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Frequently Asked Questions About Handicapped Children

"Is This Child in Prison?"

"Oh, no. She has been locked in for the day when her parents are out at work. You can say also that she is in a prison. She has difficulty in comprehending the world around her. She is mentally retarded. So she is restricted to the confines of her home. The more she is restricted, the less she develops."

"Why does she not go to School?"

"Schools are plenty, but not for children like her -boys as well as girls. What she (or he, if the child were a boy) needs is a special school with a special curriculum, and with teachers who have special skill and aptitude. Special schools are for children in need of special care, or 'mentally retarded' or 'mentally handicapped' children."

"Are there many such Children?"

"Let us take Kerala (India) with its dense population. If you search an area within one mile radius of most locations, you are likely to find five, such children. If you double their radius there will be at least twenty five.

"That means we need a large number of special schools!"

"Yes, we do. In the whole of Ernakulam district (Kerala, India) there are only fourteen special schools."

"What causes mental retardation?"

"The Causes are many and not fully understood. Genetic disorders, premature birth, birth trauma, some illnesses in infancy and childhood.

Some drugs taken by the mother during pregnancy or some complications of pregnancy may affect the baby in the womb."

"How can I tell whether an infant is retarded?"

If the baby's milestones are delayed, the chances are that it is retarded. A pediatrician should be consulted and full and frank information obtained. Its speech may not be easily understood and its comprehension can be very limited and may cause impatience, even irritation, in parents and siblings.

"What should parents do if they have a retarded child?

"First and foremost, accept the child complete with its disability.

Without acceptance, the parent will not be able to do any thing positive. Stimulate the child. play with it, instruct it , and train it with patience and love. Help the child to help itself to become independent of others in attending to its own needs -in washing, dressing, toilet, eating. Neither under -expose nor over -expose the child to the world around it. The more it develops, the more will it comprehend and become able to get along. Send the child to a special school as early as possible, at least by the time it turns eight or nine."

"What happens in a special school?"

"A good teacher will find the child's strengths and weaknesses. (S)he will build on strengths and help it to overcome or circumvent its disability. Admittedly only a few will become literate enough to join the mainstream. The majority will be trained to became valued and valuable members of a household, to undertake gainful, although sheltered, employment and to live in peace and harmony.

Source: The Mar Gregorios Charitable Society

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