O....!!! SHE MADE IT SO SIMPLE!!!!
If you are in touch with me through my blogs and/or the 'whatsapp groups' you must have read my comments regarding the word 'special'. Most of us- especially the moms are not able to treat the special need child without the tag 'special'. The word 'special' is the root cause for anxiety, low self-confidence, low self-esteem, decreased efficiency, feeling depressed or being punished by THE ALMIGHTY....!!! We just need to remove this word from our mindset & good things keep on happening automatically. We have experienced 'n' number of times. The recent one was amazing when my son got married. I would like to mention few experiences of past & the last one that how Palak made it amazingly simple when my daughter-in-law entered our house finally, sharing our surname...!!!!
We knew that Palak will take time to walk & to talk. We kept on talking/narrating each & every happenings regardless of her age & ability to understand. This act not only motivated her to speak but helped her to enrich her word power. The description of routine repeatedly & on a regular basis helped her to understand lots & lots of things. She could connect herself to her surroundings positively. She got interested in her environment, became curious & was all the time aware about the happenings around. Her ability to observe & notice things increased to a great extent.
We kept on playing physical games as per her age, abilities & muscle strength. Some passive exercises at home & few active exercises at physiotherapy centre was a routine for her since she was 9 months of age.
None of us kept an eye on the milestones of a typical child.
To our surprise she started walking & talking without any hassle. The clarity of her pronunciation was because of the habit inculcated to chant Sanskrit Shlokas every day. She could express herself as soon as she started talking because she had a rich word power. We have not seen her struggling to find an appropriate word & the credit goes to all the family members who kept on talking/narrating to her the smallest happening.
SO....PARENTS OF YOUNG KIDS...KEEP COOL & IT WILL HAPPEN AUTOMATICALLY.
I don't mean to say 'sit idly'....but simple things work....
...don't make everything 'special'.
Then came the time when she needed to go to school. For first 5 years Palak stayed at Ahmedabad with my parents (for 7-8 months a year). Ahmedabad being a metro, Palak got admission in regular school with a condition. To the surprise of school authorities & her class teacher, Palak could answer all the questions asked. She was practically aware of the syllabus till 1st std. Domestic animals, wild animals, common Birds, Vegetables, seasons, name of the days, months of the year, lots of songs & poems, numbers, alphabet....!!!! We never sat with her & taught her but made sure to take her to parks, zoo, super market, vegetable market etc. She was supposed to help in daily cores like arranging dining table, giving cloths to Dhobi, sorting & pealing vegetables etc. Things done routinely helped her in her formal learning tremendously. The problem arises when we treat the 'formal learning' as special & a separate entity..different from routine...!!!
I have asked a question in one of my previous blogs, 'DO WE HAVE INCLUSIVE HOMES????' We are concerned a lot about having an inclusive society/we talk a lot about society not treating our children equally/we are not happy with the response we get from the society but do we really have an inclusive mindset???
Palak was accepted well in a regular school (At Ahmedabad). She studied in the same school for 3 years. Now it was time to bring her to stay with us permanently. She was 6, Navsari being a smaller town, it was easy for us to admit her in a regular school. We were worried as we were not sure how the change of place/persons around / school....everything would affect her. I changed my OPD timings & made it according to Palak's school timings. I made myself available to her when she was back from school. We continued taking her everywhere we went. My son Purvaj took her everywhere he went. That helped her to excel multifaceted.
She continued gaining confidence every day. Her ability to observe & learn helped her to grow socially & academically. She had several groups, a group of her classmates, a craft class group, a summer camp group, a trekking group, her brother's friends group, a group of our friends' children...& so on.
Our children love being with people & we tried our level best to provide the same. The learning saw no boundaries. We experienced her happiness about her school talks to my parents on phone & also about lots & lots of friends, about her various activities...!!!!
IT JUST HAPPENED BECAUSE WE JUST LET IT HAPPEN......!!!!
This does not mean she never faced rejection. Yes, she was rejected at few places & at one place we needed to interfere. She was in Jr. KG at Ankur school, Ahmedabad. A group of three boys badly bitted her. She was scared & denied to go to school. The act of those kids was the reflection of the injunctions they got from their environment. We just needed to change that. We arranged for a picnic in a nearby park & called few of Palak's classmates including those three. Only one of them came. After few days we again arranged for a picnic, all three came & lastly after few more days we called only those three boys. It worked very well & they became friends with Palak. Few more incidences of rejection happened where we left Palak to face the reality & accept.
ARE WE ACCEPTED EVERYWHERE??? ARE OUR TYPICAL CHILDREN ACCEPTED EVERYTIME/EVERYWHERE.....???
WHY SO MUCH OF NOISE WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS TO OUR CHILDREN WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.....????
BECAUSE IT IS NOT THE SOCIETY WHO NEED TO THINK UPON THE WORD 'INCLUSION'
ACTUALLY WE NEED TO REMOVE THE WORD 'SPECIAL' FROM OUR MINDS.
Things went on smoothly & Palak started showing physical changes like development of breast buds, hair growth in pubic area & underarms. The concept of privacy was very well practiced by all of us since our children were 2-3 years of age. Palak had clear idea about the ownership of her own body. So I was confident enough to handle the new development. At the same time I was not sure how to explain those changes to her. To make it easy & stress free I started talking about my childhood. Then came the idea of showing my childhood pictures to her. As I kept on talking in a routine, casual way, things became easier. I could explain her the basics of physical changes & the difference between a boy & a girl. I gave my example for her & her dad's example for her brother. I did not feel the need to explain the scientific facts so kept it short & easy to act upon. Similarly for menstrual cycle, I asked her to keep a track of my cycle. I taught her the hygiene part. It was about a year before she actually started her periods. She could handle her own cycle right from beginning. What different I would have done if Palak would have been a typical child????
She was loved by everyone in her school. She was free to participate in practically all the extracurricular activities going on in her school. Once her teacher wrote her name in a group dance. Next day she went to that teacher & changed her name from a group dance to a solo performance. On asking the reason she said, "I know I can dance but I can't do as fast as others so it would not look good in a group performance." She could accept herself the way she was...that could happen just because we let her be....that could happen just because the whole environment had an INCLUSIVE MINDSET...that could happen because we let her face the reality...that could happen just because nothing was done keeping the word 'special' in mind....
YES WE NEED TO PUT IN SOME EXTRA...YES WE NEED TO BE EXTRA AWARE...YES WE NEED TO BE EXTRA AGILE & ALERT....YES WE NEED TO BE EXTRA LOVING & CARING...YES WE NEED TO BE EXTRA PATIENT....YES WE NEED TO BE EXTRA HAPPY....JUST BECAUSE OUR CHILDREN ARE EXTRAORDINARY.....!!!!
(Palak with her principal after her solo performance)
Palak & her brother Purvaj...both were like synonyms. Purvaj had to go to boarding school as we did not have CBSE School beyond 10th std. We all were worried about Palak's reactions. Again to our surprise she took it very positively. Of course she was missing her brother a lot but she knew the reason & had accepted very well. This could happen because she was all the time with us when we were discussing the reasons. She was all the time aware of the situation.
INCLUSION WHEN HAPPENS NATURALLY, HELPS THE CHILD TO FACE THE REALITY, UNDERSTAND THINGS IN ITS PURE FORM & ACCEPT IN THE BEST POSSIBLE WAY.
Palak could clear her 10th std. without any hurdles.
She took the subject of Arts for 11th & 12th. During her 12th Board exam she did not get a hall ticket till the last day. 'Logic' was her first paper & was to start at 3:00pm. We got her hall ticket at 11:00am on same day. We rushed to the school allotted. She was very scared & confused. She could not even read the question paper & cried for almost 30-40 minutes. The principal of that school came & sat with her. He started reading the questions to her. Slowly she got control over her emotions & started writing the paper. She got through 12th std. We came to know about the whole story after 2 months.
TRUE INCLUSION HELPS THE CHILD TO TAKE CARE OF SELF
IN DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
There are many more but now I would like to share the recent one. Palak is too much attached with her brother Purvaj & vice versa.
Purvaj was not responding well whenever I used to talk about his marriage. On asking the reason he said that he constantly kept on thinking about Palak. How she would feel!!!! Purvaj was not ready to go for his Honeymoon. We, me,Piyush & my mom had to try hard to convince him. We never wanted to deprive them especially Chandni from the most memorable & life-time moments. At the same time we never wanted any illusive state of mind to be created for Palak. We wanted that Palak need to know & accept the new relationship in its pure form. Purvaj stays at Germany, so after sharing the details of few resorts I booked one for their honeymoon. Still Purvaj was not comfortable with the whole thing. But our angel is born to make things easier.... before 2-3 months Palak called Purvaj & asked him to come at least 10 days before his marriage. She had her own reasons for that. Both of them have beautiful childhood memories. She wanted to relish those nostalgic moments with him. Palak said," I want to be with you in our room for these 10 days, after that somebody is going to enter this room so things would be different." It came naturally. She was not disturbed. On the contrary we had tears in our eyes but she said, "After 4th December they will be husband & wife as mom & dad so they will be staying together like mom & dad."
We all were so much tensed since the marriage date got fixed. Palak made it so simple & easy for all of us. Ours is a small house with two bedrooms. Palak's sense of humour is real good. Palak told my son & my DIL that they will have to pay rent for the room as she has agreed to let them use her bedroom only for a time being.
THINGS ARE SIMPLE IF YOU CAN TAKE IT
IT IS DIFFICULT TO ACCEPT THAT THINGS ARE SIMPLE
Unknowingly we keep on complaining....unknowingly we value things if & only if that involves struggles...unknowingly our minds act like microscopes & keep on magnifying trivial/tiny/unimportant things.....unknowingly we keep on reading others minds & live their lives.....unknowingly we keep on bothering our own selves & thereby our children....!!
LIFE IS SIMPLE....SIMPLY LIVE IT...!!!!
Some parents tell that because I am doctor things were easier for me. Few feel that Palak is lucky enough to get such school. Some give credit to the small town, Navsari. Few are fan of Palak. According to them Palak has some extraordinary abilities that others don't have.
Yes, her school played a major role but I have many examples were the child with Down syndrome is doing extremely well without any of the above. These parents have accepted the way their child is...these parents have simplified their definition of DS in their own way.
If we talk about extraordinary abilities...all our children possess the same abilities...we just need to give space & walk with their pace....!!!!