Professional care still far for physically challenged in Assam

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Guwahati, June 04 (UNI) Misinformation and misconceptions are the greater ailments impeding the development of the 1.6 million disabled people in Assam rather than their physical or mental limitations, according to Shishu Sarothi, an NGO working for the upliftment of the physically challenged.

Of the 2.3 million physically challenged population in the entire Northeastern region, a very negligible percentage had access to professional care in helping them lead a close to normal life.

Poverty and ignorance, coupled with social stigma, continue to afflict the disabled people even though there was much greater awareness now.

Mira Kagti, executive director and founder member of Shishu Sarothi, a centre for rehabilitation and training for multiple disability, said, ''The parents try to hide the condition of their wards when there is ample help available to ensure that their child overcomes his disabilities to the greatest possible extent.'' Shishu Sarothi is a pioneer organisation in the field of professional help for children with cerebral palsy.

Set up in 1987 with two 'students', it has developed into a full-fledged centre with diagnostic clinic, outdoor service department for early intervention, centre for special education, community-based rehabilitation programmes, especially in rural areas, and pre-natal counselling unit, along with a therapy unit.

With 87 students under the care of Shishu Sarothi at present, the centre has also ventured into providing legal advice on the rights of the physically challenged through its Disability Law Unit, North East.

Ms Kagti informed that the wards are assessed in the Play Group for their abilities and limitations when brought for admission to the centre.

Those with greater understanding abilities are sent to the academic section, where they are taught under the National Open School programme.

While some receive training in the functional section for the basic activities like money transaction and time reading, those diagnosed with severe condition are sent to the leisure learning unit.

Ms Kagti added that Shishu Sarothi was also concentrating on raising awareness regarding cerebral palsy and the centre had been successful in encouraging many parents in seeking help for their wards, which in turn has helped the children gain confidence and skills in facing the world.


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