Adolescence is a tender stage of development that requires a great deal of understanding, patience and care. And more so for the children of determination, because most of them cannot understand and express the changes their body is experiencing, said experts, adding that globally, around 90 per cent of children of determination have been sexually abused in some or the other way.
An informative session was organised by Eduscan School of Determination at the Emirates Tower on how to empower the children of determination to deal with good touch and bad touch and create awareness in the society on sensitivity of the age of adolescence in special children.
The session was conducted by Dr Jameela Ezzi, a renowned name in rehabilitation and physical therapy.
Dr Jameela said the rate of sexually abused determined ones is high as people think that determined children will not be able to express themselves and therefore they can be abused. "They are abused mainly because of their lack of expression through speech. But even if a child is non-verbal, he or she can communicate to their parents.
Every child has his or her own way of communicating. But parents and teachers need to be aware that they need to empower the child with ways of expressing himself."
She emphasised that parents and teachers have to work on their levels to make the child aware of good and bad touch, teach him or her to communicate if they are in an 'uncomfortable' situation. "Every caregiver associated with a child has to repetitively emphasise on the touch and the happiness parameter of the child. Parents and schools of determined children must use visual techniques or a chart to ask the child what emotions he or she is going through. They need to know how to take care of themselves. Parents are the best judges and doctors for their children, but they need to give some decision-making powers to the child and not get over-protective," she said.
Dr Jameela said that as regular children, determined ones also go through a lot of hormonal changes as they enter adolescence. Therefore, from much before, parents and teachers must start a dialogue with the child explaining to him or her about their growing bodies and how they are different from the opposite sex. "This is also a time to teach them about good and bad touch from any and everyone - be it the family members or outsiders - and empower them to communicate to their parents or teachers if they like or dislike someone's touch."
She urged parents to give some time to their children and talk to them even if the children are young or mentally or physically challenged. She also urged parents to watch their terminology and language when they speak to the child and observe their child and the changes in their behaviour.
She concluded her session by suggesting parents to give children authority to make choices and also advised parents to introduce signs, pictures and other ways so their determined ones can communicate if they are unhappy or have gone through a bad experience.
Educational psychologist and director of EduScan institute for determined ones, Dr Alka Kalra, also gave a talk on powerful parenting. She focused her talk on pointers such as how a child should be empowered with decision making, child should be observed from a distance and be given a positive and happy environment to grow.
Eduscan - that has branches in Sharjah and Dubai - has installed a happiness meter at their centre where every morning when the determined one comes in, they ask them to rate how happy they feel that day by way of showing emoticons. If they are not happy, then the teachers try to understand what has led them to be unhappy and how to change it.