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Colorss - My Work with Children with Disabilities

Understanding life is really difficult. It’s better not to understand it and let it come the way it has to. We can improve our life with our collective hard work, practical approach and meditation. There is a bright ray of light within everyone, it is constantly trying to come out and break through.

Words can not describe my experience of working with children with disabilities, as every day is a new learning and new memory. They are my family.

In June of 1999, I received my first Dan Black Belt in karate. Since then I have been teaching children karate. My love for children kept me busy with them directly or indirectly. We had one group of deaf and dumb children and giving them training during tournaments and examinations was a real challenge, however there were very focused and sincere students. The result was that they won the tournament in both categories: boys and girls.

I have studied the impact of the voice modules of working parents and its effects on a child (5-10 years old). The tensions at a work place can be felt in a parent’s voice that has an impact on a child’s behavior. After three months of hard work, I gave my findings with the do’s and don’ts to all the parents. And it’s working!

What I have learned, and in these many years of teaching, what I have observed is the importance of a teacher. It’s the teacher who brings the impact and change. I am very thankful to all my teachers and mentors who guided me.

Before I started to work among children with disabilities, I visited many hospices and observed how they operated and their daily activities. Each hospice has its own specialty and the children have their own characteristics. This can be well defined from the environment, food, climate, cloth, medication and care that they get from the caretaker. We have managed to move many residents from government orphanages to private ones. The changes that were observed in them were very encouraging, proving that the proper environment, love and care, health and hygiene, food, and above all the love and support of the caretaker make a huge difference.

My first day at a government orphanage, broke me apart. I was speechless to see the plight and how they are living. They came running around me and hugged me. Well it was a common sight as they get food, clothes and love from outsiders. I stayed there for more than an hour and scanned the whole scenario; the living conditions, environment, electricity, water, drainage, medications, hygiene, bedding, clothes, food, caretakers, playroom, storehouse and all the required parameters. I wrote my journal and went to sleep. Next morning when I read the journal, I was convinced that this is where I am going and what I am going to do. Working with these children is a gift from God to me. When I am with them, I am a different person and everything starts flowing like water, I need not think about what to do and how to do it.

Believe me you need to have a heart to work with these children. I had been very expressive with my eyes; lot of communication was done with the help of it. Residents never saw sympathy in my eyes for them. You need to motivate them; let them know that they are the best and can do it. I made them realize the importance of who they are in this world.

We had to design everything and get things organized. It was really challenging dealing with tough conditions and parameters that were not in our control. Different therapies were introduced to them; work plans were rescheduled and made to be result-oriented. Focus was given to social skills and life saving skills. Everything was happening quickly and results were seen in almost all the areas of life.

There are 35 residents whom I work with at a time. During my session, the discipline and silence that they maintain is outstandingly great. Even if I move out of their vision, the majority of the residents would be seated in their place and would ask my permission to leave.

The love and respect they have for me makes me believe I can make a difference.
We have residents who are suffering from downs syndrome, autism, other mental impairments, deafness, cerebral palsy, mild to severe learning disabilities, and some multiple disabilities.

Most of the time I was involved in group therapy. This helped in giving attention to all the residents at the same time. The whole idea about having group therapy was to build trust among them. This was the base foundation of my work. Gradually these children started to trust each other and feelings of belonging increased. During group therapy arrangements were made in such a way that the aggressive residents were next to each other. As the group therapy started they got the opportunity to understand each other. This further helped in developing trust among each other (e.g. while passing the ball in group therapy they knew that the resident is going to pass the ball and vice a versa. This developed trust among themselves) as days passed by aggression among each other was lowered down. Assessment was carried out to see who can lead the team and carry out the responsibility of taking care of residents who suffer from multiple disabilities and cerebral palsy. Soon we came with a solution and found couple of residents who are very fast learners and having good understanding. Now these residents wash these children, brush them, change clothes and take care of them. I would really say lot of hard work was involved in achieving.

There are a couple of residents who need one-to-one attention. Every day I used to spend half an hour doing physiotherapy with residents suffering with cerebral palsy. While doing physiotherapy, colors are exposed to the resident to stimulate him and divert his attention from the pain of stretching. He was always fascinated with blue color, clouds and water. His understanding level was good and he was a very fast learner.

He was exposed to different photographs and was instructed to identify them (birds, animals, clouds, children taking baths in water, teeth-brushing and doing exercises). Once when both of us reached a level of understanding, we introduced water therapy for him. This benefited us a lot. His motivation was very high for the water since he never liked physiotherapy because of the pain. His body got more flexible, conditioning his upper body as well lower body after he was introduced to water and a sponge to play with. Because he has to move himself to reach for the tub, the motivation to reach water helped him to learn how to crawl.

We taught him how to clean himself and the importance of being clean. Now we bring the tub with water and his sponge, he is able to undress himself and clean his body and face. It gives immense happiness to see that he is learning social skills very fast. Gradually we trained him to brush teeth, button and unbutton shirt and eat food properly. Here these social skills were taught to him unconsciously as more focus was given to water, color, brush, paste and sponge. Now his mental health is very good and he obeys simple commands. For the last couple of months we have not seen him suffering from depression; a very good achievement.

Another resident is autistic and has speech problems. He prefers isolation and is afraid of a crowd. He loves to swing so we spend most of the time at the swing and I kept talking with him all the time. I clean his nails, give him a bath. He understands everything and trusts me. He will hold my fingers and walk around; while walking I take a couple of other residents with me and instruct one of them to hold his hand. This will help me in bringing them close. He loves music and is a very beautiful dancer. Slowly I was able to understand his behavior and mood swings. Teaching him social skills was very difficult.

In my presence only he will wash himself and brush, many times he will come around and pull me to the washing area (he wants a shower). We are trying to establish his rapport with other residents so that the residents can take care of him. I was worried will the plan work! So in the daily routine at the swing I talked with him about the plan and told him, you need to talk to me and tell me what you want. One more effort of talking with him seemed to yield no result. I was puzzled and feeling low. One fine day he smiled at me and called ‘maa’ I was surprised and asked him again what did you say. He said ‘maa’ and ran away. (Maa is a hindi word meaning mother.) I can’t explain my feelings in words. The moment was one of my happiest moments of life.

I am a work-alcoholic and generally miss eating and sleeping. Working under tremendous pressure and stress, there was one day when I was very low with 145/100 BP, and nearly had a nervous breakdown. Still I managed to go to the hospice and this was one of my best gifts given by god to me. The residents sensed that there was something wrong and they were the best well-behaved children I had ever seen in my career of teaching. Pin drop silence, few of the senior moderate learning disabled residents took charge and arranged the whole class. My eyes were all wet in tears, but I had to be strong. They kept asking me, why are you crying? I told them to close their eyes and meditate. Later a resident who told me to take a rest carried out the rest of the session.

These children have accepted me and now I am part of their family. They have many things to teach me and others. They love to dance and play. I found them to be fast learners and very obedient. After living with these beautiful children and spending time, I found they are such a beautiful soul trapped in the human body. This was the time I took a step ahead.

I have a vision and dream. Thus I took the decision to set up my own organization ‘Colorss’ and give the best of what I can in my capacity. My vision is to have an orphanage with a vocational and rehabilitation center. I dream to make inclusion easy and create a platform for these children wherefrom they can exhibit their talent to the world. I dream to create a platform from where society will learn things from them.

‘Colorss’; the name itself talks about all the colors and emotions of life. If there is no color in life it would be dull and boring.

Comments

Anand,

I have only a few minutes because you reminded me that I need to eat (please take care of yourself!) and Jonah is getting antsy. But I am so touched by your post that I have to respond NOW.

Are we kindred spirits? I think so. Thank you Changemakers for such a powerful connection!

When I moved back to the States in 2002, I got a job at The Arc, formerly known as ARC - Association for Retarded Citizens. I will admit that I took this job because I was desperate for work. I didn't really have a desire to work with "retarded" people. Oh my gosh. This job was life altering. I grew so much as a person!

Most importantly and significantly, I realized that people with developmental disabilities are NOT retarded. To call them that is denigrating at best. It makes the disability take prominence over the person. I am ashamed to say that that's how I used to think about them, if I even thought about them at all. I mean, is there a culture that doesn't try to hide their "less then perfect" citizens?

That is what I am most thankful for. I came to know so many individuals - men, women, children - with developmental disabilities. And I realized that they are no different than me. They are people. They laugh, cry, get happy, sad, angry, frustrated and even "manipulate" to get their way with the best of us.

So, I noticed I am using the word "they" and I do not want anyone reading this to think I mean to imply I think of anyone with a disability as separate from anyone else. Because I do not believe that. We are all perfect in the eyes of Spirit.

My favorite lasting imprint I made on the organization was launching a new website. (http://thearcmult.org/) I brought the people the Arc serves to the homepage and displayed them prominently and proudly. I just revisited the site and still love it. (although I noticed that the quality has been compromised and of course want to fix it for them!)

Once again, welcome! I look forward to continuing our conversation.

All my best,
Jennifer

p.s. I encourage you to start your own focused on people with disabilities.

colorss's picture

Thank you so much

Dear Jennifer,

Thank you soo much for sharing your experience and how it helped you identify yourself on a different plane. Yes, they are indeed special and close to heart. So much to learn so much to feel so much to give yet so much pain.

The post that you read - is just a glimpse of my work. As I don't want to write more about those beautiful souls who inspired me to show what I can do in my capacity.

I am sure as we keep exchanging thoughts we would soon find a new bridge to achieve our thoughts and dream - making it a reality.

Thank you so much for having this website.

God Bless

Take care and stay healthy,
For Love
Anand
www.colorss.net

Jennifer Ruwart's picture

one more thing

You and Rosemary Enie should become friends!
http://beta.pulsewire.net/node/2103

Peggie Reyna's picture

children who are deaf

Peggie Reyna, Project Director
Peace Over Violence
Deaf, Disabled & Elder Services
"lovemenot" Anti-Stalking Project

Hi Anand, I read your post about your work with children with disabilities. Great work you are doing. I want to tell you please that Deaf children are not dumb, they are not mute as Deafness has nothing to do with the vocal cords. But we learn to speak by what we hear so those who are profoundly Deaf do have hard time learning to speak. I hope you continue your great work and if I can help with some materials maybe you could teach those Deaf children some sign language to help them communicate.
Peggie

colorss's picture

Hello Peggie, Thank you for

Hello Peggie,

Thank you for writing me... please send me the materials it would be really nice to have them. I would like to add them up to the curriculum along with that. It would be nice to exchange mails I could learn many things from you.

Looking ahead to hear

Regards,
Anand

Peggie Reyna's picture

Deaf Children

Peggie Reyna, Project Director
Peace Over Violence
Deaf, Disabled & Elder Services
"lovemenot" Anti-Stalking Project

Hi Anand, If you give me an address I will happy to send you some materials for learning/teaching sign language to the children. You will find that they love it, Deaf and Hearing children love sign language. Children with speech disabilites also benefit from learning sign language.

Peggie

colorss's picture

Hello Peggie, Thank you so

Hello Peggie,

Thank you so much for your message. this is my email id it would be nice to hear from you. I remember couple of years back I was being trained in sign language but the sessions did not last long as the volunteer with whom I was learning had to left suddenly.

I was very much touched with it. Now I am happy that you would help me learn.

Looking ahead.

Anand

you can email me and we can further communicate through it.

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