The RTE Act, after it was originally passed was later amended to include children with autism, cerebral palsy and multiple disabilities. “Inclusive education is a crucial component of the Right to Education Act, 2009, and the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) in Tamil Nadu works towards this for universalisation of elementary education,'' said Pooja Kulkarni, State project director, SSA. L.V. Jayashree, director, The Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu, said empirical evidence had shown that non-disabled children in inclusive schools were more socially and emotionally evolved. “The school and the management have to see the value of inclusion. There is room for improvement in the system but there are many positive stories too,” she said. A few schools in the city that have managed to uphold inclusive education for their students say that it is a combination of investing in the right resources and aiming towards a holistic environment on campus.
Following is a comprehensive list of schools in Chennai catering to children with special needs. These special schools provide services for kids/adults on autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other multiple disorders.
1) Vatsalyam Centre for Autism, L.H Nagar
Vatsalyam Centre for Autism, LH Nagar is a Day Care Centre (Non - Residential) special school for autism in Chennai. Founder Indra Ravi has over 15 years of experience working with autistic kids. Vatsalyam believes that early intervention helps significantly. For example, if a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) starts intervention at the age of 7 - 8 years, they will achieve 5th standard at the age of 14; if started at the age of 4, kids may be able to attend 5th standard at the age of 11. Average child attends 5th standard by 10 years of age. The main objective is to help kids by enhancing their language, social and communication skills. They enroll kids between 1.5-7 years of age. Their student-teacher ratio is 5:1.
2) Bright Learning Center, Mogappair West
Bright Learning Center, Mogappair West is an NGO for Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), developmental delays and is recognized by the Govt of Tamil Nadu. Mr. M. Palani the Founder, is very passionate about helping kids with autism. His passion can be gauged from the fact that he got all his daughters educated in the rehabilitation sciences and is running a charitable trust in the fond memory of his parents. BRIGHT is committed and works for special needs children with a motto of "Building a Brighter Tomorrow and Stepping Up in Life".
3) Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children (MNC), T Nagar
Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children (MNC), T Nagar was established in 1989. MNC provides early intervention services for children (6 years and below), with developmental delays and associated disabilities like Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Down’s syndrome (DS), Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The center has helped over 5200 children with disabilities in the past 24 years. Their Upanayan Early Intervention Programme is a systematic, structured programme for the management and training of children with developmental delays. In this programme, the mother as an educator of her child leads him/her along the path of development. In the process, she is advised and guided by experts and evolves as a carryover agent, co-educator, and a co-therapist for her child.
4) Pratikshaa Learning Centre, New Colony
Prathikshaa Learning Centre, New Colony was established in 2004 to help special need kids with developmental disabilities. They offer services like speech therapy, special education, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, vocational rehabilitation and other physiological services for children with developmental disabilities like ASD, ADHD, ADD, LD, CP, MR, Down syndrome etc. With the objective of adding meaning to life of special need kids, Prathikshaa's team works as a single unit and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of every individual; this helps kids achieve their maximum potential and conquer the problems of life and lead a successful life.
5) KRM Special School, Bharathi Road
KRM Special School, Perambur, moved as an independent school in the year 2013 from being a part of the KRM Group of Schools. The school has enrolled 52 Children. All the students are divided into 7 classes according to their chronological age and ability. Dyslexic, Autistic, ADHD children are trained by Special Educators. Success Story: KRM"s kid won 1st place in "District level yoga competition" organised by Thiruvallur District yoga development association, Good shepherd nursery & primary school and SSR sports academy.
6) Swabhimaan Special School, Palkalai Nagar
Swabhimaan, Palkalai Nagar is a special school in Chennai for Autism. It was principally started as a Indian medical research center, where yoga, siddha medicines, ayurvedic massages and naturopathy treatments are customized according to the needs of children with autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder where no two children are alike. It is a multifaceted disorder, where the various problems of the child cannot be addressed by a single professional. Therefore Swabhimaan expanded the center. Swabhimaan does not specialize in one particular aspect of the child. They look at the child holistically so that the kid can live an inclusive life in larger society. In addition to taking care of major problems, they also focus on a child's mood, his diet, his social interaction, his behavior and his communication. Swabhimaan ensures that parent understands all aspects of the child’s problems and helps in better output.
7) Medha Mind Enhancement, T Nagar
Medha Mind Enhancement - Brain Training For Autism, T Nagar was established by Mr. N. S. Srinivasan, who is a trained brain function analyst.
Medha Mind was started with a three-fold objective:
1) To be able to bring in technology-based tried-out process within the neurobiological framework.
2) To provide Brain Function Training (BFT) at a reasonable price for Therapy, Capability Enhancement and Peak Performance.
3) To set up a training program of global standards for BFT where individuals interested from across the globe would be trained in BFT and related areas.
As per Medha the process of Neurofeedback and Biofeedback has shown promising results in case of autistic children. The brain function training for autism is an intensive and comprehensive one, to improve speech, language and behavioral skills. The treatment program depends on the needs and strengths of the child and various therapies can be used together according to the requirement.
8) WISDOMMS Learning Centre For Special Children, Anna Nagar West
WISDOMMS Learning Centre for Special Children, Anna Nagar West was established in the year 2003 to cater to the therapeutic intervention and academic needs of the special children. The centre provides education for CWSN and enables them to be included as contributing members of mainstream society. Mr. R. Balamuruga, the President of the Vinayaga Habilitation Trust, has spent 19 years studying Neurodevelopmental Disorders and its Rehabilitation. It is is mainly run for children lacking age appropriate academic and non academic skills. The centre is being run by Dr. R. Balamuruga and his wife Dr. Umamaheshwari Balamuruga for the past 19 years. Currently the co-ed centre has 90 children between the ages of 0.6 to 14 years and 20 staff members. It’s uniqueness is in the development of a Horizontal model of rehabilitation, which is a convergent model, in linking with the mainstream sectors including Health, Education, SocialWelfare thereby including children with disabilities into the routine activities. Another unique feature is its successful attempt to include parents, family members and disabled children themselves as stakeholders in the organization. They work towards integrated development through a series of programmes. Over the years the syllabus has been updated to make it more challenging and aligned with mainstream schools. It helps children with disabilities to keep in pace with the rest of the society by providing quality education, vocational training, and help them achieve personal independence.
9) Jayam Special School, Kalaivanar Nagar
Jayam Learning Center, Kalaivanar Nagar provides special education using evidence based practice techniques under safe learning environment with qualified special educators and therapists dedicated to enhancing the health and wellness of children to bring them back into mainstream society. After observation, an individual education program (I.E.P) is drawn up with goals for the student in the following areas:
Colorful visual aids, teaching aids, manipulative and puzzles are used in instruction. The medium of instruction is English and Tamil. They provide services like special education, early intervention, yoga, cooking, art & craft, occupational, speech and music therapy, vocational training etc.
10) Maithree, Perambur
Maithree is an institution founded and run by parents of special children, who are committed to the welfare of individuals with special needs. Maithree has 18 educational and vocational centres in Chennai which includes Perambur, Tambaram West, Tambaram East, Kodambakkam, Nesapakkam, Moolakadai, Ullagaram and Medavakkam. The objective of Maithree is to provide an array of services to enrich the entire lifespan of the special child or person. The school has a committed and well structured special education program which aims at tapping the maximum potential of children. The program covers specific areas like functional academics and functional training, therapeutics (including physical and occupational therapy) and co-curricular activities. In addition to special education students are also exposed to specific programs offering vocational training for older children, socialization and extracurricular activities for all the children.
11) Swabodhini School, Thiruvanmiyur, Velachery
Swabodhini School was established in 1989 by Mrs.Radha Ganesan under the Swabodhini Charitable Trust and is located in the serene locality of Valmikinagar, Chennai. Its aim and goal is to empower and instill self-confidence in all special needs children. The school has empowered 60+ differently abled students since its inception. Swabodhini has recently started its new center within Guru Nanak College campus in Velachery. It provides high-quality education, structured training and therapy services. In partnership with parents and society, individuals are empowered to reach their potential for all-round development and enable them to lead an independent life with dignity in mainstream society. Apart from providing special education and training, they also provide speech therapy and occupational therapy services. In 2006, the Govt. of Tamil Nadu gave formal recognition to the school.
12) Gowrin Special School, Mandavellipakkam
Gowrin Special School, Mandavellipakkam was established in 2004 by the Gowrin Charitable Trust. The school has now grown to 35+ children with 10 staff members. Apart from providing special education and training, they also provide occupational therapy, vocational training, physiotherapy, yoga, and NIOS for subjects like English, Business Studies, Home Science, Data Entry and Practice, Painting and Economics. IEPs and developed for each student and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment materials and accessible settings are provided. The school provides services to the children impacted by autism, specific learning disabilities and other developmental delays.
13) Manasa Special School, Maduravoyal
Manasa Special School, Maduravoyal is a non-profitable voluntary organization that caters to the needs of mentally retarded individuals with limitations in their cognitive and physical disabilities in the group of 2 to 40 yrs. It was established in June 1998 at maduravoyal in a rented place with 2 children. Today it has grown to a family of 95 children. In May 2007, the School was shifted to its new premises with all the latest infrastructure. The school takes care of mentally challenged, Cerebral Palsy (Spastic), Autism and Multiple disabilities. It provides early intervention, standardized Special Education according to the student’s interest, ability and skill level, physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy, pre-vocational and vocational training, play and music therapy and residential facilities.
14) Deepam School for Special Children, Anna Nagar
Deepam School for Special Children, Anna Nagar is run by Mr.Arumugam and his wife, Mrs. Vijaya Arumugam under the Jayaguru Seva Trust. The couple started Jayaguru Seva Trust in the year 2002 and has been running the mission with the support of broad minded and generous philanthropists. In Deepam, each child is thoroughly tested and their level of neurological and physical development is evaluated. The established methods of testing & observation helps the school in designing an IEP and customised vocational program for each child. Vocational training to the intellectually impaired is given priority at Deepam. After the student attains 16 years of age, his/her vocational skills are determined according to interest, ability and aptitude.
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