With yet another year passing us by, it was time for Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan’s Annual Day. Held on 23rd February, the event started off with the distribution of awards to the students and staff. Catch a glimpse here.
We live in a society where children with intellectual disability are often looked down upon as being incapable of contributing to the overall fabric of our culture. All they need is love, encouragement, support and positive reinforcement that can help ensure that these kids emerge with a strong sense of self-worth and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.
Disabilities cover a wide range. Some are obvious and some are hidden. So, it’s important to know everything about what constitutes as disability from the scratch:
Intellectual disability has been a taboo for many years, which is surrounded by exclusion. Intellectual disability involves a number of significant skill limitations. People with these impairments have intellectual limitations.There are many signs through which an intellectual disability can be identified:
Intellectual disability is identified by problems in both intellectual and adaptive functioning. To diagnose an intellectual disability, professionals look at the person’s mental abilities (IQ), and his or her adaptive skills. A full scale IQ score of around 70 to 75 indicates a significant limitation in intellectual functioning.
Some of the most common symptoms can include:
The most common causes of intellectual disability are:
Genetic conditions that include Down syndrome and fragile X syndrome.
Problems during pregnancy that can interfere with fetal brain development, malnutrition, certain infections, or preeclampsia.
Complications during childbirth resulting in a baby being deprived of oxygen or born extremely premature.
Severe head injury, near-drowning, extreme malnutrition, infections in the brain, exposure to toxic substances such as lead, and severe neglect or abuse.
Following are certain procedures through which intellectual disability can be managed:
While all these details will certainly help your children in the longer run, one thing they need the most from you is love.There are many organizations that cater to the development of a specially abled children. Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, a charitable school for the specially abled run by Ponty Chadha Foundation is fully committed to the rehabilitation of children with disabilities. It is one of the very few private rehabilitation institutions that don’t charge any money for services provided to its students.
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Every individual has potential, which can be groomed and developed into something productive. While it is undeniable that every child has to face his/her own battles, we must never forget that differently-abled children might require a little help in doing so. As a society, we ought to be more inclusive towards these children.
One way we can achieve that is through books. We often overlook the importance of books, and how much of a difference they can make in the lives of children. Here is a list of books beneficial not only to parents of a child with special needs, but everyone.
On Their Own
by Anne Ford
‘On Their Own’ is a compelling guide by Anne Ford, mother of an adult daughter with learning disabilities, on the challenges faced by parents of learning-disabled children. This parent-to-parent book has tips to help you figure out how – and how much – to let go. It guides you through high school, college, workplace, and life after when your child is on his own. You can turn to ‘On Their Own’ for guidance, for answers, for direction.
There’s a Boy in Here: Emerging from the Bonds of Autism
by Judy Barron and Sean Barron
‘There’s a Boy in Here’ is written by the mother-son duo of Judy and Sean Barron, which showcases a mother’s struggle to ‘reach’ her son, as he retreats further into the repetitive behaviour and rituals of autism. Through the book, Sean also shares stories to provide a balanced view of the educational challenges and reasons behind his behaviour. While most therapists disagree with the implied conclusion that autism can be cured, the book does provide added insights into the family dynamics and challenges facing students with autism-spectrum disorders.
Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids
by Chris Biffle
Published in 2013, ‘Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids’ offers a new and comprehensive way to engage with students. The book is especially useful for special education teachers. By providing alternative methods for connecting with students and finding ways to make the learning process fun, the Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) method can reduce frustration and increase engagement among children and adolescents with learning disabilities. Biffle provides a thorough overview of WBT and offers step-by-step guidance on implementing this cutting-edge teaching method in the classroom, allowing teachers to make the most positive impact on the lives of their students.
Wings to Fly
by Sowmya Rajendran (author) and Arun Kaushik (illustrator)
Wings to fly is a story of Padma Shri Malathi Holla, the famous sportswoman and Arjuna awardee who braved her disability to make India proud by winning gold at the Paralympics. The book traces the cause of her disability to a polio attack when she was about a year old, which took away the strength in her legs. Despite undergoing a number of surgeries and living in a medical centre for as many as fifteen years, Malathi continued to be wheelchair bound. Her story is an inspiration for all.
The Out-of-Sync Child: Recognizing and Coping with Sensory Processing Disorder
by Carol Stock Kranowitz
In her book, Kranowitz strongly urges for early intervention and pushes parents to make themselves aware of their children’s sensory processing issues from the beginning. She also provides helpful awareness pointers such as recognising that insurance doesn’t always cover the cost of therapy, mainly because the disorder is not included in the latest issue of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Only with support from family and friends, the stress of raising a specially-abled child can be reduced to a large extent. It is not only the responsibility of parents, but also that of the society to make them feel more included and accepted in this world.
Also Read: Looking at the Bright Side of Life
The world is full of people who’ve achieved the unthinkable by beating all odds. Looking at the bright side of life, they have inspired thousands to dream on and punch above their weight.
In a world that isn’t very kind to even an able-bodied person trying to achieve their dreams, one can only imagine what a specially abled person might have to go through. When faced with such cynicism, finding a silver living and egging on is all one can really do.
“God can use a life without limbs to show the world how to live a life without limits!”
Nick Vujicic was born without arms or legs. Despite the many challenges this created for him growing up, he was able to overcome them all. A motivational speaker, best-selling author, Christian evangelist and leader of a nonprofit organisation named Life Without Limbs, he credits his family’s love, his faith in God and his positive attitude for his success.
He’s been an inspiration to many around the world, encouraging people to overcome their problems and follow their dreams.
“It’s pretty sweet to be able to help people look at their wheelchair as something besides just a medical device. It can actually be something really fun.”
From the moment he entered the world, Aaron Fotheringham, known popularly as Wheelz, has taken a completely different path than what was expected of him.
“When I was a child, I used to play cricket, football, and badminton with normal children. My disability was not in my mind.”
“I think the greatest blessing and gift in life is the ability to see the light, opportunity and challenge in adversity.”
Preethi Srinivasan was involved in a life-altering accident that left her paralysed from the neck down. While still recovering from the trauma, she set up Soulfree, a rehabilitation centre where the specially abled could live permanently and find strength, hope and a sense of community. With vocational trainings for the specially abled, the organisation aims in providing an active and productive life to everyone.
The youngest kung-fu instructor in India, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan student Kartik Verma is a champion in karate, taekwondo, dancing and sports. He has turned his weaknesses into strengths, surpassing the expectations of many along the way. Kartik is determined and strong, and we are extremely proud of him.
He lost his hearing abilities but did not lose his hopes and dreams to reach the heights.
Jatin Kanojia is a 25-year-old boy from Ghazipur with cerebral palsy, but he hasn’t let his disability define him. Jatin worked hard as a child, completed his education and joined the Wave Group in 2016 as a computer operator. Despite the odds working against him, Jatin has remained focused towards building a career.
If we look intently, we’ll find plenty of people around us who’ll make us want to do more. Inspirations for everyone, these achievers prove to us that nothing can stop us from achieving our goals. Time and again, they overcome near-impossible obstacles to show us just how much can be accomplished despite limitations.
A boon for specially abled students, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan aims to provide world class education to those who need it most.
Schools are like second homes for children, accounting for nearly 8 hours of their day. Hence, it is necessary that we enrol our kids in fully functional, infrastructurally sound schools.
It is an undeniable fact that quality education is a must for both specially abled and able bodied children. Sending them to a school where buildings look run-down and playgrounds need work can never be a good idea.
Schools should create an environment that not only ensures learning, but also pays special attention to the mental and physical well-being of its students. Many studies suggest that students in schools with poor infrastructure tend to achieve lesser as compared to the ones studying in schools that have better infrastructure and facilities.
Contrary to popular belief, children with special needs must be enrolled in primary schools. To place them in appropriate educational settings, parents need to get them assessed by doctors, psychologists and special educators. While children with mild and moderate disabilities may be integrated in normal schools, those with severe disabilities can opt for special/remedial schools and dropouts who have problems in availing benefits of normal schools can join open schools. All the children with learning disabilities alone are first managed in the normal schools.
Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, a charitable school for the specially abled run by Ponty Chadha Foundation is fully committed to the rehabilitation of children with mental retardation, cerebral palsy, autism and other disabilities. It is one of the very few private rehabilitation institutions that don’t charge any money for services provided to its students. Presently, the institution provides rehabilitation services to about 1000 beneficiaries.
Designed to be disabled-friendly, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan has 35 classrooms, 1 physiotherapy hall, 4 speech therapy departments, 1 seminar hall and various other amenities, including a ramp and sensor-operated doors at the entrance for wheelchair users. It also has a bigger ramp inside the school building for easy movement.
The special school also offers multiple therapies for the specially abled, such as:
However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.
At the onset of each school session, it’s always fun to unwrap each child’s personality. Children too are excited to participate in discussions in their new classrooms, but have you ever thought what goes in the mind of a child with special needs? Are we, as teachers and academicians, welcoming the differently abled with open arms?
People tend to forget that a person with disabilities is just another human being with desires, talents, skills – like everyone else. Everybody, regardless of their ability, has something to give to the world. We should never forget that!
Sometimes a little help from peers and families works the best. While education is recognized as a pathway of moving out of poverty, there is very little focus on how children with disabilities can be effectively included in the education system. Every parent wants their child to be happy and accepted by their peers, have a healthy life and education. Allowing a child with special needs to interact and learn with other students in school improves their academic performance, their personality, and they tend to exceed expectations.
Education is every child’s right, not a privilege. As a society, we should embrace inclusive education, and encourage children with disabilities to participate in everyday activities, build friendships and get access to opportunities. Once specially abled children receive proper opportunities, they can get involved in shaping the society and achieving laurels for the country, and their families can escape or avoid the trap of poverty. Inclusive education is one of the fundamental ways to welcome diversity amongst all learners. It promotes the idea that “having a disability of any kind should never stop anybody from conquering the world.”
When the specially abled are accepted and educated the way others are, they can turn their life around and achieve true, tangible success.
Although progress has been made in the education sector, India still faces challenges in addressing the educational needs of children with disabilities. Together with governments, educators, donors and other partners, we can help to close gap and achieve education for all.
What can we as a people do to make every differently-abled child feel self-sufficient and independent? While it is important to advocate and create inclusivity, and to envision a world of equal opportunities, it is also widely agreed upon that only with the support of their parents can children truly understand their self worth.
No one is as interested and motivated to see a child succeed than his/her own parents. However, to play their role as parents responsibly, mothers and fathers of children with special needs should realise that their child, like every other child, is a ‘gift of God’. Instead of trying to ‘fix’ them, parents must accept them with love.
Many organisations have come up with unique ways to make a difference in the lives of these children, working tirelessly towards making them self-sufficient. At PCF’s Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, for instance, trainings are not only limited to children; their parents are equally involved. The school is dedicated to providing its specially-abled students their rightful place in a society that not only accepts them, but also respects them for their abilities.
Ayush Chamoli is one such MBCN student with multiple disabilities. Watch how his mother’s immense strength, and the complete support of his family and school helped Ayush achieve great heights.
Inclusion is a belief. It is not a project or a programme but a philosophy. Inclusion means respect for you, for me and everyone. Inclusion sees us as a person; sees that we exist.
A socially inclusive environment is one where everyone is welcome to establish their identity and express their feelings openly. Social inclusion assures that one’s opinions and experiences are honoured just like everyone’s.
Today differently abled are viewed as part of an inclusion cohort. Due to physical or mental impairments, they all feel like outsiders. Consequently, despite the many successful programmes in our education system and in our society, there is an epidemic of low self-esteem that inhibits real progress.
This year has seen a tremendous change in the society, where several initiatives have been taken by individuals and brands to move towards a more inclusive society. One famous brand, Savlon India, created the first-of-its-kind braille-inscribed antiseptic bottles to help the visually impaired to identify and access the product easily. This proactive initiative exemplifies the brands commitment towards an equitable and inclusive society.
Starbucks has opened a signing store in Washington DC, with all employees who work there fluent in American sign language. The store, which is the first-of-its-kind in the US, has opened close to Gallaudet University, an institution that caters for students who are deaf or have partial hearing loss. The branch of the coffee chain has been designed with a mural inspired by sign language, adorning a large wall in the store and a “DeafSpace” environment that’s been built specifically with customers who are deaf or hard of hearing in mind.
Apart from these big brands taking a step towards inclusion, there have been individuals like Pranav Desai, who decided to use his experience – personal and corporate – to empower the specially abled through his organisation, the Voice of Specially Abled People (VoSAP). Born in Ahmedabad to a middle-class family in the year 1969, Pranav was affected by polio at the age of four. By the time he recovered, both his legs were crippled; he needed braces and a cane to walk. The VoSAP mobile app he launched allows volunteers to capture building accessibility with a photograph. The app updates that information using GPS on the map. This helps people in wheelchairs find places they can visit based on accessibility, ratings and comments.
In 2004, Dr. Jitender Aggarwal, a dentist, was robbed of his vision due to macular degeneration. After losing his sight, he came to realise the hardships differently abled people struggle with, especially in an environment characterized by limited resources and opportunities. He dreamed of a center where people with disabilities can be equipped with the skills to find good jobs. And this is how Sarthak Educational Trust came into being. What started as one centre in Delhi, is now operational in 21 states with 12 centres throughout India.
Our school for students with special needs, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, strives to make the society inclusive by educating and empowering our students. We encourage them to pursue their dreams, guiding them in every step of the way.
2018 is nearing an end, let’s pledge to resolve in the New Year to take up new steps to achieve milestones in making our society inclusive, regardless of one’s abilities or lack thereof.
“You are so brave!” “I feel sorry for you.” “It must be really tough for you.”
These are just a few of the many patronising things the specially abled are told repeatedly in their everyday lives. Statements like these stem from the widely held perception that if you’re differently abled, you must need someone’s help to perform your daily tasks.
Here are the seven things you should never say or do to people who are specially abled:
1. Don’t call them ‘brave’.
There is a common perception in this world that persons with disabilities have to be brave to survive their ordeal. In the minds of those who believe so, disability is ugly and unattractive. As a result, these people marvel at the differently abled for the wrong reasons, calling them “brave” or “inspiring” – just because they went out shopping on their own.
2. Don’t belittle them with your words.
Some people talk to the specially abled as if they’re children. For instance, when you spot a person with hearing aids, don’t immediately revert to speaking slowly, or worse, like a baby. The struggle is with their hearing, not their comprehension. If need be, they will ask you to speak louder of their accord.
3. Don’t assume that all disabled people look the same.
The society tends to paint people who have things in common with the same brush. This is a problematic mindset. A visually impaired person is not just a cane wielder; a paraplegic is more than just a person on wheels. They don’t all look the same – just as able-bodied people don’t.
4. Don’t ask if there’s something wrong with them.
You wouldn’t ask a stranger their medical history, would you? Why should you then be any different when it comes to the differently abled? It’s an intrusive and unnecessary question; you only need to know what their needs are, not why they have those needs. Besides, if they want you to know, they’ll tell you.
5. Don’t assume that they need your help.
The one thing people should stop doing immediately is assuming that people with special needs are forever in need of their assistance. Be it helping someone alight the metro or serving them food that’s already cut up, such actions are grossly patronising, and can further isolate the afflicted.
6. Don’t give any unsolicited advice.
With a skewed view of things, it is easy to compartmentalise people in a box and offer solutions that are tainted by your perspective. Think twice before dishing out misplaced advice about their health. After all, intentions don’t matter, actions do.
7. Do not define them by their disability.
Perspectives that stem from a lack of understanding or empathy are at best avoidable. When disabilities don’t define the motivations, ambitions and identity of the specially abled amongst us, why should anyone else have this preconception?
Parenting is wonderful, but exhausting. As a result, parents need a little encouragement at times to help them get through their days. Being a parent of a special needs child is no exception!
Children with disabilities are just like any other children. They need love, affection and attention from their parents, friends and other people. The best gift one can give a child with special needs is accepting him or her, regardless of the nature or extent of the disability.
MBCN organised a crowdsourced Q&A campaign where you could ask questions relating to disability in children, and get them answered by Vandana Sharma, the Director of MBCN and a renowned special educator loved by all. Here are a few of those questions:
Q1. I know a family who is struggling from depression and stress because of their kid’s disability. What advice can I give them or what can I do to help them in this tough time. @PCFIndia
Parenting isn’t easy at the best of times and having a child with a disability creates new challenges that the majority of parents could never imagine facing.
Parents can feel stressed out and depressed at times. They must seek support from family, friends and mental health professionals. It helps to develop effective coping skills and ability to handle the situations.
Q2. Hi @PCFIndia
I’m gladdened to see this initiative.
Can you give us some tricks to calm ourselves when it gets too much to control our emotions?
Love your child, promote strengths, do the best you can, think “outside the box”, and don’t be too hard on yourself.
Q3. @PCFIndia What are the symptoms one should look out for?
Symptoms for disability? Well generally you can monitor developmental milestones. If you notice any delay in them like… social smile, neck control, sitting or standing, vocalization etc. you should go to the doctor for early diagnosis.
Q4. @PCFIndia How do I console my child when I myself am not able to console myself. I have been under immense stress as I don’t want to let him down. What can I do to make him and myself feel better?
As parents we all dream of a perfect child .having a child with disability can be heart breaking and acceptance may be hard. However once you accept ..life is simpler. It impacts the child and his progress. Empower yourself to deal with the given challenges.Attend workshops that can benefit your child and connect with other parents. Join support groups and share your experiences.
Q5. There is a child in our family who is suffering from autism and my aunt is usually stressed and worried about his future. All the time she is after him and since the child is very small it’s difficult to handle him. So what would you suggest in this situation?
Overthinking can have negative consequences for those who are chronic worriers. Focusing on future uncertainties makes us anxious when we feel a lack of control. Overthinking can also keep us from enjoying the present moment.
She needs to be reminded that When every activity becomes ‘a therapy session,’ a lot of pleasure can be lost that would otherwise be shared by you and our child.
Q6. Of course, when a child is not capable enough to do their day-to-day task and is having some kind of disability, it’s obvious that parents will be stressed and try to find several ways to overcome that.
I appreciate The Ponty Chadha Foundation for such an initiative.
Thanks for the appreciation. It’s very important to empower parents so that they can cope with the challenge and deal with it effectively.
Q7. One of my close friend’s younger brother is suffering from cerebral palsy and due to that she and her parents are always stressed and worried about his future. They have visited all most all good doctors in different cities but of no use. Recently my friend’s mother has started taking sleeping pills. So please suggest something so that I can help my friend and her family.
Parents are known to get impacted in many ways because of having a mentally challenged child. These include, parents feeling sad, depressed at various stages of child’s life and experiencing other emotional reactions. Their social life may get affected with recreational and leisure activities getting reduced. Interpersonal relationships with the family members, friends and others also get affected.
Your friend can support her parents, share some responsibilities and give them assurance that she is there to take care whenever they need her.
Parents are placed in a position of caring for others nearly constantly. However, they still need and deserve to be cared for. That entails asking friends or family to support them to have their own time without the challenged kid once in a while.
Q8. My friend’s son is having Cerebral palsy and despite going through several medications and therapies, there are no positive recoveries. Due to this problem my friend left his job, he’s depressed all the time and started taking sleeping pills. Can you please provide a better therapy solution or any reference to a good doctor for the same.
They need to be reminded that As parent that You know your child better than anyone else .You know what works and what doesn’t; you have the big picture and history of your child and can utilize this in any situation. Support personnel come and go but you are the expert with the experience and first-hand knowledge of your child. Professionals do not live the consequences of their decisions, so while you want their opinions, remember that they are only ‘informed’ opinions and not facts.
And parents need to empower themselves with knowledge and skills to help their child. Things will change when they get control of their life. For further guidance they can always come to us.
Q9. I have seen my friend who is into depression because of the disability of his child. He behaves normally with everyone but his activities and overprotectiveness towards his child show that he is in stress.
I want to help him. Can you please share some easy tips on reducing mental stress due to the disability of the kids?
Everyone has to cope in their own way. For some, acceptance comes quickly; for others, it is a lengthy process. There is no right or wrong way to do this. My Tip for parents to handle mental stress is to Connect with Family and Friends – There will always be people who care, we just need to reach out and connect when you want to vent feelings or just unwind and have some fun. .join some parent support group, meet other parents and share their experiences and emotions. They should not hide their feelings in front of everyone.
Q10. Hi, my parents are really worried about my little sister who is suffering from ADHD. I don’t like seeing my parents stressed. I’m worried that their stress levels are taking a toll on their mental health. So, what do you suggest in this situation?
I can understand your concerns about your parent’s stress. You can encourage them to take professional help and seek support from their family and friends to deal with it.
Established in 1999 in the fond memory of the late Smt. Bhagwanti Devi Chadha, mother of the late Shri Kulwant Singh Chadha, Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan aims to educate and prepare specially abled children to live within the community and achieve threefold (physical, social and financial) independence.
It is fully committed and dedicated to the rehabilitation of children with intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, autism and multiple other disabilities. Presently, MBCN provides rehabilitation services to about 1000 beneficiaries. One of the very few private institutions that doesn’t charge any money for services provided to its students, MBCN was honoured with a National Award for the empowerment of persons with disabilities on World Disability Day.
With 35 class rooms, 1 physiotherapy hall, 5 speech therapy departments, 1 seminar hall and many other necessary amenities, MBCN is designed to be disabled-friendly. It has a ramp and sensor-operated doors at the entrance for wheelchair users, and ramps for easy movement inside the school building.
Apart from infrastructural amenities, the school also provides different therapies to help these kids excel in life. Some of the therapy services provided include:
To acknowledge the efforts of Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan in providing support and services to the differently abled for nearly 20 years, the school was awarded a National Award by the Vice President of India, Mr. Venkaiah Naidu on the occasion of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The institution got the award under the category ‘Best Institution Working for Cause of Persons with Disabilities’ in a function organised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities, under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
MBCN strives to work towards creating a better society for these special children, and is thankful for all the support received from teachers, students and parents who have tirelessly worked towards the betterment of this school.
The institution’s ambitious mission to educate, train and rehabilitate children with special needs stems from a belief that caring is indeed the greatest virtue – a belief that the differently abled deserve a life worth living.
Awards like these only strengthen that belief.
We live in a society where we have names for everyone. Insensitive or not, these names can at times hurt the intended. We should understand that no one is really disabled, they’re just differently abled. Their abilities should not be discouraged because they are not like others.
It is the 21st century; no barriers should stop us from achieving our dreams. To enable that, however, we need to first change our perception of the differently abled section of society. After all, there is no greater disability in this world than the inability to see a person as more.
The 3rd of December, or the International Day for Persons with Disabilities has always been a very special day for us. We at Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan (MBCN) have made it our mission to promote the rights and well-being of persons with disabilities in all spheres of society. Our prime concern has always been giving a warm, nurturing environment to specially abled students – one that gives them plenty of scope to grow in terms of academics, communications, social skills, basic application sciences and self-care skills.
This year, we have been witness to many tremendous achievements towards making the world more inclusive. From introducing Braille-inscribed antiseptic bottles to opening the first sign language friendly store in the US, companies like Savlon India and Starbucks have stepped up to show that we all are indeed one and the same.
To mark the day as a stepping stone towards inclusivity, MBCN is organising a workshop on legal guardianship for the parents of special children and issues related to sexuality in young adults at our premises on December 1 from 10 AM to 12:30 PM. The workshop will be conducted by various eminent personalities who have selflessly made their services available to this section of the society, along with the Local Level Committee (Gautam Budh Nagar) for the differently abled.