The 3rd International Conference 2010 was a sequel to the first and the second conferences held in 2004 and 2007 respectively. The conference was preceded by a Two Day 7th National Workshop, a sequel to 6 workshops held earlier since 2004. The workshop and the conferences were conducted by experts of international repute from India and Overseas. The Pre Conference Workshops were spread over two days, Wednesday 24th and Thursday 25th November 2010, and the conference was itself conducted on 26th and 27th November 2010. The aim of the present Conference was to take on the theme of the importance of early intervention of the 1st and 2nd International Conferences, with the recommendation made at that point of time and deliberate on the recent trends in early intervention in the prevention care and management of children with mental retardation and associated disability. The conference emphasized on the rights of the child as envisaged in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disability and as formulated in the policy and programmes of the Government and thereby reaching the message to as many persons as possible. The following themes were planned for presentation by the experts at different sessions of the conference:
The 7th National workshop was conducted on the 24th and 25th November 2010 on Interventions for Optimizing the Potential for Development towards Inclusion. The topic of the workshop was "Interventions for Optimizing the potential for Development towards inclusion - an Exposition". Dr. George Baroff, Ph.D, a renowned Clinical Psychologist, Professor Emeritus (Retd.) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Director of the Program - the Developmental Disabilities Training Institute, delivered the introductory address on Engagement: Teaching and Learning in the Preschool Child. Dr. Baroff raised a question: ‘Why is Early Intervention important?’ During the early childhood years the brain experiences the most rapid growth, not only in the laying down of patterns of neurological organization that reflect what the brain is currently responding to, but also setting the stage for what it can respond to in the future.
Highlighting the functions of the brain, Dr. Baroff noted that the capacity for experiencing and learning about the world derives from the physical structure of the brain, which is at its peak period of growth and sensitivity in the early childhood years. The brain develops flourishes and ultimately wanes as a function of age, and the degree to which it has been stimulated. One source of stimulation is the Early Childhood Intervention program. The early intervention programs does not just maximize learning potential, they also serve the parents and family. Few parents are prepared psychologically for the birth of the child whose brain has been exposed to adverse developmental experiences which cause developmental disabilities. The parents and family need help to come to grips with the reality and to learn how their normal instincts of parenting can find full and joyous expression in the care and rearing of their children. The two-day workshop included many presentations and group activities, covering key areas of early intervention ranging from communication, social interactions, posture and movement, individualized education plans, facilitating children’s transition from early intervention schools to mainstream schools, behavior management and support systems in IEP. Support systems and therapeutic interventions based on traditional systems like Ayurveda, Pranic healing, yoga, music and dance were also examined in detail. Many of these systems have been used successfully in early intervention programs, and some of the presentations were accompanied by demonstrations from the students of MNC.
The Hon’ble Minister of State – Ministry for Social Justice and Empowerment represented The Government of India, and participated at the conference. Representatives of the Rehabilitation Council of India, the National Trust, and the National Institutes in the various disabilities, were also the present, and presided over the deliberations. They endorsed the need for creating awareness on the rights of the child with disability to education, health, recreation and rehabilitation.
Apart from the proceedings at the Conference the other events in the orbit included:
Every Conference leads to some learning, with interaction of people and experts. Awareness on Early Intervention and its importance is still inadequate among professionals, parents and service providers. Therefore, an annual workshop, to encourage knowledge sharing between people at grassroots level, to help update their skill and knowledge, to learn from experts, networking etc sets them thinking and maybe innovating. It also changes one’s outlook towards the cause. Even experts learn how theory is working out in practice, and how much is filtering down to the grassroots.
The world also has to know what India is doing in the area of EI. People where were involved in the development of UPANAYAN in 1989 came in 2004, and they could see how the programme is being implemented at MNC, and how it has spread from there. The progamme itself has evolved due to this reviewing of the implementation and dissemination of the programme.
1990-2000, Decade of the Brain, research and development was happening elsewhere, in the field of genetics, human development, etc. When MNC organized the First International Conference in 2004, it was clear that India has also been doing research in this field, in the area of the brain and development, genetics and other fields pertaining to disability. This is a progressive link from one conference to the next.
Experts and eminent persons from India in the various areas covered, rehabilitation professionals, public opinion makers, advocacy groups, parents/parents associations, funding agencies and the public participated in the conference. They numbered about 86.
Held on - 24th - 27th November, 2010
At : Hotel Savera, 146 Dr. Radhakrishnan Salai, Mylapore, Chennai-4