How a society should cope with children with special needs

If family members and teachers have to be equipped to handle a child with special needs, then isn’t it the responsibility of the society as a whole to be able to deal with children with special needs as well?

The apathetic attitude of people towards the disabled is indeed a matter of concern, and is also an obstruction in the path of inclusion. The ‘special’ child has to be given a place in the society among us normal people. But we are too proud to allow these children to mingle in and perhaps disturb this normal society. But what are we proud of? The corruption that prevails in society and is spreading like a disease? The communal fights that take away the lives of innocent people? The increasing rate of crime? Increasing inflation? The Law that allows the corrupt to go scot free and harasses the layman?

Well if this is the society that is made by ‘normal’ people, then we are the ones who are disabled as we cannot fight most of the causes raised above. It’s we who feel handicapped when it comes even to raising our voice for a social cause, and this despite the fact that we are normal and have the ability to assert our opinions.

 It is we, who are not at peace with ourselves as are engulfed by the growing desires that the rat race brings. Each time a question arises in my mind as to why I am in the rat race and the answer that I get is because of the principle of the “survival of the fittest”. But then God has made tiny insects who survive in this harsh world, so who are we to decide who is capable of surviving in which society and who is not? Who are we to segregate children with special needs or adults with disability?
Its an irony that we want peace at the end of a day, which is replaced by stress for the next day, as if it’s God’s curse on mankind for not being sensitive to the needs of others.

Then where does the remedy to this problem lie? Yes it lies in changing one’s attitude to bring about inclusion in the true sense. An inclusion that represents change and the more we resist it the more we are faced with it. Inclusion! A word that is often heard, but not practiced in the true sense. Inclusion is all about enabling people with disability to be part of the society they are born in. This goal can be achieved only if people come forward to provide support to this cause, which is indeed the need of the hour. It is often wondered whether inclusion is legally required and what is best for children. There are no simple answers to these questions and the ones who gets caught in this tug of war are the parents of children with special needs , who are confused and do not know what is best for their child.

The government has made it clear under Sarva Shiksha Abhyan that no child shall be denied admission on grounds of special needs, (child with special need shall be included in regular schools) but the reality is that we are not equipped to handle children with special needs in a regular classroom. A majority of the schools do not have enough corpuses to set up a resource room or appoint a special educator, which puts the load on the general teacher who is not equipped to cater to the needs of a special child.

It is believed that children are born good, and that it’s the education that ruins them. (Rousseau, a philosopher who propagated naturalism). It’s only when the child comes in contact with the outside world that he starts forming boundaries of bias, culture and status in his mind. So, as educators and parents are we responsible for creating a negative society or are we doing a good job of raising our kids? This question needs to be answered by all those who are shaping the future for tomorrow.
On the other hand, it’s amazing to see how children work together as a team when they are paired with children with special needs. They learn to respect them and also become sensitive towards their needs, which by itself is an essential quality, if we are aiming at inclusion.

Inclusion begins when we free our mind of barriers towards people, who are different from us. So, we have the responsibility of changing our attitude and what is our attitude towards children with special needs? Will I as a parent encourage my child to interact with children who have special needs? This question is simple to answer only if we have the time to think about our attitude towards children with special needs, which will in turn be reflected in our children who will be the world that we live in the future.

Inclusion is an appeal not to a society which is made up of normal people where “I” matters, but to a society which is made of people where “WE” matters.


kausalyam's picture

Yes, i agree with Sonali entirely and absolutely. We as teachers cannot or should not select what kind of students we need to teach. We need to be equipped with a few skills to teach all kind of skills. Every lesson should cater to the needs of at least 4 different types of learners.
Kausalya Madhusudana
June 11,2013

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