Being a medical practitioner at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, she left the job with an aim to build a world of acceptance and positivity for autistic children. Dr. Sonali Kataria MBBS, MD (AIIMS), DNB, MNAMS and founder of Sunrise Learning shares her story of becoming a teacher from a doctor in an interview with Health Live.
How did you get involved in such a noble cause of helping children, who are fighting autism?
“Sunrise Learning is a beautiful dream,that is beginning to unfold slowly and steadily.
When my son was diagnosed with autism, my world was shattered. After running from one doctor to another and from one therapist to the other for almost a year, I realized that I was only losing precious time and his childhood. So, I decided to take the responsibility of helping my child myself. Fortunately, with my background in medical science (must have been God’s plan, for sure), I was able to manage a lot of therapies on my own at home. I applied my knowledge and experience, and most of my entire mother’s instinct to start seeing the results. My child started opening up, like a bud.
Then I got the chance to do a life-changing training program. That was the Son-Rise program from Option Institute, USA. This program brought out the real awesome in me!!! I never knew I had so much goodness, love and beauty locked inside my stressed brain. This program unleashed the unyielding, invincible mother in me. I came home with so much passion, enthusiasm and love for my child that I couldn’t wait to hug him, kiss him and tell him that he is the best thing that ever happened to me. That was a gorgeous turning point in our lives.
And that’s when the little Sunrise dream was born. I was really excited to share everything I had learned and gone through with all the mothers, who were also on the same boat, rocking on the same stormy seas, like me. My husband and the rest of my family totally supported me.
What were the challenges, experiences in your journey so far?
Leaving a juicy (and luscious succulent) central government job, with so much perks and money, so many power projects, and a luxurious lifestyle, especially when I was at the peak of my medical career, was a decision that I could take with so much ease. It came so naturally to me at that time. I always knew I was born to be a teacher (and so I had opted teaching field for my MD too). From teaching medicine graduates and post-graduates to toddlers, the journey has been exciting.
This childlike excitement keeps me going. And this enthusiasm is the crux of Sunrise Learning.
Unleashing the child within you, is the essence of Sunrise Learning. A child responds to love, acceptance and a non-judgmental playful approach, exactly like adults respond to empathy and compassion, humanity and goodness, love and concern.
Finding a connection with a child with autism is the most challenging part. And once we get a small glimpse of a connection, building a bridge to his heart, to his feelings, to his emotions and even to his basic needs is the next big step. And I am very proud that I and my team of teachers are doing a great job.
What are your expectations from Sunrise Learning?
In future, I see Sunrise Learning as a one-stop destination for all the needs of children on the autism spectrum. I want mothers to be proud of their children, and their uniqueness. So, I wish to build a world of acceptance and positivity, where the mothers learn how to help their children, cope with challenges, teach basic skills and even educate their children. Once the mothers learn, they feel empowered and in control. And automatically the stress and the frustration reduce.
I also dream of having a fully-equipped residential place for autistic children, with every facility to make their lives comfortable and enriched. A place where they learn to live comfortably, learn basic and advanced skills, share happiness, undergo formal education, take hobby classes, obtain vocational training in various fields, get jobs, earn, make long-lasting relationships, marry, have children and spread smiles.
Dr Sonali Kataria was also a Pediatric Neuroscience Faculty in Autism (University of Melbourne, AUS), she also done Post Graduate Diploma in Education Administration (Symbiosis),Teachers Training in Special Education for Autism (American Tesol Institute) she joined The Son-Rise Program (Autism Treatment Center of America, Massachusetts, USA) .