Published: 24th August 2017
How Roghan Baskar battled autism and turned a hobby into a career in robotics
Roghan Baskar aced Robotics at an early age and now he is everyone's favourite at New Shores International College in Bengaluru, where he is following his dreams to build specialised drones
Roghan Baskar was two years old when he learnt how to use a computer. A few years later, his parents found him hunkered down next to a bicycle he had taken apart. As Roghan’s father watched his son’s bright, intent eyes move back and forth as his little hands put the bike back together, he thought, “Maybe Roghan would like to learn about robots.” And Roghan took to robotics like a fish to water. “He’s better at assembling robots than kids ten years older than him,” his robotics instructors marvelled. Years later, what began as a hobby is now turning into a career.
“When people meet Roghan, their first impression is that he is smart, quiet and well-mannered,” says Roghan’s mother. But what you can’t tell by just looking at this tall, brawny college student is that he has autism, a behavioural condition that affects one’s social skills and speech.
While it can affect people in different ways, the main impairments are usually similar between autists. “One of the reasons we wanted Roghan to attend college was to improve his social life,” says his father, whose son is a Computer Science major at New Shores International College, Bengaluru (NSIC).
The surprising part of the college is that Roghan’s classmates have been so understanding and friendly. They give him all the support he needs
Autism is a spectrum disorder as some people with autism are able to function within society, experiencing the disorder more mildly than others who struggle to adapt to social norms. Due to the lack of awareness in India, doctors often misdiagnose autistic people with schizophrenia or mental retardation. Since many teachers don’t know about autism or how to handle such individuals, stigma surround autism in schools and colleges.
In Roghan’s case, most of his schooling was overseas and he didn’t encounter any difficulties during that period. But when the Baskar family returned to India, his education took a turn for the worse as many mainstream universities were not willing to accept Roghan. So when they called NSIC, they were surprised when they were asked to come in for an interview.
If the college’s friendly environment wasn’t enough to convince Roghan’s parents, its Individual Education Plan clinched the deal. Roghan’s IEP programme was created by people who are directly involved with him and it gives him the opportunity to interact with his peers and learn from them. “Students’ needs can change, which means that we need to try different approaches over time,” explains Khyathi Gohil, Roghan’s professor, adding, “We use visual aids while teaching Roghan and additionally, we analyse his academic progress.”
Since Roghan is a skilled C and C++ programmer, his teachers are constantly on the lookout for opportunities that match his interests. “With such dedication, it does not surprise us that Roghan hopes to one day start his own company that will specialise in drones and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV).
This explains why he is a pure gem
Since starting the IEP programme, Roghan’s social skills have improved and he has progressed well academically, scoring 69% in his first semester
Roghan is intensely focused. He plans to start his own business that will specialise in drones and UAV’s (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles), an upcoming field in technology
Roghan’s family claim that their success is due to their positive attitude and are sure it will continue to help them succeed in creating a future for Roghan
Statistics show that 1 in 500 people in India are autistic. In spite of this, many schools refuse to accept an autistic child
Roghan’s teachers have noticed that he can imitate practically anyone, making his classmates howl with laughter