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Meet Chennai woman giving voice to underprivileged children with learning disabilities

When I took my first class, I knew this is what I wanted to do my entire life,” says Suganya Kandasamy, who runs a rehabilitation institute for children with learning disabilities in Triplicane.

Published: 03rd October 2021 06:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd October 2021 06:56 AM   |  A+A-

Suganya conducting special education classes for children with learning disabilities

Express News Service

CHENNAI: When I took my first class, I knew this is what I wanted to do my entire life,” says Suganya Kandasamy, who runs a rehabilitation institute for children with learning disabilities in Triplicane. These children, from underprivileged backgrounds, often don’t develop a positive cognition of the world due to social stigma coupled with an expensive education system. But Suganya has been helping them by conducting speech therapy classes, special education, and counselling for parents and teachers for free.

“I have always loved spending time with children. I used to work in the banking sector but was never content. Eight years ago, after my father’s demise, I decided to quit my job, and did a course on special education and sign language to dedicate my time for these kids,” Suganya says.

Daughter of a fisherman, Suganya is the breadwinner of the family and says whatever little money she earns through her classes helps support her mother and the institution. “There are about 50 students. I don’t charge the underprivileged kids, but for those who can afford it, I charge a nominal fee of Rs 200 per session. Usually, these classes cost Rs 800-1,200 per session. Nevertheless, I won’t increase the fees,” she adds.

Early detection of a delay in communication development is important but uncommon among the underprivileged since most of them are neither aware nor do they have the means. For children to develop communication skills, early language intervention is crucial. The earlier a child receives help, the better their language outcome will be, Suganya explains, emphasising the importance of speech therapy.

In the future, she plans to open a vocational training institute for these children so they can be self-sufficient. “Many parents are worried about the future of their children. These skills will help the children earn a livelihood.”

Apart from special education, Suganya also volunteers for several NGOs, and provides occupational therapy to improve sensory processing skills (understanding, registering, and responding to sensory information), fine motor skills (for writing), attention (by improving sitting tolerance), and social behaviour (interacting with peers).



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