The brush glides with the comfort of a seasoned painter. The unwavering focus is on the paper as the colours put together the story. As each stroke of the brush adds to the canvas, Radhika is adding life to images, an art she has learnt as a teenager.

The masterstrokes with the brush have given her a new life, after she was coached in her early years by teachers who were patient in teaching the special child. The hard work paid off as Radhika has won has a number of awards and recognition, which now adorn the walls of her Delhi home.

As a kid, Radhika was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Her parents knew little about the medical phenomenon which, doctors say, is a genetic disorder which causes physical and mental abnormalities in the patient.  The challenge with addressing Down syndrome is that each patient is unique and the severity of the symptoms can vary a lot.

“The first challenge was to know what Down syndrome was all about. You know, at that stage, the term Down syndrome was not very commonly known,” her father, Ramesh Chand, recalls. “In the early days, the doctors termed her condition as Mongolism,” he adds.

As she grew up, the more worldly worries begun to get stark. The nursery school in the neighbourhood did not want to admit her. The doctors did not give her a chance and told the parents that she would not live past her teens.

Her parents did not lose hope. They found a friend, philosopher and guide in her teacher, Dina Guha, who insisted that they too undergo training to handle a child with special needs.

The encouragement from the teacher was the turning point in the life of Radhika. She had to be taught things as basic as learning to walk, going up and down the stairs, wearing her clothes and brushing her teeth. Each similar small step, which many take for granted, became a big leap for Radhika.

Now, since the last 27 years, Radhika has been teaching art at a school in South Delhi. Her painting exhibitions, solo and in groups, have been held at Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Sydney and London.