CHAITHANYA DAY CENTRE
Chaithanya enables children with neurological impairments to reach their full potential through education and training. Our activities begin with awareness, screening infants and children by conducting screening camps. We offer a wide range of services to children and their parents. The following are our day to day activities at the centre.
There are 20 children between the age of 1 and 6 admitted in this unit. As the programme is based on normal child development, where the focus is more on motor milestones (for children affected in the motor area), the nuerodevelopmental therapy techniquesare offered in their age-appropriate sequential order. The Unit also provides speech therapy, and uses ‘play way’ method of activity based teaching.
Chaithanya follows Kerala State syllabus and functional academics appropriate to age. The focus is on preparing the child for Inclusion in mainstream schools. In addition to preparing the students, Chaithanya trains and arranges for scribes who are essential to assist the Special Child in writing the examinations.
Under this programme, the students are prepared for IVth, VIIth and Xth standard Examinations administered under the National Institute of Open Schooling syllabus; this year three students appeared for the Xth std examination. Chaithanya staff also provides guidance to other special schools upon request.
To date,(March 2015) 35 students trained at Chaithanya have moved on to regular schools. Chaithanya staff continues to meet frequently with the parents of these children and also their teachers in the mainstream schools as needed toaddress problems.
Chaithanya provides special education for children with multiple disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism and mental retardation. Daily programmes cover five areas of development such as Language and Communication, Motor skills, Self help skills, Cognition and Social skills. The programmes are; Activities of Daily Living (Life skills), Art and Craft, Functional Academics, Play, Physical Education and Prevocational Skills.
Children over the age of 15 years are trained in functional academics, special education, money skill, calendar skill, organizational skill, domestic skill, shopping skill, gardening, cleaning, cooking, grooming skills, and social skills. To further enhance these skills, in-house work is assigned routinely and experiential learning outings are arranged periodically.
In addition, parents are trained on an individual basis in behavior management techniques as needed. They are also provided information such as sex education and other adolescent issues related specifically to their child. This Unit guides, counsels and makes the parents aware of the importance of future planning for their child.
Vocational training programme not only helps our adult students to learn the skills of a particular trade but also equips them to pursue a suitable vocation after leaving Chaithanya. Some of the implemented vocational training programmes include paper bag making, screen printing, sewing, and pala plate making.
Situation-dependent physical therapy for improving coordination and strengthening muscles is a vital component of rehabilitation of the Special Children. Chaithanya has a full-fledged physical therapy department with state-of-the-art equipment which is managed by fully-qualified and experienced professionals. The programmes in this unit are tailored to students based on their specific needs and appropriate to their age. This Unit focuses more on activity-based programmes as well as physical therapy.
Nearly 90% of Chaithanya’s children are non-verbal. The remaining few have deficiencies in speech clarity and in overall communication skills. Following assessment, need-based training, tailored to their age and level of cognition, is provided. The training focused on improving speech quality includes speech therapy, oro-motor exercises, articulatory exercises and vocabulary training.
Students with complex communication require alternative communication aids. Communication Charts with tangible symbols/pictures are custom made for each student. High-tech methods such as ‘Avaz’ (AAC), a light weight voice output device with touch screen and text to speech and word prediction in English/regional language developed and manufactured by Invention Labs, Chennai are used in this unit.
Children with profound disabilities are trained in self-care activities such as eating, dressing and the use of toilets. The focus is on making the child independent in their daily activities, thereby decreasing the care burden on the family, mostly mothers. Readiness skill, extracurricular activities and sports are also a part of the program. Mothers of the children are provided training in handling techniques, feeding techniques, toilet training and positioning of the child at home. Specially-designed furniture, orthotic aids and other equipment are provided on an individual basis. Counseling for parents and family members is also provided upon admission of the children.
Children who need corrective surgery are identified by a professional team of doctors, physiotherapist and special educators. Based on the financial resources of the family, surgeries are provided free of cost as necessary. After surgery the child is given post-operative therapy and orthotic aids to enable speedy recovery.
Home visits are conducted by staff to enable them to better understand home environment of the child, which helps in tailoring appropriate intervention strategies. In addition to the training provided to the children at Chaithanya, awareness of the family members and a supportive and conducive home environment are important for the training provided at Chaithanya to be effective. Supportive aids and counseling are also provided as needed.
Self-help groups have been started for the mothers of Chaithanya’s children. The members of this group primarily engage in income generating activities by producing and selling food products such as pickles, sambar powder, pappad, cleaning products (such as soaps, soap powder, phenyl), and decorative pots. This enterprise enables mothers to supplement the family income.