Parenting Education and Learning

Stephen Hawking: An Inspiration For Your Child

Urvashi Shah
7 to 11 years

Created by Urvashi Shah
Updated on Mar 14, 2018

Stephen Hawking An Inspiration For Your Child

Stephen Hawking, regarded as the brightest star in the arena of science, whose insights shaped modern cosmology and inspired millions of audiences on a global level, has died aged 76. The greatest scientist, who showed interest in understanding the Universe has finally become a star himself. This extraordinary man with extraordinary work has left his legacy that will be missed by many on this planet. It was his sheer courage and persistence along with humour, which inspired people all over the world.

It was in 1963, at the age of 21 years that Hawking was diagnosed with ALS, also known as motor neuron disease, wherein the doctors had not expected him to live beyond 2 years of the diagnosis. It was a miracle in itself that he managed to live up to 76 years of age, while he still continued his work with thorough passion and dedication. His fellow scientists and loved ones found it was Hawking’s intuition and wicked sense of humour that made him stand out, as much as his broken body and synthetic voice that came to symbolise the absolute possibilities of the human mind. He had a disease that progressed more slowly than usual and hence survived for more than half a century.

Stephen Hawking’s Achievements

Hawking’s first major breakthrough came in 1970, when he and Roger Penrose applied the mathematics of black holes to the entire universe and showed that a singularity, a region of infinite curvature in space time, lay in our distant past: the point from which came the big bang. Penrose was able to communicate with Hawking, despite the latter’s speech failed, because of Hawking’s determination, which did not let his disability to get in his way. His proposal of black holes radiating heat stirred up debates in modern cosmology. He also argued that if black hole could evaporate due to radiation, all of the information that fell inside it would be lost forever. His marathon of discoveries led to his election to the Royal Society in 1974. It was just five years down the line that he became the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, which is arguably Britain’s most distinguished chair, and one formerly held by Isaac Newton, Charles Babbage and Paul Dirac. Holding this post for a period of 30 years, he then moved to become director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. His ‘A Brief History Of Time’ that got published in 1988 made it to the Guinness Book of World Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for 237 weeks. Years later he happened to join Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak to warn against an artificial intelligence military arms race, and called for a ban on autonomous weapons.

Everything You Need To Know About Stephen’s ALS Disease

ALS, which is also known as a motor-neuron disease and colloquially as Lou Gehrig's disease is a neurodegenerative disease. Each muscle is controlled by motor neurons that reside in the brain in the frontal lobe. These are controlled electrically and are synaptically connected to motor neurons that reside lower down in the brain as well as motor neurons that reside in the spinal cord. The disease causes weakness of either upper motor neurons or lower motor neurons or both. Life expectancy with this disease turns on two things: the motor neurons running the diaphragm—the breathing muscles. So the common way people die is of respiratory failure. And the other thing is the deterioration of swallowing muscles, and that can lead to malnutrition and dehydration.

Let Us Look At Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) In Children

ALS is a disease affecting the human nervous system, causing damage to motor neurons and the spinal cord, which weakens them. The disease is known to impact physical movement, as the function of motor neurons is to control muscle functions. ALS, therefore, makes it difficult for affected children to perform simple tasks like breathing, eating and moving. With no cure of ALS till date, it is fatal and the survival rate is also 3-5 years after the diagnosis. Some patients live up to 10 years or beyond in certain cases.

Causes of ALS in Children-

  • Environmental factors
  • Adverse reactions of immune system
  • Chemical imbalances in the brain
  • Abnormal accumulation of proteins in nerve cells

Symptoms of ALS in Children-

  • Weakness in hand and leg muscles
  • Difficulty in swallowing and breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Muscles cramps, spasms, and twitches
  • Difficulty in holding the body upright

Treating ALS in Children-

  • Certain medicines help control muscle spasms and even help slow the disease from worsening
  • Physical therapy can help patients to maintain their muscle control as the disease progress
  • In some cases, patients may need to use a wheelchair for their movement or a ventilator to help with their breathing

How To Make Life Manageable For Children With ALS?

  • Prepare and serve them food, which will be easier to chew
  • Practicing speech therapy to help the child talk
  • Conducting regular physical therapy to enable the child to adjust with muscle spasms
  • Counselling the child
  • Providing emotional support to the child

How Parents Can Seek Inspiration From Stephen Hawking For Their Child-

  • Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the young age of 21, yet he did not let the disease bring any obstacle in his determination to study the Universe. He kept on progressing in his life, though bounded in a wheel chair with failure in speech. Parents can encourage their children to go ahead and move on in life no matter what obstacles come in their way, as those obstacles will prove to be a stepping stone towards success for them
  • When diagnoses with ALS, Stephen became very clumsy and his speech began to fail, yet he managed to hold the post of a professor for a spectacular 30 years, after which he went on to write a book on his theory. The disease left him depressed initially but he determined himself to achieve his desired results and thus began to work harder and lived a life full of productivity. Parents should also encourage their children to pursue their dreams and do not let any kind of hindrances stop them from achieving their goals in life

Stephen Hawking was a man of sheer determination who went on to display outmost strength, thus, overpowering and challenging his disease to a level, the outcome of which was only fruitful for him. Not just our children, but even we as parents must seek much inspiration from Hawking and learn to live our lives without complaining. Instead, be grateful for what we are and what we have and teach our children the same. We must have a positive outlook in life and be determined towards our goals, as the Universe is bound to give you what you believe in. Trust me it works every time like a miracle, which will empower you to believe more and more in the strength of the Universe just like Hawking did.

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| Mar 14, 2018

RIP Stephen Hawking. He left a black hole behind!

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