Taking Care of the Handicapped Child and Twins
A handicapped child needs more attention and care. There are various types of handicaps. It is always important that the parents should understand the nature of handicaps and the specific type of handicap that their child may have. Any handicap may occur very occasionally. The important aspect of a handicap is the realization that the child needs treatment for the defect and it must be helped to get over the defect so that it may attain as much normalcy as possible. Such a child needs to be treated naturally and not with any extra pity or over anxiety by the parents. Normally the parents’, indiscretion makes their such unfortunate issues more pitiable. What happens in the beginning is, many of these unfortunate parents hide such children from the rest of the community till they become so old that everybody knows their so-called secret. Hence it is better to accept this handicap and allow the child to move in the society as normally as possible. Then only it will promote the necessary understanding not only by the neighborhood but also by their own children in the house.
The Types of Handicaps
- Short of Hearing
- Completely deaf
- Blind (may have only one good eye)
- Inflicted with polio resulting in the paralysis of a limb or limbs.
- Congenitally one limb like a hand or some fingers may be absent, deformed or maybe having six fingers.
- May have a large birthmark on the face which may look apparently ugly (maybe a black mark, or maybe a red mark or any type of big birthmark, sometimes covering half or the full face of the child.
- Mentally deficient and slow in learning.
- May have cerebral palsy (a spastic child).
- A Mongol (an Indian child looking like the Chinese or the Japanese due to its typical features). However, the term, ‘Mongol’ is now avoided and it is called a ‘Down’s syndrome’. The child looks like a Japanese or Chinese with small slanting eyes. Many of these children with this type of looks are generally deficient in many symptoms of the mental deficiency, heart disease etc., and unless proper care is taken of them they die early. It is possible to diagnose these ‘Mongols’ early, sometime even before or at birth or latest few months after birth.
Notwithstanding any of these handicaps, you must try to tend your child with special care and understanding. Of course, they should not have over sympathy, but you must show them intelligent consideration in order to make them feel normal and not unwanted in any way. Nowadays there are special schools to provide specialized training to such children to make them live independently.
Now all over the world a lot of special care is taken of these handicapped children. If a child is born prematurely, this is also a handicap. The child may be born with very low birth-weight. That is also a handicap as they also need special care in the early phase of life soon after birth till they get substantial weight after which they could be treated as normal children.
In an introductory way, we have dealt with the general types of handicaps amongst the children. However, there is no need to worry as there is the solution for each one of these defects. You will be able to detect them the pretty early childhood, by about one year. You will be able to see that the child is not responding to noises properly if it is “short of hearing”, or “deaf”. Many of the congenital defects can be recognized early. If there is a child who is one and a half years old, not able to crawl, not able to sit, not able to understand your communication, you know that the child is not normal. Some defects can be recognized even by the third and fourth month. Then it remains to diagnose the type of handicap.
As far as other serious physical defects like poliomyelitis are concerned, the paralyzed limbs could be easily seen. After the acute stage of the disease, there may be residual paralysis and the paralysis and the paralyzed limb is to be helped so that it may not get into disuse atrophy. For this, the lot of physiotherapies is to be done. So then, it is very important to note that these children are to be taken care of early. It is important that when you recognize them, without feeling depressed, should proceed to seek the aid of the special institutions which are there to help these handicapped children. Thus we know what are the various types of handicaps and what aid is to be given to normalize them to a great extent. Thus you find the importance of detecting these handicaps and taking special care of these children from their early age period.
The Necessity of Taking Special Care
As is apparent, handicapped children need special care because of the handicap. But despite this their intelligence, however, may be quite normal. In fact, at times, more than the IQ of the normal children. As a matter of fact, intelligence is such a complicated factor which one cannot describe or assess exactly. The time and extent of the blossoming of a mind are rather unpredictable. As the child is growing (say for instance when it becomes seven or light years old) many of these children, whatever the handicaps, will be noted that other children go to school and enjoy a normal life but despite their being mentally capable, they cannot. They are at home, either because of the poverty, ignorance of the parents or for want of various facilities to send such children to the special schools. They are stuck up at home and they may be feeling that they are not enjoying. So this type of complex will develop in the children whatever may be their degree of intelligence unless he is at the idiotic level. So, as such, it is very important to plan for these children and explore the facilities that are available and see that something is done for them. To think that they don’t understand or have no feeling is very wrong. As already explained the parents of such type of children need not have any sense of guilt that they have produced this child, because there were other immunerable causes for which the parents are not responsible. Hence it is vitally important that such boys be treated with some love and care and given specialized training to make them self-sufficient as far as possible.
Mentally Retarded Children
These come in a different category. The mentally retarded child is not a child with any visible defect. His mental faculties’ comparative underdevelopment makes him less intelligent with his IQ (intelligence of a three-year-old child. Thus 3/6 × 100=50 or of half the intelligence of a normal child. In case a 12-year-old child has the intelligence of a nine-year-old child, his IQ=9/12 × 100=75. This is how the IQ is calculated by the specialists. Of course, they have different devices to determine such children’s mental age, the chief criterion being the child’s capacity to discern a sense of similarity in apparently dissimilar objects. However, if we take the reverse case, if an 8-year-old child has the intelligence of a 12-year-old child his IQ would be 150.
Thus the mentally retarded children having decidedly less IQ cannot complete with the normal children. There is no use, sending a child even if he is nine years of age to the 4th or 5th class-the normal classes of this age group children-when be doesn’t have even infant standard or Montessori level of learning. Hence the special need to realize the IQ level of your child when you detect him to be mentally retarded.
Such a child rarely has the needed concentration to grasp his lessons or even stability to sit in a class. Hence the need to send him to the institutes of mentally retarded children.
Initially, such children may not have any liking to learning the alphabets, reading or writing, although it is not essential in every case. They may be interested in playing, for instance with some clay or some toys and make some little few animal figures or little painting like things what their hands and physical body can do. So there are various special methods of training these children need to normalize them to as much extent as to make them do different levels of work. All schools for such children have specially trained staff to make their students follow their teaching.
Such institutes have teachers who have undergone special training as a Clinical Psychologist who can analyze their basic levels of intelligence and understanding, a Physio-Therapist and then an Occupational Therapist, a vocational therapist. Many other teachers who teach them in various other types of trades for higher age group children are also needed. All the members of this team of the special staff work together to improve the total personality and skills of the retarded children. They have special methods to stimulate the intelligence of the children by a very peculiar combination of factors which may blossom up the environmental and educational stimulation in children to follow the courses.
This training may make the retarded children do many things in certain ways. For instance painting and drawing or doing some crafts to match marvy with a normal child’s performance when they are specially trained, while in reading and writing they may be far behind the normal kids.
Care of the Physically Handicapped
Under this category come mostly those unfortunate children who are the victim of poliomyelitis. If we don’t take care of them early, their physical handicap will become progressive. This means that if such a child’s leg is affected and if he doesn’t get the due treatment through physiotherapy there will be progressive muscular atrophy, just as you don’t develop your brain and intelligence when you don’t properly educate yourself. So at the beginning itself, if you give proper support and physiotherapy, you make the limbs as normal as possible. If the child is helped from the very beginning to correct his physical defect, he can go to a normal school provided his intelligence has not suffered.
Cerebral Palsy or Infantile Paralysis
There are two varieties in this case. Here the physical defect is associated with normal intelligence or less intelligence. In such a boy or girl, two lower limbs or the upper two limbs or all the four limbs may be spastic. You can recognize pretty early after birth that the child is spastic by noting his limbs which are very rigid or spastic. We broadly divide them into two varieties: those with normal intelligence and those with retarded intelligence.
Owing to their physical disability such children can go to a normal school. In case the child has normal intelligence, his limbs are to be properly trained to ensure a better mobility. Perhaps after a few years of training, you can send him to a normal school. If, in addition, their IQ is less they should be sent to Retarded Centres depending upon the degree of their mental retardation.
Before dealing further in the subject, let us understand what is cerebral palsy. Many grown up and intelligent persons carry wrong notions about his trouble. Overall baby palsy neuro-muscular incoordination. Such children have their brain all right. Their nerves are also okay. But the communication between them is not properly established. There is in coordination between the brain, muscles and the communicating nervous system. In their case when they want to stretch the limb, it begins to flex, that is, the opposite forces come into simultaneous action. That is why the limb is rigid. So you must train his brain, muscles and the nerves to establish normal communications with proper coordination in order to make the child stretch its particular limb when he or she desires so, without getting into the rigid posture. Hence their basic requirement is good physiotherapy and a special school where they can go.
Since it is not easy to the brain there persons at home, they must be sent to the special institutions so that may get the special training.
The Children with Mental Slowness
This category of children may conveniently be divided into three groups according to the cause of their trouble.
- Organic Causes
- Glandular Deficiency
- Natural Causes
Let us discuss each of them separately.
- Organic Causes: In this group, the cause is organic damage to the brain because at birth, due to some reason, there was the insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain this may be noted, as some say, that the child has not breathed or cried immediately after birth. If there is a delay in crying, that is an indication of not having enough oxygen reaching the brain. In difficult labours, there is a certain amount of brain damage. Or, possibly, this may have been caused by any other infections of the brain like the encephalitis or meningitis. Some of them do cause brain damage. All these are the organic causes.
- Glandular Causes: In case these are detected early and given adequate correction, such children may become fairly normal. One of the frequent causes, as we may find, is the case of the thyroid gland. As we know thyroid gland produces a kind of endocrine liquid which is useful for the growth of the body. These children, if deficient, may get what is called ‘cretinism’. The children with his deficiency will have a thick, tough, dry skin; lack of appetite and constipation and hence stunted growth. All these indications will help you diagnose this deficiency pretty early. If you show to the doctor early and he starts the treatment, the mental deficiency may be completely corrected and prevented.
- Natural Causes: Thus these ‘natural causes’ mean that the mental retardation or slowness is not caused by disease or injury but by congenital defects which may be incidental or familial. A child thus rendered deficient in its intelligence may not have an as sharp brain as a boy or girl of his or her age group might possess. Just as we have explained that if a particular child at the age of six years may have IQ of a three-year-old child, his IQ would be only 50. Then at 16 years, if he has the intelligence of an average 12-year-old boy or girl, then his IQ is 75.
Although many of these children can perform many normal functions, there is no particular cure. But, notwithstanding this fact, they can be helped to a great extent. The parents of such a child must realize that there are some causes beyond their control which result in the mental slowness of their child. So they need not bear a guilt complex and should promptly send their child to the special schools to make the best of the worst bargain. Their schools almost make your child nearly normal.
It has been found that many blind children have not only normal intelligence but even a higher IQ. level. In the normal case, barring the sight-loss, they are normal children.
In our country majority of children getting blind could be prevented by giving them adequate nutrition in the early phases. Such children invariably become blind because of lack of vitamin ‘A’ in their diet. This could be due to their mother’s milk lacking the required vitamin in adequate measure or the children themselves not getting enough of green vegetable etc. in their diet. In case, right from birth, such deficient children are given one teaspoonful of cod-liver oil, the blindness can be prevented. If properly immunized against smallpox which is the second main cause of blindness in our country the problem could be solved. Besides this, any eye-trouble should be treated early. Thus blindness among children in our country is preventable to a great extent.
However, in case your child is normal except being blind, there is no need to worry because by teaching it through Brail system he or she can become as educated as any other normal child. There are many schools for the blind children in our country where they must go to to get the education and other skills.
Deaf And Dumb Children
Unless hereditary, deafness is quite preventable. In case you find your child having pus coming out of his ear, you must attend to this problem early and see that their ears are cleaned and shown to the doctor for proper treatment as this may result in loss of hearing if neglected.
In some cases. because of deafness, the child may not be able to talk and hence may become dumb too. Thus it gets totally cut off from learning from the environment. Sending such deaf and dumb children to the special school and institutions established for themselves is eminently advisable.
Some children’s intelligence remains normal but they become only slightly hard of bearing. In that case, you must have the degree of hardness dully assessed, with a follow-up treatment. In case they need the hearing aid, provide it to them if you can afford them because they are quite expensive. They may be provided by some charitable organizations or the school or by parents themselves. There is no shame in letting your child use these hearing aids. But you will have to train it as you might train him for using the spectacles. When he is trained to hear with the aid, he becomes just like any other normal child.
There are cases when a child developed the trouble due to some infection or concussion near the ear. In that case, the effective treatment of the infection would remove his deafness also.
Caring For The Twins
Although twins should not come in this category, yet in their case, the only handicap is their low birth weight and they are apparently premature and small. But their systems are well matured as the period of pregnancy is normal. The problem is only for the mother who has to take the general case of two children at the same time instead of one.
For many mothers feeding the two kids simultaneously may surface as a problem but gradually with practice and self-training they learn this technique easily. However, if the feedings are not found adequate, other milk can be given as it is done in the case of one baby.
Nonetheless, the mother with twins needs some extra assistance. This is always available in our country where family bonds have not become weak. Moreover, it is a custom in several parts of our country that the mother generally stays with her parents for first three months after delivery. Even otherwise some near relations will be staying for necessary help for a couple of months after the delivery.
The Problem may surface in twins case when both the infants fall ill simultaneously. There is also a traditional belief that the twins get identical illness at the same time. The possibility is always there because the two kids live so close that they catch the same infection almost simultaneously. But it is not true that they suffer the same disease when even grown up. In any case, the care for the twins should not come as a big problem in our country.