Having a child with special needs isn’t a tragedy but, turning your back on them is! People have the habit of perceiving anything that is out of the ordinary in a negative light. They are quick in coming up with baseless reasons as to why a child is born with different needs than the rest. This social stigma is the reason why kids with special needs were kept in the shadows in the past.

But, with internet and the media’s constant efforts to spread awareness, a change is being noticed. When asked about the changes in the society’s attitude towards these kids, Panchamukhi Yatavakilla, the founder of Sparsh Special School, Secunderabad, says, “Yes. There definitely has been a good amount of change in the society’s perception recent years.

People are now aware of what ‘special needs’ mean and, to an extent, are accepting these kids.” But, the battle isn’t won yet, at least not in the long shot. We still require a lot of things, both materialistic and others, to give them the right kind of care.

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Roughly, there are about 50-60 special schools in the city today but, opening schools isn’t enough. The number of children who are in need of special schools is increasing by the day. “I have students who commute from Warangal, Medak etc., on a daily basis just so that they can get some help — which isn’t easy or necessary; it’s high time schools start accepting children with special needs. Knowledge about these kids and their needs combined with skilled and committed manpower are all it takes for us to cater to these kids,” he explains.

Talking about working with specially-abled children, Himabindu Gattu, principal, Abhilasha School for Special Needs Children, Karkhana, says, “Speech therapy, Occupational therapy, Special Education and Behaviour Modification — all demand one-on-one attention from the therapist, while academics and extra-curricular activities can be done in small groups.”

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“Caring for a special needs child is an everyday challenge that requires utmost patience and commitment,” says Rajitha, whose 14-year-old is Autistic. “They need to be kept busy. Fix a schedule and don’t break it, no matter what,” she explains.

Having said that, the fact remains that these kids almost always have some extraordinary gift; for some, it’s photographic memories, while some are gifted with numbers (can do complex calculations within seconds), some others are exceptionally good with art, etc. “Though it takes a lot of time to teach them the simplest of things, the quality of their production is incredibly high,” she shares.

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‘As long as we are alive, we will care for them but, what will happen to them after us’ is something that keeps most parents with differently-abled kids up at night. The best way to ensure that they are safe and cared for (to an extent) needs to be planned ahead.

Parents are the best teachers for these kids. So, stop hiding the kid in the house; rather, introduce them to trusted family and friends so that in case of emergencies, you have multiple backups, train them so that they don’t have to depend on someone for their basic needs.

Form support groups of children with similar needs and help each other out. Instead of waiting for some miracle to happen, be the miracle that safeguards your child for as long as s/he lives. #KhabarLive