Priyanka Patil’s parents did not believe their daughter needed to be sent to a special school because she could not hear or speak. So she learnt to read lips, practised hard and joined regular school.
On Tuesday, the 15-year-old reinforced her parents’ faith in her abilities — she was among the 69 students of the 155 students in her school to score over 90 per cent in the Class 10 CBSE exams.
A student of R.N. Podar School, Santacruz, Priyanka scored 92 per cent attending regular classes. Nagesh, her banker father, considers her success a sign that differently-abled children can be as good, if not better, than everyone else.
“With guidance and care, she has proved that differently-abled children can achieve anything a normal student can,” said the proud father, who’s making plans to celebrate.
Priyanka wants to study science and become a chemical engineer.
“After Class 12, I’ll go to one of the IITs,” she said, in gestures. Her interests are not all academic. “I am very fond of playing tennis and watching films. My favourite actor is Hrithik Roshan.”
The family urges parents of all differently-abled children to send their kids to regular schools. “We need to get them accustomed to the normal environment rather than a conditioned one, and you can trust them to do well,” said her mother Sukanya.
But getting Priyanka into a regular school was no easy task. She was refused admission in many schools in Class 1 because she could not clear oral interviews.
Not willing to waste time, Sukanya, who is a homemaker, attended mother-training classes at various deaf schools and taught her daughter at home for the junior KG and senior KG levels.
“What is taught in four years at deaf schools, she picked up in six months,” Sukanya said. Her parents put her in the Alpasha School for the Deaf in Borivli for the first year. From Class 2, she was a student of R.N. Podar.
“She used to read the teachers’ lips and understand lectures. She has always stood among the top three students in her class,” Avnita Bir, the school principal said.
“Constant practice, looking at pictures and reading, and lip-reading are the keys to her success.”