Bengaluru has become a preferred city for parents of children with different needs, like those who have hearing impairment, autism cerebral palsy or developmental delay. This city has reputed diagnostic institutions in the government, non-government and private sector. C
Children with disabilities require a team of professionals for the accurate diagnosis and rehabilitation. In my area of specialisation, that is, speech and hearing disability a child will require an audiologist, speech-language pathologist, psychologist, child psychiatrist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist and special educator. This city has a good number of experts in each specialty.
For treatment of children with autism, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) is what has proved to be most successful. This city has the maximum number of centers offering ABA-based therapy in the country.
After therapy, a parent’s next requirement would be an inclusive school. Again, Bengaluru has a number of schools that take in and have facilities for children with special needs. Many have resource rooms staffed by special educator, speech pathologist and occupational therapists.
That said, there is still a need for more such schools. When it comes to employment, there are good centers for vocational training. There is an increasing awareness about employing people with disability.
This city hosted the India Inclusive Summit, which saw all stake holders meet and discuss how to increase employability of people with disability.
I couldn’t have chosen a better city to start my organizations. While the city better than the rest and has improved over the years, awareness of parents about special needs is still low in the country. Parents are well aware of the vaccination routine for their child, but, they are ignorant of speech and motor development milestones of their child.
A delay in milestones, if identified at an early age, can go a long way. Intervention can begin at an early age and the impact of the disability can be reduced. In some cases, the child can make up the lag and be integrated in mainstream schools.
In our country, a delay in a milestone is not taken seriously. Generally, elders reassure the parents that the delays are fine with “Some children are slow”, or “boys are slow”, etc. Unfortunately, due to this wait-and-watch attitude, there is no early identification of childhood development disorders.
There is also no organised effort by the government health departments to identify disabilities at the earliest.
Milestones to watch out for
■ Immediate birth cry of a newborn is the first. It indicates that the baby has started breathing and the brain has received the oxygen supply needed to function normally.
■ Motor activity: Neck control should be achieved by 4 months and a child should start walking independently within 15 months. If a child misses the crawling milestone it’s not significant.
■ Speech: Child must respond consistently to its name by 8 months. It should say the first meaningful word within 15 months of age (amma, appa, etc) and two-three word 3 word sentences by 2.5 years.
The author has over two decades of experience in the field. She is a Speech Language Pathologist, a US-board certified Behavior Analyst and is the founder of three organisations. (www.samvaadinstitute.org)