EDISON – For most students, interacting with children who are living with cerebral palsy, autism or mental retardation can be a daunting experience. But, for Rishabh Madan of Perth Amboy, that interaction transforms into a sacred bond between teacher and student and an ability to see beyond the child’s disability in order to believe in their infinite possibilities.
A senior at The Wardlaw-Hartridge School in Edison, Madan completed his senior internship at the Spastics Society located in Bangalore (Karnataka) India, where he taught mathematics, science and English to disabled students in the first and second grades, ages 7 to 11.
“During the first week, I looked at the students as having disabilities, but soon learned about them as people and looked beyond their limitations,” said Madan.
Madan, who will be applying to Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, Boston University and Boston College, hopes to major in psychology with a child focus – specifically on students with mental disabilities.
When asked why he sought this career path, he recalled, “I don’t know what it is, but kids have always liked me…they’ve always gravitated to me and I feel comfortable with them. I am particularly interested in the brain as it relates to disabilities.”
Madan, who is the son of Avnish Madan and Sowjanya Manacha of Perth Amboy, also volunteers at Cribs to Crayons in Staten Island, an occupational and speech therapy clinic.
At Cribs to Crayons, Madan has worked with all of the experts in the field – from physical therapists and occupational therapists to speech therapists, but it is the sincere interest he has in the students that impresses Swapna Bollera of Cribs to Crayons the most.
“He has an inbuilt empathy and instinct that really comes through,” said Bollera. “He wants to understand exactly what the children are going through and how to help them.” She provided two examples of how Madan maturely and carefully guided students during a trip to New York City and when he kept autistic triplets cheerfully occupied during a visit to Cribs to Crayons.
“All of us here believe that Rishabh has the empathy and the persistence to pursue any career he wants,” she concluded, “and we know he will do very well.”
Rishabh Madan of Perth Amboy aids disabled students
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