Truly special children
She sat there, on that tiny green chair, with her head resting on the hands folded before her on the table. She was a pretty little girl I thought to myself, her black hair contrasting beautifully with her alabaster skin. It wasn’t until she lifted up her head drowsily, gazing blankly at the instructor standing before her that the look of admiration in my eyes was muddled with tears of sorrow.
She was visually impaired, to the extent that her left eye was a mere slit on her radiant face — she was special. The sympathy at that point was overwhelming but the need to overcome it and channel it into something more productive was superseding.
The general misconception which surrounds the term ‘special children’ is one which is most perturbing in my opinion. It often translates into copious amounts of sympathy and a lack of acceptability. They are all assembled and put into one category: a category of children who have poor learning abilities and the inability to challenge ‘normal children’ in the field of academics or sports. For one, some special children, especially those with visual impairment or hearing impairment, are not mentally challenged. They need to be accommodated for in regular educational institutes not taught separately. Imagine a kid who cannot hear, who does not get easily distracted, should he learn faster than those distracted by the noises in a classroom or slower? Only, the words written on the blackboard will speak to him rather than the words leaving the facilitator’s mouth and that by no means obstructs learning.
The focus at this point needs to be on teaching methods, not separate learning modules. They are not intellectually impaired; they are just differently-abled. An isolated documentary on Children’s Day every year or an article celebrating an NGO’s commendable effort or some five-year plan designed by the government with poor implementation is not the way to go about this issue. To have a lasting impact one must change their perspective, to be more inclusive and acceptable of these children, to bring them into mainstream education and to give them a chance to feel part of this society.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.