Different , not dumb

December 23: “The world is a cocktail party. There is a lot of noise: loud music, people talking, people shuffling about. You listen to only what you want to listen to. We want our students to learn this, too, despite their hearing disability. They must learn to live in the world of noise, like you and I.”

Mrs. Deepti, Principal of The Clarke School for The Deaf, feels strongly about this. This is why the school - established in 1970 - prefers individual hearing gear for all students, instead of soundproof rooms, FM systems and other such special infrastructure. But hearing gear, like cochlear implants and hearing aids, are not always a solution.

Founder Director of The Clark School for Deaf, Dr Miss P. leelavathy
The Clark School for Deaf

The teachers of CSI Higher Secondary School for The Deaf say such an implant – at the right time- can make a world of difference to a child. However, they also list out a number of ifs and buts.

“It will only work in certain cases. If such cases are identified in time, and the child gets an implant before the age of three, they can get about 80% of their hearing back. If they get undergo the operation before 5, they get 50% of their hearing back. Beyond a certain age, the procedure won’t give proper results,” says Mrs. Helimal, who has been with the school for the last 26 years.

Mrs. Deepti of Clarke School says, “The implant operation alone is not enough. The child needs to go through several follow-up procedures, and get special training sessions.”

The biggest challenges of teaching such children, however, are emotional, not technical.

“Many develop a complex that stays with them all their lives,” explains Headmaster Albert of CSI. “Till the age of five, an impaired child has very little problem connecting with a regular child. Children are simple. But after that age, communication problems come up, and inhibitions start setting in.”
“A lot of these children are conscious in public. Ordinary actions of people affect them. Little gestures of other people affect them, and make them think they are being mocked. Sometimes they get agitated and lash out at imagined slurs,” says Mrs. Parmela, an English teacher at CSI school.

When asked if the school has counsellors, she says, “We are their counsellors. We are not just their teachers; we are their friends and family.”

“This is why, we as teachers need to be very sensitive. We can tell from their faces if something is wrong. For teaching here, the most important thing is to be patient. That is why the teachers require special training,” concludes Mrs Parmela.

Teachers are the biggest support system for such children. This is why the State Government mandates a much higher student-teacher ratio for special children. For the hearing impaired, the ratio is 1 teacher for every 10 students.

“If they cannot see us properly, they cannot learn anything,” Mrs. Helimal points out.
“We train all our teachers in psychology of hearing impaired, psychology of deaf-blind, of children with intellectual challenges, because all children won’t face life in the same way. Teachers should know how children with these challenges behave and why,” says Mrs. Deepti.

“Of course, children have their own idiosyncrasies – all of us have – but they learn to adjust when they are with their own kind of people.”

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Students of Clarke have learnt to adjust with the outside world as well. So much so, that some of them are working in management positions at leading firms like Infosys. “Their seniors have praised their work,” says Mrs. Deepti, proudly.

Sketches made by the students of The Clark School

Some CSI students have also managed to blend with the mainstream – with jobs in KFC and Titan - after finishing school. Others are getting vocational training in computers and hotel management from an NGO on campus.

Some students simply succeed and shine. The Director’s office and corridors of Clarke School proudly display shields, trophies and photographs of students at the peak of their careers. The pride of place goes to a photo-display of young Bharat Natyam dancer on a Euro tour.

“These children can do everything that a normal child can. They just need the right support,” concludes Clarke School Director Miss. P Leelavathy

Mother of twelve year old Satakshi Agrawal, said her daughter was diagnosed with hearing problem when she was one after which she got her cholera implant and now she can hear up to 20 percent.

Satakshi has just entered into her puberty and it is really hard to educate her about her transformation said her mother Mrs Chanchal Agrawal.

It is a challenge to raise a child like this but we love our child and we are determined to give her the best added Mrs Agrawal

We want her to learn how to survive in the normal world and that is why we are sending her to a normal school. We just want her to be independent enough in her life.

Created By
Ridhima Gupta
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