“Your child has a disability”—words that probably no parent would ever like to hear. Being faced with this reality can fill parents with a sense of panic and deep grief at first and can bring with it the fear of the unknown, the difficulties, the struggles and the pain that people generally associate with the word disability.
Even though unofficial statistics in India tell us that 10% of the population has a disability of some kind or another, there is still little guidance here on what to do when one receives such a diagnosis. The devastation and emotional struggle seem even more intense when families do not know where to turn to for encouragement and practical help. As they grapple with this new reality, they often find little support and understanding from extended family members, neighbors, schools, and the larger community. Continue reading →
As a child, I used to spend many weekends and big chunks of my summer vacations at my grandparents’ house in a tiny village in Central Europe. One of their neighbors had a child like I’d never seen before. He couldn’t walk, he always sat in a stroller even though he was around my age, and his limbs looked kind of twisted. We rarely ever saw this family leave their house and there was always an air of secrecy surrounding them. My cousin and I used to peek through the fence to get a glimpse of the little boy soaking up some sun in the yard, mumbling to himself. The father was an alcoholic, and somehow everyone seemed to know the reason. Once they had a second child, the mother would bring her out to play with the other kids, but the boy was always left behind the fence. I remember feeling sad for him and wishing he could come out to join us.
I don’t remember seeing many special needs people in my environment growing up, and it is similar in India. The same sense of shame and secrecy seems to permeate people with disability here today. Society still has a long way to go to accept differently abled people as valuable human beings. According to many people’s opinions and beliefs, disability could be a curse on the family for something they have done or a result of karma, showing that the individual did something punishable in their previous life. This way of thinking leads people to blame the parents and the child, instead of offering help and support. Continue reading →
Sometimes it takes years to see fruit from the seeds we sow. For the teachers at In His Image, patience is one of the most important assets, both in daily interactions with the students and as they look at the growth and development in each child year after year.
Koti came to the center at 12 years old. His parents were at the end of their rope because of his violence and inability to stay still, focus, and follow directions due to autism. He was struggling with constant anger and would hit, kick, and fight every time he didn’t get his way. His father, a very hands-on, involved dad, brought him to In His Image alone. The teachers wouldn’t meet his mother for years. In His Image was these parents’ last chance for any hope before giving in to complete despair. Continue reading →
This voices from around the world comes to you from the director of In His Image.
I was at a meeting when a pastor asked me about my family. As I shared about both my children, as well as the special needs of my family, his response was “How does your other child feel about the special needs child?” I was pleasantly surprised. It was a question hardly anyone ever puts to me.
The sibling of a special needs child is somehow expected to be really understanding. When mothers are busy caring for the needs of their sibling, they are expected to gently wait, to help out, to tend to them. They have to be forever understanding, and are not even allowed the liberty of having a routine sibling rivalry. Because their siblings needs are ‘more’, they often feel guilty for wanting attention too. We expect the siblings to have perfect love–kind, gentle, never jealous–but they too are children with needs and wishes. I know a child who used to get into trouble if he asked for his favorite food to be made, but when the special needs child asked for it, it was done immediately. He was expected to always understand why he would always stand second place to his sibling. Little did the family realise that the child was getting resentful of his sibling.
Each member of the family is impacted by the disability of a child in the home. Each member may react in a different way. When we as parents are devastated, hearing that our child is different, we generally do not think about the other child who is also devastated by it. His/her life will be changed forever. Even as we struggle to cope with a special needs diagnosis, parents must consider our other children, who may not know how to react, may not understand what is going on, and may sometimes even blame themselves.
In His Image regularly collaborates with and learns from Elim Christian Services here in the U.S. We love their work and their heart for the differently-abled. The following are reflections from Elim on the biblical worldview of disabilities. This article originally appeared on Elim’s blog.
I was born with a disability. I have never liked the disability, but it is part of my every day life. It seems like it’s a part of me, and that I wouldn’t be the same person if I didn’t have a speech impediment. Continue reading →
Recently I had the opportunity to visit the In His Image center. It was my second visit in as many years and I was surprised to see how much things had changed in such a short amount of time. One of the major changes was to the centers vocational training program. A year ago the program was little more than one room where the older students spent part of their day learning some very important life skills and on occasion making paper bags or jewelry. Now, the program has transformed into a bustling area with diverse learning opportunities for 16 students. Continue reading →
Over the course of my lifetime I have spent only a matter of a few hours with those living with autism but I continue to be touched by their stories, accounts and cries. Just a few weeks ago I spent time at an educational center for autistic students in India and left challenged and blessed. The more I experience and learn the more I recognize the brilliance of God’s truth. I know very little about the disorder of autism, likewise I won’t pretend to be an expert in this post, but the one thing I do know is that there is beauty in every person and my brothers and sisters with autism who are filled with God’s image, are beautiful expressions of God’s goodness. Continue reading →
This is the story of a mother who loves unrelentingly…of a girl considered worthless by society, but who is priceless in the eyes of her mom.
A little more than four years ago, Twinkle’s mother made a desperate decision. Finding no services for her autistic daughter in their rural village, Twinkle’s mother left her husband and three other children and moved with her to New Delhi. They’ve stayed with a relative in the city. For four years, Twinkle’s mother looked for a school that could really help Twinkle – not just babysit her. Finally, they found the In His Image Center, which (miraculously) had an opening in their vocational program for Twinkle. In His Image even provided a scholarship for Twinkle, seeing there was no way her mother could pay the costs of the program. Continue reading →