Disability is not something one gets used to. Especially the one who is disabled. Either a person can be disabled from birth, making it genetic or may become disabled in the course of their lifetime through an accident, illness or injury. Either ways, it is something that the person lives with day in and day out. And so does their family.
For, the disabled to cope up with their disability and to live life on their terms would never be possible without the support of their family and caregivers.
Whatever may be the disability, it is difficult to lead a normal life. And its just as difficult for the caregivers of the disabled person.
It takes more of a mental and emotional toll on the families and close ones of the disabled person apart from the physical and monetary toll.
But there are a few things you can do –
- Educate yourself with facts about the particular disability. Knowing what to expect makes it a bit easier to handle.
- Encourage them to do the set tasks within their comfort zones. And slowly push the level of difficulty. Let them practise what they have been learning in the special schools. Accomplishment of any task gives them a sense of achievement and motivates them to do better.
Geeta Castelino, aged 49, was affected with polio when she was 2, it affected her speech and use of her right hand and both limbs. But her mother ensured Geeta attended her speech and physiotherapy classes with her. Her parents never paid any attention to societal concerns and made sure Geeta attended regular school like other kids. Geeta has not only overcome her physical and speech handicap but has pursued 3 careers. She is a social psychologist, an educationist and a corporate trainer and is a part of many other activities.
- Empower the person. Just because they are disabled that doesn’t mean they cannot carve a place in the world for themselves. There are many schools and institutions that cater to the special needs of the disabled person. Find the right one for them to be enrolled into.
- Help them in establishing a sense of independence – in terms of everyday functionality as well as monetary aspects.
Bandenawaz Nadaf’s mother helped him play with a ball, learn karate and swim when Bandenawaz had no arms to do the same. His mother enrolled him at the Society for the Education for the Crippled. The school made him so independent that Bandenawz uses his feet to scale new heights. Today he is an accomplished painter.
- We assume in our ignorance that the disabled need to be protected from what is out there. But what is “out there” is us, the society. Helping them integrate with society where they can contribute effectively adds to their self – esteem and increases their self – confidence.
Girish Sharma had lost his right leg when he was 2 years but his love for playing outdoors with his friends never left him. Because of this love, he could pursue badminton in the physically challenged categories and at the age of 24 is headed towards playing the world championship in South America.
- Remember – what you sow is what you reap. If you pity and feel sorry for the disabled person, they in turn will feel that they lack something and are not good enough. But if you accept the person as they are, trying to improve and encourage their skills and abilities, they’d turn out to be more confident individuals.
Take the case of Rahul Deshmukh. Even though he lost his vision, because of faith in his abilities by the school, Rahul has completed his HSC, BA and MA. At the age of 34, he has given so much back to society by setting up institutions to help the physically challenged as well as computer training centre and a recreational centre. He achieved all this because he got a chance to flourish.
- There would be times when the caregivers feel daunted by the task of constantly caring for the disabled person. Ensure you have a good support system in place – people who you can go back to for advice or just for talking. A support system is what gets you through the highs and lows.
Here we have given the example of 4 individuals who have fought the odds and emerged as winners. There are countless others and their families have played a vital role in that process.
Start looking at them as “differently abled” rather than disabled. Assist them in finding their niche and discovering themselves. And watch yourselves fly free along with them.First Published: Jan 4, 2012 at 11:13 AM