Overcoming cerebral palsy and running a support group

With his motorised wheelchair, Kumaran Kumanan makes a familiar face at 12th Avenue, Ashok Nagar. For him, this vehicle symbolises independence.

โ€œI enjoy the freedom of stepping out from home and watching the world around me, and the exercise always leaves me energised and inspired,โ€ says Kumaran, a practising psychologist with counselling as specialisation.

Kumaran has cerebral palsy (CP) which he was diagnosed as a toddler. He was home-schooled since Class V, and wrote Class X and XII exams through open school. He would then go on to receive undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from the Madras University.

โ€œI always yearned to be a part of an inclusive classroom, be with friends who would be happy to take me out but that never happened, and that plunged me into depression,โ€ says Kumaran.

Studying psychology brought a healing touch, as it enabled him to understand human emotions. He also coped with depression by watching cricket and movies; writing has also been therapeutic.

โ€œI have written a book in Tamil, Anandha Thaandavam, which is about my journey since I came to know that CP was going to stay with me for the rest of my life,โ€ says Kumaran, adding that the book is essentially about venting out oneโ€™s emotions.

The English version of the book, CP to CP: Cerebral palsy to counselling psychologist was released later.

Kumaran moderates a WhatsApp group โ€˜The Happy Hub Familyโ€™, which he describes as an inclusive group with members drawn from various geographies.

โ€œItโ€™s a support group for people seeking any kind of help in the context of disability,โ€ says 30-year-old Kumaran.

Over nearly three decades, Kumaran has received support from 20 therapists and still needs therapy. On the strength of this experience, he says, he would be in a position to help those in similar situation.

His parents and brother have been a pillar of strength to him.

โ€œMy mother was scared to drive a two-wheeler but she was forced to learn to drive the car to take me out for all my therapies,โ€ he says.

His brother ensured he got to work in films. In the Tamil film, Nenjamundu Nermaiyundu Odu Raja, Kumaran makes a debut as a lyricist. Says Kumaran, โ€œI have another movie project in the pipeline.โ€

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