THE HANDICAPPED CHILD
People who live or work with handicapped children say things which surprise and stimulate the rest of us. One very old and rather ill couple I know have over the forty-two years that they have been caring for their Down's syndrome son come to see him as a blessing. Today he fetches and carries for them good-humouredly and regularly appears at their side holding the very object they were thinking of asking him to get.
He cannot discuss with them an article in the newspaper but he can read their minds. And theirs is a very active and happy home. Another woman who works with the handicapped points out that we are all handicapped. According to our dictionary definition of the word, 'anything that lessens one's chance of success or makes progress difficult', this is certainly true for those of us who are no good with figures or cannot change a car tyre.
She pointed out that we all interact daily in a way that makes us all connected, and that every member of the huge web called society has a contribution to make. While some contribute in an obvious way in terms of the commercial system, others do so by teaching about caring, love, compassion and understanding - all the important things. Perhaps it is because handicapped children fall into this last category that they bring their parents and others such tremendous joy.
It is wrong for handicapped people to be segregated from the community at large, not only because it prevents the able-bodied from learning valuable lessons about the real nature of being human, but because it makes those who have the physical or mental disability feel like pariahs. It is vital therefore that the parents of a handicapped child should make all attempts to have their child integrated as much as possible into the wider world.
They would be helped in this if the rest of us stopped looking at and treating the handicapped as aliens from outer space who have wrongly invaded our cosy little world, and city planners and architects designed the environment so that the handicapped could get around it. In the present situation of segregatio encouraging your child into the wider world is, of course, easier said than done.
Nevertheless do make all efforts at integration so that your child will have a better chance of independence when you are no longer around to shelter him from the realities of life. The attitude of the able-bodied is one of the most difficult things to handle when you have a child with a disability. But the day-to-day caring job is already quite enough hard work as it is. It can be exhausting, physically and emotionally, and it is important for everyone concerned that the parents ensure that they themselves relax fully occasionally. Essential oil baths and massages are marvelous after a long day of bending the back, straining the arms and generally reaching out.
Get your partner to massage your arms, shoulders and back or, if it is possible, get your child to do this. It will be a great pleasure for him to be able to return your caring if he can. And by offering the child the opportunity to expand his repertoire of activities you will be adding greatly to his confidence. Much of the advice in the following pages applies equally to the handicapped adult.
Reference : The Fragrant Pharmacy : V A Worwood
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