Ganga and Bornali: Sisters Become Friends

Ganga and Bornali

Yesterday afternoon only Ganga and Bornali were home.  Nine others had gone to an event and Rani was in the park for her afternoon walk.    I was home still recovering from my cold; teachers were gone… so it was time for some fun.  Ganga and Bornali had just been given misti doi (sweet yogurt) for afternoon snack, and per my instructions, I wanted to let them work at feeding themselves. Bornali takes her food very seriously and when the spoon became too difficult she did the only natural thing she could think of, which was to do away with the spoon and go directly to the source.

Bornali gets practical

Notice that not only has she gotten to the source, but she used her knees to tilt the tray upwards to bring the dish closer to her mouth.   A few years ago she did this with a puzzle piece.

Getting the Job Done

2008: Getting the Job Done


Bornali’s teacher was not happy with this. In the teacher’s mind, the assigned task was for Bornali to use her hands to pick up the puzzle pieces. But in Bornali’s mind, since her hands weren’t getting the job done, she used what worked for her. In her mind, the task was to pick up the piece of the puzzle. In yesterday’s task, Bornali’s understanding was that she was to eat without assistance and since she couldn’t get the spoon and her hand working right, she did what made sense to her. It seems to be what made sense to both of them.

Later in the evening Gangaand Bornali delighted in our showing the pictures.

Ganga working with her hand in 2008

The pictures from 2008 also show Ganga struggling with using her hands. I realized that she is no more able to use her hands now than in 2008. Her preferred means is her foot. Apparently she has figured out how to turn off the tv with her foot if she doesn’t like what is playing. For computer she prefers her foot.  Here she is learning from Dipak Ghosh, her role model

Learning from Dipak Ghosh, her role model

though we have just starting using a head pointer.

Hunt and Peck Ganga style

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. LinZi
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 18:37:02

    Thanks so much for sharing about these too lovely young ladies! They are both so smart and innovative in getting what they need! It’s great you were able to have Dipak come and visit and show Ganga how he uses his foot. Is she able to use her foot on the computer or do you think the head pointer will end up working out better?

    I remember working at a hospital with a 16 year old young man with CP. While he could not talk and could move his left hand just a little, he had the best sense of humor! He also had this button he could press that said “go away!” and while he didn’t usually use it to actually tell us to go away, he found it very amusing!

    He left an impression on me as well because I realized at that point how hard it was to figure our his developmental level and treat him appropriately with his CP. Our filing system didn’t do a very good job to easily find this information, so went I went to talk to him or help him I was always wondering what “level” to talk to him on.

    Have you been able to figure that out with your girls? From my experience it seems like it can be especially difficult with CP.


  2. Dr. Michelle Harrison
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 22:52:54

    Thanks for your comment and your question. The CP absolutely gets in the way because we don’t get familiar feedback when we communicate with them, unless they have sophisticated means of assistive technologies for speech and writing. As for these two, they are at opposites. Bornali is still a very young child emotionally. She is happy with her familiar people and places. I took her out of school because she just cried and cried. She wanted to be home. Remember, these children come with major past abandonments they can’t really describe. We assume Bornalli had a family because her ears were pierced. Ganga on the other hand, is developmentally on target. She is part of the social life and environment of the older girls, often just spending time with them when they do homework, or sitting in on their classes. .Ganga is girlie, competitive and freely expresses her jealousies and wants. She watches TV with the big girls and hates children’s shows and toys. Bornali loves Barney; Ganga loves Charllie Chaplin. I guess that’s the best way to describe their differences.


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July 2011
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