Mainstreaming Children with Special Needs

The government is committed to providing education through mainstream schools for children with disabilities, in accordance with the provisions of the Persons With Disabilities Act, 1995 (one of the) main objectives of the Action Plan will be to ensure that no child is denied admission in mainstream education

~ Statement of Minister of Human Resource Development in the Rajya Sabha, 21/3/05.

Project Summary

The ultimate aim of every parent who has a special child is to integrate the child into mainstream society. In order that the children continue to benefit from the gains realised by them in the Early Intervention programme, birth to 6 years, and that they build up further from there on, the selection of children and preparing them for moving ahead is carried out over a period of time.

Sanmargam aims at preparing the children to move ahead, and beyond the birth to six years programme of intervention, towards school education in the mainstream and special school systems.

Facilitating children with developmental delays/mental retardation, and with associated disabilities to continue education in special and mainstream schools on completion of the Upanayan early intervention programme, age group, birth to six years at Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children, Chennai (MNC).

Complete Report

Process: Moving Ahead

Mainstream schools and special schools for formal education emphasise that the children for whom admission is sought are:

  • age appropriate at the required level in their achievements in academics
  • trained in socially acceptable behaviour and
  • interactive in their communication skills
  • trained in self management skills.

Children moving ahead to mainstream education are basically identified on the functional level each child displays in the performance of the skills in activities of daily living.

It is a coordinated training programme where:

  • the interdisciplinary team of experts are consulted in the processes of assessment and selecting goals and objectives,
  • the therapists facilitate, through their respective programmes in therapies, in the children acquiring the skills in which they are being trained and,
  • inputs through group activities, music, yoga and play are also provided for optimizing the child's individual strengths through Individualized Education Plans (IEP).
  • The children are guided and directed by the special educators who also transfer the skills to the parents, the 'carry over' agents who continue the training at home

The focus of the IEP is on the 'moving ahead' and hence aimed at training the child in the required age appropriate skills in activities of daily living, thereby building bridges wherever there were developmental delays, and helping child reach the goals set for further development.

The preparation to moving ahead to mainstream schools begins with the identification of nursery and primary schools which

  • are disabled friendly,
  • have an openness in including children with special needs and
  • respect the rights of the special child to education, health, leisure and work in a safe environment

There is continued interaction with mainstream teachers to orient them to the nature, causes, care and management of disabilities and enable them to plan and prepare their classroom situations accordingly. This is done with visits to institutions, inviting mainstream teachers to the activities at the centre, and briefing on the level of preparedness of the children.

MNC has:

  • extended its services by successfully placing identified eligible children in mainstream schools.
  • extended support in every possible way, closely monitoring for three years with the school and the parent and then a follow up with the parent as long as the child is in a mainstream school.

This enables the child to experience the qualities of a mainstream school.


The project began informally in 2003, when students of MNC moved on to various mainstream schools about mainly as parents desired it. One of our older students has since completed his 10th standard board examination from one of the supportive mainstream schools.

This experience highlighted the following issues in mainstreaming:

  • a more structured intervention and transition process is essential
  • students of Early Intervention programmes and their parents should be ready for mainstreaming
  • transition to mainstream schools requires better training for students and teachers of mainstream schools
  • Parents' awareness on mainstreaming and required support systems should be in place

Two Types of Mainstreaming

Children who have reached the optimal level of early intervention programmes at MNC are ready to transit to mainstream schools, which may be:

  • another special education school, or
  • a regular mainstream school with a formal education structure

The Project 'Sanmargam--Mainstreaming' was formally started in 2005 and MNC has placed 46 students in various schools in Chennai. Follow up studies have shown that

  • Formerly, mainstream education for special needs children reached a plateau at the primary school level
  • Children are gaining higher levels of formal education post-Early Intervention programmes in MNC thanks to the structured system of formal education

Mainstreaming under Sanmargam is an annual activity, according to the school term. This process involves:

  • Identifying students ready for mainstreaming
  • Identifying schools to admit them - schools should have an openness in including children with special needs, respect the rights of the special child to education, health and employment
  • providing additional inputs to help the child settle down academically
  • support to the school and the parent during the transition period


Mainstream schools in Chennai city that children from MNC have moved on to. The schools are chosen with care so that the child benefits and also has an opportunity to offer something back to society.


Special educators from MNC will monitor the project, with the objectives to:

  • Visits to schools to which children have been mainstreamed
  • focus on interaction with mainstream school principals and teachers
  • interaction with parents
  • identify gaps in mainstreaming
  • evolve suitable strategies to minimize drop out rate.

Children are assessed for progress in writing, mathematics and social skills. The child's academic performance will be closely monitored, including progress reports, marks sheets and examination papers.


MNC proposes to continue supporting more students to move to mainstream schools each year and develop strategies to minimize drop out rates.


  • MNC has introduced the Sanmargam project to leverage the advances made by children with special needs who attend the Centre's Early Intervention programme.
  • This is done by assessing the child's progress and readiness for mainstream schooling.
  • Suitable schools based on select parameters and the parents' convenience is chosen for mainstreaming.
  • MNC provides continued support to the child, parents and school staff to facilitate smooth transitioning to mainstream schools.
  • MNC proposes to continue to support more students to move to mainstream schools each year.
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