30 children of Ramnad being 'evaluated' for disabilities

CHENNAI, NOV. 1. Around 30 disabled children from Thiruppullani in Ramanathapuram district are now in Chennai being `evaluated' for disabilities and provided early intervention services.

The children, escorted by their parents, are in the `under three' age group, with multiple disabilities.

They were identified as suffering from disabilities during a preliminary investigation conducted by the Madhuram Narayan Centre for Exceptional Children, based in Chennai.

This forms part of a wider project, funded by the UNICEF, to study the nutritional status of children in the lower economic groups and early childhood care.

The study was being conducted in urban and rural centres and Ramanathapuram was chosen as it is an economically backward area, according to programme director, Ms. Jaya Krishnaswamy.

Rampant poverty, lack of awareness, widespread presence of disabilities and non-accessibility to medical services were some of the reasons for the choice of the Thrippullani belt.

``Though there are a number of children with disabilities, the parents have no access to facilities. Most of them are not even aware of the facilities available'', she adds.

With the help of a facilitator at the local level in the district, a team of experts in the area of special education identified around 60 children with disabilities, 56 of them with mental retardation and associated conditions.

Most children showed manifestations of orthopaedic disability and visual, hearing impairments, besides moderate to severe malnutrition.

The main cause for the large number of disabled children in that particular area is attributed to lack of care for pregnant mothers, conducting delivery at home without the assistance of village nurses, and lack of proper nutrition.

Among the 60 children evaluated for disability, 30 were identified as requiring immediate assistance and were invited to come over to Chennai along with their parents, with travel and treatment provided free of cost.

The camp, which started on October 29, will go on until November 2 and professionals including paediatricians, special educators, dentists, nutritionists, psychiatrists, occupational therapists, ENT surgeons, orthopaedicians will be on call through the five days.

While the medical professionals will provide consultation and recommend medicines, the therapists will take over later, teaching mothers to train their children.

Special aid like calipers and braces will be distributed on an arrangement with Mukthi to enable mobility of orthopaedically handicapped children.

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