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I Have Autism And I Like To Play Good Bad Tennis: Vignettes And Insights From My Son’S Life

Release date: 17 April 2023
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Parenting is a challenging job, and it becomes even more so for parents of neurodivergent childre... Read More

Product Description

Parenting is a challenging job, and it becomes even more so for parents of neurodivergent children who must navigate ableist systems that do not provide a nurturing environment.
Debashis Paul’s book I Have Autism and I Like to Play Good Bad Tennis offers a window into the world of such parents. The “I “in the title refers to his son Noel, who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder at the age of three and a half and died at 26.
Paul writes “Younger parents of children with autism must understand how to recalibrate their own ambitions and priorities in life; how to let go of the urge to vicariously achieve their goals through their kids.” The book is replete with examples of how he learnt about the gap between his expectations and his son’s needs, especially when it came to sports. For the father playing was about winning whereas the son was focused only on enjoying himself.
Noel did not care to impress or defeat, so he did not mind playing “bad tennis.”
The author’s experience of raising Noel taught him that children with autism “may not be able to form emotional and empathetic ties with friends.”
As a result, these children feel the need to “lean heavily on their parents, siblings or other family members and their teachers to play the role of the proverbial friend, philosopher, and guide.”
What makes the book so grounded is the author’s refusal to make things look pretty to inspire readers.
He acknowledges that acceptance is “a steep task” and that parents require “mental resolve and strength” along with “high levels of empathy.” Since they cannot afford to run out of patience when some things do not turn out as anticipated.
The book includes stories about times when a disruption in Noel’s regular structure caused him to lose control and act in ways that proved to be embarrassing or distressing. People around them called their son “extremely spoilt” and they had to navigate that reaction too.
Paul admits that other parents might have experiences that are different from his own because every person on the autism spectrum “exhibits unique characteristics of the condition.” His personal narrative is not meant to be a substitute for medical information. He includes two appendices at the end of the book, derived from the National Autism Society in the UK, and Musashino Higashi School in Japan, which uses a unique learning method for children with autism spectrum disorder.
The author writes about doing all that he could as a parent to empower his son to overcome challenges. This involved trying out various strategies that helped Noel make gains in terms of self-worth, physical dexterity, conceptual understanding, and social interaction.
Several sections in the book celebrate Noel for who he was. His love of music, sense of humour, concern for people who were unwell, close bond with his sister Ahvana, and his ability to lift anyone’s spirit with a warm smile and an innocent gesture, come alive through his father’s narration. One comes away feeling there is a lot to learn from Noel, who exposed, for instance the arbitrariness of some of the social convention that neurotypical people hold on to.
A moving anecdote in the book has to do with Noel at a Dussehra celebration. 
The effigies of Ravana, Meghnada, and Kumbhkarana were being burnt to depict the triumph of good over evil, and attendees at the event were cheering. “Noel was aghast that people could revel in the act of burning someone (even if inanimate).” The author notes: “The incident troubled him greatly. Noel’s problem was always with the idea of violence, irrespective of its form.” Noel ended up teaching his father- who grew up playing with toy guns - that symbolic violence was also a form of violence and must be condemned.” Even if it is enacted as part of a religious or festival ritual.
I cannot recommend this book enough – Noel is someone you should get to know.
— Extract from book review by Chintan Girish Modi, a freelance writer, journalist, and book reviewer. 

Product Details

Title: I Have Autism And I Like To Play Good Bad Tennis: Vignettes And Insights From My Son’S Life
Author: Debashis Paul
Publisher: Westland Non-fiction
SKU: BK0476570
EAN: 9789357762816
Number Of Pages: 240
Language: English
Binding: Paperback
Reading age : 18 years and up
Country Of Origin: India
Release date: 17 April 2023

About Author

Debashis Paul is a professional management and marketing strategy consultant with clients across New Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Kolkata. The lion’s share of his present work is for clients in the education sector. He has previously worked in the advertising field with top-notch global advertising agency networks. He has led several integrated pan-India public service campaigns pertaining to critical issues such as malnutrition, malaria and women’s health. He, along with his agency teams, has won many awards for advertising and market effectiveness awards—national and international (Cannes Lions and New York Festivals).

Outside his profession, one of his interest areas consistently has been child development psychology—much before he became a dad! Today, he counsels parents who have children with learning and social communication difficulties.

I Have Autism and I Like to Play Good Bad Tennis is the first book he has authored.

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