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People with disabilities can't be ignored
The city of Gurgaon saw rapid urbanization in recent decades but no local Specialty Service Centre for persons with mental and multiple disabilities was available till the early nineties. Presently, the total disabled population of Gurgaon is approximately 30,000 but the staff requirement for those with intellectual disability and for the care of the disabled in general, is huge.

PERSONS WITH disabilities cannot be ignored from being an important and integral part of the society. Seventeen years after the Persons with Disabilities Act, 1995 came into being work on it is going painfully slow. Even the existing systems do not work in tandem with each other. The diagnosis and identification of disability is easy but the referrals and follow ups are rare. Awareness is growing among parents but information about existing resources and support systems is scattered. The families of such children, especially the economically weak ones, also need to be inspired to help their kids – as working with mentally challenged persons involves early detection and intervention.

The rehabilitation of the disabled is about securing their life, which requires medical and therapeutic assistance, training in special education, sensitization of their guardians and the society at large about their special needs. Most importantly, the process of rehabilitation for those born with disabilities has to start early. Mostly, by the time parents learn about available help, valuable time is lost. Rehabilitation involves improvement of quality of life, requiring help on all fronts - medical, social, educational and vocational. While parents look for a permanent solution, development in true sense should enhance their abilities to become self-dependent, to participate in the mainstream social and economic activities, and to be able to live a life of dignity and pride.

At Khushboo, which started when an enlightened group of committed residents and needy parents of children with disabilities started the ‘Khushboo Welfare Society’ in November 1995, we have about 65-70 children on our roll including children from the age group 3-6 in our play group program. We also take our services to nearby villages of Gurgaon as part of our outreach Community Based Rehabilitation program to help children with multiple disabilities as they do not have access to these facilities there. Services for development, education and rehabilitation of children, adolescents and young adults with autism, cerebral palsy, mental Retardation and multiple disabilities are provided to people.

The backbone of Khushboo are the people who interact with children. There are special educators, a psychologist, an occupational therapist, physiotherapist and consultants for the various aspects of the disabilities. Then, there are also assistants and helpers, and we keep organizing various workshops to improve and enhance their capabilities.

The fact that there has been support from volunteers has really served our objective. Many individuals and various companies have been supporting our children through various monetary and individual help. Companies help us in fund raising by putting up stalls in their premises during various festivals such as Holi, Rakshabandhan, and Diwali.

How Khushboo Made A Difference: A Case Study

Name: Deepanshu Ratra

Age on admission: 6 years

Diagnosis: Mental Retardation with Cerebral Palsy and Multiple Disabilities

Functional level at Admission: Couldn’t walk properly, nor could he speak even a single word; couldn't hold a pencil to write. Child of an alcoholic father, the family could neither bear the expenses of his education at Khushboo, nor the cost of the school bus for commuting from his home.

Program undergone at Khushboo: After hard convincing about the need of specialist care, the family brought him to Khushboo. He was also put on Physical and Speech Therapies. His mother was also provided the needed guidance and counselling. All his fees, including that for the school bus, were waived off.

Functional level after training: He can express his needs verbally though his speech is still not clear. Physiotherapy has improved his body-balance. He plays cricket; participated in state-level Special Olympics; can write with a pencil; and his overall academic level has improved. Now he is a confident and cheerful boy.

CJ: Seema Krishnan is Manager-Resource Development and Communications, Khushboo Welfare Society. Address: Sector 10-A, Near Lions Public School, Gurgaon. Phone: 0124-4140885-87.

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