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Visually Challenged:

‘Light’ is the most essential thing next to ‘air’, ‘ water’, ‘food’ and ‘shelter’. ‘Eyesight’ is the power to experience it, which is a ‘blessing’ and not an ‘achievement’. Eyesight is “granted” and not “acquired”. How is a person born blind responsible for being so? It could have happened to you or your dearest. Even a sighted could turn blind out of an accident or an illness. If you realize this truth, reaching out to the Visually Challenged is not an act of ‘charity’.

It is our moral obligation It is our social responsibility It is our duty Don’t turn a BLIND EYE to this reality…

Deaf and Dumb:

“Deaf and dumb” (or even just “dumb”, when applied to deaf people who do not speak) is an archaic term that is considered offensive.

Many Deaf people do not use a spoken language, thus they are technically “mute”. The word “dumb” has at least an archaic meaning that means “mute”. Of course, the word “dumb” also has another more common meaning now that implies stupidity, which is certainly not applicable to most Deaf people.

Given the long history of deafness, and the fact that Deaf people have been incorrectly assumed to be mentally deficient just because they do not speak, you can imagine that most Deaf people do not appreciate being called “Deaf and Dumb”.

 Physically Handicapped:

For students with physical handicaps, self-image is extremely important. Teachers need to ensure that the child’s self image is positive. Physically handicapped students are aware of the fact that they are physically different that most others and that there are certain things they cannot do. Peers can be cruel to other children with physical handicaps and become involved in  casting insulting remarks and excluding physically handicapped children from games and group type activities. Physically handicapped children want to succeed and participate as much as they can and this needs to be encouraged and fostered by the teacher. The focus needs to be on what the child CAN do – not can’t do.

Strategies that help:

1. Physically handicapped children long to be normal and be seen as normal as much as possible. Focus on what they can do at all times.

2. Find out what the child’s strengths are and capitalize on them. These children need to feel as successful too!

3. Keep your expectations of the physically handicapped child high. This child is capable of achieving.

4. Never accept rude remarks, name calling or teasing from other children. Sometimes other children need to be taught about physical disabilities to develop respect and acceptance.

5.Never pity the physically handicapped child, they do not want your pity.

6. Take the opportunity when the child is absent to teach the rest of the class about physical handicaps, this will help foster understanding and acceptance.

7. Take frequent 1 to 1 time with the child to make sure that he/she is aware that you’re there to help when needed.

Mentally Retarded:

It is defined as an intellectual functioning level (as measured by standard tests for intelligence quotient) well below average and significant limitations in daily living skills (adaptive functioning).

  • According ‘Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’ in the 1990s, mental retardation occurs in 2.5 to 3 percent of the general population. Mental retardation begins in childhood or adolescence before the age of 18.
  • It persists throughout adulthood. Intellectual functioning level is defined by standardized tests (Weschsler-Intelligence Scales) that measure the ability to reason in terms of mental age (intelligence quotient or IQ ). Diagnosis of mental retardation is made if an individual has an intellectual functioning level well below average and significant limitations in two or more adaptive skill areas.
  • Mental retardation is defined as IQ score below 70 to 75.
  • Adaptive skills are the skills needed for daily life. Such skills include the ability to produce and understand language (communication); home-living skills; use of community resources; health, safety, leisure, self-care, and social skills; self-direction; functional academic skills (reading, writing, and arithmetic); and work skills.
  • In general, mentally retarded children reach developmental milestones such as walking and talking much later than the general population.
  • Symptoms of mental retardation may appear at birth or later in childhood. Time of onset depends on the suspected cause of the disability.
  • Some cases of mild mental retardation are not diagnosed before the child enters pre-school.
  • These children typically have difficulties with social, communication, and functional academic skills.
  • Children who have a neurological disorder or illness such as encephalitis or meningitis may suddenly show signs of cognitive impairment and adaptive difficulties.

Categories of mental retardation:

Prenatal causes (causes before birth):

  • Chromosomal Disorders: Down’s syndrome, fragile X syndrome, prader wili syndrome, klinfelter’s syndrome
  • Single Gene Disorders: Inborn errors of metabolism like galactosemia, phenyl ketonuria, hypothyroidism, muco polysaccaridoses, tay sachs disease
  • Neuro Cutaneous Syndromes: Tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis
  • Dysmorphic Syndromes: Laurence Moon Biedl syndrome
  • Brain Malformations: Microcephaly, hydrocephalus, myelo meningocele

Abnormal maternal environmental influences:

  • Deficiencies: Iodine deficiency and folic acid deficiency, severe malnutrition
  • Substance use: Alcohol, nicotine, cocaine
  • Exposure to harmful chemicals: Pollutants, heavy metals, harmful drugs like thalidomide, phenytoin, warfarin sodium etc.
  • Maternal infections: Rubella, toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus infection, syphilis, HIV
  • Exposure to: Radiation and Rh incompatibility
  • Complications of Pregnancy: Pregnancy induced hypertension, ante partum hemorrhage, placental dysfunction
  • Maternal Disease: Diabetes, heart and kidney disease

During delivery:

Difficult and /or complicated delivery, severe prematurity, very low birth weight , birth asphyxia, birth trauma

  • Neonatal period: Septicemia, jaundice, hypoglycemia, neonatal convulsions
  • Infancy and childhood: Brain infections like tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, bacterial meningitis, Head trauma, chronic lead exposure, severe and prolonged malnutrition, gross under stimulation
Symptoms of Mental Retardation:
  • Failure to meet intellectual developmental markers
  • Failure to meet developmental milestones such as sitting, crawling, walking, or talking, in a timely manner
  • Persistence of childlike behavior, possibly demonstrated in speaking style, or by a failure to understand social rules or consequences of behaviors
  • Lack of curiosity and difficulty solving problems
  • Decreased learning ability and ability to think logically
  • Trouble remembering things
  • An inability to meet educational demands required by school
  • Treatment for Mental Retardation is not designed to “cure” the disorder. Rather, therapy goals include reducing safety risks (e.g., helping an individual maintain safety at home or school) and teaching appropriate and relevant life skills. Interventions should be based on the specific needs of individuals and their families, with the primary goal of developing the person’s potential to the fullest.
  • Medications are required to treat co morbidities like aggression, mood disorders, self injurious behaviors, other behavioral problems, and convulsions which occur in 40%to 70% of cases