Father’s day was celebrated on Saturday, 29th September 2018. Early Intervention services for children with disabilities or developmental delays are focused on being family centered and is ideally carried over in home settings. Even so fathers are often left out of the process. It is usually the mothers who get involved in the day to day affairs of the child; to sensitize the fathers to the intervention being given to their child and to see the benefit the child accrues the fathers were invited along with the children to spend a day at the center. Many of the mothers stayed back and sent the children with the fathers. However some of the mothers came since they had reservations about their husbands being with the children alone all day. 40 fathers came this year and made the meet a grand success.
At the stroke of 10 am the fathers, children and staff gathered in the prayer hall. At the outset Mrs. Priya Rajkumar, Principal welcomed the gathering and gave an introduction about the programme in detail. She took the audience through a narrative of how the day for their child starts with the Prayer, followed by Yoga, Therapies, IEPs and Group teaching. She explained every aspect in detail so that the fathers have a clear picture of how their child receives the intervention at the centre. She also explained the various projects that help the Early Intervention programme. All the Group heads and the Special educators were introduced one by one to the gathering explaining the roles they play in the life of the children. This was followed by a brief talk by Mrs. Vimala Kannan who stressed the need for the concerted efforts of the family in helping the child. She said it is tough to parent a child with developmental delay and that the mother bears a disproportionate brunt of the burden on that challenging context. When mothers are raising special children they tend to be more isolated and experience greater levels of stress and depression. When that happens, the quality of the mother’s parenting goes down. When you can get the fathers engaged in the process it is going to have an impact. Not only will it impact the child positively, it has a huge impact on the family which smoothens things out.
After the welcome, the fathers along with their children were sent to the class rooms group wise (Birth to two, two to four and four to six years) and the teacher in charge received them and gave them the schedule of the day. (The pre prepared time table for the child for that day of the week was followed.) The day started with the children being given a banana with protein powder. The fathers fed their children with the banana.
Next, they were allowed into the class rooms and left to observe the various therapies given to the child. The fathers evinced keen interest in all the therapies and participated actively in them. Everyone agreed in unison that the physiotherapy given at the center is of high quality and the same would be unaffordable by them in private. They were particularly interested in the IEPs to their children and wanted to know about the skills under each domain. They participated without inhibitions in the Group activities, and Activity based therapies, music class and Physical education.
After the lunch break, classes continued till 3.00 pm.
Mrs. Aruna Rathnam, Executive Director gave a concluding talk on how the fathers can help in the development of their child and how the mothers need support in their mission of rehabilitating their child. “The efforts of the special educator at the center when strengthened with that of the parents will work wonders for the child”, she said.
Snacks and tea were served to all. When the fathers were asked at the end of the day how they felt, mixed emotions were spelt out. Some of them said it was overwhelming and to think that our wives were doing this everyday was really surprising, They said ‘that in acting as carry over agents at home they understood that they must also play a vital role and support their wives’. Some of them were apprehensive about the future of their children.