Children need hope, they need REWA
Children need hope, they need REWA

Great report from special educator Shika in Leh 

Report on the REWA Society, Leh (Ladakh) – May 2018

 

Introduction

REWA Society was introduced to me by a common friend who works actively in the area of disability in Bangalore, India. Having worked with children with special needs for about 8 years in an inclusive setup I wanted to work in an exclusive special school setup. I chose Leh for my volunteering as I feel that exposure and awareness of special needs would benefit this community. I wanted to have a better understanding of the community and how the culture would affect families with special needs children. Bringing in teaching strategies and methodologies from Bangalore to Leh was one of my main purposes in teaching at this centre. As special education is a relatively new area at this centre, bringing in information and skill teaching was crucial.

Objectives

  • To understand the working environment of Rewa Society, Leh
  • To comprehend the understanding of special needs within the community
  • To be able to connect and bond with the children at the centre
  • To teach simple and useful strategies to the teachers to use with children of various disabilities
  • To understand the benefits of using physiotherapy and special education together to contribute to the wholesome development of the child
  • To introduce a simple yet effective curriculum that can be easily accessed and used by all children
  • To introduce various documentations required for Special Education

Process

On my arrival to the centre my main objective was to observe. Observation of the system, physiotherapists, special educators, schedule and activities took place on the first two to three days. Upon observation, I realized that the centre was catering to children who could not afford or would not have access to special needs services otherwise. This was a great initiative by REWA which many organizations could learn from. Many children were accompanied and supported by their parents to school which has its advantages. Replication of the school activities and schedule at home is easily possible. Information and updates about the child can be immediately communicated with the physiotherapists and special needs teachers. Group activities were of great assistance for promoting appropriate social and behavioural skills. The staff and the management were able to work hand in hand and coordinate daily activities of children.

While observing and working with the children there were also some areas of improvement. Firstly there needed to be a specific timetable for the special education team. With the timetable there needed to be focus on both academic and functional skills. Making a balanced curriculum to include both daily life and educational skills was definitely challenging. I initiated a time table which could be used by the special education team. All the subject books are provided in the library and certain extra worksheets could be procured from the internet. It is as follows:

10:30-11:15- English- This is divided in Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing

11:15- 12:00- Math- This has basic life skills like reading numbers, using calculator, money, time, shapes and reading car/mobile numbers of family members

12:00- 12:30- Social/ Life Skills- This includes topics of conversation, eye contact, turn taking, greeting skills

Recommendations

  • Daily schedule with the accurate timings to be followed by the special education team
  • Recruitment of more special needs teachers as the demand of teaching these children is high
  • As writing was an issue with most of the children, pre writing skills activities to be done with them in the form of tracing, lacing, kneading dough, maze activities to strengthen the muscles of the hand
  • Pictorial representation and daily life objects to be used while teaching concepts
  • Frequent and timed breaks to be provided between activities to stimulate the brain and the body
  • Positive reinforcements in the form of stickers, verbal praise, goodies and negative reinforcements in the form of taking away favorite activities and things to be initiated
  • A formal meeting with the management, special educators and the parents to be held in the last week of May to better understand the needs and expectations of all the parties involved. This meeting to be documented in the form of MOM (Minutes of the Meeting)
  • An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to be made for each child for the duration of three months. This is to be shared with the parent at the end of three months
  • A Consolidated Report to be made to track the progress of the child at the end of three months
  • A MOM (Minutes of the meeting) to be made by the special educator for each meeting held with the parent
  • A sample of all the above documents to be shared with Mr Dorjay by the end of May 2018
  • A staff meeting of special educators and physiotherapists to be held once in a month to continue collaborative effort for the progress of the child

While having said the above, it was a great learning experience for me. To gain from different cultures, belief systems and learning environments always opens up my mind as a special educator. I hope REWA continues the beautiful but tough job of including children with special needs in the society.

 

 

SHIKHA SRIVASTAVA from Bangalore

 

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