A person with a disability is anyone with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits at least one major life activity. If you want to know how to help people with disabilities, there are many routes you can take. Simply learning how to effectively communicate comes first, but you can also offer your services as a volunteer or educator.
What you call something — or someone — matters. When writing or speaking about people with illnesses or disabilities, try to avoid the use of the condition to define them. That way you show that you know there is a lot more to the person than just their illness or disability. So, instead of saying something like the mentally disabled, call them differently abled.
The terms ‘disability’ and ‘handicap’ are used interchangeably and often refer to people with special needs. These concepts have been formed in our minds through years of conditioning and we often dived into classroom teaching assuming that we were helping the handicapped cope with their disability. Experience showed us quite the contrary. We were helping students with disability cope with their notions and ideas of being handicapped. In fact, our whole training, though not explicitly stated, revolved around bringing this philosophy into our work and inevitably our own personal lives.
In simple terms, disability is a lack of an ability to perform tasks. This lack of ability may be due to an inherent condition that prevents us from effectively engaging or executing a process. What we came to realise is that our disability becomes a handicap when it ultimately causes suffering because of our inability to accept the situation as it is. Life will constantly challenge us. There are times we will feel swamped by what we sense as our lack. If we can see that it is only our thoughts about a situation that are creating the handicap, we can live each moment to the best of our potential.
Movement disability accounted for the largest number of physically challenged persons, followed by hearing disability and visual impairment. The report noted that the high incidence of polio in India may be responsible for the high proportion of movement disability. Interestingly, while movement disability accounted for 20 per cent of all disabled children, of the 2 million children in the age group of 0 to 6 who were disabled, it was down to 9 per cent. This difference could be due to the effectiveness of the polio immunisation program undertaken in a phased manner.
Autism is no longer classified as a single disorder, but rather an entire spectrum ranging in severity. Autism is the core of all of these syndromes, with its features being prevalent to varying degrees throughout, and includes such disorders such as Rett Syndrome and Childhood disintegrative disorder. It is a matter of pride to handle persons having a handicap of any nature to take the services of a helper to get the routine work done.
Now motorised wheelchairs are available to increase the mobility of the physically challenged persons. Schools are there in cities to handle this handicapped lot with special methods of work culture. And the vehicle manufacturers make customised scooters and cars to cater to the needs of the physically challenged lot. In all, it is the timely help that comes handy for the handicapped and that goes a long way in enhancing the lifespan of people with such physical challenge faced by them from childhood or at a later date due to an accident.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)