It was an invisible cord that pulled Rashmi towards children with special needs. This MBA graduate left her management career to train as a special educator. Last year, she formally started Humming Birds, a centre which helps children with learning disabilities, along with a few therapists, psychologists and teachers.

Started from a small room in Rashmi’s house, the centre has now moved to a rented accommodation in Valasaravakkam. “Sometimes what you study and what you end up doing have no correlation. The same happened to me. I took this up because it was my true calling,” says Rashmi, whose five-year old daughter also tags along for the sessions and has started enacting her mother’s role as a teacher.

The first step was to associate with parents and teachers dealing with children with learning troubles.

“We have children who have both primary and secondary disabilities. Primary is when the problem is medical and starts at birth. Secondary has more to do with the behavioural aspect. When parents don’t have time for their children, they start having behavioural problems and it reflects in their studies. But it is easy to help such children,” she adds.

When I ask her why she named her institute Humming Birds, Rashmi says, “They are the smallest birds with the brightest ability. Likewise these special children have a special ability of their own.”

Apart from providing supplementary learning, the centre also has a rehabilitation programme where children with higher levels of disability can get vocational training in activities such as jewellery- and envelope-making.

They are also taught the concept of earning a living, banking techniques, time concepts, and other survival techniques.

Hobby classes are conducted on weekends. “Some autistic children have the habit of banging the table, we encourage such children to play the drums. It is important to identify the talents of children and hone it. Some are obsessive about cleanliness, such children can create the most beautiful flower arrangement and jewellery,” says Rashmi.

The centre is also affiliated to the All India Early Childhood Care and Education, where they provide teacher training.

It is a six months course, at the end of which the participants are placed in schools to gets hands-on experience in teaching.

“These teachers are better-equipped to understand children as they are trained in child psychology and growth. They can easily identify children with learning difficulties.”

Classes are conducted on weekdays from 4 to 6 p.m. and on weekends as well. They cater mainly to children in the age group of 5 to 15 years. The centre is organising a workshop of teachers and parents on June 22.

For details, call 9340018700.

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