Taking Care of the Children with Special Needs
Most of the children with special needs are neglected by the people especially in the third world countries though they are an integral part of the society. They are the gifted autism angels in the parents’ life. The parents are never responsible for the disabilities of those children. Even though the people of the society cannot accept them cordially and the parents are blamed by the society people for their unexpected disability. They are neglected and avoided by the society considering them as the unproductive creature of the society and the lifelong burden for the family and the society.
Though we do not have any statistics on the number of special needs individuals in our country, in the USA about 18.5% of the children under 18 years age are special needs children. These special children have specific types of challenges that the “normal” children would not face. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t smart, talented or capable. The number of the similar children might be more in the third world countries. So, it is a huge population of the society who require special needs.
The parents love all children equally as they bring fulfilments in the parent’s life. The children grow up with the love and affection of the parents, relatives and other people of the society. After the birth of their long-cherished baby, the parents start dreaming big about their kids and try heart and soul to implement those dreams into reality. But the parents become shocked when they come to know that their kids have turned into special needs children.
Different countries have formulated different rules and regulations to improve the lives of the children with special needs. The UN has adopted resolution No 62/139 where it encourages the Member States to take measures to raise awareness throughout society, including at the family level, regarding children with autism. But there is no significant improvement in their lives due to lack of proper implementation of the rules, regulations and UN resolution.
In this article, I would like to discuss the attitude of the people of the society towards the children with special needs, especially in the third world countries. I would also like to put forward some suggestions to support the families of the special needs children.
Who all are Children with Special Needs
Children with Special needs are those children who have mild learning disabilities and profound cognitive impairment. As per Wikipedia, in the USA, the special need is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological. Common special needs include learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), communication disorders, emotional and behavioral disorders (such as ADHD and ADD), physical disabilities (such as Brittle Bone Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Bifida, and Frederich’s Ataxia), and developmental disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorders and intellectual disability).
Children with Special Needs in the Family
After the birth of a child, the parents start trying hard to bring up their children to establish them in the society. It is beyond imagination, how much money the parents spend and how much labor they give for the betterment of their children. When the parents find that their children do not behave normally, cannot go to school, cannot speak, do not play with the peers, then they realize that their children are heading for some sorts of abnormality.
At this point, the disparity starts with the special needs children in the family as well in the society. Once the children are diagnosed as children with special needs, the parents become disheartened and pass sleepless night thinking about the bleak future of their children. They become hesitant to spend so much money for them thinking it as wastage of money and effort. Generally, the parents become solely dependent on school teacher, caregiver, maid-servant, and driver to look after the children. Sometimes, they feel comfortable keeping their children in the school or therapy center for a long time to avoid the burden of taking care.
These children are considered as a curse to the parents and burden to the society. Initially, the parents try to hide the problems of their children. They are not taken to the relatives’/friends’ house or in any family gathering at the fear of humiliation. Sometimes, it is also found that the special needs children are tortured or beaten by the parent and other family members becoming impatient.
I know about a family where the husband and the wife became separated on the issue of the looking after an autistic child. None was interested to take the responsibility of looking after the child. After their divorce, the grandparents took the responsibility of looking after the child. But it is not at all easy for those two old personals to ensure safety and security of the teenage boy. There is no certainty of looking after the child safely by the grandparents. It might happen that one day the autistic boy will wander and commit an accident.
It is very sad part of the developed country that the parents of the special needs children face the higher rate of divorce than the rest of the married couples. Generally, the father of the child wants to focus on the work leaving a mother to raise the child at home. Moreover, the mothers are more emotionally attached to the special needs children. In the USA, statistics reveal that families with one or more disabled children have higher than average divorce rates. For the children with autism, some researchers report the divorce rate of 85%.
I know about another parent, who has only one son and that is autistic. The mother stays at the capital city with her autistic son for the better schooling facility of their baby and the father stays in a remote city for his job. The father rarely comes to his wife and son. If he comes to them, neither he hugs/embraces the boy nor he talks to him. He passes his time with his wife and goes back to his working place. The child is capable of calling his father as ‘ba-ba’, but the father never responds to his calling. The mother does not like the attitude of the father. But she can do nothing as she does not have any alternative.
Sometimes it happens that both the father and mother of the special children are working. They remain in the workplace throughout the day and the caregivers or the teachers are to look after their special children. Both of them are busy with developing their career ignoring the special child. They also give much importance to their normal children leaving aside the special one thinking him/her as unproductive. The chance of improvement in these special children is very less.
Many a time, the siblings of the autistic children feel irritating with the special child. They do not like to take their special brother/sister to the house of the relatives or friends. Even, they do not like to bring their friends into their home. They think that if the child does something obnoxious behavior s/he might be embarrassed. It may also happen that the friends of the siblings might laugh at him/her due to the unwanted behavior of the special child.
Earlier in the third world countries, the special children would not get any importance, rather they used to be brought up in a most neglected way without any love and affection. They were considered as mad or prey to an invisible creature. The parents would give them some traditional treatment and left them to the kind of almighty for their rest of the life. So the special individuals had to pass their life like that and finally die.
There are superstitions in the third world countries especially in the rural area that the special needs children are the curse for the parents. People suspect that the special child is the outcome of any major sins committed by the parents. People also blame the parents for those special children. Unfortunately, they do not have the ability to give birth a normal/special child. Everything is destined by the creator. There might be various reasons of the disabilities. Sometimes, the relatives or the well-wishers try to advocate to use some traditional treatments for the special children which become irritating for the parents.
I have got 21 years autistic boy Ferdous Mahi. Like many other autistic children, he does not feel comfortable the presence of many people in the house as he likes to stay alone. One day I invited some guests in my home. Before reaching the guests into my home I told my son to remain calm and quiet during the guest hours. But it gave the adverse result. After the arrival of the guest into my home, Mahi started shouting, screaming and creating a nuisance. We could not stop him doing such. I was failed to understand his mind. The guests became anxious and their children became frightened. So, it created an adverse environment of get-together. As parents, we must try to read their mind of our special children to understand their attitude and behavior.
Role of the Family for the Children with Special Needs
The children with special needs are the backward population of the society. The prime responsibility for the development of these children is vested upon the family members. If the family members spend quality time with them in a disciplined manner there is every possibility that they would be developed gradually in all respect. Even, it is possible to make them self-dependent if we work in a dedicated manner. They can be blessings for the society with their good works as they are innocent and beyond any sin. We can make a beautiful society bringing the special needs children to the normal course of life and involve them in every aspect of the society as far as possible. We need support from all members of the family and the society.
Taking care of the children with special needs are always rewarding if we can understand the mentality of the children and their needs properly and support them in their learning and development. The special needs children are never cursed in the society. If we can understand their mind, find out their invisible talent and utilize their talent properly, they can be turned into assets of the society. Every special needs children have a special talent in some parts of life. Try to identify his talent and utilize it. Researchers say that Einstein was an autistic individual.
“Our duty in autism is not to cure but to relieve suffering and to maximize each person’s potential.”
Role of the Society and Government
In the USA, the children with special needs get a free special education and additional services after an evaluation done by the school. Moreover, there are many local programs and services in the developed countries to help children with special needs and their families. There is help for children and youth up to the age of 18 who have social, emotional, behavioral, and psychiatric problems. But the third world countries do not have enough facilities and programs for helping the special children.
The government of the third world countries can establish a number of special schools, training center and therapy centers for the development of the children with special needs. The schools and the therapy centers must be provided with enough efficient teachers and therapists. As the treatment of the special children is expensive, the government should provide necessary financial help to the parents like the developed countries. The special children are to be provided necessary safety and security so that their lives are secured till their death. The government is to take the responsibility of the special children in absence of their parents.
We should develop awareness among the people of the society to understand limitations and the needs of the special children. The disabilities and the symptoms of the disabilities of the special children should be taken as normal. They should be treated and talked similarly to the normal children. We have already learned from our religion not to tell anything about his/her disability in front of a disabled person. We should never disclose anybody’s disability to the public without his/her consent. S/he might fell humiliation.
It has been found that the children special needs are neglected and avoided as they are apparently unproductive in the society. But we must know that every special child has some kinds of invisible talents. The parents should identify it and nurture him. Then certainly, they can be assets of the society. The people of the society have the role to help the without neglecting. We have to develop awareness among everybody of the society to respect the special children and provide all-out effort for their development.
If we can understand them in the home, school, family, and society they can also contribute to the society. So, let us accept the children with special needs cordially without neglecting or avoiding them and provide full support to make them self-dependent.