Children with special needs find their place in Mumbai’s classrooms

For the first 14 years of his life, Javed Shaikh’s world was confined to the four walls of his house in Kala Tanki slum in Sewri, a lower-middle class locality on the eastern edge of South Mumbai. Javed was born with multiple disabilities: he has cerebral palsy with little control over his lower limbs, hearing impairment, and a squint. He spent his days either in bed or watching TV. He could not speak and insisted on eating only Kurkure, a packaged snack.
Today, after therapy and four years in a regular school, Javed is a new person. He doesn’t like missing school and has friends. He can eat and dress on his own, can operate his mobile phone, can lip-read, and can even say a few words. He points at his school bag and prods his mother, Samsunisa Shaikh, if they are getting late. “I had never imagined that Javed would one day go to school,” Shaikh told IndiaSpend.

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