For the past 2 weeks, I’ve spent my time volunteering at Kids Like Us. It is a non-profit organization that helps children with disabilities. My cousin, Arnab, brought me on to this opportunity through his involvement in a project called LiiNA (Learning Interactively and Intelligently with Accountability). LiiNA is best described in this excerpt:

“Using proven research, LiiNA teaches and comforts students through interactivity. With sensory specific stations, including Virtual Reality, LiiNA provides a customized program for each students unique needs. LiiNA creates unique profiles for each student and intelligently provides optimal sensory interactions based on each student’s preferences. LiiNA also provides administrators, teachers and parents performance reporting regarding their student’s development and progression.”

The first day I got there, I was genuinely nervous. I didn’t know if I would get along with the other volunteers or if I was gonna have trouble with kids not listening, but after a while, I eased into the setting. I began to build relationships with the kids I was working with. You start to understand how lucky you are and how much some of these kids have gone through.

“After a marked increase, the count of students ages 6-21 with disabilities peaked in the 2004-05 school year and then started going down. The past two years have seen an uptick, however, driven by students identified as having autism or “other health impairments.” The count had risen to 5.83 million by fall 2014, the most recent year for which statistics are available.”

Many of the children that visit the facility are unable to properly express emotions or properly move. They lack certain abilities that we take for granted, and many times they have abilities but aren’t able to express them do to a low mental age. Children with special needs are many times happy with just a few quintessential things that we take for granted. They don’t ask for too much and have a lot of love for you. In many ways…their better than people without special needs. They are happier, excited, and sometimes more productive than people without disabilities. They are normal people with some different abilities. It’s better to look at the ability than the disability.