as much support and assistance as possible to her brother. She began with little things like eating, sleeping, hygiene, and then grew from there. She reiterates that it is not an isolated support, but a communal one. From taking him shopping for his favourite clothes to entering a dance club where the sound of music and dance engages him, it was most important for her to include him in all family events. The more you normalize the situation, the more they feel included. Many-a-times, she has to be involved in caregiving when parents are unavailable.

As a Special Educator and a Job Coach, Dipti has been able to contribute significantly to the progress he has made over the years. She carries the responsibility of being a part of his education and training with his intervention team, and works closely with her family to reach his goals. Post his employment, she follows up frequently with his office staff, as many a times they need to understand what could have been done differently. There are no wrongs in the process, she is able to give a different perspective which is instrumental in his progress.

When asked how she manages to balance her work and personal life with additional responsibility of a POD sibling, Dipti says though they live in different countries, she tries her best to visit him every 3-4 months, and to meet with his office management and his therapists to keep track of his progress. Geographical distances are no hindrance to her dedication and commitment towards her sibling. She is always there, if not physically then on a call, lending a listening ear. And most importantly, she feels it’s important to be there behind the scenes, following up with everyone concerned ­– that’s the role one can play in their POD siblings’ life.

Dipti gives credit to her sibling in shaping her personality. After years of watching him go through his hurdles, every small progress bought major joy to the family. Every little step has been a victory and they have encouraged him at every step, giving him unconditional support. She believes she has developed a strong sense of compassion, empathy, patience, adaptability, resilience and grit towards the world and her own mental barricades, to be able to achieve more in all respects.

 “Our brothers and sisters are there with us from the dawn of our personal stories to the inevitable dusk.” – Susan Scarf Merrell

Nisha Tandon

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