The Children – Capabilities and Disabilities
They are such capable human beings, so capable of love, empathy, understanding, curiosity and social interaction.There are some THINGS they can’t do; others they can do better than most of us. They are kind and they do not judge and they accept the rest of us as we are.
Ganga arrived at about 4 years of age weighing 7 kg. She had no use of her arms or legs, and could not lift her head. Only her eyes spoke. Whenever we let her direct us with her eyes, she had us carry her to the classroom.She also loved sophisticated Bengali movies and Charlie Chaplin.
We know almost nothing about her past. Like the others she came to us from Sukanya home, where she had been for about a year. Before that she was in another hospital,and before that presumably she had a family, as her ears were pierced at some time and then closed. Ganga has bad memories of her past and sometimes screams out in the night and wants to be held.
Ganga loves school. She did Class I and II at Sahapur Sabitri Balika Vidyalaya, and III and IV at Upasana Academy.
Ganga has aspirations. She wants to walk, and to talk. She wants to dance. But her major drive is to learn. Of all the children at Shishur Sevay, she has the strongest desire to learn, and the greatest obstacles to overcome.
In 2014, Ganga started using a Tobii PCEye communication device (LINK) which has given her much more scope in her communication.
Ganga wants to be like Dr. Harrison. She wants to write a book. She works with Widgit software which speaks out each letter, word and sentence she writes,as well as producing the symbols she understands and enjoys. It is all a struggle for her but one she loves.
Rani arrived entirely in her own world. She made little eye contact, preferred to spin in circles, screamed much of the time, and indulged in coprophagia. But she also spoke with her eyes and gave a sense of thought and depth, hidden, from us, maybe from her too.
Rani loves rhythm, loves to speak through sound, her language.
Rani suffers from epilepsy in addition to her autism and being mentally challenged. But those are just labels. She loves being outdoors; she loves “fast food” more than home-cooked. If she doesn’t like it she tends to throw it, and we tend to try to stop her. Children with these needs and impairments require constant attention. Behaviour modification is more easily said than done, especially as she is equally intent on modifying the behaviour of everyone around her. She has learned to communicate some of her needs.
Children with disabilities, like all other children should be able to wake up in the morning knowing there are things to be done, people to be with, and information or skills to learn.
Bornali was such a sad little girl when she came. She had to be kept separately because she bit anyone or anything that came near her mouth.Once she was taught not to bite shew as able to be with the other children.She was mostly “content” and rarely expressed herself. Her closed pierced ears suggested she had a family once.
Today she is fully engaged and often”naughty” which is a major advance for her. Her feelings run deep. She is beginning to show them.
Bornali shows what she wants, hard to not get it. Give her what she wants, and she smiles. This is really a major advance for a child who never seemed to “want” and never tried to impact her environment.
Bornali loves action. She would rather be throwing or catching a ball than studying. She would rather be at the beach than at her desk working.
Sonali was less than two years when she came, the only one who came with medical history. She is the “baby” of Shishur Sevay. Like the others, Sonali had exceeded all expectations. She is beginning to communicate with sounds. She is mostly well-behaved in class, where she is learning to associate symbols and pictures with objects, using her tactile senses as well as her very limited visual field. She is a very happy child, upset only when she can’t do what she wants to at the moment, just like other children.
Inclusion means they hold her hands; she holds theirs.