When Stuti Doshi was born with Down Syndrome (DS) 21 years ago, there were moments when her mother Falguni asked herself, “Why me?” However, she quickly accepted the situation and wondered, “What now?” She and her engineer husband Nitin shared the same positive outlook; they were living in Vadodara at the time with their five-year-old daughter Pariniti.
The couple did their research on Down Syndrome, talked to other parents whose kids had the condition, and met the physician who had made the diagnosis. The doctor explained that Stuti would have delayed developmental milestones and they would have to put in extra effort to teach her a wide range of abilities. The family facilitated all the necessary therapies and exercises, continuing them at home. It soon settled into their routine. Pariniti, who is a software engineer, still helps her sister with her speech exercises.
Falguni, who had wound up her software development business to look after Stuti, resumed work just seven years ago. She believes that everyone faces obstacles in life and that the only option is to “deal with them and move forward”. Children with DS have an innocent quality about them because they are not manipulative, she says. “There is one extra chromosome in Down Syndrome condition, which means extra love, extra care and extra innocence!”
Stuti was enrolled in an inclusive school with special educators once she had achieved the minimum milestones. She completed her 10th grade there. Following Nitin’s transfer to Bhopal five years ago, the family relocated there and discovered the excellent special school, Arushi, which offered a wide range of extracurricular opportunities. Plays are performed, and working actors are brought in to instruct. The school also takes children for outings (outstation as well), which has made Stuti independent in many ways.
She loves listening to music, watching TV and dancing to upbeat party songs. She has always had an intense interest in acting, and her ultimate goal is to get into it professionally. She has mastered the art of mimicking different speaking voices. Whenever she watches a serial, she quickly adopts the tone and manner of the characters’ conversation and she continues the same manner of speech at home! She would love to have acting as her full-time career.
Stuti can read and write at a pre-literate level and is developing her understanding of money and time management. She is a huge bread fan and loves burgers and sandwiches, so much so her family has to keep a close eye on her diet because she has a tendency to gain weight. She has been working as a front desk trainee at the Taj hotel in Bhopal for the last six months. She has also been doing an online course for 18 months, training as an assistant teacher. The course also covers professional communication skills, which she found quite useful for her interview at the Taj. She enjoys her training at the Taj which she describes as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Asked if there is anything about it she dislikes, she replied, “I get angry occasionally and I am unable to control it. And I don’t like it.” Her work entails standing for extended periods and her legs sometimes hurt but she never complains.
Stuti can prepare tea, noodles and parathas on her own and can cook simple meals with the help of her mother. She does routine grocery shopping in nearby stores and helps around at home. She has her own YouTube channel <http://youtube.com/@stutidoshi-thenatakcompany87> and her Instagram handle is stuti.doshi.33
Falguni says she has never met a person who didn’t warm to Stuti, and has even got support from strangers on train journeys. Now that her daughter is doing her training, she hopes she can lead a self-sufficient life with the help she needs. She also hopes Stuti will eventually get a chance to fulfil her dream of getting professional acting roles.