Sad story: No camps for special children - The New Indian Express

Sad story: No camps for special children

Published: 16th March 2013 10:55 AM

Last Updated: 16th March 2013 01:13 PM

 While many children are excited about summer camps, for the special children in the city, there are hardly any camps that these children with unique needs can explore, said parents across the city.

“All these years I had been looking for a summer camp, where my son would fit in, but I could not find any,” said, Achuta mother of 15-year-old Ahan, who is autistic.

So is the case with Raj, another parent who also has an autistic child. He said, “For regular children, there are multiple options, right from sporting camps to performing arts. But for children with special needs, it is very difficult to find a suitable one in the city.”

Ranjitha Nair, mother of six-year-old Seneha, who is affected with Down syndrome said, “There are some regular schools, which are willing to accommodate special children, but when I went and saw the facilities they offer, I found that there is not much my child can benefit."

Most special schools, which work over the academic year, taking care of the special needs of these children are closed for summer. Raj said, “We cannot blame them. They work very hard over the whole year, and in summers they take a break.”

Though some of the special schools offer a summer camp for very short period, it might not be in the same neighbourhood and travelling becomes a problem, admit the parents.

All the parents agree on one thing. “It would be nice, if there are more options for these kids, as it is important to keep them mentally and physically engaged," they said.

Achuta said, “For the whole year, the school and we as parents work hard in developing the confidence and some improvement in their cognitive capacities. If we do not engage them in the summer, all the effort will be wasted.”

Finally, a ray of hope

After all that search, a few parents saw some light at the end of the day, when they found the Art Based Therapy summer camp offered by Gitanjali Sarangan.

Gitanjali offers a six-week summer camp starting from April 1st . She uses multiple art forms, which stimulates cognition, resulting in improving their motor, sensory abilities and ultimately their language skills. For example, she combines cooking and weaving in one session. Gitanjali said, “In a group session, participants can be in any age group. They are from 4 to 32, and their comprehension levels are also different. When we teach them to mix the dough or to roll chappatis, each of them  will learn something different according to their abilities. But the end result is that it would have improved their sensory capabilities, inter-personal skills and also their language ability."

Every session last for two-and-a-half hours and if children want to stay for the whole day, then they can, said Gitanjali. She added, “Mostly the groups are small, 5 to 6 members so that they get better attention and the group will also bond better.”

Achuta said, "After attending the classes last summer, my son's attention span has improved. He likes to socialise now. And for the first time ever, he continued schooling for the entire academic year."

Similar benefits were felt by other children. Raj said, "After attending the camp, it was identified that my son has an ability for drumming. Now we have started drum classes for him."

For Sneha, her musical ability was discovered and now she is taking music classes, said her mother.

Benefits for the special kids through art-based therapy

* Improves cognitive abilities

*  Helps in development of language skills

* Increases attention span

* Improves inter-personal skills

* Discovers their innate skills

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