Moving Ahead...

On the last day of the academic year 2021-2022 ending on 22nd April 2022, 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 about 160 children have been successfully enrolled in the mainstream schools / special Schools, over the past 16 years, since Moving Ahead was initiated and this year the celebration will be for three academic years that is 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22. Now, starting in 2007 we have celebrated moving ahead every academic yearend and this year it will be the 14th Moving ahead we are celebrating. During the years 2019-20, 2020-2021 we had missed the Moving Ahead due to the pandemic and children of those years have been included in this moving ahead celebration.

21 children will be moving into the mainstream schools / other special schools or to our Montessori section. Among them 8 will be moving to Mainstream Schools and 12 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.

Twenty one 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 Dr. Rajamurali, the Chief Guest of the day. Their teachers stood by the side of the screen signalling to the children to wish and greet the chief guest and to thank him 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 centre 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 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 there were two action songs – A Song on the monkey and a song on the elephant. This was followed by a dance by the parents.

Parents spoke about their experiences in reaching thus far. Mrs. Uma mother of a student Maithreyan said that she owes a lot to MNC. He son Maithreyan had no speech when she came to MNC and could not participate in any of the daily living activities at all. It was after coming to MNC that he could say a few words and not is capable of wearing his own dress, grooming himself and perform other daily living activities. She was very emotional when she said that the early days were difficult for her as she had no guidance as to how to take care of a special child. It was MNC that empowered her to do so. Prof. Ravichandran grandfather of Ashwath an old student from 2013 spoke how his grandson is now in Kendriya Vidyalaya, Ashok Nagar, and is securing about 80% in all subject. He said the intervention he got was for a very short period but the teachers had explained how to be a carryover agent at home and that is what he is following till date.

Dr. Rajamurali gave a very inspiring speech to the mothers. He said follow the five point formula and you can easily manage your life with a special child.

  • 1. Look after yourself, both your mind and body. The birth of a special child is not the end of life for the mother. She has a life of her own and needs to live it.
  • 2. Spare time for every relationship be it your wife/husband, siblings, second child, friends, relatives or whoever. Spend time with them, renew your relationship so that its remains strong always.
  • 3. Do not blame yourself for your child’s condition. It is not yet proved that genetic reasons cause autism or ADHD or many other disabilites. So throw out the guilt and get on with your life.
  • 4. Be a part of the network for special mothers. It helps to share your problems with people who have had similar problems and whose solutions may suit you too. Interact with them often and exchange notes so that the care and management of your children becomes easy.
  • 5. Do not hesitate to ask for help. Let your children, siblings, friends and relatives help you. You need all the help to bring up your special child and take it from whoever offers it.

The vote of thanks was proposed by Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Group Head, MNC. The function came to an end with the National anthem and light snacks being served to all.