There are many special schools in Mumbai. However, there are very few for autistic individuals. Autism is different from other neurological disorders. It is a neuro-development disorder with symptoms characterized by abnormalities in social interaction and communication. Different disabilities require different solutions. Autism requires a customized program based on the stage at which a child is on the spectrum. Like other disabilities, every child has a skill, or a strength that needs to be identified, and harnessed. The School of Autism hone these special skills and puts the same to work to help the students not just remain occupied, but in the long run, become independent.
Each autistic kid has a unique mind, symptoms, skills, personal experience and background. Autism affects every child differently and the symptoms vary greatly from person to person depending on the severity of the disorder. There can’t be a uniform program for all children. Each child has to be assessed to design an individualized treatment based on his skills and abilities.
- Individual programs are designed to meet the specific needs of the child.
- Every child is trained in three areas: cognitive, social and motor skills. The school maintains a student-teacher ratio of 1:1 for personal attention and better results.
- The School endeavors to provide a suitable, and barrier-free environment along with fulfilling the recreational needs of the child.
- Regular feedback reports tracking the progress of the child.
- The School regularly tracks the progress of each student, and make the required changes to his/her program. Thereafter, the teaching and therapy strategies are assigned to the individual program.
An Individualised Education Program (IEP) is a written record of the educational program designed to meet a child’s specific needs. Every child who receives special education services must have an IEP according to his/her individual needs, abilities, and style of learning. The aim of the IEP is to: (a) establish measurable annual goals for the child; (b) state the special education and related services, and supplementary aids and services that the public agency will provide on behalf of the child.
While designing an educational program for the child with a disability, the IEP team considers the child’s involvement and participation in various areas, which are mentioned below:
- Gross motor skills
- Communication/language skills
- Concept development/cognition
- Sensory awareness
- Pre-vocational skills
- Vocational skills
- Fine motor skills
The IEP gives importance to the immediate needs of the child. For instance, teachers work on issues related to gross motor skills, fine motor skills, sensory skills, and communication skills before they move on to academics. Teachers do what is best for the child’s development after having consultations with his family, therapists, etc.
Autistic children have trouble interacting and communicating with other children, so their interests, activities, and play skills are usually limited.
Occupational therapists combine a variety of strategies to improve an autistic child’s quality of life and make him/her as independent as possible. After evaluating the child, the therapist designs an individualized program to help the child achieve his age-appropriate milestones.
Prevocational and Vocational Training
- As children make the transition from childhood towards adolescence, they begin to understand their role in society and start developing self-esteem. In order to help them gain respect in society and gain independence, teachers start imparting “pre-vocational skills”. Some of these skills are:
- Art & craft
- Kitchen and cooking skills
- Computer skills
- Activities of Daily Living or ADL skills
SENSORY INTEGRATION THERAPY
Children with multiple disabilities usually have a lot of sensory issues, which hinder their learning process. Some children could be tactile defensive, which means they do not like the touch of certain textures, which in turn could hamper their concept development. For instance, if a child does not like to touch hard objects, he will not understand whether a coconut is hard or soft. This therapy helps in developing their sensory skills as well as in developing their concepts.
Physiotherapy is essentially required for special children to work on their motor development. Sometimes it is extremely difficult for special children to perform daily routine activities. Our caregivers work with these children during their physiotherapy sessions. They also guide parents on how to work with their children to develop motor skills required to perform some basic educational and daily activities.
Music & Dance Therapy
The curative power of sound has been used for several centuries. Drumbeats were used by ancient tribes to evoke high energy during festivities and to dispel fear during the times of war. Indian classical music has specific ragas for the seasons and the time of the day. Music is intrinsically structured and patterned like the sounds of nature. Even our body works on rhythms — the way we breathe or the heartbeats all have a pattern. Probably that’s the reason we all are wired to find peace in music
Music therapy is an effective way of reaching out to autistic children. Combining singing, music, dancing, and clapping can help create a comforting atmosphere that helps such an autistic child coordinate his hearing, sight, and touch. The therapy helps in increasing attention and focus, reducing hyperactivity, and strengthening social skills.
Every week there is a dog therapy session. So far the therapy has shown encouraging results in autistic children. The therapy helps children settle in, get engaged and be more open to communicating.
All our special educators are well-qualified and hold a degree in ‘Learning Disability’, or ‘Mental Retardation’ from renowned institutions of Mumbai University, or SNDT’s Department of Special Education. They all have the Rehabilitation Council of India’s license to work with children with disabilities.
The school considers the following criteria in selecting teachers and staff:
- Functional qualification and competence
- Desire to make a positive change, and impact on the students
- Sense of ownership
Students seeking admission are expected to submit their Birth Certificate, Aadhar Card, Disability Certificate along with Proof of Residence , and medical as well as assessment reports.
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