Sanjid is 18 years old and has autism and multiple disabilities. He is a good performer and singer and he also advocates for himself by speaking on the rights of persons with autism, intellectual and multiple disabilities. Besides this, he works in a shop as a sales assistant.
His parents discovered that at the age of five, he could not respond like other children of his age. Seizures and low vision were his major problems at that time. They consulted with doctors, who diagnosed him with autism along with multiple disabilities. Due to a lack of proper information and knowledge about such disabilities, he was considered a curse for the whole family. His father left his mother for giving birth to such a child. But his mother didn’t break down. Instead, she started to raise her four children on her own.
Sanjid and his family live in Geneva Camp, a slum area in Mohammadpur, Dhaka that originally housed Urdu-speaking refugees stranded in Bangladesh following the 1971 Liberation War. His mother tried hard to get him admitted into several mainstream schools, but all her efforts were in vain due to non-cooperation of the school authorities.
SEID through its regular survey program identified Sanjid and incorporated him into one of its Community Therapy Schools. When he came to SEID Trust, he was unable to communicate with others and perform activities of daily living. Over time, through special education, education materials, therapeutic and referral services, vocational training, and recreational facilities from SEID Trust, he has made tremendous progress. Sanjid’s caregiver has also received various capacity-building trainings and orientations from SEID Trust to help reinforce the progress he has made at school.
SEID included Sanjid when it formed its self-advocacy group, the first of its kind in Bangladesh. Sanjid with his natural leadership capacity had a prominent role in the group, now serving as the elected vice president. He plays an important role in the regular coordination meetings of the group through maintaining discipline, assisting the new members, and motivating his peers.
Sanjid has represented his group in various local and national level workshops, trainings, dialogues and meetings. His bold speeches and presentations help others to think positively about their rights and potentiality and the capability of such persons with disabilities.
Sanjid, as a good performer and singer, has attended various national and international programs. He is an actor in the self-advocacy group’s play on the right to education, which has been performed as an awareness-raising tool in many advocacy programs. He was also a member of the national cultural team that performed in the ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders and Developmental Disabilities in Bangladesh and South Asia’ event organized by the Government of Bangladesh, WHO and Autism Speaks Global Autism Public Health Initiative.
Sanjid’s success has changed the attitudes of his family members. Now he is advocating in the greater arena to promote the rights of persons with disabilities, especially children with autism, intellectual and multiple disabilities.
AKM Badrul Huq
The views expressed in this story are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the NLM Family Foundation.