Ekadaksha Learning Center for Children with special needs

What we do - Ekadaksha Learning Center Chennai - By Stephen Eastop


An awareness programme conducted by Ekadaksha for Parents of children with special needs/disability.

As a parent of a child there is always anxiety and worry. This is all the more when it comes to parents of children with special needs/disability. There are a large number of questions that arise in their minds: 

Am I on the right track? 

What is the next step to be taken?

Once my child reaches 18 years of age, what has to be done?

What is my child's ability/interest?

What is the future

Who will take care of my child?

What after us?

This awareness programme was conducted to help parents to understand their present situations better and get ideas about how they can go about the future for themselves and their child. It gave them better knowledge to have a good life and a secure future. 

The programme began with a keyboard performance by one of Ekadaksha's students, Prajval. Click here to watch his performance. This was followed by an auspicious lighting of diya ceremony. This positivity brought in the programme wherein we had 4 wonderful personalities as our guest speakers. Each of them are well versed in this field of special education and shared valuable and important information with the parents. 

Our Guest Speakers were:

Mr. Sashaank Awasthi - Co-Founder of V.Shesh

Ms. Kadambari - Special educator and Psychotherapist at Kairassi

Ms. Lakshmi Kannan - Customer success Team Manager of Avaz (Invention labs)

Mr. Gopinath - Managing Trustee of SCAN (Special children assistance network)

Mr. Sashaank Awasthi : 'Topic - Shaping the reality'

Mr. Sashaank is the co-founder of V-Shesh which is an award winning impact enterprise which he co-founded with Mr. P.Rajasekaran. He is deeply interested in wellbeing and mental health and has been part of teams that have designed manuals for people with psychosocial disabilities and sessions on well being in workplaces. V-Shesh assists Personswith Disabilties in education, training and accessing high quality jobs and organisations with disability inclusion and hiring. To know more visit their website www.v-shesh.com.

Mr. Sashaank gave a picture of the reality in Today's world of special needs. He gave the parents a lot to think about in terms of how parents introduce their child (most parents stress on what their child cannot do), what were the expectations they had but what went different, where they are heading towards for their child as well as to think about themselves as parents and as individuals. An interesting pointwas about how children with special eneds can be better looked as children whose needs have not been met by the society and environment. Also, as we keep looking at out children with special needs, are they the ones with those special needs or are we the ones with special needs???

He stressed upon the fact that it is ok to venture into different areas of prevocational to vocational work, as long as the child/young adult/adult is happy and able to manage his/her life as independently as he/she can. He suggested to all parents to not be afraid, but to venture into the environment. This will give an exposure, experience and engagement of not only the child but the society as well. In this way support groups and awareness can be created. There can be inclusion and everyone has the right to be included. 

Ms. Kadambari: 'Topic - Art, a way of life'

Ms. Kadambari is a special educator and psychotherapist at Kairassi. She is dedicated to helping children and young adults find strength within themselves and strive to better their lives through art and education. Kairassi is a non profit organisation working with differently abled artists and mentoring them to make their creative vision realistic. To know more visit their website www.kairassi.com.

Ms. Kadambari spoke about the various benefts of art, how art can be therapy, a way of life as well as a way to earn your living. She showed the audience various works done by the students at Kairassi and how this art was used in various places like exhibitions, on notebook prints, popcorn boxes in the theatres etc. 

Ms. Lakshmi Kannan: 'Topic - Communication, every persons right'

Ms. Lakshmi Kannan works at Avaz as a customer success team manager where she coordinates training and support. She is a special parent and educator who strongly advocates the right of communication for every child. Avaz is a picture and text based AAC app that empowers children and adults with complex communication needs to express themselves and learn. To know more visit their website www.avazapp.com.

Ms. Lakshmi spoke about the importance of making a child independent in communication. She quoted her own life experiences as a parent of a child with special needs, thus motivating the parents. She showed the parents a slide to make them understand the reasons for which we all communicate. It may be to greet, to agree, disagree, make jokes etc. Doesn't everyone have this right? 

Another important point was that only speech does not mean communication. Communication can be done in many ways - through gestures, sign language, low tech or hight teach apps etc. She also explained the challenges in communicaation and what inability to communicate can lead to. When it comes to children/people with special needs who have communication difficulties and who are non verbal, most of the communication is assumed without considering the fact that it may not be what the individual is thinking, feeling or wanting. This could lead to many difficulties and frustration in life. 

So, The solution??? Find an augmentative form of communication which can supplement and support their communciation or find an alternative way to communicate like the Avaz app. 

Mr.Gopinath Ramakrishnan: 'Topic - What after us'

Mr. Gopinath is active in the area of Disability rights and interfaces with many organisations and groups across India, Including the government. He and his wife Mini, co-founded SCAN in 2015 with another couple. SCAN provides a platform for interaction for the special needs community which includes special needs families:parents, special needs children, siblings and caregivers; People working with special needs children: educators, therapists etc; People interested in special needs/volunteers. www.scanfamily.com.

The main question addressed by Mr. Gopinath was about the time of life when the parents have given everything to their child, but do not know what will happen to their child in the future. Every parent knows that as they get older, it is difficult to take care of every single need of their child. They also know that they will notbe around forever to support and do eveything for their child. 

So, what is the next step, what can they do to secure the future of the child who is already an adult or becoming one? If the person is unable to be completely independent then what can be done? Who will take care of their child? What about financial aspects for the child? He gave valuable information related to these doubts. He spoke about two aspects - 1.The legal and financial aspect, 2. The care taking aspect. 

The legal and financial aspect included finding a legal guardian for the person, creating a will, creating a Trust and a letter of intent so that people know what the person's interests and needs are. The caretaking aspect included decisions about the best place the person can live happily. This may be special needs homes, hostels or inclusive living. Inclusive living is a home type living wherein the person with special needs has the opportunity to love independently as well as have their families close to them. Whatever place is chosen, must give the individual with special needs live a life of quality and respect. Mr. Gopinath is of the belief that inclusion means - Live, work and play amongst others, just like everyone else. Therefore, SCAN is in the process of developing an inclusive community which provides all the support and access needed for this kind of inclusion. 

Parents speak

We invited two mothers to speak about their achievements with their child with special needs. 

Ms.S.Subha, mother of 14 year old Prajval, who is a student of Ekadaksha. She has used Prajval's natural talent and interest in music to teach him how to play the keyboard.He is now all set to perform in front of an audience.  

Ms. Ambika Jagadish, mother of 26 year old Sharan Raj, who now runs a bakery in Chromepet, Chennai. SHe has opened this bakery out of her passion for baking and as a set up for her son who enjoys baking with her. Sharan helps to set up the shop every morning and he also assists in baking the cakes.

These two mothers are examples of parents who have invested their time, energy and talent to make it a part of their child's life. 

This programme was indeed an eye opener. 

The future we do not know, however we can plan to make it as smooth as possible. The future we do not know, however we can enjoy the present. The future we do not know, however, when we understand our abilities and capabilities as well as those of our children, then we can do WONDERS. 

Click here to see photos of the event. 




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