A girl with special needs, living a “normal” life (Feature)

By Paula Marie D. Navarra

MANILA, (PNA) – Not being able to speak properly and hear normally can never stop a person in living a normal life. This is what Elizabeth “Ann” Mascarinas keeps showing to everyone.

Ann is just one of the students under the Inclusive Education (IE) Program — learning environment where children with and without disabilities are in the same room being treated as equals — of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“She is in a regular Second Year class (Grade 8) under the K to 12 curriculum at the Commonwealth High School, Quezon City,” DepEd explained in its facebook post.

When Ann was eight months, she hardly responds when someone calls her name. She was diagnosed with Profound Hearing Loss.

Profound Hearing Loss is the difficulty in hearing and understanding even with the use amplification.

But even with Ann’s case, her parents — Cesario and Mary Jane — still provided her with normal education.

She was then enrolled at Commonwealth Elementary School (CES) where she lip reads to understand her teachers and classmates.

She was an intelligent student reaping honors as early as the primary level. When she reached Grade 4 level she transferred to Benigno Elementary School (BES) where she won academic competitions including a first place in the SPED English Spelling Contest in 2012.

“She is also a dancer, and teachers always ask her to dance because she’s good at dancing,” Mary Jane said in a statement.

She believes that the cause of her child’s disability is the measles virus she caught when she was three months pregnant with Ann.

There are 50 regular students in Ann’s class, and seven of those students have special needs including her.

Mary Jane said that in her school there are SPED teachers that tutors in English, Science and Math especially during competitions.

Ann’s SPED teacher Magdalena Apuli said that deaf students cannot understand lessons without an interpreter.

“Since these children have joined the mainstream, they need special attention, special techniques and strategies from us so that they learn better and maximize their potentials,” Ma’am Zaida Noor, Ann’s other SPED teacher, said.

Sally Barcelona, School Principal of Ann’s high school, said that they started the IE setup in 2007.

”We started with five enrollees-three Learning Disabled (LD) and two Hearing Impaired (HI) children,” she said.

“To date, we have six special children in First Year; seven in Second Year; four in Third Year and four in Fourth Year,” she added.

Like every other teenage girl, when Ann finishes her household chores and assignments she would watch television shows — GMA 7’s Anna Karenina and My husband’s lover — which she understands through lip reading, movements and facial expressions of artists.

DepEd said that Ann wants to take up Culinary Arts in college just like any other typical girl.