Society attitudes are a big threat for development of children with disabilities
Having a child with a disability brings a few challenges with it but with better awareness parents are better equipped to deal with them.
Over the past few years many incidents have highlighted how disabled children are vulnerable in many ways. Most children with learning and other disabilities struggle to fit into the society. They go to regular schools but are harassed by schoolmates and people around them.
Last year, a 16-year-old boy with autism was denied permission to attend his class 10 board exams by the Bombay High Court. The court suggested the parents admit him to a special school so he could continue his studies. The result was that he lost an academic year.
All this points to a need for a change in attitudes towards disabilities.
Umakrishnan is the Co-founder of Abhyan Centre for Children with Autism which is based in Bengaluru and Kerala. He says the attitude of people in big cities is better as compared to rural areas.
Nowadays, most parents are aware of disabilities. But I have noticed that attitudes of people change from cities to villages. Living in a small town in Kerala, I know how they look at disabled children. Most of them think that a child with autism is incapable of achieving things in life. They are completely put down. In fact, parents are forced to leave their children back home because of the attitude of people around them. They raise their brows when they see a child with autism. Awareness about disabilities is still a distant dream in our society. – Umakrishnan, Co-founder, Abhyan Centre for Children with Autism
Most schools and institutions refuse to admit children with disabilities due to lack of resources, particularly in the case of learning disabilities. Most schools, especially in small towns, are not equipped with special educators who can reach out to children with disabilities.
Children with disabilities do not lack intelligence. They are smart and efficient, just like a child without a disability. They may not act like a child without a disability but unless attitudes of people change towards disabled children, they will just not be able to participate in the development of society.
“Earlier, we used to live in a house. But I realised that a secluded space like a house does not help my child who has autism. He needs to interact and go out more. So I decided to move to an apartment complex. The first few months were hard. Both adults and children mocked at my son. But being a psychologist, I could speak to them and make them understand about what autism is all about. Today, they see him and interact with him just like how they do with any other child without a disability”, says Grace Santosh, Clinical Psychologist and parent to a child with autism.
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