Friday, July 19, 2019

Home Visiting Special Children…Part 1

Home visits are important to understand children’s behavior at school and it becomes easier to interact with the parents if they are able to communicate with the staff of the school on daily basis.  Home visitations by teachers gets parents involved in their child’s education and they let parents and children know how much the teachers care.

On 18th July 2019 a home visit was made to three students’ homes at Uran (in Raighad district) by Madhuri, Charu and Pushpa. The students whose homes were visited were Arafat (12yrs) Shravani (14yrs) and Rishikesh (17yrs. ). They are the students of our Uran Centre called Seabird Special School. About twenty minutes were spent in each home.

Two of the students, Arafat and Shravani, had not come to school for few days because they were not well but the children were very happy to see their teachers visit them at their home.

All three live in very tiny sparsely furnished house. The children live under constant supervision of their parents.

Arafat lives alone with his mother, His father works as driver in Dubai (presently, he has not been keeping well, hence has taken temporary job in the city).  His two sisters live at Madrasa at Ratnagiri and are doing Islamic studies. During their holidays, mother makes a trip to visits them.  Arafat is encouraged to do his own work like washing his own plate, keeping the house tidy and other such small odd jobs at home. He spends most of his time at home. He does not have many friends in the community because of his limited speech and his quiet nature. However mother plays indoor games like dominos and lego with him, whenever she gets time. He goes for prayers regularly, three times a day, in the community meeting where he is taught to read and pray. He even kept fast during Ramzam for 16 days this year. Mother is quite alert and takes interest in her child’s activities. Arafat is a happy child and is well looked after at home.

Shravani lives with her mother and her younger sister. Father is a labourer and works on contract basis. She had not come to school for few days because she was suffering from psoriasis (she showed us her arm that was darkened and bruised). The road leading to her house is muddy and steep and there is too much filth and garbage everywhere, which is unhealthy for all residents living there. The school bus drops Shravani at quite a distance and she walks alone toward her house through the sleep hill. Shravani lives on second floor. However the interior of the house, although small, it was quite tidy. Mother was busy cleaning the floor. There were only two chairs in the room, one TV, one side table and one small shelf of God idols for prayers. Otherwise the room was completely empty. Shravani helps in the house with housework like cleaning; folding clothes, swabbing, etc., but mother is quite protective and does not allow her to do any housework.

Rishikesh lives in row house of one room kitchen. The road leading to his house is very filthy, dirty mud dug up and infested with mosquitos. His house was very suffocating due to poor ventilation and tin roof. Room was bare except for one TV and a bed. Rishikesh”s two medal (that were won during his sporting events) were showcased on the shelf along with other memorable things.  Mother is very gentle and caring. Father has vices and is sometimes irresponsible towards family needs but is now trying to be off liquor. He is State transport driver.

Rishikesh has one sister who is married. He has one elder brother who is studying in another city but comes home during his holidays. The brothers interact well with each other and have a good rapport. Rishikesh does a lots of house work like filling the drinking water, cleaning, sweeping the floor, also makes bed and runs errands for the family like buying small things from the shop...his mother however told us that he needs to be told softly and peacefully otherwise he refuses to do anything. He does not go out or have friends in the vicinity. Post long vacation, it is difficult to get him to go back to school. He loves watching TV and is interested in sports activities conducted in school and also at inter-school competitions. He doesn't want his father to come to school because he is ashamed of him being alcoholic. Otherwise he is happy to be part of school.

All the three families were loving and caring .

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Theatre Workshop At SBP

We are proud to believe that our school is the most sought after school at Navi Mumbai.

And why not?

Our management takes every effort to make the education of special children entertaining and fun. The meetings with the staff are held regularly whereby teachers are guiding in correct teaching methods to be carried out at school.

Every festival and every event is celebrated at school as a hands-on learning experience. On the days when children have public holidays, teachers are expected to report to school. During those days, some workshops or lectures by experience personals are organised at school to enrich the teaching methods of the staff.

This week too, while children were enjoying their Ganesha festivals, teachers attended a “Theatre Workshop” organised at school by dramatist Mr. Shivdas Ghodke on 14th September from 1pm to 4pm.

Todays session was good, it was full of practical inputs that help to develop children’s physical mobility and the thinking ability. (cognitive abilities)” said Rupali, the teacher of secondary class.This session focused on developing students leadership qualities too”

Sixteen teachers took part in this workshop and each one was having a very good time. There was no inhibition in performing any activity at all. They walked with bent knees, they crawled on the floor, they even mimed. Teaching special children can be fun, they need not struggle to write alphabets, memorise long paragraphs or solve difficult problems, learning can be done informally through play and drama and that was all this workshop was about.

Truly! It was an excellent workshop for teachers. Today’s workshop was fun but indirectly we learnt many things. Through different activities, we can use it for our students development, we can teach them different concepts using very simple material.Said Grace, the teacher of pre-vocational group. “Through these activities we can develop students imagination, creativity, imitation skills, they can improve their leadership qualities, enhance their confidence level and learn about team work.”

Different aids were used for team activities that need large spaces. Bamboo rods were used to form designs on the floor and to imagine what activity can be performed using the stick. (for example..rods can be used for drying clothes, shooting like rifle or using as stump for playing snookers). Teachers used bamboo sticks to design a star shape. Collectively they lifted it horizontally and child was made to hop on the shape.

Such big bamboo stick needs larger space to perform such activities, although it can be incorporated in dance and drama with background music. But a smaller stick can in used in the classrooms too and some teachers are using it in their lesson plans.

I give my students ice cream sticks for making shapes and alphabets and let them imagine things like ice cream and other things, but I normally use it on individual level. But today’s stick therapy is good for group activity. We will reduce the size of the stick to make the activity easier in the class levelsaid Vidya, teacher of  Primary 1.

Luckily there were two children who were also the part of the group. They too participated in many activities and helped us understand how far can we stretch an activity with special children.

Some activities were shown with a rope, 15 meters long and 3 inches thick. It helped us understand the limited force that would be required to form designs with the rope by swinging one end of the rope in different directions.

Charushila found the use of rope in her therapy class as very useful aid. “This exercise is good to channelize energy and also for dissociation of joints.” She said.

Spreading the rope on the floor and making the teachers walk on the rope was a clever idea.

I liked walking activity. This is helpful for balancing, coordination and muscle strengthsaid Smita.

Using long ropes in smaller classrooms is impractical but using duppattas, colorful tape or sari fall (as suggested by Grace and Smita Vartak  ) would be more logical.

The session went on till 4:30 but nobody complained of the extended hour. In fact some teachers wanted one more session.

I would personally request Shirish Tr and Sukanya Tr. to arrange more sessions by Sir  in which he will  give us input on voice modulations, making masks etc. Sir is very experience person who has worked with special children from many years .So his sessions will definitely be helpful for us....” said Vidya teacher of Primary 1 class.

 more pictures of this workshop can be found on our school blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Empowering Parents


Life can be very lonely if you have differently abled child.

Many parents don't have time to seek their own space. The simple pleasures of watching a film in the cinema hall or visiting a salon for a new haircut or simply strolling through the mall for window shopping is the luxury they cannot afford. Differently abled children need lot of attention, some parents are over protective of their children, they will not let them undertake any chores at home for the fear of some accidents.

Such stories and many more were discussed at the workshop on ‘Empowering Parents’ by Gulshan Kavarana on 7th August 2018.

The program started with the brief introduction by one of the parents.

"Gulshan Kavarana is the founding member of SFS (Special Families Support group) a support group for families with children with special needs and the Art Mentor at Mawaheb, an art studio for adults with special needs. It is safe to say that Gulshan’s life changed drastically when her second daughter Zara was born in 1997. Zara has been diagnosed with Dravets Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy she also in the Autism spectrum   which was triggered by a vaccine. When Gulshan found out about her condition she went desperately seeking help and advise from other parents in similar situations, as she was a new resident of Dubai. She felt as though she was drowning in self pity and felt she was the only one going through the stages of acceptance: guilt, denial, self pity, anger, hopelessness and finally, the best stage of all acceptance… Thus SFS was born.  SFS or Special Families Support Group, started in 1999 with a dozen families in Gulshan’s living room. The motivation behind the group’s initiation was to bring together and uplift children with special needs and most importantly their families."

Gulshan expressed the fact that nobody is prepared for a special child and when she was faced with the problems of dealing with the daughter who had Dravets Syndrome, she was confused and looked desperately for support. Not finding much information on the net, she invited six families with similar problems and formed a support group. it is then she realised that the support group is like a special close knit family who are more helpful than the doctors, teachers or any other professionals. They are the ones who narrow the gap of loneliness and are supportive in giving advice and solutions from their own experiences. In a support group, parents with older children can give better advise.

Gulshan raised the question about how they felt when they took their child for an outing?

The stories that poured out about the challenges that the parents faced were heart breaking. Parents complained that their children did not get respect in the community and they were always cast aside, about how people stood and stared at their differently abled persons, about their trips at restaurants where people complained about the noise that their children made and how they are forced to leave the restaurant, as the result they hardly ever went out.

During the interaction, many parents then came up with solutions on how to deal with such situations.

One parent suggested that there are two choices to every situation, you can either cry or laugh. She said that her happiness comes first and therefore what she will experience will depend on choices that she makes. She had to make decision and do what she feels is right.

Gulshan stressed on the idea that everybody has right to enjoy their life and that one should not feel guilty of leaving their child at home or with a friend to enjoy some moments with their spouse or with friends.  She encouraged parents to meet regularly and socialise freely- organising pot luck lunches, movies or outings.  

She believes that support group is one large family who will understand your problems and will be willingly to help you without judging you.

She advised parents to make their children independent so that it will get easier in their later life.  They must be given time, space and exposure, to let them grow independently on their own strength and capability. There is need to plan for their future and arrange a residential home (If required) so that sibling do not have to take responsibility of taking care of them all life.

By the end of the workshop the parents were in good spirit and promised to keep in touch with each other.

It ended with  game of free expression of introducing each other in Bollywood style and the room was filled with laughter....Parents were  asked to stand in a circle facing each other,  each person introduced themselves in the most  innovative manner…Bollywood style

The workshop by  Gulshan Kavarana was very enlightening and she encouraged parents to form a self support group where they could socialise and help each other. Parents returned home with a beautiful smile  and must have remained cheerful for the rest of the day.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Arvind Saurabh -Residential Home for Intellectually Challenged

Every parent’s main worry is what will happen to their child after they are there no more. The siblings have a life of their own and it becomes difficult for them to take care of their intellectually challenged persons. There is dire need for residential homes.

I had privilege to visit one such home at Pune called Arvind Saurabh, also known as Umed Pariwar.  Founded in 1990, Arvind Saurabh is Pune based Parent’s organisation that works for the specialised needs and betterment of Mentally Challenged and Cerebral Palsy persons. This home is located at Wadaki Nala, on Hadapsar Saswad Road on the foothills of Kanifnath temple. It is located at 25kms from Pune.

We drove through barren land, through the mud path to arrive at beautiful 10-acres wide campus in the midst of large open landscape.

We were greeted by Jyoti Nahar, one of the parents, who is the resident at the campus. She took us around showing us the facilities at the home.

At the vocational room, lots of activities are carried out such as paper bag making, making office files, envelops, handmade paper articles, gift articles and many such activities.

The building is very neat with a large courtyard in the centre where children can play outdoor activities, surrounded on all sides with large bright rooms. The dormitory had 6-8 beds in a room, fairly distant with beds and cupboards. The bathrooms are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair and designed to cater to their special needs. There are smaller private rooms upstairs for children who are independent or wish to stay with their live-in parents.

We were then invited for lunch. The campus has in-house vegetable gardening and diary facility. The food was nutritious and very tasty.

I was quite impressed with the facilities at this place. There was solar and windmill energy, a swimming pool with hydrotherapy, modern kitchen facility with dinning hall, polyclinic facility for health check up, gymnasium facilities and guest house for parents, so that they can come and stay with their children.

The intellectually challenged adults looked quite content and cheerful and were quite happy to meet us and click pictures with us.


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