‘Start them young on awareness of special needs people’

Dr Ramanathan examining a patient in the physiotherapy room at Yayasan Ipoh.

CHILDREN as young as five should be taught about the experiences disabled people go through in their lives, says Yayasan Ipoh chief executive officer Datuk Dr R. Ramanathan.

Children who were given such exposure grow up to be better adults, he added.

Non-governmental organisation Yayasan Ipoh is a rehabilitation centre for the disabled and provides day-care services, skills development, training and therapy treatment for children.

Dr Ramanathan, a former orthopaedic surgeon, said, “We need to teach children in schools about the various kinds of disabilities and how they can assist other children or adults with disabilities.

“At the moment, special needs children and adults are shunned, with many people not wanting to have anything to do with them,” he said during an interview.

“There are even parents who isolate special needs children as they feel ashamed.”

Including learning about the disabled at kindergarten level would be the best time to instil values in any person, he elaborated.

“With such exposure, children are also told to value their life and be cautious when carrying out sports activities, travelling, driving or riding a motorcycle.

”It teaches them that we live together with special needs people,” he added.

Dr Ramanathan is a member of the government’s newly set up Disabled National Council.

In his proposal to the council on how to contribute to the improvement of the disabled in the country, he presented similar views.

Other than seeing to the requirements of having disabled-friendly facilities and ensuring special needs people are financially and physically independent, he said it was equally important to understand their feelings and that they were part of our society.

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