Our team consists of special educators, therapists, a counselor, a receptionist and helpers. We also have several highly trained volunteers including an occupational therapist trained in the United States and with over 25 years experience in India and Pakistan. One of our special educators is experienced in teaching children with hearing impairment and is fluent in sign language.
The EIC is for very young children with developmental delay. The earlier we start working with children, the better they do. The Mama EIC works with children from birth to the age of five.
Children come to the Centre through referrals by local doctors, schools and other parents, as well as through our own assessment and diagnostic centre at the government run Doon Hospital. Many parents concerned about their child’s development also come in on their own.
On the first visit to the centre, we register the child and take basic information concerning her and her family. We then refer the child to Gubbara for an intensive one-week developmental assessment.
After assessment, children return to the Mama EIC as space allows. We design an individual therapy program which sets goals for the coming months, details strategies to be used to achieve them and, where necessary, includes advice regarding aids and appliances.
Children attend the centre at agreed times on specified days of the week, the number of sessions each week depending on individual needs and circumstances. The children’s parents or guardians come along for each session, too, and work closely with the therapists and special educators who train them in carrying out the same program at home.
The one exception is the Toddlers Playgroup, which children attend on their own. While much work is on a one-to-one basis, where there are several children whose needs are similar, therapy may be conducted in small groups: group work such as this not only makes the best use of limited staff but also provides an ideal forum for the development of social skills and encourages interaction between parents.
Children with disabilities requiring only physiotherapy meet the physiotherapist at each visit. S/he demonstrates specific exercises that need to be performed and teaches the parents how to do these at home as part of their daily routine.
Children with speech and language delay with or without an obvious hearing impairment have ongoing detailed language assessment, including hearing tests if necessary. We assist families to get hearing aids for children who require them and counsel them regarding its use. Our specialists work closely with all children with speech and language problems. Their program may include development of an alternative/augmentative communication system such as a communication board or use of a formal signing system.
For children with visual impairment, we work with our colleagues at the National Institute for the Visually Handicapped and Sharp Memorial School, a local school for the visually handicapped, to develop an appropriate program.
Many children have problems which benefit from a multi-disciplinary approach. A child with cerebral palsy may require physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, the development of an alternative communication system, sensory stimulation and a behaviour management program. For such children we offer a program incorporating all these elements. Children who require more intensive therapy, as well as children in mainstream schools, are offered individual sessions with the speech- and physiotherapists in the afternoons. A fee is charged on a means-based assessment.
Behaviour Management is an integral part of the centre’s functioning. Many children with mental handicap have behaviour problems which make their lives both at home and in school difficult. The EIC provides a consistent, non-threatening approach to problem behaviour which all staff members are trained in and which parents are also encouraged to employ at home. Violence of any kind – including verbal – is expressly forbidden as part of the centre’s philosophy.
Counseling for parents is an important part of our service. Our clinical psychologist offers regular sessions – both group and individual – for parents who need a sympathetic, understanding ear and a quiet, non-judgmental space to find their own solutions.
The majority of children attending the centre need help over an extended period and most still have special needs at five years of age. These children “graduate” to Karuna Vihar or other schools, able to meet their continuing needs. A growing number of children have been admitted to mainstream schools and have been supported there by on-going interaction with the outreach team of the Latika Roy Foundation.
A minority of children need to attend the Centre for only a short period of time. These are mostly children with physical problems fully correctable by early physiotherapy (for example club foot, Erb’s palsy) and children initially showing slow development who subsequently demonstrate entirely normal development in all fields (“slow starters”).
We keep written records for every child which are confidential and can only be accessed by our staff. In addition, parents are given a file summarizing their child’s strengths, problems, needs and therapy plan.
We charge fees for assessment and attendance at the centre on a sliding scale, based on family income. The maximum amount charged is 10% of the father’s monthly income. (For example if the monthly income is Rs 3,000 then the fee would be maximum Rs 300)
No family will ever be turned away because they cannot afford to pay.