Playing Doctor

A parent pushing his child to perform surgery is pushing too hard, experts say.

Silverman tested Akrit. Because of client confidentiality, she cannot reveal what is in her report -- but Jaswal was bitterly disappointed with its contents. "She has criticized everything," Jaswal said. "But we know his knowledge and we know his activities. It is just somebody's report." Although experts have recommended enrolling Akrit in gifted programs, Jaswal said his son is intent on going to medical school.

Sitting in the motel room, Jaswal produced another report, an evaluation from New Delhi psychologist Dr. O. C. Kashyap, who concluded that Akrit "is so full of confidence and may at times have an inflated view on future outlooks," but shows "no signs of psychiatric abnormalities."

"He shows superior IQ," Kashyap wrote in his July 13 evaluation. "This child is unique in displaying much higher level abilities and if more opportunities are extended, he could perform exceptionally at a much higher level."

Akrit Jaswal, the boy wonder, in Denver.
Akrit Jaswal, the boy wonder, in Denver.
Akrit Jaswal performing surgery in India.
Akrit Jaswal performing surgery in India.

Jaswal dismissed the critics in India as "fools," insisting that he held a press conference for his son only because news outlets were constantly pestering them. He displayed snapshots of Akrit playing with other school children, and ordered the boy to recite nursery rhymes, which he did. Akrit also listed his favorite movies -- The Mummy Returns and Exit Wounds, then described his favorite sports, such as volleyball and football. He rolled his eyes, rubbed his hands and fumbled to name a favorite toy, jokingly offering "dissection instruments" and then, finally, "toy pistols."

"I will build a dinosaur," he asserted." And a dragon, also. A real dinosaur. I will! I can do it! I will!"

"In other things, he is a boy," his mother said. "The kids are always calling to him, `Come play with us." But in studies, he is special."

Jaswal insisted that he and his wife are not forcing Akrit into anything. "He is forcing us," he said. "I am not in this, sir. He decides himself. He discusses what he wants to do with us. I never push him. Whatever he wants to do, he does. This is his desire. How can I exploit him? He is my son. I love him too much."

Again and again, Jaswal said that raising someone of Akrit's abilities is a bewildering challenge that, at times, has left the family financially and emotionally drained. But the sacrifices are worth it, he added.

"It is my duty as a father to take care of his talent," Jaswal concluded. "But I don't know, because of the systems and the laws, whether we will be able to do something for him. We must try. I pray to God, `Help me to come out of the problem.'"

Despite the setback he encountered in Denver, Jaswal is determined to continue fighting for his son. The family is now back in India, where Jaswal will again try to enroll his son in medical school.

"No one can kill his knowledge," Jaswal declared before they left Denver. "No one will stop him. My job will continue. Life is struggle."

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