BANGALORE: There was much joy and laughter in the air when students of the Asha Centre for Specially-Abled Children were taken to the flower show at Lalbagh. Their happiness knew no bounds and they expressed it in all possible ways by clapping and cooing.
The school initially started functioning inside Army School in 1993 and admitted children only from families belonging to the Defence. Mrs Meera Ravichander, the current principal later got the permission to admit specially-abled children from civilian families too.
The school is under the Kerala and Karnataka Sub-Area Headquarters and now deals with children with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism Spectrum. It has currently 46 students of which 14 belong to civilian families, between the age group of 3 years to 32 years.Among the facilities available are: Early Intervention Programme (EIP), where the children are taught feeling surfaces, holding objects and identifying body parts. It is here that the children with behavioral problems are taught to keep themselves in control. Muni Lakshmi who heads the EIP says: We have children from four to seven years and it takes a lot of patience to teach them something as simple as a ‘hi-five’.” Computer labs, sensory parks, session in physiotherapy and speech, yoga classes and vocational training are other features of the school.
According to Elizabeth Anil, the physiotherapist at the school says that at times they have to teach the children even how to smile. Most of the kids with Cerebral Palsy require intense physiotherapy and it is an amazing feeling when they show progress, no matter how long it takes,” says Elizabeth. She has been an essential part of the school for the last eight years and has made most of the children walk, smile and express countless things through her sheer
Dilip Ramalingam,a young techie teaching computer to these children was all smiles when he said: they love coming to the computer lab and sometimes these kids pick up faster than a normal child. At times some children take the responsibility of distributing books and even supervise each other. This shows that there are certain leadership qualities in them like any other child.” Interestingly, some have even learnt the basics of Photoshop.
Twenty-year-old Pradeep, who is spastic, loves computers and learnt Photoshop in three months and designed a ‘No Smoking’ poster. He also runs a stationary shop of his own.The older children have vocational training classes where they are taught to make candles and sometimes even cooking.
“The girls like coming to school, especially to the vocational training classes. I can proudly say we enable our kids to function independently depending on their ability,” says Meera Ravichander.