VISIT TO THE ADARSH CHARITABLE TRUST, KUREEKAD, ERNAKULAM
17-12-2005 : Ernakulam
Brain to remove the pain
I am delighted to visit ?Adarsh Charitable Trust? which is based on the intense need of the parents of the children with autism and cerebral palsy. A mother's love for such a child right from conception, pregnancy to birth and growth has transformed into a big mission of making the child to live a near-normal life. This family mission has transformed into a societal action, by Adarsh Charitable Trust. I extend my greetings to the children, parents, Principal, teachers, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, physiotherapist and special educators. I am happy that 25 special children trained in this institution are now going to normal school and the trust is helping in the creation of eight more schools in different parts of Kerala. I would suggest that the school with eighty special children may consider initiating research in the field of autism cerebral palsy which has so far remained a puzzle. The experience of the children, who have recovered to near normal stage, may be brought out as a book that will give hope for other parents and organizations to follow. The integrated rehabilitation of these children involves a multi-sectoral approach and creation of a condition in which they can fully realize their potential and live their lives as independently and usefully as possible. I would like to share my experience with a young boy suffering from Cerebral Palsy, whom I met in Chennai on 2nd December 2005.
My experience with a special young man
I met Shri Siddharth Jayakumar at Chennai, who was born in Chikmagalur in Karnataka in the year 1980. He gave me a presentation using a laptop. His Father?s name is Shri Jayakumar and his Mother?s name is Komala. When he was born the doctors did not know what he was suffering from. Later on, they said he is mentally retarded. After detailed examination, it was found that he was suffering from Cerebral Palsy. As a result of this disease he has difficulty in co-ordination between his mind and body. He studied in Vidyasagar at Chennai. Though he studied very well, he has to dictate the answers to another student while writing the examination. In spite of this process in the 10th class examination he had scored 80%. He says he could not score more just because he was not allowed to do the practical and could not draw the diagrams. In the plus two examinations, he had secured an overall 90% and scored 100% in computer science. It is pertinent to note that he is the only boy to score 100% in this subject. Later he studied B.Com and scored 75%. He wanted to study Master in Social Work whereas he was given M.A. Economics in the Loyola College. He has scored 78% in his final examination. Shri Siddharth after completing his M.A., worked as a teacher in Vidyasagar itself. Later he attended Disability Job Fair organized by Ability Foundation, an NGO working for the welfare of the disabled. In the job fair he was selected by ABN Amro looking at his academic track record. ABN Amro has designated him as an Officer for verifying the export and import documents of the clients. To enable him to perform this job ABN Amro has trained him to learn the banking and import and export procedures of countries like Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Australia. He is the first student to be employed with Cerebral Palsy outside Vidyasagar school. He loves Mathematics. He has a mission of carrying out social work particularly for uplifting the life of special people with multiple disabilities. What a beautiful thought. The experience of Shri Siddharth clearly brings out the special strengths available with certain people with some disabilities. The two important thoughts emanate from Siddarth?s life.
a. The will power of Siddarth that ?I will win, I will win? can be propagated among all the children.
b. The initiative of ABN AMRO to take a special person like Siddarth for regular work in the bank shows how it values the inherent strength and knowledge of the person irrespective of the difficulties. This type of outgoing effort of an organization can be followed by many institutions.
In this connection, I appreciate the action taken by Sakthi Masala, Erode (Tamil Nadu), who are employing special persons for many of their production activities. Thirty-two per cent of its employees are special people including mentally challenged people. Our social system and the educational institutions must recognize the strengths of the individual and provide the opportunity for these flowers to blossom. I am sure the children trained in Adarsh Charitable Trust will also be able to take up independent job as has been demonstrated by Shri Siddharth Jayakumar. Now I would like to talk about rehabilitation of children affected by autism.
Autism and Reason for Hope
Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. The treatment has to be multifaceted including physiological, psychological and neurological integrated care.
Today, a child who receives effective therapy and education has every hope of using his or her unique capacity to learn. Even some who are seriously mentally retarded can often master many self-help skills like cooking, dressing, doing laundry and handling money. For such children, greater independence and self-care may be the primary training goals. Other youngsters may go on to learn basic academic skills, like reading, writing and simple math. Many complete high school and some may even earn college degrees. Like anyone else, their personal interests provide strong incentives to learn.
Clearly, an important factor in developing a child's long-term potential for independence and success is early intervention. The sooner a child begins to receive help, the more opportunity for learning. Furthermore, because a young child's brain is still forming, scientists believe that early intervention gives children the better chance of developing their full potential. Even so, no matter when the child is diagnosed, it is never too late to begin treatment.
Professionals have found that many children with autism learn best in an environment that builds on their skills and interests while accommodating their special needs. Programmes employing a developmental approach provide consistency and structure along with appropriate levels of stimulation. For example, predictable schedules of activities each day help children with autism plan and organize their experiences. Using a certain area of the classroom for each activity help students know what they are expected to do. For those with sensory problems, activities that sensitize or desensitize the child to certain kinds of stimulation may be especially helpful.
What Hope does Research offer?
When I was associated with Anna University in Chennai some time back, apart from my teaching activities on various societal transformation missions, I was guiding a doctoral research project. The research was aimed to find integrated solution using software, hardware application to achieve a near normal functioning of the brain of mentally challenged children. When I saw some of the mentally challenged children performing certain activities like singing, painting in Central Institute of Mental Retardation, Thiruvananthapuram, I got convinced that one day convergence of information and communication technology, medical electronics, bio-technology and mathematical simulation can find a solution for their problem. We have been studying the mentally challenged children in various research institutions, homes for mentally retarded and hospitals. We are confident that it will be possible to transform the functions of the damaged portion of the brain say left hemisphere to the normal portion right hemisphere of the brain by some triggering mechanism, or by implanting a bio-chip to carry-out those functions. This is a complex problem which needs an integrated approach involving medical scientists and technologists for a targeted permanent solution which can help children afflicted with this mental disability. One of the research area proposed is the use of stem cells is to increase the quality and quantity of the neurons in the brain system.
Any disorder in human faculty reduces the self esteem of the individual and increases the dependence on others. Our efforts must be to bring about a sense of equality amongst them through a conducive environment. Equality can be generated by training them to acquire certain skills and engage their minds in productive efforts to enable them to lead a normal life. In this endeavour, the efforts of Adarsh Charitable Trust is commendable in which the love and compassion of a mother has led to a societal mission, which has now grown into a professional venture. With this professional approach, I am confident that Adarsh Charitable Trust will bring smiles to the children and their parents and light the lamp of happiness in their lives. My greetings and best wishes to all the members of Adarsh Charitable Trust.
May God bless you.