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Swati Shares Easy DIY Play-Based Learning Ideas For Her Special Needs Daughter

Austin-based Swati has made a lot of innovations in Early Childhood Education-related activities to homeschool her special-needs daughter, Kyra.

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This one is a collection of beautiful thoughts by a parent of a special-needs child. Austin-based Swati Mittal is a Dentist by profession and currently, a happy stay-at-home parent looking after her 5-year-old daughter, Kyra, who has Cerebral Palsy & Epilepsy. This major life-decision of going on a sabbatical implies only one thing for Swati – to approach her daughter's learning process with unconditional love and support paired with a lot of innovations in Early Childhood Education-related activities! Wanting to utilize the time in hand, she has successfully managed to win Kyra’s (and our!) attention with unique games and craft activities that can be enjoyed at home.

If you're an educator or a parent, you don't want to miss our interview with this marvellous mother and discover some interesting home-based play-exercises for children. Excerpts below:

Take us back to the memory when Kyra was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy.

Kyra was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which is brain damage, due to the stroke she experienced at 13 months of age. Later, she was diagnosed with Epilepsy at 4. Doctors predicted that she might walk with aids, or not walk at all. I was devastated. I had to learn a lot and that too, very fast. I had to come out of the darkness and be there for her, with very little time to grieve the loss. When others cheered their kids for walking, I was cheering because she was trying to walk, and when others were sleeping peacefully at night, I was watching my daughter so she wouldn’t have a seizure alone. Even my breaks were filled with a constant search on the internet on ways to help my daughter. Today, she walks without any aid, jumps and does whatever she was told she couldn’t. When you become a parent to a special-needs child, you become this fierce and powerful energy that your child needs you to be. You fight for services, push for appointments, learn all the jargons, and make sure there isn’t any stone that’s left unturned.

What kinds of activities have you innovated as a part of her physical therapy?

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I focus on making physical therapy fun and functional for Kyra. I always make up stories to go along so that she isn’t bored and it always is a great motivator for her. In one of the activities, for example, I joined two chairs using a Hula Hoop. She was asked to get inside that space and then come out of it by lifting her one leg and balancing the rest of the body. In the video, you can see her struggle as she lifts her foot, which ultimately helps her become stronger. One can make the act more interesting by adding in puzzles and another obstacle. Of course, every such activity is followed by a lot of happy-dance in the end.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hoop jump! ⁣ ⁣ This was hardwork for Kyra. You can see her struggling when she lifts her foot. She is also holding on to the chair for balance.⁣ ⁣ To set up this activity all you need is two chairs and a hoola hoop. ⁣ ⁣⁣ It can be easily modified as well, add in puzzle pieces, make the kids run through it, or make it into part of obstacle course. ⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ✔️strengthen core⁣⁣ ✔️weight bearing⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ Don’t miss the happy dance at the end ❤️⁣ ⁣⁣ GO KYRA!!⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣⁣ #hoolahoop ⁣⁣⁣#physicaltherapy #pt #cerebralpalsy #hemiplegia #balance #corestrength #kyraworkingoncore #4yroldkyra #therapyideas #PT #kidsactivityblog #kidsactivities #physio #earlyintervention #developmentaldelay #indianmom #momblog #southasianmom #coreworkout #specialneedsmom #challengeyourself #pushyourself #keepworkinghard

A post shared by Swati • Kyra (@imperfectly.perfect.lyf) on

What possible changes do you wish to make in her curriculum once she begins attending the school?

She is supposed to start kindergarten this year and only then we will talk about Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or 504 Plans depending on the areas she struggles the most with. (The 504 Plan is a plan developed to ensure that a child who has a disability identified under the law and is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives accommodations that will ensure their academic success and access to the learning environment.)

We love how Kyra enjoys meditation with you. Please share some tips on how parents and educators can promote it among kids.

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I’m teaching Kyra meditation so she develops a healthy mind and soul. With this, she’ll also learn the art of concentration from a tender age. 

I think exposing kids to such practices from an early age is a good idea. That age could be 3 years for some kids or more for others. Kyra started when she turned 4. I picked up a calming song that was hard to sing and be a distraction. I asked her to focus on that song. By the end of the year, she could do it for more than 4 minutes. We are now working on Silent Meditation, wherein she focuses on just herself. For Kyra, I am using a visual of pixie-dust falling on her each part of the body.

Talk about your most favourite DIY prop that you usually use while homeschooling your daughter.

It has to be the whiteboard with dry-erase pens. I sometimes hang a white sheet on it and ask her to use a fork to paint on it.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Fork Painting Turkey ???? ⁣ ⁣ When you want children to work hard, make the work fun for them.⁣ ⁣ For CIMT I chose this activity, its so very challenging for kyra to hold on to a small fork and work on vertical surface.⁣ ⁣ Vertical Surface activity has many benefits .⁣ 1. Shoulder stability ✅⁣ 2. Elbow stability ✅⁣ 3. Wrist extension ✅⁣ 4. Core strength ✅⁣ ⁣ We are primarily working on wrist movements, you can see she is in pain in first part of the video, but then she relaxes as she gains control. ⁣ ⁣ There are two kinds of pain my little girl, one that will hurt you, and one that will change you, and this will change you. #nopainnogain #keepworkinghard⁣ ⁣ Believe little girl and make magic #believeinself #createmagic ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #cerebralpalsy #hemiplegia #southasianmom #thanksgivingactivities #thanksgivingcraft #turkeypainting #cimt #therapyideas #playideas #homeschool #montessoriathome #prekactivities #occupationaltherapy #otforkids #indiamomblogger #momblogger #pediatricot #craftymom #kidsactivityblog #keepingitreal #noscreenplay #keepingkidsbusy #finemotoractivity #finemotorskills

A post shared by Swati • Kyra (@imperfectly.perfect.lyf) on

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Apart from this, we indulge in some DIY activities to come up with interesting props. Recently, we made a simple catapult from ice-cream sticks and rubber bands.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Ready.. load.. launch!! ⁣ ⁣ This month for STEM activity, Kyra build and experimented with a very simple catapult made from wooden sticks and rubber bands. ⁣ ⁣ The catapult helps see how energy can be stored, transferred, and converted. ⁣ ⁣ Kyra used the catapult to launch lightweight cotton balls, ping pong balls, marbles, etc. Kyra explored the variables that come into play and to explore the physics of projectiles. What controls how far the object flies? Can you hit your target? What is the best combination of catapult design and launch angle to make the cotton ball fly farthest?⁣ ⁣ Key concepts⁣ •Physics⁣ •Engineering⁣ •Elastic potential energy⁣ •Projectile motion⁣ ⁣ Science behind it: ⁣ A catapult works because energy can be converted from one type to another and transferred from one object to another.⁣ When you prepare the catapult to launch, you add energy to it. This energy is stored in the launching device as potential, or stored, energy. The catapult you are about to make uses elastic potential energy stored in a wooden stick as you bend it. When you let go, this stored energy is released, converted into energy of motion and transferred to the missile (the launched object), which then flies through the air.⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #learningphysics #Stemactivities #stemplay #kindergartenactivities #catapult #recycledtoy #diytoys #kyrastemactivity ⁣⁣⁣ #southasianmom #cerebralpalsy #specialneeds #austinmom ⁣⁣ #letthembelittle #montessoriathome #creativeplay #kidsactivities #earlychildhood #childhoodunplugged #lovetolearn #followthechild #craft #homeschool #screenfree #getcreativewith⁣ #KidsActivities #EarlyLearning #kidkraft #5yroldkyra #wherelearningmeetsplay #playbasedlearning⁣⁣

A post shared by Swati • Kyra (@imperfectly.perfect.lyf) on

We actually enjoy turning discarded items into useful learning tools, like in this case when we made a Marble Maze using paper towel roll and paper plates. I put 2 marbles at a time to make it challenging for Kyra. Watch it here.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Marble maze run! ⁣ ⁣ A simple activity to make using a paper towel roll and some paper plates.⁣ ⁣ I used 2 marbles at a time to make it challenging for Kyra, you can start off with just one.⁣ ⁣ For younger kids make the hole for ball a little bigger and use a bigger ball. ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ Cant wait to see you all try it out. ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #lockdown2020 #lockdownactivities⁣ #⁣quarantinewithkids #quarantineactivities ⁣ #focusedlearning #attentionandconcentration ⁣ #prekactivities #craftymama #kidsactivities #southasianmom #athomeactivitiesforkids #indianmomblogger #homeschool #montessoriathome #finemotoractivities #noscreentime #oromotor #playideas #therapyideas #playwithpurpose

A post shared by Swati • Kyra (@imperfectly.perfect.lyf) on

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Do you use any educational App(s) for Kyra?

Not yet. She doesn’t get enough screen-time.

What should one keep in mind while enrolling children with special-needs into extracurricular activities?

While enrolling Kyra in extracurricular activities, my main focus is always on inclusion. How inclusive the staff is and how quickly they can adapt or change according to Kyra’s need – are a few points I strongly consider. However, with this, our options get limited.

What have been your learnings so far as a special-needs mother?

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I have learned to always be prepared for the worst while hoping for the best for my child. We live life to the fullest knowing how unpredictable it can be. We practice gratitude and make sure every moment of good health is celebrated.

What, according to you, are the Dos and Don’ts of being a special-needs parent? 

One must have faith in the therapy of their child and be patient in order to witness the results. Also, enjoy each milestone and celebrate with love. On the other hand, comparing your child with others (special needs or not) is a big No-No.

What’s been the most bizarre question you’ve ever been asked by fellow parents?

That what did I do wrong during my pregnancy to cause my daughter’s condition.

Now that Kyra cannot go out of the house during the lockdown, what other entertaining ideas have you come up with to keep her busy, entertained and learning?

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I have been doing a lot of fine-motor crafts and trying to keep up with therapies, as well as fun. Let me share a couple of examples. You can use empty shoeboxes to make a fun wrestling match. All you’ve to do is put disposable cups on it and the contenders start tapping on the box to make the cups fall down. Whoever's cup falls down first, looses.

Another activity is making a Bubble Snake. This activity requires a lot of blowing and working the muscles. The better your child blows, the bigger the snake gets. To make it, take a plastic bottle and cut it from the bottom. Cover it with a wet sock fully dipped in soap water. Now fix the sock with a rubber band. Ask the child to start blowing from the other side (the open mouth of the bottle) and see the bubble-snake emerging bigger in size!

ScooNews is super impressed by Swati’s innovative skills. If this isn’t parenting-done-right, we don’t know what is! She signs off by saying that nothing seems complicated when you see the child is learning with the help of such play-activities. We agree when Swati says that these therapy-ideas go a long way even for children with no special needs at all. Tell us in the comments section how you like her ideas!

(All the images used here belong to Ms Swati Mittal)

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This Teacher’s Autistic Classroom For Neurotypical Students Goes Viral

“All of my students are neurotypical, but my classroom looks very much like a special education classroom.”

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Karen Blacher, a special-ed teacher from New York, wrote a Facebook post at the end of September. She talked about her classroom that she designed her for neurotypical students (those who are not defined in the autism spectrum) to resemble one that caters to special education.

When Karen wrote this post, she did not realise she was telling the world something not commonly known. Her post got a lot of appreciation for practising inclusion and was shared overnight by thousands of educators as well as parents.

Her post reads, “All of my students are neurotypical, but my classroom looks very much like a special education classroom. I teach mindfulness and emotional literacy. I provide fidgets and sensory toys. I have a calm corner and use it to teach self-regulation.”

Karen has two children of her own who have autism and she is familiar with neurodiversity. She told Good Morning America that her students remain successful because they learn "without the anxiety that tends to be provoked by traditional behaviour systems like clip charts and token economies, those don't work well for anyone."

According to Karen, once one learns to accommodate the autistics children, teaching any other child is not that difficult. “But I have never encountered a single human being, of any age or neurotype, who doesn't thrive when treated like an autistic person. (I mean, of course, treated the way an autistic person OUGHT to be treated. With open communication, adaptive expectations, and respect for self-advocacy and self-regulation),” she says.

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Karen also has a blog where she later wrote about her post going viral. She says she is being reached by many individuals and organisations asking about her teaching style. She tells them she adapts the classroom based on what her students tell her with their words and behaviour. She practices emotional literacy and mindfulness, sensory experiences, calm corner, self-directed progress, etc.

Her efforts are remarkable and brilliant as she goes beyond the words of her students to support them, something that can bring a revolution in the special-ed community.

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9 Things Not To Say To Your Students With A Mental Illness

Also, find what to say instead if they share their problems with you.

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Commemorating World Mental Health Day (10 October 2020), an international day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma, let’s tell you what NOT to say in a classroom (physical or virtual) while communicating with your students (of any age group).

As teachers, it becomes imperative for you to recognise the signs of mental illness amongst your students. The task definitely becomes tedious when it comes to identifying them during online classes, however, as a facilitator, you should at least know what to say and what not to say so your words don't trigger the child or harm their health even more.

“It’s all in your head.”

If a student opens up to you and says he’s afraid of the exams and is feeling anxious, don’t say – ‘it’s in your head.” It isn’t just technically wrong but also makes you ignorant towards the physical symptoms the child may be showing.

“Stop complaining.”

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Some kids may enjoy filling that school complain-box with vain comments but this is not the case when it comes to one's personal grumbling, grudging and self-loathing. The reason could be darker and more substantial than you think.

“Put your head down for half an hour.”

No, this is not a coping mechanism. Sleeping or distracting the mind doesn’t necessarily work in everyone's case. As an adult, we must know that we cannot just cut mental illness out of our system.

“Look at your classmates, they’re so happy.”

Never compare one child to another. You don’t know what their personal lives look like and what kind of parenting they’re nurtured under.

“Things could be worse.”

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Well, their problem may seem small to you but it has the power to trigger other kinds of deadly anxieties in kids who know nothing about mental health.  

“Keep quiet.”

This is one of the most common and dismissive comments made by teachers around the world. Letting them speak their heart out is the first step towards their advancement.

“What happened today? You’re always happy otherwise.”

Every day is a different day and statements like this can truly prove to be damaging and fill them with guilt. Tell them it's okay to not feel okay sometimes.

“Remember we read – This too shall pass?”

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Didn’t we also read – easier said than done?

“Are you insane? Mental?”

First thing first, using the word ‘mental’ is demeaning to the people with special needs. These aren’t cussing words. If you think speaking these words to the students in front of the entire class is going to make them brave and become responsible, you’re wrong. Also, not using these words will help remove the stigma we’ve around mental health issues.

So, what should you say instead?

  1. Thank you for sharing with me.
  2. Thank you for trusting me with your personal matter.
  3. You can come to me anytime to have a conversation.
  4. I will not share your concern with anyone without your consent.
  5. I’m listening, go on.
  6. Do you want me to discuss this with your parents?
  7. Do you want to take professional help?
  8. Remember that I love you. You’re a bright child.
  9. I’m proud of you for asking for help.
  10. You’re brave, no one should go through what you’re experiencing.
  11. You’re not alone.

Is this article helpful? Tell us how you're supporting your students, especially during the pandemic period, when almost everyone we know is undergoing some sort of mental dilemma. 

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Essential Handbook on Inclusive Education For Educators: Laws, Initiatives, Benefits & Challenges

To be able to develop a sincere learning environment for kids with special needs, we must first learn about the basics of inclusion in education and the laws that stand for it.

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For this month, we decided to research on the practice of Inclusion in a typical K12 setting in India. We wanted to understand what it is like to be a child with disability sitting amongst those who may/may not look like him/her/them. To get more clarity, we reached out to many educators, as well as child behaviourists, who’re using interesting tactics to teach the future generation about Inclusiveness so they can grow into kind and compassionate human beings who don’t judge people based on their physical abilities and emotional aptitudes.

However, before we start digging deep, the educators must understand what it means to live a life encompassing everyone around them. To be able to develop this sincere behaviour in our little ones, we must first learn the basics of the globally-accepted term Inclusion, along with what the national laws that stand for those with special needs.

What Is Inclusion in Education aka Inclusiveness aka Inclusive Education?

Inclusion in education is a kind practice of giving equal space to children who might differ from others in terms of Physical, Mental or Social capabilities. This very concept in the worldwide education ecosystem is considered the key to providing justice to the ones who fall into this category.

Now, the responsibility of making the methodology of imparting education to everyone without any discrepancy lies upon the policy-makers and educators. It ultimately becomes their duty to teach the new generation about comprehensiveness, which means no one feels left out in a classroom, family, social gathering or a workplace.

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To begin with, let’s learn how, by providing equal access to similar educational resources to every child, we can shine their and our future, together.

Benefits of Inclusive Education

A Sense of Belonging: When children from different social backgrounds, physical or mental capability grow up together in an educational space, they tend to develop a sense of belonging. By getting to observe people from different backgrounds and disabilities every day, they’ll learn to accept the realities from the very beginning which ultimately will enhance their acceptance as they grow up.

Confidence: The specially-abled children will feel that they belong to society as everyone else does. They will develop great confidence and will be able to walk the different fields of life with ease.

Better Academic Performance: It’s found that the differently-abled children perform better academically when they learn with other students in similar settings.

No Inferiority Complex: Children, for example, who are financially backward with respect to their peers feel the confidence to step out in the world with equal standing.

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Eradicating Casteism: Caste-differentiation is sadly a huge issue in our country. To remove its existence fully, it’s important we inform the new generation how shallow this social practice is. To teach them to assimilate with others belonging to lower castes and keep social exclusion at bay, it’s good we start from our schools where they spend most of their time.

Inclusion of Families: The benefits of inclusive education are not restricted only to the children but also their families, as they too feel isolated from the community.

Growth of Economy: It is evident that a large number of Indians are actually out of the education system due to the lack of financial inclusion. This large number of unused human resource that is engaged in primary economic activities can be used to push the economy to new heights through essential skill development.

We already know that agriculture, being the primary economic activity, had the burden of providing employment to the highest percentage of the population. With the inclusion of this lot in our education system, we can increase the percentage of a skilled workforce of our nation.

Laws Supporting Inclusive Education in India (Amendments & Acts)

Keeping these aspects in mind, every country has formulated laws that make Inclusive Education a significant part of the national conscious and government policy-making. Let us have a look at some of the important laws that keep the spirit of Inclusion alive in India.

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The Integrated Education of Disabled Children (IEDC) 1974

The act was put in action with the view to provide children with special needs with financial assistance for books, transportation, school uniforms, special equipment and aid.

The National Policy on Education, 1986 (NPE, 1986), and the Programme of Action (1992)

The policy stresses on integrating the special children in the same learning space with other groups.

The objective of the NPE is "to integrate the physically and mentally handicapped with the general community as equal partners, to prepare them for normal growth and to enable them to face life with courage and confidence."

Although this policy was created in 1986, it was not implemented until the Plan of Action was created in 1992. The 1992 Programme of Action (POA), created to implement the 1986 NPE, broadens the 1986 definition of who should be included in mainstream schooling, that “a child with a disability who can be educated in the general school should not be in the special school.”

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Persons with Disabilities Act (Equal Opportunities, Protection of rights and Full Participation) 1995

It states that students with disabilities have the right to access education in a “free and appropriate environment” until they are 18 years of age, “promoting integration into normal schools.”

National Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Act, 1999

The government of India collaborated with the UN and the World Bank to make People with Disabilities Act a reality. It was formulated and passed in order to provide economic rehabilitation for people with disabilities.

The Right to Education Bill

The right to education bill was passed by making the 86th amendments to the Constitution and inserting article 21-A. It provides free and compulsory education to all children in the age group of six to fourteen years.

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Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2016)

The act came as a replacement for the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995. The obligations of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are fulfilled by this act.

Apart from these laws, our Indian constitution also provides space for inclusion through a number of enshrined articles. The founding fathers of the nation understood how the exclusion of certain sections of our society from the mainstream has cost the nation dearly. Below are the two Articles of Constitution that were passed to give strength to inclusion.

  1. Article 29(2) of the Constitution provides that no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on the ground of religion, race, caste or language.
  2. Article 45 of the Constitution directs the State to provide free and compulsory education for all children (including the disabled) until they attain the age of 14 years. No child can be denied admission into any educational institution maintained by the State or receiving aid out of State funds on the ground of religion, race, caste or language.

Health Issue That Comes Under The Rights of Persons With Disabilities Act (2016)

Now that we know of the laws that consolidate major disabilities, let’s learn in details about the disabilities covered under the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act (2016).

Blindness: The complete inability to see anything including light is defined as Blindness.

Low-vision: A significant visual issue that can be corrected with glasses, contact lenses of through surgery is termed as low vision.

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Locomotor Disability: The disability that prohibits a person’s proper physical movement is classified as a locomotor disability.

Intellectual Disability: Formerly known as mental retardation, this disability is identified by a low level of cognition ability for performing the necessary activities in daily life.

Multiple Sclerosis: This disease affects the brain and the spinal cord causing disability.

Acid Attack: When a person suffers disfigurement due to an acid attack, then he/she is classified as a victim of acid attack.

Specific Learning Disabilities: Specific learning disabilities disrupts a student’s ability to read, write or perform mathematical calculations efficiently.

Speech and Language Disability: Speech and language disorder refers to the inability to communicate efficiently.

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Thalassemia: Thalassemia is a genetic blood disorder in which the body fails to make a normal and adequate amount of haemoglobin.

Leprosy-cured persons: A person cured of leprosy might face disabilities such as physical activity limitations, stigma and discrimination.

Dwarfism: Stunted growth in height because of the genetics of other medical condition is known as Dwarfism.

Hearing Impairment: It refers to the partial or total loss of hearing that can affect daily life functions.

Autism Spectrum Disorder: This disorder affects the way that a person may interact and communicate with others.

Cerebral Palsy: Cerebral palsy is the condition that restricts the proper movement and coordination of muscles.

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Muscular Dystrophy: The group of diseases that causes ever-increasing weakness and muscle loss are classified under Muscular Dystrophy.

Chronic Neurological Conditions: Chronic neurological conditions include a wide range of conditions that affect the nervous system.

Mental Illness: Mental illness refers to a group of issues that can adversely affect your mood, cognitive ability and behaviour.

Parkinson's Disease: Parkinson’s disease affects the nervous system gradually and causes the slowing of physical movement.

Haemophilia: Hemophilia reduces the ability of the blood to clot and causes severe bleeding even when the injury is small.

Sickle Cell Disease: It’s a group of haemoglobin-related disorders. Particularly, Hemoglobin S which can deform RBCs and turn them into a sickle-like shape.

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Deaf-Blindness: Deafblindness is a combination of hearing and visual impairment that reduces one’s communication ability significantly.

Government Initiatives

Even though the laws are established to give fair rights to children with special needs, the govt. initiatives should not restrict to simply lawmaking. Instead, active constructive programs should run parallelly so we can achieve our set goals of SDG proficiently. Let’s learn how some of the well-known govt. campaigns support inclusiveness inside the Indian classrooms.

Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was launched with a vision to achieve the goal of ‘Universalization of Elementary Education.’ The Initiative seeks to implement the zero-rejection policy and also to connect various other government schemes and program.

Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA)

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Its aim is to improve and expand the standards of secondary education in India. It also seeks to increase the enrollment rate in schools by establishing schools at a rational distance from every home.

Samagra Siksha Abhiyan

Samagra Siksha Abhiyan is an extension of the erstwhile Sarva Sikhsha Abhiyan that puts great emphasis on Inclusion. Various activities such as identification and assessment of special children, appliances, corrective surgery, therapeutic services, orientation programs, curriculum adaptation, etc. have been added to the program.

Challenges Faced by India

With such a large population to bring under the spectrum of education, India is bound to face issues in providing appropriate facilities. when it comes to serving the special children, the challenges get more complicated. Below, we have shared some major roadblocks that India faces in terms of Inclusive Education.

Lack of Institution/Courses Preparing Teachers for Special Education

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Imparting education to children with special needs is not an easy task and requires special training. The lack of such institutions in our country is a known fact which ultimately affects the quality of our teaching methods.

With such a large number of special children out there, we need to promote the establishments of more institutions that can produce the desired number of quality teachers.

Attitude Issues

The attitude of the stakeholders like teachers and school administration is also an important factor that determines the success of Inclusive Education. Inclusion may sound like a noble idea in principle but the practical attitude towards it has always been quite negative.

Teachers and school administration do have a preference for ‘normal’ children over specially-abled ones. The need of the hour is to promote sensitivity among the educators on the issue so that they aren’t afraid of taking up the responsibility and look at it with an open mind.

Faulty Curriculum

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To practice Inclusion, schools need to choose a curriculum that is appropriate for every child, special or not. The issue of schools not being able to adapt a curriculum that is comfortable for each student is rampant throughout India.

Constant up-gradation of the curriculum through research is necessary in order to cater to this special category. For example, new games can be introduced for them during the Sport/Physical Education class, the deadlines for the submission of assignments can be made flexible for kids with special needs, a fellow student can be assigned as their class-BFF, the administration can let them use a Scribe during examinations without going through a lot of paperwork, or better, they can be asked to appear for examination through viva rather than the written format.

Environment

Children with special needs often require an Inclusive environment to be able to flourish. They need love and care not only from their teachers but peers, too. Acceptance from their fellow classmates and teachers boosts the confidence in them and enable them to adjust well.

Seating arrangements can be made according to the needs of special children, limitation of wall art so that the students with ADHD can focus better.

Financial Issues

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The amount of financial resources required to implement nationwide Inclusive Education is hefty. Lack of appropriate funds is a roadblock that needs to be removed if a national Inclusion Policy is to be implemented.

The Way Forward

India, as a nation is still far behind when it comes to adhering to Inclusive practices in education and the reason behind this ethos is both historical segregation of sects and lack of finances. However, the successive governments have formulated different policies and introduced various effective initiatives so far to keep up with the changing social-economic dynamics and make Inclusion a strong pillar of our policy-making process.

For example, the recent draft of the National Education Policy has included the following objective:

“Achieve an inclusive and equitable education system so that all children have equal opportunity to learn and thrive, and so that participation and learning outcomes are equalized across all genders and social categories by 2030.”

  • A great emphasis has been laid on the Under-Represented Groups or URGs in the draft of NEP 2019.
  • A lack of access to schools, poverty, social biases, a non-inclusive curriculum has been recognized as some of the major issues that need to be addressed.
  • The draft of NEP also mentions certain constructive techniques that will be implemented to address the issues faced by the URGs.
  • Special Education Zones will be set up across the nation to provide the URGs comfortable access to education. The ratio of expenses and per-child expenditure will be shared between the centre and the state in the ratio of 2:1.
  • In order to embed sensitivity among teachers about such groups, the NEP draft also includes an overall training of pre-service teachers as well as in-service professional training.
  • The under-representation of teachers from the URGs is also a burning issue that the NEP draft seeks to address. The policy will seek to develop policies for the recruitment quality teachers from the URGs. It will reverse the previous method of ‘training followed by recruitment’ and put recruitment as the first step.
  • To make learning more comfortable, the draft will keep The Pupil-Teacher ratio at 25:1.
  • The school environment will also be kept positive through restricting exclusive practices, by cultivating sensitivity among students and keeping the curriculum in line with the objective.

Image courtesy- Sightsavers.org

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Special Needs

CBSE issues circular to ensure Inclusive education in affiliated schools

CBSE has made it mandatory for all its affiliated schools to appoint a special educator to promote inclusive education. A recent CBSE circular states that while the rule has been in place since 2015, the board had found that schools were not following it.

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CBSE has made it mandatory for all its affiliated schools to appoint a special educator to promote inclusive education. A recent CBSE circular states that while the rule has been in place since 2015, the board had found that schools were not following it.

"It has been observed that many schools affiliated with CBSE are not adhering to the provision concerning appointment of special educators. In this connection, your attention is invited to affiliation bylaws which provide to promote inclusion of students with disabilities/special needs in the normal school as per provisions of the Persons with Disabilities Act 1995 and in conformity with National Policy of Education," said the circular that has been put up on the board's website.

CBSE has asked the school management and heads to strictly follow the provision. It has also advised the school managements to strictly comply with the rule.

Recently, ICSE schools were also asked to take steps for inclusive education. 

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Special Needs

Learning Disability in Children? This Test will Solve your Queries!

Learning disability is something that any child can have, though it’s usually because of heredity but it can also happen naturally. However, its detection becomes an issue if the child can’t speak or write in English.

Earlier,

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Learning disability is something that any child can have, though it’s usually because of heredity but it can also happen naturally. However, its detection becomes an issue if the child can’t speak or write in English.

Earlier, due to the language barrier the tests didn’t yield proper and accurate results; detection of learning disability was quiet a task. Students from state board schools were unable to take test in English as they generally are not fluent with the language.

Pearson’s Clinical & Talent Assessment has now developed an outstanding tool for students who have learning disabilities. This tool can screen disabilities in children of 7-11 years of age in various regional languages like Hindi, Bengali, Malayalam and Gujarati. Mr. Dhaval Mody, a psychiatrist associated with Pearson explains, “The objective of this tool is to screen children at the school-level so that early remediation is possible.” He further added, “School teachers and counsellors, after being trained, can conduct these tests.”

Mody further elucidated that for now, only curriculum based tests (CBT) in some regional languages are available and these tests are mostly based on particular states boards; hence these tests can’t be used for all students.

To put in plain words, just a mere language barrier should not be able to keep various children with learning disability from proper training.

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There are languages that are difficult to work on, like Urdu, to which Dr. Samir Dalwai, Development Paediatrician with New Horizons Child Development Centre agrees. He says, “We are facing problems because of the unavailability of testing tools in regional languages, especially Urdu.” For this, he suggests that there should be one standard test for such languages suiting the needs of local population.

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Special Needs

Age 10, Profession Jaipur Police Commissioner! Sounds Cool!

A day well spent, the day well remembered

It was a dream come true when Girish Sharma, 10, was made Jaipur Police Commissioner for a day. It was all made possible by Make-A-Wish foundation, a non-profit organization that helps medically

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A day well spent, the day well remembered

It was a dream come true when Girish Sharma, 10, was made Jaipur Police Commissioner for a day. It was all made possible by Make-A-Wish foundation, a non-profit organization that helps medically challenged kids realize their dreams. The foundation made a special request to the authorities to make Girish be the Police Commissioner for a day. His dream was to become a CP one day, and it was heard.

When Girish entered the police station all dressed up like a Police Commissioner, he received ‘salute’ from the officers and when on to proudly be seated as the Commissioner. Not stopping just here, the child visited a local police station, enquiring about the functioning there, signing documents along with.

Make-A-Wish Foundation met this young boy when he was undergoing treatment for a serious kidney ailment in a hospital in Haryana. When asked, Girish was quick to express his wish to be a Police Commissioner saying that he wanted to catch thieves.

The collective efforts of Make-A-Wish foundation and the authorities of Jaipur police station left a charming smile on this little boy’s face.

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