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About Pet Therapy:

Animal Assisted Therapy or Pet Therapy is a type of therapy that involves an animal with specific characteristics becoming a fundamental part of a person's treatment. Animal-assisted therapy is designed to improve the physical, social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning of the patient, as well as provide educational and motivational effectiveness for participants. AAT can be provided on an individual or group basis. During AAT, therapists document records and evaluate the participant's progress.

Many kinds of animals are used in therapy, including dogs, cats, elephants, birds, dolphins, rabbits, lizards, and other small animals. Such animals are often referred to as comfort animals. AAT with horses is known specifically as equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP), equine-assisted creative living (EACL), equine-assisted personal development (EAPD) or hippo therapy.

Benefits: Physical
Improve fine motor skills.
Improve wheelchair skills.
Improve standing equilibrioception (balance)


Benefits: Mental

A 2007 meta-analysis found that animal-assisted therapy is associated with moderate effect sizes in

improving outcomes in autism spectrum symptoms, medical difficulties, behavioral problems, and emotional well-being.
Increase verbal interactions among group members.
Increase attention skills
Develop leisure/recreation skills.
Increase self-esteem.
Reduce anxiety.
Reduce loneliness.

Benefits: Educational
Increase vocabulary.
Aid in long- or short-term memory.
Improve knowledge of concepts, such as size, color, etc.


Benefits: Motivational
Improve willingness to be involved in a group activity.
Improve interactions with others.
Improve interactions with staff.

FILM REVIEW



AN ARTISTS’S TO GLORY ‘BLACK SWAN’

- KAVITHA D

'Black Swan' is not so much a story of a rivalry between equal artists competing for excellence, as it is a story of a journey into the mind and the work of an artist, who tries to transcend her own physical and emotional limitations. Limitations imposed by her own obsessive personality and aided further by enormous crippling pressure from her manipulative, controlling mother and a demanding, if not equally manipulative, creative director.

In this two hour visual roller-coaster, we watch the protagonist Nina Sayers, a talented and dedicated ballerina in a New York ballet company, losing her grip on reality, as she feverishly prepares for an opportunity that is her long time dream. The arrival of the sensuous and carefree Lily (beautifully played by Mila Kunis), as a potential rival coupled with the manipulations of her boss, propel her towards further deterioration. Taunting both the rival and the boss on separate occasions, little does she realise that, in the attempt, her own self-destruction has also begun.

The delicacy of the art of ballet is in sharp contrast with the constant hysteria and melodrama in the movie. The camera gloats over the characters' constant taut expressions in their repressed, rigidly defined existences. Every bit of glass shards flying and the drops of blood splayed , make you twinge with horror. The movie is an exercise in extremes: of artistic lives, of unrewarded dedication, of an incorrigible sense of entitlement. Whatever chaos the flim throws, with the absence of essential visual metaphors, the storyline is certainly not engaging enough. This is compensated by the dignified and stellar performances of Vincent Cassel and Barbara Hershey. It is however, Natalie Portman who will haunt you when you walk out of the movie hall.

In the final scene where Nina, as the Black Swan, spreads her arms on stage, in her own mind, her transformation is complete – with large feathery wings that silhouette starkly against the stage background. Yet, as we watch the audience watch her, the dual perspective is at once, poetic and horrific.

One of the redeeming qualities about Aronfsky's work is the tiny glimpses it gives us, of what it must be to feel like Nina, to be that artist, to test your confines and to finally unravel in the grotesqueness.

BOOK REVIEW

A Glamorous Crusader

- SAAZ AGGARWAL

When I first met Malini Chib in January 2009 and she told me about herself, one of the things I remember her saying was that she has two separate Masters' degrees and had typed both theses with just one little finger. So I knew what the title of her book meant: it was a tribute to a certain very special finger, and quite characteristic of Malini's wry sense of humour.

Malini has cerebral palsy. She is an extremely emotional person – enthusiastic, independent, full of life, very good looking, a little impatient, and irrepressibly eager to try out new things. These attributes are reflected in her book.

One Little Finger is the inside story of a struggle that many face – but few are gifted with the ability to articulate. And Malini does not just tell--- us a personal story, she also makes a poignant comment on the difficult situation she has faced all her life and conceptualises and analyses the various facets of it. She jokes about these too. For instance, she tells us that as she was growing up, the world viewed disability through – what is now known as – the “medical model” which means that disabled people were considered as medical cases and accordingly isolated. The prevailing view today, however, is the “social model” which applies a “rights-based approach” and considers disability as a social issue: that we each are, at some level or the other, dependent on one another – and that each of us must consider it a simple responsibility in our lives, to include others of varying abilities. Thus when her friend Varsha Hooja helps her onto a bus in London and a co-passenger gushes, “you are a wonderful person. God will bless you,” Malini and Varsha secretly laugh and define a new “medical charity model”: anyone helping the disabled will be blessed!

In this book, Malini tells us the story of her life, starting from her birth in an educated, privileged and well connected family in Bombay. When her parents realise that their child has special needs which will not be satisfactorily met in India, they move to London. In the years that follow, her life is divided between Bombay and London. Wherever she is, she has the intelligence to analyse her problems

BOOK REVIEW

and look for solutions.

When she joins college at St Xavier's in Bombay, she agonises: Do I have my own personality? Am I just another disabled girl who needs things done for her? I know that I am different and am trapped in a dysfunctional body, but don't others realise I have a spirit and a mind of mine own that is separate from this body? My body may not work like others, but my mind does. Don't they even consider thinking that my desires are just the same as theirs?

When her classmates make plans to go for a movie together, it doesn't occur to them that Malini may want to go too. So instead of just sitting there feeling sore and left out, she invites herself along and soon enough they learn how to help her along and get used to involving her in their plans.

It struck me that by having the courage to maintain this approach, Malini has always been able to influence people around her towards inclusion, even before she became the activist that she now is.

However, the environment was full of barriers. The classrooms at St Xavier's had a raised strip at the doorway which made it a struggle for a wheelchair to get across. When she got a job at Bombay Times for a short period, the canteen was out of reach, so she could never join her colleagues for a cup of coffee or lunch. In India, even toilets meant for people with disabilities were not accessible.

Malini's struggle with inclusion and access is reduced today, though it continues in different ways. In London, she has several happy stints. Here she experiences independence using technology, that makes her mobile and is able to communicate to the world at large through her different appliances. At Berkeley, she frequently meets a large number of disabled people leading normal lives and this opens new worlds to her.

She writes about things that is, for most of us, simple things, such as an outing, that is largely taken for granted by most others which for her in nothing short of an expedition! We share her excitement and her tremendous sense of achievement that she feels when she finally gets to go out all by herself for the first time. We feel her joy when she writes about her travels with friends who enjoy her company. At Notre Dame in Paris, Malini is stirred by the atmosphere and writes, “I felt a spiritual presence encircle me. I prayed, and thought about how lucky I had been in life”. Later, when she learns to give lectures using PowerPoint, she comments sardonically, “I absolutely abhor the sound of my monotonous voice. I wish I had a sexy, husky one with a clipped Oxonian accent, but I guess one cannot have everything in life.”

I found this book entertaining; I admired the writing style, and enjoyed looking at the photographs and found myself smiling at the humour. I was happy to have from it, an endorsement of the belief implemented in my own life: that a professional attendant is much more conducive to a life of independence and dignity, than being cared for by just family members.

There was something however, about this book that made me angry and that was the quality of editing and proofreading. This book is published by Sage, has a good story, a beautiful cover and is well written. To be strewn with careless mistakes is inexcusable and unfair to Malini.

What I liked best about this book is what I learnt from it. For the majority of us who have little experience with disability – a situation resulting of course from that “medical model” – Malini's response to the different types of reactions that she gets from the different types of people she meets, shows us the way towards appropriate ways of behaving.

POETRY


Musings

Here are four poems written by SRIVIDHYA SURYANARAYANAN

GREENATHON

Come let's plant a seedling bean


Carefully watch it grow and slant
So hail the land of future green.

A congregation of world dean


Gather together so they could grant
Come let's plant a seedling bean.

The planted seeds never grow lean


Nurturing the plants' every want
So hail the land of future green.

Flourishing trees should be seen


While a positive thought we bant
Come let's plant a seedling bean.

Watch the green land that has been


An enticement of the tireless nature's pant
So hail the land of future green.

As our environment becomes clean


We shall all begin to rant
Come let's plant a seedling bean
So hail the land of future green.


WOMEN OF LETTERS- A CHALLENGE

Long hours spent in trying to find,


Perfect words strung into musical notes.
A mode of expression to leave behind,
A trail of my past that I wrote by rote.

Equipped with a quill and parchment?


I dictate all my genuine expressions
Relaxing now, then euphoric with excitement
All the while recording sincere versions.

I turn around and tell myself


Shouldn't I challenge the norm,
To acquire the spot on the shelf,
While about me the library will inform.

How strange occurrence got replayed


In a loosely structured blank verse.
My internal nemesis remain unbeaten,
As he gathered around the camp-fire to converse.

Story-teller have finished their story


And they pass the traditional smoking pipe,
Now I hold it in my hand in all its glory.
I begin my story with much modern hype.

In short my verse shall speak for me,


While I strive for a routine writer's style
Camouflaged in freely written verse for no fee.
A challenge, a new fashion statement from my aisle.



PERHAPS LIFE

Should you believe that life is wonderful


Then take each precious moment in hand
And live it completely and be delightful.
For life is a single breath of the running sand.

Filled with sudden flips of fortunes for man


Should such a change on to your lap land
Then be not surprised by fate's plan
For life is a single breath of the running sand.

Strange situations are but common place


Mine life unendingly to get to the fand
The fluor spars gathered sparkles in space
For life is a single breath of the running sand.

Routes that twist and turn at life's fancy


From mankind life asks for serious mand
While secretly hoping for necromancy
For life is a single breath of the running sand.

Perform whatever you set out to accomplish


Before you wear away your shoe's rand
For who knows for how long you will stand
For life is a single breath of the running sand.

FEMALE HERCULES

A stranger with voice like satin


Calls me to speak about
My online job profile,
Contacted me one day
Like chiming prayer bells
She sang to my spirit.

She was a surprise gift package


When in person I met her
A strong woman on wheels
Now prayer chimes included
Visions of sparkling smile

Flashback of my best friend


From the golden school days
Such joy sprung forth
Maybe a mirror image
A yonder year friend

Rochelles and Raghavis


Sudhas and Karuniyas
Are rare and gentle species
Whose upbeat spirited outlook
Of life is a definite mood lifter.

POETRY

Musings

LITERATURE



The Greatest Literary Show ON EARTH!

- RADHIKA VENKATARAYAN

The winter sun gently shines down on us, as we wait for Mr. Coetzee, the reclusive Nobel laureate. The front lawns of the 150-year-old Diggi Palace in Jaipur is swarming with people, the spiraling crowds threatening to get out of control. The Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), India's annual literary event, a one of its kind gathering, is now well on its way to becoming the largest literary event in this part of the world. It is five days of books, debates, discussions and music.

The Jaipur Literature Festival was started as an initiative of the Jaipur Virasat Foundation, an NGO working with musicians and craftspeople of Rajasthan, to preserve skills, promote economic livelihood, and protecting heritage. From a two-and-a-half-thousand attendance in 2008, to the almost sixty-thousand people who congregated this year, this event has grown enormously.

What draws people to this carnival of literature?

The reasons like the people who come here are many. Some aspiring novelists were there to understand the craft of novel writing better. Vidya, an aspiring novelist from Mumbai says, “Writing is frightfully lonely as a vocation. I needed to find from these people, how did they do it?”

For some others, like Andrea from Montreal, Canada, it is an extension of her 'Incredible India' experience. She is particularly fascinated by the colour that she sees around and says, “I don't see this in Canada. So much of colour, it is dazzling. It is like the Fashion Week of books.”

Then there are the starstruck. Bollywood, like everywhere else, is also proving to be a top draw here with the sessions

LITERATURE

of poets and lyricists Gulzar, Javed Akhtar and Prasoon Joshi proving to be one of the most popular.

But mostly, this is a festival for readers and book-lovers. And they came from everywhere. There were tourists from Australia, college students from Meerut and school children from Jaipur.

What did these much acclaimed voices have to say about books and literature?

Booker Prize winner Kiran Desai set the book in perspective calling it the “one solid thing” in an age of television and Internet where words go over everybody's head. This was an optimistic assessment about the future of physical books.

Orhan Pamuk, Nobel laureate, loved taking centre-stage. His observations captured the audience attention completely. An interesting point that Pamuk brought up was the challenge that the non-Western writer faced in the world of literature. He was of the opinion that they were usually marginalised by the fact that they either wrote in other languages or translated their works in English. To highlight this, Pamuk spoke of how when he wrote about 'love', Western reviewers saw it as “Turkish love”, while Marcel Proust's version of 'love' was deemed to be “universal love”.



When J M Coetzee got on stage, he managed to accomplish what seemed rather impossible at that time: to get the massive crowd to quieten down. The writer of books such as The Life and Times of Michael K and Disgrace did not discuss his novels or the craft behind them. Instead, he read a short story called The Old Woman and the Cats.

Writer Rana Dasgupta too took the audience on a storytelling spree with a Kannada folktale, The Flowering Tree, translated by AK Ramanujan.

The five day festival was also filled with delightful quotes and little nuggets of wisdom that stayed on long after the event concluded. Martin Amis said to a delighted audience, “To accuse a novelist of egotism is like accusing a boxer of violence.”

The festival came to a close with a debate on freedom of information, introduced by John Gordon. The 113 panels that preceded it had featured authors from 23 nations, as well as writers in 12 Indian languages.

Besides books and discussions, there were music sessions every evening as well.



In terms of economics, Full Circle, the festival book store did brisk business by selling close to 9000 books. The big favourite turned out to be Junot Diaz's Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as also books by J M Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

My personal favourite part of the festival was the penultimate session, featuring one of India's most loved writers – Vikram Seth, who was completely at ease and rather unperturbed by the large crowds and willingly fielded questions and acquiesced to a request to read his poem All you who sleep tonight.

All you who sleep tonight


Far from the ones you love,
No hand to left or right
And emptiness above –
Know that you aren't alone
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.
The great five days came to an end with moist eyes and several rounds of applause.

Sound of Silence | COVER FEATURE

SWITCH ON THE LIGHTS… I CAN’T HEAR!

Deafness, the invisible handicap, represents the most misunderstood of all disabilities due to the chasm created by communication problems. Indeed, the deaf community misunderstands even itself. Unlike many other minority groups, the deaf community often finds itself at odds with each other with the ongoing conflict over communication methods since the inception of deaf education. This conflict polarises the deaf community to the extent of dividing it into two camps: manual and oral. Rather than debate the merits of either communication tradition, to which we each belong, we have tried to present various articles that will help the reader develop a better understanding of deafness and comprehend the benefits of both oral and manual communication for the deaf.

To educate both the deaf and hearing reader about these issues, we have brought forth this special edition of Success & ABILITY focusing on deafness. Jayshree Raveendran has been so kind to give us a clean slate and free hand to develop this issue, so free that it took us nearly half a year to complete it. We contacted deaf and hearing people in both India and the United States to ask them to share their experiences and views. Hence these articles cover a wide range of topics, such as education,

COVER FEATURE

employment, communication methodologies, attitudes and hopes. These articles showcase a thin layer of issues that deaf people and their loved ones face. Many are written from the heart, conveying passion, zest and fervour. We deeply thank the authors who donated their generous time to contribute their expertise and thoughts.

We hope that you enjoy this volume and learn about deafness and various communication methods for the deaf. Furthermore, we hope that you will become an advocate to dispel myths and misunderstandings that deaf people face throughout the world. We ask that you remind people who use the outdated and derogatory phrase “deaf and dumb” that the deaf are not dumb; using alternative communication techniques actually enriches overall intelligence. With your help, dear reader, we hope also to inspire and motive deaf children and young adults to achieve their dreams. While being deaf is a handicap, it is no excuse for not leading a fulfilling, vibrant life.



- AILEEN CROWE NANDI, Chennai, India. MADAN VASISHTA, Washington, DC USA

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Dr. Madan Vasishta is Associate Professor in the Department of Administration and Supervision at Gallaudet University, that pre eminent university for the deaf with an emphasis on education through sign language. His life, from the time he became deaf at the age of 11, is the stuff movies are made of. After being a farmer in his Himachali village for ten years, he moved to Delhi later where he first learned to sign. He was a teacher of photography for a while and worked with deaf associations in India, before came the leap across the seven seas to Gallaudet University, Washington. At Gallaudet, he proceeded to add one degree after another with a B.A. in History and Psychology, M.A. in Deaf Education and Ph.D. in Special Education Administration and so on.

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Aileen Crowe Nandi is currently Principal Commercial Officer at the US Consulate General in Chennai. Diagnosed with a profound hearing loss at 18 months, she grew up in the American Midwest in an environment that supported speech therapy and oral communication. Though her parents were once told that oral speech would be "impossible," Aileen now speaks several languages. As she wrote in “Success & ABILITY” (July-Sept 2009), “Despite being a neither here nor there student, not “deaf enough” for the deaf community, but with the challenges of not hearing everything in a “regular” school, I unequivocally support inclusive education- and work opportunities – for all those who are capable of performing at the required standards.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When we first decided to do a comprehensive feature on “being deaf”, we immediately thought of Aileen and Madan as the perfect people to put this feature together. Not only did they read through the pages of “Success & ABILITY” and evolved to become very good friends, but they are also eminently qualified for the task. Rooted in their individual experiences and unique differences of being deaf, they each brought to the table facets of being deaf. And did they live up to our expectations! With enthusiasm and persistence, working with people across continents, addressing diverse issues, this dynamic duo put together a veritable feast.

So, dear readers, over the next few pages we take you through “Switch on the lights, I can't hear!“ edited and presented by Dr Madan Vasishta and Aileen Crowe Nandi.


Sound of Silence | TEACHING METHODS


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