Life in India

Life in India

Life in India

Life in India is mostly expected to function without many of the privileges that I take for granted in the U.S. The contrast is so stark and striking. From my observations during this trip, it has become more clear to me that the ones that are not privileged are just focused on survival in the most basic sense. 


The stories of many that we depend on a daily basis is instructive, whether it is our housekeeper fighting against circumstances that the system here has thrown at her, like getting married off at 17 and now working multiple jobs at odd hours to raise 2 young kids around my age as a single mother or our driver that puts in long hours to send his daughter to college. I recently endured a power failure that was only mildly inconvenient when I learnt that several roads and even some homes were flooded from the rain that caused the power outage. The scale of these seems to be very different from the U.S., even if it is just my casual observation just from the comfort of my air conditioned car.


What was most challenging to process however is the plight of non speakers like me. I had the privilege of meeting a young non speaker, only slightly older than me. I saw the twinkle in his eyes of someone that is very wise, I saw the frustration and pain of not being to share his gifts and most concerningly I saw that the family had no support structure to plan and execute something that could help. This is a family that is aware, open and has access to resources. There are several other families that may not know what hit them or where to even begin. This is against a societal backdrop that is a far cry from acceptance, judging from the stares I got on flights and airports.


I look forward to learning more on this trip and contributing in a meaningful way.

Swarit Gopalan

About the Author

I am an 11-yr old autistic, nonspeaker that uses letterboard to spell/keyboard to type to communicate.I live with my family in Florida and go to Invictus Academy for school. 
I find a lot of solace in expressing myself through poetry. Music and nature also help me stay in the present, there is nothing better for me than to have my movement create a symphony with nature and to truly enjoy the sights and sounds. Living in harmony with nature is my life’s mission.
Right from the time of diagnosis, we are only told about all things we cannot or will not be able to do. Along with the check that is written to the doctor for the diagnosis, it often feels like our agency is written off too, especially without a reliable communication mechanism.  
Time to change the paradigm with more non speaker voices. It has always been a dream to share my thoughts and perspectives with the world so that I can be one of the catalysts to creating a better understanding of non speakers in general. 
My hope is that my words will help change the world from sympathy and pity for those like me to one of deeper understanding of our lives and allyship to ensure our rights.

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