Lives changed by the Association for the Mentally Challenged

Given the sensitive nature of the students at AMC, I have refrained from identifying them. But would like to give a glimpse of the lives they have changed through quotes.

“I am the mother of a 6 year old child with Down’s syndrome. My daughter has been at AMC for the last year. As parents, we wanted very much for our daughter to study in a ‘regular’ school. However, our past experiences were very unsatisfactory. For example, at the nursery school, the teacher would only involve other children in singing and dancing, as my daughter was not coming forward of her own accord. At the primary school, teachers expected my daughter to talk like a normal child. As you know, children with Down’s Syndrome have special difficulty with speech. As a result of her difficulty with speech, the headmistress of the school advised us to shift my daughter to a special school. That is how we came to AMC. During the last year, my daughter has made considerable progress. We are very happy with the development. The changes are in the areas of writing, recalling, eating, wearing shoes, and toilet training. I am very thankful to the class teacher and the staff for these changes in my daughter. One other thing I have learnt in the last one year is to not to do everything and encourage my daughter to do her own things.” – Parent

“My son is 35 years of age. He is working in the sheltered workshop. In the sheltered workshop he does different activities related to weaving. The long journey to the sheltered workshop has seen many periods of ups and downs. There was a period when we felt completely devastated and did not see a future for our son. However, getting help initially in a special school and later in the vocational training brought hope to the family members. We are particularly happy about the sheltered workshop, as this gives our son a structured activity and he earns some small amount of money and this enhances his self-worth. My son is also good at dance and he has earned many awards in competitions. One of the areas I have differences with the rest of the family is about the possibility of his marriage. I feel that he is capable of understanding the nature of marriage and such an arrangement will give companionship to him. However, rest of my family do not think this is realistic. Life with an intellectually challenged person is filled with long challenges as well as good experiences.”– Parent

“My daughter is one of the dozen boys and girls learning about computers. This is a new service at the AMC. My family and I are very positive about this service. I have heard from the staff, at another facility named AMBA that boys and girls like my daughter are trained sufficiently to do backend jobs like computer billing and dispatch of telephone bills. This also gets them to earn about Rs. 1,500 per month. I am hoping that my daughter will be able to reach that level. My daughter who is now 25 years old, has been diagnosed as having Down’s Syndrome. I have made special efforts to train her to be independent in her day to day activities. In addition to self care, she also has learnt Yoga and Bharatnatyam dancing. She also worked for 5 years in a nursery school as a teaching assistant. The growth and development of my daughter is slow but steady. I am hopeful that she will become more and more independent in the coming years.” – Parent

“My daughter is 19 years old and the only child to me. From early childhood I came to know of her mental retardation. She was very slow in her development and took many years to grow from stage to stage. She has been getting help from a number of special school facilities. Only recently, she was admitted to AMC for respite care, as the early school facility moved away from the city center to the outskirts. She enjoys leaving home to go to the special facility. In the morning, she gets ready and asks me to take her to the school. For me, my daughter going to AMC is important as this gives her time with other children and teachers. If she remains at home, there will be very limited human contact and stimulation. Since she has severe retardation, I understand that she can do only very simple things. My aim is to make her take care of her basic needs so that others do not need to do too much to take care of her basic needs. As a single parent, I worry about the future. However, for the present, the AMC respite care is a godsend facility for my family. I also want to add that as my daughter is in a protected facility, I am able to carry on with my professional work.” – Parent

“I am now working as an as office assistant at AMC and I am fully employed at AMC. I am 40 years old. My full day of work involves assisting the administrative staff f AMC. This means going to the post office, bank, and doing minor shopping. In addition, I guide the new parents who come to AMC seeking services. I also take care of the office for the doctors. On the days when there is an exhibition of the products of AMC at different agencies like at Oracle, Wipro, the Public Melas, I go with the rest of the team and assist in the sale of products. I have been with AMC for over 20 years. I came as a young boy to the special school, and after the age of 16 years moved to the vocational training facility and then to the sheltered workshop. It is at this stage, many years back, I was appointed as an office assistant. I enjoy my work at AMC. My family also respects me as I am doing useful work.” – Mr. Jaganathan

“ My daughter is now 35 years old and has been coming to AMC for 5 years. She works in the vocational training center. My family was in Dharwad while I used to work in Raichur. As a result, I was not able to understand the needs of my daughter till she was about 18 years. She went to a ‘regular’ school, though she was not making adequate progress like other children. About 15 years back, when she was about 20, I read in a newspaper about mental retardation. This article encouraged me to seek help for my daughter for the first time. My wife passed away about 8 years back and then I moved with my son and daughter to Bangalore. After contacting many people and visiting different facilities in Bangalore, my daughter joined the vocational training center at AMC. She is now well adjusted to AMC’s work. She is learning knitting and enjoying her work. The vocational training has given her a purpose in life and great satisfaction. She looks forward to coming to AMC every day. She has made friends at AMC. The staff members are also friendly. At home too she helps in household work. She earns a small amount of money as incentive. She commutes by bus. Looking back, I wish my family had recognized her special challenges early in life and taken help at an early age. I want to add that as the only remaining parent, I am worried about her future. What will happen when I am not there.” – A Father

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