Rs. 36 lakh for building; Rs. 11 lakh to be spent on equipment and manpower

Underprivileged children with disabilities can benefit from free early intervention, crucial to the development of special children, with the first Regional Resource Training Centre in Tamil Nadu outside Chennai slated to come up in Tiruchi.

The Regional Resource Centre, an initiative under the District Differently Abled Welfare (DDAW) office, will cater to persons with various developmental disabilities and disorders from poor families, through partnerships with organisations and special schools active in the field.

The centre had been allocated Rs. 36 lakh for the construction and additional Rs. 11 lakh for material, equipment, and staff salaries, according to official sources.

Day care

The centre accords priority to mentally ill persons with an exclusive day care centre listed among the four programmes to be implemented in the resource centre.

The day care centre entrusted to ATHMA Mind Centre will provide medical care, therapy, and occupational therapy to keep them gainfully employed, said Ramakrishnan, director, ATHMA.

The day care centre, which functions in another location, offers a stipend as an incentive to persons with mental illness.

A full-time counsellor will be available during the working hours of the resource centre to counsel persons with mental, emotional, and psychiatric problems.

While early intervention for autism has been entrusted to the Dolphin Special School, early intervention for multiple disabilities will be attended to by the Blossom Special School.

Both the government-funded programmes are functioning from the respective schools till the resource centre is ready.

The programme intends to reach children aged between two and six with autism or multiple disabilities such as impairment in vision, speech, movement. and mental faculties.

Early diagnosis and intervention can bring about a significant difference in behaviour of the children and help speed up mainstreaming them into regular schools, says Praveena, director, Dolphin Special School.

The selected organisations will work on speech therapy, better social skills, improving self-reliance, and improved cognition.

Children enrolled in these programmes have been identified from balwadis, referred from government hospitals, and the district differently abled welfare office. After intervention, these children might be roped in by special schools, said an officer.

While the present quota allows 10 students in the early intervention programme, more children could be enrolled over the years. At present, two special educators and a caretaker have been appointed.

The services of a physiotherapist and more teachers might be felt soon as the programme expands, as special children require individual attention, says a teacher.

The welfare office had not been lucky in acquiring land for the new centre.

As a last resort, the centre might come up as an additional floor or extension to the existing DDAW office on the court premises.

The proposal was awaiting clearance by the Public Works Department.