Navigating Autism: Akshay Shanbhag's Journey of Resilience and Creativity

Born on November 22, 2000, in the vibrant city of Mumbai, Akshay Shanbhag's life journey has been one of overcoming challenges and embracing creativity. Diagnosed with autism at the tender age of 1.8 years, Akshay's early years were marked by struggles to communicate and socialize, leading to concerns raised by educators at Moondrop Nursery School. However, through the guidance of professionals like Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy at Ummeed Child Development Centre, Akshay's parents found hope and direction.

Despite initial setbacks, including expulsion from a normal school due to behavioral issues, Akshay's resilience shone through. With the support of educators like Mrs. Vidya Chikte and interventions like Arts Based Therapy sessions, Akshay found avenues to express himself and forge meaningful connections with peers. His journey of drumming, initiated during these therapy sessions, became a source of comfort and self-expression.

Academically, Akshay faced challenges such as handwriting difficulties and language barriers, but with accommodations and support from schools like Vidya Valley School and The Orchid School he persevered. Exemptions from subjects like Hindi and the use of a laptop for exams enabled him to focus on his strengths and excel academically.

Transitioning to higher education posed new challenges, but Akshay's determination remained unwavering. Despite initial difficulties adapting to college life at IISER Pune, he found solace in his passion for music and community engagement. Co-founding the West Pune Music Club provided a platform for individuals with special needs to showcase their talents and uplift spirits, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Akshay's journey culminated in remarkable achievements, including defending his thesis and securing a BS-MS degree from IISER Pune. His internship at IIT Bombay and performances at events like Disability Month in Mumbai further exemplify his commitment to personal growth and community impact.

Receiving accolades like the Ummeed Awards and Healing Light Awards serves as a testament to Akshay's dedication to making a positive difference in society. By providing platforms for individuals with special needs to shine and spreading hope through music and community initiatives, Akshay Shanbhag embodies resilience, creativity, and the power of embracing diversity.
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