Music, dance therapies help disabled children

Gulshan Kumar has come a long way from being the polio-stricken wheelchair-bound son of a washerman to performing in the House of Commons in London. Till he was eight, Kumar was a severely challenged youngster shunned by society and had to make do by doing odd jobs for his father.

Then a chance encounter with an organisation that practices therapeutic healing through music and dance completely changed his life. And since then there has been no turning back for this 20-year-old.

The therapy helped him blossom into a fine artist, who holds a Guinness record for the highest number of spins on a wheelchair.

Sonu, 26, is 13 times national champion in wheelchair table tennis.

In 2007, Sonu was just another physically challenged boy commuting to school on a wheelchair. He had no friends and no contact with the outside world. An introduction to therapeutic yoga, dance and music changed the course of his life. He has represented India at the world wheelchair table tennis championships and works in the administration department of an organisation.

Sayed Salauddin Pasha, founder of ‘Ability Unlimited Foundation’, which treats and rehabilitates disabled children from poor background, said music and dance are the biggest healers. While dancing is a very good therapy for children with physical disabilities, for autistic kids and children with attention deficit disorders, rhythm therapy is used, he said. “For children with attention deficit disorder, it can also lead to increased memory power,” he said.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a psychiatric disorder or neuro-behavioural issue characterised by significant difficulties either of inattention or hyperactivity and impulsiveness or a combination of the two in a child. Child psychiatrist Nikhil Raheja completely endorses music and dance therapy for children with disabilities. “It has been proven by research that music and dance therapy can help children with disabilities,” Raheja said.

Pasha said he has spent three decades providing therapeutic education in various parts of the world and analysing job opportunities for them. Pasha’s foundation will soon launch a global first-of-its-kind therapeutic centre at Muhiddinpur Dabarsi in Ghaziabad. The centre is spread over 60,000 sqft and has the capacity to cater to  150 differently abled students.

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