Indigo Children: Integrating kids with special abilities into society | Sunday Observer

Indigo Children: Integrating kids with special abilities into society

It was a tiny classroom where 30 children could just fit in. Fourteen young kids were sitting in a circle, with the teacher in the centre. A child was behind a keyboard and the teacher was trying to explain something to him. At a glance, one could say, this is no ordinary classroom.

Yes, it was special. It was a class full of ‘kids with special needs’ (Perhaps, this is the only time we use this phrase as the teacher has asked us not to use the word - ‘needs’).

“First and foremost, I would like to suggest to you, to change the words, ‘Kids with special needs’. We need to change the sympathetic perspective. So I suggest the words, ‘Kids with special abilities’ instead. I have done much research on this and am willing to prove my point soon,” the teacher started the conversation with some ground rules. Though it sounded like rules, it was in fact a gentle request from an individual who did put his sweat and tears for the development of hundreds of marginalized kids.

Nadun Hettiarachchi, an inspiring musician, could grasp the entire country overnight by a reality show organised by a TV channel. He came on stage with some of his students, identified as, “kids with special needs” by society.

We, as ‘normal’ individuals can do a few things at the same time. Dr. N.M. Perera who is considered an exemplary politician of yesteryear, could literally do six things simultaneously, it is said. However, these kids can master perhaps, only one thing in their entire life. Yet, they will be masters in that particular field.

“There are hundreds of master artistes who were kids with special abilities in their younger days. I don’t wish to reveal their names. But just believe me, there are hundreds of such people I know, locally and internationally,” said Nadun.

“We live a normal life. But they are special because of their special ability. If we identify the ability and groom it, they would become icons in the field of their mastery,” Nadun says, with the experience of years.

But he wanted to prove that.

“Yasith, tell me what’s the exam you’re taking this year? He asked a boy in the corner, with a guitar. The fair kid who was nearing his 20s, stammered a bit and then answered.

“V-isha-rada part two”

“Obviously, he has a little communication problem. Imagine if somebody believes he is a boy who couldn’t do anything at all, in his life. He is actually very good with his guitar,” Nadun explained.

Musical Imagination

Nadun who thinks differently but in a fresh way, brought a new idea called Musical Imagination. “I believe, these children can look at the world through music. If we look at the scientific background, certain memory cells of these kids are inactive. We can make them active through music. Not just music, any aesthetic subject can improve these children. In fact, that is what I am practising here.”

Nevertheless, Nadun has progressed far, introducing this as a university subject. Currently, the University of Kelaniya has integrated ‘Music for Kids with Special Abilities’ as a subject in their external degree curriculum. Outside the classroom, the place was filled with parents who had accompanied their children and were waiting till they finished the two hour class.

“My daughter is counting fingers till Sunday. Sunday is the happiest day in her life, because of the class,” said Nimal Chandrasiri, an optimistic father who has been always behind his 20-year-old daughter, Madhushika.

“Madushika, has been attending this class for about four months now. She has been very much interested in music since her childhood. She still sings when she hears a song on TV. Neela Wickramasinghe’s Run Tikiri Sina, is her favourite.”

He then talked about the life they went through with Madushika. “We never considered her a misfortune. Everyone faces challenges and difficulties in life. But, does that mean we should stop moving forward? No. Similarly, we love our daughter as much as other parents love theirs, even though we face challenges raising her,” he said.

Chamika is a well grown 18-year- old who plays the keyboards well. The kid who couldn’t even say ‘Amma’ at first, now sings Jothipala’s songs. He had this magical smile which was a perfect blend of innocence and happiness.

“My son Chamika, has been coming here since he was five-years-old. He said his first word, AMMA after attending these voice training classes. That kid can now sing the seven notes”, his mother burst into tears, expressing her emotions.“We are troubled in many ways in life. Now, we are in tears seeing our son doing just fine,” she wanted to justify her tears.

“He likes fast tracks, where he can clap and dance. Whenever he hears a song he loves, he wants to clap,” said Chamika’s mother, Wimala Ranmuthuge, a teacher by profession.

It was a well spent day with a group of wonderful kids. Finally, it is not about how good they are in singing, playing or dancing. Rescuing them from a deep dark corner and integrating them into the society we live in, is what matters most.

And, Nadun, a hearty salute for your efforts!

Pix: Sudam Gunasinghe