- Transport from home to school and back
- Barrier-free access to classroom
- Accessible toilets
- Communication – especially for non-verbal children
- Assistive devices
- Adapted curriculum and assessment
- Teacher aid / shadow teacher / supporter
Parents as Partners
It is essential for all Early Intervention Programme to have parents, as an integral partner in the planning and executing team. This can only happen if the trans-disciplinary worker spends adequate time explaining to the parents all the dimensions of delayed development and the child’s specific disability.
It is essential for the parents to understand that delayed development in a child needs more than medical intervention. There may be co-existing complex medical issues but along with the medical support, the child will need long-term intervention and training, to be able to achieve her potential. It often takes a long time for parents to understand that doctors cannot cure their child’s condition and it is only through proactive intervention that the child has the potential to become a contributing adult within the family, the community and a contributing citizen of the country. However, this intervention can be creative and a lot of fun for all involved. It will also make people’s attitude positive.
Once the parents understand that, the child can progress, though slower in some areas of development. The parents should be encouraged to use all their creativity and wisdom to develop play activities and use resources which are available locally. Early Intervention activities when evolved in the local context by the parents and community themselves, always has a dynamic flavour. These activities then get easily transferred from parents to neighbour, other members in the community, anganwadi workers, teachers etc. These activities can be local songs, stories, games, using low-cost local materials.
Once parents understand normal development of the child in all the areas, they will be able to appreciate the strengths and weakness of their own child and how to bridge the gap where possible or make an assistive device to help the child perform in that area. For example (1) locally made rollator or standing frame to help in walking when the child may not have good standing balance or (2) a low technology communication board if a child is not verbal, (3) a low cost toilet aid with bricks where a child may not be able to squat etc.
Parents must be a partner in planning the intervention process for their child. Very often professional teams feel that who cannot read or write may not be able to contribute to planning. However, that is a myth, because all parents understand their children better than anybody else. They know what their priorities for training should be and most importantly, they have very valuable and insightful knowledge. This wisdom unfortunately gets lost, when we, as professionals, depend too heavily on text books.
It is very important for the Early Intervention team to bring parents together so they can support each other as often as possible. Even if their children are of different ages and have different needs and barriers, families supporting each other have always been a huge way forward.
One of the goals of our Early Intervention Programme, should be to help form parents groups and late, parent group networks. The most important role of such networks will be to share information, skills and solutions, to inspire each other and to motivate to find fresh strategies which will help their children become true participants in community life and economic activity. Early Intervention Programmes with family and community participation can help take that huge jump of inclusion of persons with disabilities when they are adults.
Parent Groups and Parent Network also have the power of negotiations and advocacy. It is only when these groups develop and establish themselves that we have a collective voice for the removal of barriers, both environmental and attitudinal.
Chairperson, National Trust