Friday, December 2

There Is Nothing Abnormal

Today is World Disability Day. Writing in The Indian Express, Amrita Chaudhry asserts disabled children see this world as their own; it's society which considers them outsiders.
It is time to thank the Lord for the mercies small and big. My five year old son Siddharth is autistic and I am thankful for the fact that Siddharth does not need to be hidden away from the eyes of the world. Siddharth and thousands of children whom we able people label as 'handicapped,' 'differently able', 'abnormal,' or 'children of lesser Gods,' now have their share of chances to be part of the society, all thanks to the special schools. It was not long ago when such children, considered results of some ill deeds of past life, were either locked up within the four walls of their homes or worse still, abandoned. Like me, thousands of parents are thankful for the fact that at least we all have recognised the problem, the solution too, will now be found.
This is one progression we have made over the years and from here begins the struggle for more. Children like Siddharth have to be given their right to a normal childhood and life. For Siddharth, it is his right which is being denied to him. And to secure these rights for him many people, his family, his teachers, his friends and the people who love him, struggle day in and day out. I am proud to be Siddharth's mother for he has sensitised me to a part of society which was totally alien to me. There cannot be more Siddharths, yet his message can be carried on. Abnormality or handicap is not for these children, these terms are for us, the so-called able and normal people. Siddharth does not need to adjust to the normal people, it is us, the normal people, who have to learn a few basic lessons of life from him - things like tolerance for other persons? space and life. In our race for reaching somewhere in life we forget that there is nothing picture perfect or ideal.
Bringing up Siddharth and seeing him play with his school mates has brought forth one reality. It is not these children who are handicapped, it is us normal people who are handicapped. Why? Simple. For these children do not have a problem in communicating with us, we have a problem understanding them. Special schools, special teachers, government aides, reservation rights, laws are all in place for the handicapped, sympathy more closer to pity is abound. But is this enough? The state -in theory - has done its bit and now we humans have to awaken to this sensitisation. Hands have to join together in support, support not just for helping children like Siddharth and their families but more for the general public. More for your and my normal children. The normal children and grown-ups have to get used to the idea that these are no abnormalities. A person without legs can just not walk and that too at present, is no handicap. He can walk, run. Siddharth may seem slow in studies and hyperactive. But that is all. Let us not teach our children to pity them or even sympathise with them. It is time to get this term abnormal or handicapped out of our daily lives and system. There is nothing abnormal, it is just a way of viewing things and this way can be changed.

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