A Society Free from the Word ‘Disability’
3rd December is celebrated as the International day of Persons with Disability worldwide. Being a proud mother of a child with special needs, every year I am excited during this time of year. As if festivity comes in the air to hug me, my son and this big fraternity. Many thoughts come to my mind related to the past 25 years of experience with my son Rishi. It’s a mixture of happiness, sadness, depression, anger but ultimately a proud feeling that made my life meaningful at last.
Honestly, when you first come to know that you’re having a special child, the feeling is not so pleasant. Rather, it is dreadful - a trauma, a tragedy. But ultimately, you have to cope up, accept the truth and move on. Anyways, on this International day of Persons with Disability, I would love to share my thoughts on a society free from the word disability.
It is an experienced and researched fact that the early years are the most critical period in the growth and development of children with developmental anomalies or children with special needs. Some children - due to conditions noticed at birth, special needs, or developmental delays which occur in the early years - have the risk of missing out on important learning and developmental milestones.
It is seen that early intervention therapies provide more benefit in the early years of a child with special needs than the intervention services provided in the adult ages. Early intervention services are a range of targeted services to help young children who have developmental delays or specific health conditions. Early intervention services are intended to provide families who have children with developmental disabilities or delays with support and resources to maximize the child’s abilities, while respecting family decisions and cultures. Services are provided at the state or local level, and often can be arranged through the local school system. It significantly increase the ability of a special child to integrate in future social environments, including school, community, and ultimately employment and also helps them develop abilities and make the skilled during the developmental years. Early intervention services also play an important role in supporting the parents and siblings of the children. Families of children with special needs often experience frustration, stress, disappointment, anger and helplessness in dealing with the special child. They don’t know what to do and how to react. Often, misconceptions and myths divert them to provide necessary intervention which is more important to the child for better growth and development.
In urban areas of Assam, remarkable development has been seen in the field of educating special children and much awareness has come in the field of early identification and intervention; but the scenario in rural areas is not the same. It is sad that apart from certain cities and towns of Assam, there is no noticeable provision of early intervention services for the growth and development of children with special needs in rural areas.
With the increasing population of children with developmental disabilities, attention should be paid to set up centres for early intervention and early identification in rural areas. Civil hospitals, dispensaries and primary health care centres of rural areas can also have such units. NGOs, local organizations, clubs etc can also take initiative to provide early intervention services to the families of children with special needs. Anganwadi and Asha workers can be trained up in this regard. Though many organizations organize lots of awareness program in rural areas on these issues, no fruitful result has been seen due to lack of proper follow up. It is good that Sarba Sikshya Abhiyan mission is putting much effort in implementation of inclusive education but if during the early developmental years these children are not prepared, they will not able to include in the inclusive educational program.
To conclude, I must say prevention is better than cure. Early intervention and early identification is the most important to have a society free from disability.