Early Childhood Intervention
Funded by The Hans Foundation, the Early Intervention Programme caters to the needs of 75 children between the age of 0-6 years with Special Needs. This programme has the distinction of being the only specialised centre in Pondicherry, providing rehabilitation services to CWSNs not only in the city of Pondicherry but all the neighbouring districts like Cuddalore, Villupuram, Kalakurichi, Thiruvanamalai justmto name a few. The facilities and services offered match international standards and the results are a testimonial of the commitment and dedication of the Satya staff. In the year 2013-14, as many as 25 CWSNs have been integrated into main stream schools. Around 10 children are under the follow up programme.
The Unique Learner Initiative :
The Unique Learner Initiative is a partnership of the University of Oregon, the Satya Special School and the Sri Aurobindo Society. Established in 2013 in Satya, Early Childhood Special Educators from the UO’s College of Education, USA traveled to Pondicherry four times to work with the teachers, staff and administrators to develop a model early intervention program that will train educators from throughout India in best practices for young children with special needs and positively influence the future of education in the country.
The first training team established the foundation for the project including the goals and scope of the initiative. The next three training teams focused on Satya Special School and infusing best
practices into the program.
1) Physical arrangement and use of the environment to maximize child engagement and learning
2) Developmentally appropriate teaching strategies
3) Teaching in daily routines
4) Activity based intervention
5) An integrated team approach across all disciplines
6) Visual supports
7) Parent involvement
The teaching and administrative staff of Satya Special School are eager learners and dedicated teachers who work very hard to implement each newly acquired best practice technique in their classrooms. They have made great strides and continue to improve their skills and grow as professionals.
Around 170 children attend the special school at Satya, for 5 days a week. A comprehensive rehabilitation programme covers the following therapeutic services – physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech therapy, Yoga, Music, education and Dance therapy.
The trend in Special Education assessment and programming has changed from IQ based grouping to Level based grouping without compromising on age appropriate programming. The children in the Special School are grouped based on the ability and chronological age into different levels such as Primary-I, Primary-II, Secondary, Mainstream (Open Based Education I,II,III), Prevocational – I & II. Functional Assessment Checklist for Programming (FACP) is the standard tool used in the School for Educational assessment.
An Individualized Education Programme (IEP) is planned based on the need and ability of the child and the programme is implemented using various special education techniques. Then challenging behaviour of the child is also closely monitored and modified. The programme is evaluated quarterly and the progress is recorded. Training is given in the following functional areas: Personal/ Social/ Academic/ Occupational/Recreational.
Centre For Multiple Disabilities
The Multiple disabilities category includes those students with the most severe physical,cognitive, and communicative impairments. The common connection between students in this category is not just that they have two or more co-existing impairments, but that they generally need extensive support across any number of skill areas.
A need was felt at Satya, to have a Multiple Disability Centre due to the fact CWMD are most neglected and often abandoned. Less than 0.1% attend school and less than 5% avail any rehabilitation services. The costs are incredibly high for a CWMD (Average expenses/month- mainstream child- Rs. 500, Special child- Rs.3000, CWMD- Rs.6000-8000). At an MD, centre the teacher, student ratio is 1: 3-5 and we at Satya believed that such a facility was essential for Pondicherry. With all the above in mind, we started a first of its kind Centre for Multiple Disability in Pondicherry. This centre caters to the needs of around 46 children with varying levels of special needs.
Vocational Training Centre
In order to bridge the gap between existing vocational training facilities in Pondicherry and the demand for such activities, Satya has launched various vocational training activities since its inception.The primary purpose of vocational training programme is to prepare individuals especially the adult disabled in the age group of 15-25 years for the world of work and make them employable for a broad group of occupations.
The main vocational training programs comprises of Carpentry, Jewellery making, products with dried flowers and leaves, mat weaving, Tailoring, Paper cup making, Tetrabag making, Baking etc. Apart from these trainings, the focus is also on employability of PWDs for which various short term training programmes on inter personal skills, communication skills and building one’s own self confidence are carried out. Satya is also an implementing agency in Pondicherry under the Prime Ministers National Council on Skill Development Program which was launched all over India. Around 20 of our PWDs have received training under this programme. Currently, around 66 beneficiaries are part of the Vocational Training Centre.
Play is a fundamental activity which is indispensable to the development and blossoming of every individual. For children, it is complementary to all activities connected to learning. Children with Special Needs often don’t get an opportunity to play freely. In order to provide these deprived children an opportunity to express themselves through free play method, the project was launched in partnership with Chemins D’Enfances , an organisation involved in running play centers to relieve children from unknown fears, stress and a way of improving inter personal skills in Leon, France. Launched in 2010, the play center and Ludo mobil project has been very successful in helping children from difficult situations gain self confidence while learning problem solving and communication skills. A total of 536 children from 3 partnering organizations in addition to Satya are benefited by this programme.
For years, we at Satya struggled to find a park for our children where they could play at ease like other children. Normally the equipments such as swings, see-saws or slides are just not designed for inclusion. Fortunately in 2014, we were able to make this dream for our children a reality, when we were able to put together an ‘all inclusive play park’ open to our children and the public. What makes this play park special is that all the play equipment has been designed to allow children with disabilities to play at ease. The park has been provided with swings and modified swings for children in wheelchairs. The merry-go round has special seats for the children to sit with maximum support. A sand pit has also been provided for the children to play freely.
Sports For The Disabled
The Sports for the Disabled Programme is funded by the Ministry of Sports & Youth Affairs, Govt.of India. Both urban and rural CWSNs are covered under this programme. The children that participate have various disabilities such as autism, cerebral palsy, multiple disability, mental retardation, Down’s Syndrome, deaf and dumb etc. A total of 146 children are covered in this programme.
The children are involved in sports like cricket, volley ball, table tennis, soft ball, handball, football, basketball, badminton, cycling, hockey and athletics. Training is provided five days a week. In addition to these trainings, regular health checkups are carried out and in case of malnourishment a nutritionist is consulted. As a result of this programme, not only has the country been represented by these special athletes at the Special Olympics World Summer Games at Athens, Greece and Asia Pacific Regional Games, Australia , but they have also done us proud by winning medals for the country.
Community Rehabilation Programme
In collaboration with CIAI, Italy in June 2010 with the objective of providing CWSN’s access to health and education services, the Community Based Rehabilitation Program was launched in Puducherry District. The emphasis was to identify children deprived of basic education due to either their degree of disability or lack of financial resources. The objective was achieved through two unique programmes – either by setting up Village rehabilitation centres (VRCs) for children capable of attending day schools or by providing mobile rehabilitation services such as physiotherapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, play therapy and special education. The most important aspect of rehabilitation in both the projects is to make the children as independent as possible. Great attention is paid to train the children on activities for daily living such as self grooming and personal hygiene. At least 75% of the children have shown good improvement in both their physical and academic skills.
Satya currently has 3 village centres based out of Villanur, Selimedu and Kodathur. The Kodathur Village Rehabilitation Centre was the first to be set up in 2009 and was supported by the You & We Trust. It serves as a unique integrated centre providing free services and is the only centre that offers hydrotherapy. It serves as a model for providing quality rehabilitation services to CWSNs.
The Village Rehabilitation Centres cater to a total of 165 children.
Mobile Therapy Unit
In addition to CWSNs being catered to by the Village Rehabilitation Center, it was felt that a large number of severely disabled children were hidden away in the four walls of their homes due to lack of – awareness, financial resources, transportation, level of immobility or in some cases lack of will from the family members in treating the children. The main aim of the Mobile Therapy unit is to take state of the art therapy facilities like physiotherapy and speech therapy to the door step of the CWSNs with emphasis on the mother or any family member being part of the rehabilitation process. The van was funded by Enfants des Rues de Pondichéry, France with the support of Rotary Club of Pondicherry Central RI Dist 2980 and Sanofi Aventis , France.Most children utilizing the services of the MTU are children with severe loco-motor disabilities, bringing to light the desperate need for therapeutic facilities in these villages.
Mobile therapy services are offered based on the demand drive approach. A total of 96 children from 44 villages are benefited from this service. Two units are involved in this service. Each unit has a physiotherapist, speech therapist and special education teacher included in it. Children with multiple disability, autism and mental retardation are included in this therapy programme. Weekly services are offered to them at their door steps. Parents of the children also are trained in therapy techniques by the mobile unit.
Financial Assistant For families Of PWDS
Our various interactions with families of CWSNs brought to light the harsh realities that these families live in. Lack of financial resources in an over rising economy means lesser resources for the family to spend on the special needs child. The families consider the child a huge financial burden. It was clear that one of the biggest factors for abandonment of the CWSNs was lack of adequate financial resources. Satya in collaboration with many organizations like CIAI, Italy and Les Enfants des rue de Pondichery along with the support of the State Bank of India, have provided financial support to the families of PWDs.
The support has been through soft interest free loans and microcredit programmes. The families, with the support of these loans have earned additional income through various livelihood projects such as paper cup manufacturing, cool drink bar, laminating products, saree sales, selling of fish and fish products, tailoring units, energy foods, cleaning products and mushroom cultivation.
Satya Training Centre has been always setting the trend in this endeavor of empowering the special educators and students alike. Trainees who are pursuing their Diploma in Special Education are exposed to various initiatives through visits to NIMH (Hyderabad ), Vidyasagar Chennai, Karunai (Pondicherry), NIMPED (Chennai), Tagore Hari Prasadh Institution and Sveekar Upkaar, Hyderabad. These visits pave a way to learn current developments in the field of disability management. The training and exposure ensures quality research papers as part of their syllabus requirements. In 2011, with the approval of the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI), Satya has started the Satya Training Centre, offering a two year Diploma in Special Education (Mental Retardation). The training centre is equipped with the required infrastructure, well equipped reference library with over 700 books titled in various areas like special education, Psychology, Disability Management, Education, Vocational training, therapeutics etc.
The teacher trainees in addition to assessment and Individual Educational Plan and its implementation, are also taught skills to prepare appropriate Teaching Material and techniques of using locally available day to day materials in teaching CWSNs. The trainees are trained in Co-curricular areas like Yoga, Arts and Craft, Sports, Action Songs, Villupaatu and Puppetry. They are taught to plan and implement Behaviour Modification programmes for the mentally retarded children.
Satya Special School implemented the project titled “Community based rehabilitation programme (CBR) for children with special needs (CWSN) in Puducherry”with the support of CIAI in rural and semi-urban areas in Pondicherry region from May 2010. A study was initiated to assess the change in attitude towards the condition of disability among the parents of special needs children who have received rehabilitation services for about one year through Village Rehabilitation Centres (VRC) and Mobile Therapy Unit (MTU). This project supported about 125 CWSNs living in 44 villages of rural and semi-urban area of Pondicherry.
- Differently able children were looked after by women mostly in the family and take extra effort to care in all possible ways
- Men did not pay much attention to the needs of their differently abled children.
- Educated families spend more money and take great efforts in caring for their differently abled children than uneducated families living in rural areas.
- Care takers/parents gained confidence in the children and themselves when they saw an improvement in the children.
- There is a lack of awareness, where men and women both believe that visiting the temple or performing several poojas will ‘fix’ their children.
- 75% of the respondents said that disabled girl children should notbe allowed out after attaining puberty which implies that parents are wary of the child’s safety.
The report could be downloaded by click on the link :
Know Your Rhythm
Know Your Rhythm’ is a Music Therapy training/research programme conducted by Ninād comprising of Arnab and Prarthana as therapists for therapist of Satya Special School.
Rhythm and musicality is innate to all living beings. Children recognise and respond actively to sound, rhythm and touch even before they are born. Music pervades our cells, tissues, organs, minds and consciousness effortlessly. It moves us to respond instinctively; our breath, pulse, muscles and internal rhythms pulsate as we listen to it, we feel it. In music therapy, music is used to help improve health (physical, emotional, cognitive, social) and to generally establish a feeling of overall well being. The programme consists of 3 training modules of which Module 1 has been completed.
Module 1 of this programme aims to create an awareness and some experience of this Rhythm and Musicality and their therapeutic effects:
- Assessment of music and rhythm sense in therapists
- Using specifically composed music to help therapists understand and recognise rhythm and ‘feel’ the music
- Training in basic and complex rhythms
- Practice of rhythms with familiar and unfamiliar melodies
- Assessment of vocal skills for humming, chanting and reciting
- Expressing and connecting Rhythm to kinesthetics, proprioception and speech
- Recognising levels of well being individually and as a group
- Administering Music Therapy to children – basic level
(For more information, visit http://therapy.ninad.in)