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Mother’s love knows no boundaries

Woman quit her job and learned to sign to help her speech impaired son lead a normal life

28 Sep 2020 / 12:11 H.

CARING FOR a child with speech impairment can be a daunting task.

But for Santha Krishnamoorthy, her determination made it easy, just like learning the “ABCs”.

Santha first noticed that her son, P. Kolandaveloo, was not responding like a normal baby when he was only three months old. That was 30 years ago.

“When I tried to coax him to respond by making baby sounds to him, his eyes remained transfixed on the wall,” she told theSun.

As months passed, Kolandaveloo slurred every time he tried to talk.

“He wasn’t responding when we called out his nickname, Kumara,” she added.

Santha then took him to a doctor who confirmed that the boy had cerebral palsy.

“The doctor told me that he could not hear me but as a mother, I knew better,” she said.

Instead of giving up on her eldest child, Santha quit her job as a tutor to focus on helping him lead a normal life.

She reached out to her in-laws who urged her to send her son to India for treatment.

At 11 months old, Kumara underwent physiotherapy at a hospital in Madurai.

Santha stayed with her in-laws in Karaikudi in Sivaganga, in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

She recalled the problems she faced having to take her child in the bus every day for his treatment.

“The hospital was 18km from the place where I stayed,” she said.

“The buses were usually cramped and the heat was unbearable.”

That experience nearly broke her spirit but Santha was adamant that her child would get what he needed, at any cost.

The mother and son would make that annual pilgrimage to India until Kumara turned 16.

The constant travel and medical fees took a financial toll on Santha, and she had to sell her car to pay for Kumara’s corrective leg surgery.

“It cost me more than RM90,000 but never once did I seek financial aid,” said the mother of two who hails from Penang.

She added that she did not receive any help from her husband, who was a priest. Even her friends questioned her “obsession” with finding a cure for Kumara.

“My family thought I was mad.”

Undeterred, Santha later found a job in the hospitality industry that offered her flexible hours while Kumara attended a school for children with special needs.

To communicate with her son, Santha took up sign language classes at the Penang YMCA.

“I needed to know if he wanted anything, if he was in pain, and sign language was the only way to get through to him,” she said.

Kumara starting “talking” to his mum only when he was seven.

A lively young man, Kumara is now an icon at the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf. Together, mother and son travel nationwide to share their experience with other parents going through the same challenges.

Kumara, a Liverpool fan, said Mohamed Salah is his favourite footballer.

His ambition is to become a teacher.

To other parents with special needs children, Santha’s advice is to “tap their special powers and never give up on them”.

“They are special,” she added.

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