The department of welfare of differently-abled persons will scrutinise recommendations of the conference on early intervention for children with mental retardation and associated disabilities and consider implementing them, the department secretary, P. Shivasankaran, said on Wednesday.

He was addressing the inaugural function of the fourth international conference and 10th national workshop organised by Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children (MNC).

Mr. Shivasankaran said MNC was a role model for government-run early intervention centres in districts for children with mental retardation and other institutions in the field.

Besides catering to the needs of special children, the district centres that coordinate with MNC also provide counselling to parents. He also commended the efforts of MNC in providing early intervention services to children aged up to six years.

Highlighting the common traits of India and the U.S. in promoting inclusion of persons with disabilities, Jennifer McIntyre, consul-general of U.S. Consulate General, Chennai, said both the countries had laws to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and provide equal opportunities to them.

The private sector and academic institutions must also be involved in addressing issues related to such disabilities and their treatment. Underlining initiatives by the U.S. in partnering with India to promote linkages between educational institutions of mutual interest, Ms. McIntyre said studies had been conducted on issues such as mental illness through Obama-Singh Knowledge Initiative grants.

Such opportunities to share knowledge would help improve the quality of life of special children and realise their potential, she added.

MNC’s founder-director Jaya Krishnaswamy traced the journey of MNC, which was started in December 1989 with three children. The centre deals with 100 children daily and has trained many special educators.

MNC is now involved in assisting special children get mainstream education and creating awareness among such schools on the needs of such children, said Ms. Krishnaswamy.

N. Kumar, vice-chairman of Sanmar Group, lauded the efforts of the centre in sharing knowledge on recent trends in the field. With six experts from abroad and 30 from across the country, the four-day conference will discuss various aspects of the subject.

The centre’s directors, Vimala Kannan and P. Jayachandran, also spoke on the occasion.

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