INVITED BOOK REVIEW
Year : 2021 | Volume
: 37 | Issue : 4 | Page : 382--384
B Divya, R Srinivasa Murthy
Project ENRICH, The Association for the Mentally Challenged, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
Dr. R Srinivasa Murthy
Project ENRICH, Mental Health Advisor, The Association for the Mentally Challenged, Bangalore-560078, Karnataka
|How to cite this article:|
Divya B, Murthy R S. Gifted.Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2021;37:382-384
|How to cite this URL:|
Divya B, Murthy R S. Gifted. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 May 27 ];37:382-384
Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2021/37/4/382/331132
Author : Sudha Menon and V R Ferose
Title : Gifted
Publisher : Ebury Press
Place of Publication : New Delhi
Year of Publication : 2014
Pages: : 304 pages
Price : ₹ 299.00
ISBN : 9788184005455
Community responses are central to the rights of the persons living with disabilities. The central need for care programs for persons with disabilities is for the interventions to be culture specific, community centered, and contextual. Toward this goal, the “lived-in” experiences become vital. The book under review, “GIFTED,” fulfills an important need in the country to understand persons with disabilities/their families and ways to address their special needs and assure their human rights.
Modern understanding of disability conceptualizes it as the interaction between individuals with health conditions and personal and environmental factors. Simply saying “disabled “ as an individual with health conditions such as cerebral alsy, Down's syndrome, autism, learning difficulties, blindness, physical disability etc., in terms of lack of educational opportunities, inaccessibility with transportation and public buildings, negative attitudes of community, and lack of social support does not describe the total picture. There is an equally important story of mastery of the disability by the efforts of the individual, families, communities, and state policies. Although the understanding of “disability” has changed over the years, there have not been similar changes in community responses.
An attempt toward illustrating the challenges, supports needed, and the possibilities for mastery is the focus of the book “Gifted.” This book presents the struggles and success of people with a wide range of disabilities through the life stories of fifteen people/families with diverse disabilities, family backgrounds, and of different generations. It is the narration in the first person that takes the readers into the world of people living with different disabilities.
This review presents eight facets of finding meaning in their life and full citizenship.
First Are the Individual Actions
This is central to the mastery of any disability.
It is not only how the world look at a person with a disability, but also the person himself/herself looks at the disability. Even with all the support from the community, it is the individual's state of mind and attitude toward life that will help through the challenging days.
“It made me realize that I have no control over how people react or behave and that I should not take it so personally. Happiness is a choice we can make, an attitude we can adopt.”
“I have used the pain in my life as a stepping stone to my next goal. I have learned early on that if you are strong nothing can break your self-belief or resolve.”
The more I faced the outside world the more I realise that it is easier for me to try and understand the world rather than to expect the world to understand me.”
“My own motto in life. Fight and you will survive, surrender and you will be wiped out.”
“I never thought of myself as disabled. I am differently-abled.”
“Over my years in athletics, I had noticed that my peers and colleagues never talked about winning a medal at the Paralympics. It was almost as if it was just enough for them to be able to participate in it! I wanted to change that mindset.”
Second are Family Members
A number of narratives present the positive approach to disabilities by the family members that made a difference.
“My mother said that she decided at that moment that no matter how much it took out of her and my father, she would make sure that I made something out of my life.”
“It was my father's dream that I go to college and get myself a good education. In life if you don't ask chances no one will know what you need and so they can never give you what you want. My father was the one who gave me strength and the spirit to never let circumstances destroy me.”
“I was not an easy child to bring up because she tells me that I would stay up crying all night and so they learnt to keep me entertained by playing the tape recorder beside me at night.”
“My mother never raised me differently from my elder sister and never gave me the luxury of pity.”
Third is the Society
Most often, society does not accept persons with disabilities with open arms.
” I am far more shy and withdrawn now from the years of being on my own during my adolescent years when I could never find acceptance from my classmates.”
“I was interviewed by many (companies) and rejected because I was blind.”
Society can make a difference by providing opportunities to persons with disabilities.
“Rama Chari, leader of the organisation, directed, hire people with disability in order to make the organization more inclusive and that proved providential for me.”
“It was my brother who finally found a small start-up company where they said I could hang around and learn by observing what was happening there.”
” My class teacher was a kind man who always had good things to say to his Students.” That day, at the hospital, he said something that set the tone for the rest of my life– “All kinds of things happen to us. This is what God has destined for you but that does not mean you have lost out on the rest of your life. You have to overcome this setback and move on. I will help you start the rest of your life.”
The smallest of changes can create a huge difference in their lives.
“Thankfully, the stint at Mangalore was not at all difficult because as soon as they realized that a disabled person was visiting, the management put up temporary ramps so that the campus was accessible for me!“
“What impacted me the most was that every nook and corner of the university campus–from the living areas to the classrooms to the library, gymnasium, and even the football field–was completely accessible to people with disability.”
“When the Rotary Club of Baroda Cosmopolitan gave me the “service above self” award in 2010, it was a reiteration of my belief that we can always find a way forward in life, if we apply our mind to living a life of Positivity.”
Fourth is the Power of Collective Efforts
Many persons with disability set up organizations to help hundreds of others who are struggling in the same aspect.
“I have become the proud mother of 20 children; all of you come from very poor rural homes where having a child with disability is not just considered a financial burden but a curse.”
“The journey started in 1990 with a National Cricket Tournament where nineteen teams of blind cricketers played against each other for top honours and it eventually led me to establish the World Blind Cricket Council in 1996.”
Fifth is Technology
Technology in recent times has also come up with various innovations that help people with disabilities.
” Technology has played a crucial role in enabling me. So while the computer helped me become productive at work, or made me employable, my iPhone has helped me really become far more efficient in my day-to-day activities.”
“My wheelchair, which I have adopted to suit the needs of my body, became my work table, with a mobile phone, headset, and ear plug connected to it that help me receive calls, I was ready for the next leg of my career.”
“One of the other things that changed my life is a discovery of audiobooks.”
Sixth is the Support of Law
It was changes in laws that assured rights of persons with disability as a full citizen of India. Mr. Javed Abidi worked for the recognition of persons with disabilities and their special rights such as reservations.
“The finance ministry started allocating more resources to making India's public spaces and railway station accessible to the disabled.”
“At “eye way,” part of our work is advocacy and sensitization of various stakeholders—including bodies such as the Planning Commission and the government—so that we can change the way people perceive the blind. The government, the planning commission, the ministries, even parents will start investing in their children when we begin talking about people with disability as a potential resource.”
“It was only because I was aware of my rights as a person with disabilities that I finally managed to get a more qualified scribe for myself.”
Seventh is Serendipity
“At the Kuwait Paralympics event which would automatically qualify me for the London Paralympics later that year, I got myself a gold medal. It was unbelievable because I had not practiced for over a year and never expected to get such a breakthrough.”
“But miraculously, the school teacher's words worked their magic on me when he turned up the very next day and started teaching me to hold a pencil and write with my left hand.”
Eighth is Spirituality
Spirituality gives support and strength to individuals and families facing challenges in life.
“I have always believed in God; the existence of someone or something to help you through your difficulties.”
This book is an important contribution.
The following quote, from the authors, presents the key message of the book:
“It is possible to have a rainbow-colored view of the world, even if you can't see. It is possible to run, jump with joy, and conquer the world, even if you can't use your legs. It is possible to wander in the wild and walk with tigers, even if you are not really able to walk. It is possible to paint a large canvas of possibilities for yourself, even if you don't have your arm. It is possible to listen and speak with your heart, even if you can't speak or hear. It is possible to give someone life, even if your own life has been spent on a wheelchair. It is possible to live the life of your dreams, even if the world sometimes thinks that you can't have a life at all.”
“Gifted” helps us understand various aspects of the life of people with disability. These success stories can inspire each one of us to be more sensitive and empathetic to the needs of our fellow human beings around us. Each of us, as a citizen, as a teacher, as a neighbor, supervisor, law enforcement officer, policymaker, and professional, by our positive attitudes and personal level actions, makes the lives of persons with disability like that of the rest of the society. This is an inspirational book that everyone should read. Equally important, the book emphasizes the value of storytelling to bring about changes in society. We must work to write and disseminate more books of people with disabilities and their life stories from all sections of society.