Moving Ahead...

On the last day of the academic year 2016-2017 ending on 21st April 2017, we celebrated the graduation ceremony of our tiny tots who are Moving Ahead - which is, facilitating Children with Developmental Delays / Mental Retardation to move on to school education in special and mainstream schools on completion of the Early Intervention Program, Upanayan, at MNC.

So far 102 children have been successfully enrolled in the mainstream schools / special Schools, over the past 9 years and this year 10 children will be moving into the mainstream schools / other special schools or to our Montessori section. Among the10, 6 will be moving to Mainstream Schools and 4 to other special schools.

This has been a significant contribution by MNC towards habilitating the children with developmental delays. It is indeed an occasion for celebration for each child moving out from Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children to the outside world of normal school education.

Ten children fidgeted with their graduation gowns on the dais, their mothers anxious and proud at the back of them holding them by their shoulders to steady them to receive gifts from Ms. Mita Venkatesh, Principal, Sri Sankara Senior Secondary School, Adyar, Chennai 600020, the Chief Guest of the day. Their teachers stood by the side of the screen signaling to the children to wish and greet the chief guest and to thank her for the gift.

Each child was a child with Developmental Delay, each of a different type, level and degree. For each child management of the disability has been the greatest challenge. It was therefore a matter of pride for both the teacher and the parent that these children with Early Intervention, have met the challenges satisfactorily and become eligible to enter mainstream schools/special schools or vocational schools. In the process the children have been guided and directed by the Special Educators, therapists, combined with music, yoga and play therapy on how to use one’s individual strengths through individualized programmes plans. Learning the required age appropriate skills in activities of daily living, thereby building bridges wherever there were developmental delays, and reaching the goals set in the developmental areas in their own pace and time has been the focus of the programme.

The Special School system offers special education in functional academics and prepares them for specialized vocation training in later school years. This stream of education would equip them with the required skills needed for a suitable and meaningful occupation in adult years and thereby help then become more and more self dependant in activities of daily living.

The support system from the center namely ‘Sanmargam” - “Good Direction” is a project formalizing the ‘mainstreaming’ of children with special needs after receiving their early intervention in the Upanayan Early Intervention Programme at Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children. The project is aimed at hand holding and guiding the mainstream school teaching staff for a period of three years to manage our children who have arrived at their doorsteps.

The culmination of that Early Intervention is “Moving Ahead’ celebrated every year on the last academic day. The children donned their graduation gowns, received a school bag as gift and exhibited their talents by presenting skits, action songs etc. This year the children of 4-6 years group presented a skit called ‘Who is more important”? The organs of the body( each child representing one organ) one by one came forward to tell about how important its function in the body was. When the children narrated their part it looked as if the organ they are talking about was the most important. But alas, they could not function independently. The organs of the body had to function in unison so that the individual may benefit from them. And so at the end of the skit we had all the children come together and symbolically depict their unity in one’s body. The applause for the children took a long time dying down.

Parents spoke about their experiences in reaching thus far. Mrs. Sharda Bhutra spoke how his son Rishabh, though affected by Cerebral Palsy rose to become a graduate in Banking. After Early Intervention in MNC, he finished his schooling in Vidyasagar, Chennai. All through he was given a scribe and was even allowed to use the computer to tell the scribe his answers. The parents and the teachers gave him strength and courage and encouraged him to excel in academics. The road was long, arduous and the journey not without its challenges. But it was the help of the special educators all along that has seen Rishabh becoming a graduate.

The function came to an end with the National anthem and light snacks being served to all.