But the devil – we all know – is in the details!
Lila is eight years old. Born premature and very tiny, she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and began attending our Early Intervention Centre as an infant. Her supportive family and her own valiant spirit assured her rapid progress and by the time she graduated from the EIC she was able to move about with a walker, could communicate well with those who knew her and was a happy, well-adjusted child.
Lila’s father was a government scientist and she was therefore admitted in one of the Kendriya Vidyalayas (a central government school system, well-reputed for their strong academic program). There was no question of refusing Lila, but the school was still unprepared for her special needs.
When the head of the junior section first met her, her response was negative and discouraging. Innuendos were made frequently about how difficult it would be and how a special school would be a better choice. It was clear to all of us that she wasn’t even prepared to try.
The parents were worried and so were we. So we made a dash to the school where we praised their initiative and promised our support. Lila started school. She was a part of the class – but not quite. Sitting all alone near the teacher with no help provided, cut off from all class friends, dependent upon her mother who was told to turn up at each class change to cart Lila to the next room.
Finally, we asked the head mistress for time to do a workshop where we could talk to all the teachers. We were told to come back after the summer vacation.
But when the summer was over, Lila simply refused to return to school.
Tantrums, tears, tension, concern. Lila went back to class, however reluctantly. And a day later the workshop was scheduled. The head of school made attendance mandatory. Attitudes changed!! To their own surprise, many teachers could relate to the topic instantly.
We had hit a spot. This is not to say that there are no more difficulties – but now Lila goes to school happily. Her teachers help her to change classes, she has made friends (she counts them every night before falling asleep), she is part of the class group and now she is reluctant to go home after school.
Much more needs to be done but at last we are on our way . . .