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While Article 14 of India’s constitution guarantees to every Indian citizen the ‘Right to Equality’, the ‘Right to live with Dignity’ is enshrined in Article 21. However, there is still a huge section of India’s populace – the specially-abled that faces discrimination in every walk of their lives thereby not allowing them to live their lives with dignity.
The country's specially-abled population has increased by 22.4 per cent between 2001 and 2011. The number of disabled, which was 2.19 crore in 2001, rose in 2011 to 2.68 crore—1.5 crore males and 1.18 crore females.
Art – The Enabler:
Across the medical field, art has been widely used as a therapy for children by art therapists, psychologists, medical social workers, clinical counselors and other healthcare professionals. Since art encompasses both the creative process and self-expression, it is regarded for its therapeutic role in helping children deal with stress, impairment, and mental challenges.
A few differently-abled have difficulty with spoken communication or social skills. There are individuals who also face difficulties with non-verbal communication which can lead them to feel isolated or misunderstood. Being socially isolated may also induce negative feelings and further distress them which may lead to multiple problems in getting across their thoughts, opinions and preferences.
This is where art therapy can prove to be very effective for differently-abled people. Art has an immense potential to alleviate trauma, encourage emotional reparation and enhance mental and physical health of individuals. Art therapy can be motivational and help stimulate learning in the differently-abled while spurring communication and interaction.
Art therapy offers the differently-abled an opportunity to make choices themselves while reducing their daily dependency on others. The differently abled have a natural and spontaneous feel for creativity; art materials and they find real pleasure in developing their creative potential.
Art and creativity are important for the mentally challenged students who have generally a long history of failure in their academic experiences – No one can fail in Art and Craft therefore the student develops a sense of self worth and uniqueness. Art is a great equalizer for the handicapped students – the one area where they are on an equal footing with non retarded peers.
Professionals use art as a medium to facilitate, heal and hence empower and improve the lives of the differently-abled. Art is a psychotherapeutic service and it offers adults an opportunity to participate in a creative, non verbal way to express themselves with the use of colours and other art materials. It has been proved through play of art material that once the child is able to express his feelings through art he is able to open up and verbalize his true feelings.
The kinds of artwork done by students in this type of therapeutic situations are quite extensive. They may include making collages, drawing pictures, painting murals, crafting puppets and creating sculptures, among a myriad of other activities. All of these are ways for the child to express their feelings. There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction that comes with being able to complete tasks on your own. The key is to keep levels of ability in mind at all times and remember to be supportive - every step of the way.
On culmination of proper training, art and creativity become central to the lives of specially-abled people. Art for specially-abled individuals acts as therapy which helps in developing cognitive and motor skills. It helps them in improving focus, reducing anxiety, increase self esteem and accomplish the sense of achievement.
Art training should be considered as a valuable contributor to disability studies since it not only improves the lives of specially-abled individuals but also helps them to hold their heads high and live with dignity.