Sabko Ek FRIEND Zaroori Hota Hai
“Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai” …! The line from the mellifluous jingle brought a smile on everyone’s face when we heard it for the first time. It resonated. Indeed, we all need a friend and friends to sail through ups & downs of life easily.
They do not have friends! Did you ever think of how lonely can be the life of Special need person? One shudders to think about the lonely battle they fight all through their course of life. The echo of their loneliness reaches and impacts the family of individuals who need special care and assistance to lead their lives.
A special need person’s life is very lonely as we seldom find anyone making friends with special need people. So in retrospect, the popular jingle holds no mention of all-inclusivity. Normal Vs Special needs. The debate is ongoing, and inclusivity in the social fabric is far from reality.
I have two children; younger one is neurotypical and the elder one is on the Autism spectrum. I remember only my younger child was always invited for the birthday parties or sports events, as a mother it would hurt me a lot.
Most children on the spectrum of varying special needs tend to get socially isolated. It’s as if they do not exist in our collective consciousness that they are just needed to be “managed” and “provided for” as if they do not have emotional or social needs like you and me.
How do we crack it?
Most times, mothers being their primary caregivers are their only company and support to them. I got a call from the mother of a young fifteen-year-old teenager with learning difficulty, studying in a mainstream fancy school which boasts about inclusion. She lamented about his lack of social life and how the child is crossed off from social gatherings organized by other children in his grade. The feeling is that they are ostracized from society.
Where have we gone wrong as a society?
Are we raising our children to be self-absorbed and ill-equipped? Are we not nurturing them right that they either end up being bullies or learn to ignore the weaker kids? What is missing? Where is that thought process coming from? These are some potent questions that need to be answered.
Is inclusion a façade?
Many swanky schools in Gurugram and across the country claim about inclusion in classrooms. The bigger point gets missed, which widens the gap when neurotypicals ignore their classmates or schoolmates with special needs. Is it lack of sensitivity brewing in a social environment or lack of awareness or possibly both can be accounted for.
There are not enough forums to discuss inclusion. It is time to talk about inclusion openly and bring it up in normal family discussions to create an environment that encourages inclusion, acceptance, compassion and co-existence in schools, colleges and society.
Knowledge and awareness are empowerment. As parents, we need to take that first step, talk, bring the issues of social isolation of our vulnerable lot out of the closet and stop assuming that no one will understand or come forward to hold hands with compassion.
The new experiment by some schools- the buddy system whereby a group of children become caretakers of a special need child and help them cope up in the social scene. Such initiatives may bring a significant difference in bringing about a positive change in people’s mindset in general.
Sabko Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai!
At SUBURB we strongly support rights of people with special needs. Through a series of articles, events and talk shows, we initiate awareness among people and are focused on building brick by brick an inclusive society not just for children but also parents of children with special needs.
About the author: Neena Wagh, the author of the article, is the mother of a twenty-year-old young boy with autism. She is a writer and founder of ALAP Trust (Assisted Living for Autistic Persons).