Friday, 11 March 2011

DISABLED CHILDREN ARE HUMAN TOO.

Why is it that able-bodied folks assume disabled children are either little angels or incapable of normal curiosity? From time to time, I hear amazed adults marvelling about how disabled kids are so like others. This should be abundantly obvious to all but it apparently isn't to some.

In Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School), I related many instances of how my friends and I caused mischief. In this excerpt, our natural curiosity upset the adults but no real harm was done.

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Even visually impaired children enjoy taking objects apart, regardless of the mess. During March, I dismantled some dead zinc-carbon batteries. Beneath the silver paper and cardboard of the Ever-ready C cell, I found a metal canister. Once I unwrapped it, the aluminum ends came off easily. Inside the cylinder was a carbon rod stuck in the centre of black paste.

I scooped it all out, getting my hands filthy, and cleaned off the rod. Rubbing it on paper, I found that it made marks like a pencil but messier. Mrs. Auld was unimpressed when I used my writing stick in class but I still felt I made an exciting and noteworthy discovery.

Ricky, Brian, and Christian were envious of my research. They wanted cells of their own to dismantle. I refused to part with mine but I did let them examine the one I took apart. My friends eventually acquired dead cells of their own and created their own writing sticks.

Our supervisor became upset when she saw the mess I made in the Play Room and how dirty my fingers were. "Get in that bathroom, you little twerp, and wash those hands thoroughly," Mrs. Parker ordered when she saw the state I was in. Fortunately, I suffered no other punishment that evening.

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Deliverance from Jericho contains many more vignettes of what life was like in that government-run institution. These range from poignant experiences of homesickness to hilarious incidents of mischief. Click here to read more about this book and to order it. You may also e-mail me directly if the comment form doesn't work.