Did you know that 1 in 3 people get affected by a neurological disease or condition at some point in their lives?
Disorders of the nervous system are far more common among people than we thought. Many of our beloved celebrities – the people we grew up watching on our screens, the legends we idolised and cheered for, are no exceptions.
One of the most decorated and accomplished athletes, Micheal Phelps, is known to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is a condition that affects people’s behaviour in terms of focus, restlessness, concentration and impulsivity. In his kindergarten, Phelps had trouble with inattention and was a mischief-maker at school. In school, he couldn’t sit through a class without fidgeting. He was bullied by his peers and discouraged by his teachers. However, Phelps went on to become a nationally recognised swimmer by age 10. Today, this legendary swimmer is a strong advocate for mental health, opening up about his struggles with the condition and how swimming also helped him cope with it.
Greta Thunberg, the young, revolutionary climate activist suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. It’s a developmental disorder which causes significant deficiencies in social skills and non-verbal communication. While the media touted her condition as “mentally ill”, Thunberg herself does not view it that way. In fact, she considers her differences as “superpowers”. Thunberg describes her autism as a “gift”. “It also makes me see things from outside the box. I don’t easily fall for lies, I can see through things”, she says.
Closer home, we have Abhishek Bacchan who was diagnosed with Dyslexia at the age of 9. Dyslexia is a condition that makes it difficult for people to read, write and spell. When he was diagnosed with Dyslexia, he was sent to a European school. But he only knew himself as dyslexic after graduation. However, Junior Bacchan did not let his condition hold him back. He emerged from it strongly and became a critically acclaimed actor, carving out a niche for himself in the industry.
As you can see, such conditions can affect anyone in our everyday lives. And that is why, at Amogh, we see every day as an opportunity to learn from the people around us. Our special needs trainees never cease to amaze us with their unique perspectives on life. Here are some profound life lessons we’ve picked up from them:
In our fast-paced lives, we hardly ever slow down. We are consistently told that the only way to progress professionally or personally is to “hustle it out”. But being around special needs people will most certainly teach you the value of being patient and slowing down your routines. People around the centre have taught us that not everyone moves or learns at the same pace, and sometimes slowing down is much better for our mental peace.
One of the most important lessons we have learned from being around the people in Amogh is that everyone has a unique gift. While it has been socially construed that special needs people cannot take up activities like others, this could not be farther from the truth. We have found that special needs people each possess a one-of-a-kind talent, be it more technical, crafty or artistic, and that just shows us how important it is to value all kinds of skills.
Special needs people will always teach you the importance of accepting others for who they are and not judging people. We spend so much of our time thinking about others’ opinions and forming biases in our heads. It is astonishing how much these special needs people can achieve when they know they are supported and accepted, despite their challenges. And this non-judgemental attitude is something everyone should practice in their lives.
Kindness goes a long way, It’s something that’s often preached but never practiced. Being around the people at the centre shows you that despite the cards life has dealt them, they always make it a point to be kind and loving to those who support and trust them.
We often forget to celebrate our small victories. For instance, something as simple as going about our day and getting through our schedules. This is because we’re conditioned to believe that these accomplishments don’t deserve to be celebrated. For people with special needs, even the smallest activities of the day like getting dressed or exercising can give them a sense of accomplishment.
It is no surprise that each one of us harbours a perspective of life that is deeply shaped by our interactions with other people. But frankly, there is so much we can do to change our perspectives and start appreciating the little things in life, just like the people at Amogh do.