Monday, February 7, 2011

ashianaa: A ray of hope: An institute for special children

Here is a group of six committed altruists — Siraj Asgerali, Late M.S.A. Khuraishi, S. Loknath, C.M. Subramanian, Sridhar Kumar Bhagvat and D. Vishwanath — who joined hands together in June 2009 and started aashianaa, a charitable trust, registered under the Karnataka Trust Act, exclusively meant for the welfare of specially-abled children including autistic ones, by providing them with appropriate training and day- care facilities to help them lead a life of self reliance and respect.

Being unfortunate victims of circumstances these children are denied admissions in regular schools and if such births happen in poor families, attending to them daily becomes a daunting task for the parents.

After conducting a meticulous survey and research, the members identified areas within Mysore City where such reported cases of children born with disability were more in number. One main reason for this was their poor economic conditions because of which it was not possible to provide proper medical care during prenatal stages or avoid infections during pregnancy. Though in some cases hereditary too plays a major role in retarding a child’s mental development, other avoidable human errors like RH incompati-bility, consuming drugs during pregnancy too contributed towards birth of such children.

Whatever may be the cause, performing simple daily tasks like eating, brushing teeth, cleaning oneself after toilet, responding to basic needs or even learning to walk properly becomes extremely difficult for these children. But the important thing to be noted is that they can be trained to become self reliant, provided they are showered with love and constant care. Only an institution employing trained faculties and dedicated staff can provide the much needed tolerance, patience and empathy required to deal with such special children.

It was thus resolved that a comprehensive institute be started where such facilities can be offered to help the burdened parents cope with their disabled children. The result was the formation of the welfare trust aashianaa, to take care of children disabled by birth for various reasons and who under perform due to mental retardation

The institute imparts training to these children essential skills that are needed to grow and survive in the real world. Tasks are specially designed that provides stimulus for the mental growth of the child. Children will also be taught to become independent, creating a sense of accomplishment that will develop self-respect in them.

Simultaneously, the institute also offers counselling to the child's parents, their family members and friends offering them tips and advice as how to deal with these special children at home highlighting the importance of love, understanding and support, especially maintaining close family ties, which these children need most.

As there is no permanent cure, the only effective treatment is a structured training program. A combination of good schooling and parental training are the best known treatments where disabled children can make significant progress, provided the intervention is timely and consistent. Early intervention, before the child turns five, is very crucial to the child’s progress. Hence early and accurate diagnosis assumes importance.

The institute which started functioning a year ago had 9 inmates and has recently added three more bringing their total strength to 12. Even children suffering from autism are admitted here and 4 of them are autistic. Before the children are admitted they are sent to All India Institute of Speech and Hearing popularly known as AIISH for a through testing and evaluation to determine the nature and degree of disability the child is suffering from.

The opinion of the experts will help in identifying and designing the particular kind of treatment and care that should be provided to the child which can speed up his recovery. Another premium Institution of the City, JSS Institute of Speech & Hearing has joined hands along with AIISH in extending its services and guide the Institution. Based on the expert’s report received from these premier hospitals, a treatment plan for the child to be admitted is chalked out. This personalised attention is a unique aspect of aashianaa.

Another unique feature of aashianaa is involving the parents of the child in the training and rehabilitation programme it conducts. One of the parents should be compulsorily present with the child and attend the programme held daily between 9 am and 1pm. The purpose behind this is to make the parents aware of the kind of training their child is receiving so that they continue practicing it after they go back home. This sustained learning both at the Institute and back at home will quicken the learning abilities of the child than when the training is provided only at the Institute.

The purpose of the training is to make the child self reliant, capable of doing all the daily chores on his own. Apart from the special physical exercises, the child is also trained on how to eat food on his own, comb hair, attend toilet and perform other daily routines. There are even memory training exerci- ses. A half hour relaxation is provided between exercises.

The children are also taught with various skills like identification of colours, writing alphabets, group activities and games, simple yoga exercises among others. All services at the institute are provided free of cost.

As these children grow learning to cope with their disability, there is also a particular need to provide them opportunities for social interactions with the outside world.

They are taken out on excursions to places like zoo, parks and child festivals. They are encouraged to participate in the competitions where some of these children have even won prizes in fancy dress competitions, Sports meet and other competitions held by the Department of Women and Child welfare.

As the number of children are few all these training is presently provided by Fazilat taking the help of parents attending the children. Fazilat’s 12-year-old daughter is an unfortunate victim and is also an inmate here.

Presently the Institute is housed in a rented premises and in future plans to have its own premises to facilitate the children through provide the other infrastructure activities. In the long run the trust has plans to set up a permanent school for these children where all the necessary environment for these children to grow and learn are provided. This not only helps in educating the child but will also helps in developing social skills that will give them an opportunity to spend time and become friends with other challenged children. If parents shun these special learning facilities, studies have shown that this can lead to greater problems for the child to cope with life as it grows up, in addition to other social difficulties.

Call for Adoption

One can adopt a child by donating Rs.2000 per month to bear the costs of expenditure incurred for the child. The members of the trust hope that individuals, philanthropists and business houses take a step forward in this direction as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and help them establish a state-of-art facility that can make many face smile. [All donations to the institution are exempted as per section 80g of the income tax.]

aashianaa can be contacted at its Office at No 459, 6th Main, 1st Stage, Vijayanagar Mysore -17 or or its institute at No. 22, KEB Co-lony, 5th Cross Mahadevapura Road Udayagiri, Mysore - 19.

[Ph : 2513888 or 94482-71109].

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