Small efforts and a lot of care can shape the lives of special children. Ekadaksha trains them to face the world.
With an extended hand and a cheerful smile he is eager to make friends with me. I can’t but return the gesture. Again he puts out his hand and I give mine too. Few seconds later, he repeats it for the third time. From behind I hear a voice saying, “Enough Tarak. Don’t trouble aunty.” The lady turns to me and says, “He is one of the very friendly kinds.” I can’t hold back a smile.
Tarak and 24 of his peers come to Ekadaksha Learning Centre every day to prove to themselves and the world that they too have the ability to accomplish little things in life. Started by four passionate ladies who met while studying a course on special education, the centre provides a comfortable learning environment for children with learning difficulties, autism, attention deficit disorder, behavioural and developmental issues. There is neither a name board announcing its existence, nor is the exterior anything school-like. An old house has been modified to create classrooms, which are minimally furnished. And the educators are not teachers but ‘aunties’ to these kids.
“We have divided the children into two groups, an early intervention group called ‘explore’ has children in the age group of four to eight years. The second group called ‘experience’ has children in the age group of nine to 14 years. They get pre-vocational and life skills training. We believe in imparting functional and remedial education to these special need children, including money concepts and communication development,” says Archana Joshi, who co-founded the centre with Bindu Haridas, M.S. Kanaka and Bharathi Balarajan.
Consistency is the golden rule of teaching special children. “You must see them as normal children, but teach them differently. If communicated appropriately, these children can understand and be trained to live almost normal lives. Teaching methods are personalised according to the difficulty that a child faces. The aim is to make them blend with society while giving them their space and time,” says Bindu.
Roping in parents and counselling them is important to achieve positive results. “It is not enough to train special children at school, education must continue at home as well,” says Archana. An Occupational Therapist visits the centre in morning and evening and works on improving attention span, problem solving skills, cognitive ability and chanellising energy. Chairs and stools act as exercise equipments.
The centre conducts pre-vocational training in the afternoons for children going to other schools between 2.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. They also organise summer camps for special needs children in the months of April-May. In future, they plan to start a group activity session to enable children to socialise and conduct remedial classes for children with learning difficulties.
At present, the special educators have been self-financing the centre, but are open to sponsorship.
Ekadkasha Learning Centre is at No. 3, Jeth Nagar, R.A. Puram. Phone: 2495 0831. For more details, visit their website.