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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Early Identification and Intervention

The birth of a child is an exciting, life-changing event. A beautiful new baby comes to your house, family, and neighborhood. It is a time for celebration. Family members look at the new child and wonder: Will he be a football star, will she be a famous musician, will he discover the cure for cancer, will she become President of the United States?
But what happens when this new child has a disability? What if there are health problems? What if, as time goes by, it seems as if the child isn't learning and progressing as quickly or easily as other children?
In fact, there are many supports available for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with disabilities. Services for very young children, from birth through age two, are called Early Intervention. Early intervention is an effective way to help children catch up or address specific developmental concerns as soon as possible in their lives. To learn more about these vital services, explore the topics below.

Broadly speaking, early intervention services are specialized health, educational, and therapeutic services designed to meet the needs of infants and toddlers, from birth through age two, who have a developmental delay or disability, and their families. At the discretion of each State, services can also be provided to children who are considered to be at-risk of developing substantial delays if services are not provided.

Sometimes it is known from the moment a child is born that early intervention services will be essential in helping the child grow and develop. Often this is so for children who are diagnosed at birth with a specific condition or who experience significant prematurity, very low birth weight, illness, or surgery soon after being born. Even before heading home from the hospital, this child’s parents may be given a referral to their local early intervention office.

Overview of Early Intervention

Some children have a relatively routine entry into the world, but may develop more slowly than others, experience set backs, or develop in ways that seem very different from other children. For these children, a visit with a developmental pediatrician and a thorough evaluation may lead to an early intervention referral, as well. However a child comes to be referred, assessed, and determined eligible—early intervention services provide vital support so that children with developmental needs can thrive and grow.

What areas of child development are Early Intervention services designed to address?

In a nutshell, early intervention is concerned with all the basic and brand new skills that babies typically develop during the first three years of life, such as:

physical (reaching, rolling, crawling, and walking)

cognitive (thinking, learning, solving problems);

communication (talking, listening, understanding);

social/emotional (playing, feeling secure and happy); or,

self-help (eating, dressing).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Help Your child Get Organised

Most kids generate a chaos and disorganization - might flit from one thing to the next — forgetting books at school, leaving towels on the floor, and failing to finish projects once started. You'd like them to be more organized and to stay focused on tasks, such as homework. Is it possible?

Yes, it is. A few kids seem naturally organized, but for the rest, organization is a skill learned over time. With help and some practice, kids can develop an effective approach to getting stuff done. And the parents are the perfect persons to teach their children, even if they don't feel all that organized themselves!

For kids, all tasks can be broken down into a 1-2-3 process.

1.Getting organized means a kid gets where he or she needs to be and gathers the supplies needed to complete the task.

2.Staying focused means sticking with the task and learning to say "no" to distractions.

3.Getting it done means finishing up, checking your work, and putting on the finishing touches, like remembering to put a homework paper in the right folder and putting the folder inside the backpack so it's ready for the next day.

Once kids know these steps — and how to apply them — they can start tackling tasks more independently. That means homework, chores, and other tasks will get done with increasing consistency and efficiency. Of course, kids will still need parental help and guidance, but you probably won't have to nag as much.

Not only is it practical to teach these skills, but knowing how to get stuff done will help your child feel more competent and effective. Kids feel self-confident and proud when they're able to accomplish their tasks and responsibilities. They're also sure to be pleased when they find they have some extra free time to do what they'd like to do.

Here's how you might walk your child through the steps:

1. Getting Organized:

Explain that this step is all about getting ready. It's about figuring out what kids need to do and gathering any necessary items.For instance: "So you have a book report to write. What do you need to do to get started?" Help your child make a list of things like: Choose a book. Make sure the book is OK with the teacher. Write down the book and the author's name. Check the book out of the library. Mark the due date on a calendar.

Then help your child think of the supplies needed: The book, some note cards, a pen for taking notes, the teacher's list of questions to answer, and a report cover. Have your child gather the supplies where the work will take place.

As the project progresses, show your child how to use the list to check off what's already done and get ready for what's next. Demonstrate how to add to the list, too. Coach your child to think, "OK, I did these things. Now, what's next? Oh yeah, start reading the book" and to add things to the list like finish the book, read over my teacher's directions, start writing the report.



2. Staying Focused:

Explain that this part is about doing it and sticking with the job. Tell kids this means doing what you're supposed to do, following what's on the list, and sticking with it.

It also means focusing when there's something else your child would rather be doing — the hardest part of all! Help kids learn how to handle and resist these inevitable temptations. While working on the report, a competing idea might pop into your child's head: "I feel like shooting some hoops now." Teach kids to challenge that impulse by asking themselves "Is that what I'm supposed to be doing?"

Explain that a tiny break to stretch a little and then get right back to the task at hand is OK. Then kids can make a plan to shoot hoops after the work is done. Let them know that staying focused is tough sometimes, but it gets easier with practice.

3. Getting it Done:

Explain that this is the part when kids will be finishing up the job. Talk about things like copying work neatly and asking a parent to read it over to help find any mistakes. Coach your child to take those important final steps: putting his or her name on the report, placing it in a report cover, putting the report in the correct school folder, and putting the folder in the backpack so it's ready to be turned in.

How to Start

Introduce the Idea

Start the conversation by using the examples.Brainstorm about what might be easier or better if your child was more organized and focused. Maybe homework would get done faster, there would be more play time, and there would be less nagging about chores. Then there's the added bonus of your child feeling proud and you being proud, too.

Set Expectations

Be clear, in a kind way, that you expect your kids to work on these skills and that you'll be there to help along the way.

Make a Plan

Decide on one thing to focus on first. You can come up with three things and let your child choose one. Or if homework or a particular chore has been a problem, that's the natural place to begin.

Get Comfortable in Your Role

For the best results, you'll want to be a low-key coach. You can ask questions that will help kids get on track and stay there. But use these questions to prompt their thought process about what needs to be done. Praise progress, but don't go overboard. The self-satisfaction kids will feel will be a more powerful motivator. Also, be sure to ask your child's opinion of how things are going so far.

Encourage kids to start seeing tasks as a series of questions and answers. Suggest that they ask these questions out loud and then answer them. These questions are the ones you hope will eventually live inside a child's head. And with practice, they'll learn to ask them without being prompted.

Work together to come up with questions that need to be asked so the chosen task can be completed. You might even jot them down on index cards. Start by asking the questions and having your child answer. Later, transfer responsibility for the questions from you to your child.

Things to Remember

It will take time to teach kids how to break down tasks into steps. It also will take time for them to learn how to apply these skills to what needs to be done. Sometimes, it will seem simpler just to do it for them. It certainly would take less time. But the trouble is that kids don't learn how to be independent and successful if their parents swoop in every time a situation is challenging or complex.

why it's worth your time and effort:

Kids learn new skills that they'll need — how to pour a bowl of cereal, tie shoes, match clothes, complete a homework assignment.

They'll develop a sense of independence. The child who dresses himself or herself today at age 4 feels like a big kid. It's a good feeling that will deepen over time as they learn to do even more without help. From these good feelings, kids begin to form a belief about themselves. In short, "I can do it."

Your firm but kind expectations that your kids should start tackling certain jobs on their own send a strong message. You reinforce their independence and encourage them to accept a certain level of responsibility. Kids learn that others will set expectations and that they can meet them.

This kind of teaching can be a very loving gesture. You're taking the time to show your child how to do something — with interest, patience, love, kindness, and his or her best interests at heart. This will make kids feel cared for and loved. Think of it as filling up a child's toolbox with crucial life tools.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Testing and assessment

Testing and assessment is ongoing with children in special education programs. Some are formal, normed and standardized. Formal tests are used to compare populations as well as evaluating individual children. Some are less formal and used for ongoing assessment of a students progress in meeting his or her IEP goals. These can include curriculum based assessment, using chapter tests from a text, or teacher made tests, created to measure specific goals on a child's IEP.

1. Intelligence Testing

Intelligence testing is usually done individually, although there are group tests used to identify students for further testing or for accelerated or gifted programs. Group tests are not considered as reliable as individual tests, and Intelligence Quotient (IQ) scores generated by these tests are not included in confidential student documents, such as an Evaluation Report, because their purpose is screening.

The Intelligence Tests considered the most reliable are the Stanford Binet and the Wechsler Individual Scale for Children.

2. Standardized Tests of Achievement

There are two forms of achievement tests: those used to evaluate large groups, such as schools or entire school districts. Others are individualized, to assess individual students. Tests used for large groups include annual state assessments for No Child Left Behind, (NCLB) and well known standardized tests such as Iowa Basics and Terra Nova tests.

3. Individualized Achievement Tests

Individualized Achievement Tests are criterion referenced and standardized tests that are often used for the present levels part of an IEP. These tests are designed to be administered in individual sessions, and provide grade equivalent, standardized and age equivalent scores as well as diagnostic information that is helpful when preparing to design an IEP and an educational program.

4. Tests of Functional Behavior

Children with severe cognitive disabilities and autism need to be evaluated to identify areas of function or life skills that they need to learn in order to gain functional independence. The best known, ABBLS, was designed to use with an applied behavioral approach (ABA.) Other assessments of function include the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Second Addition.

5. Curriculum Based Assessment (CBA)

Curriculum Based Assessments are criterion based tests, usually based on what the child is learning in the curriculum. Some are formal, such as the tests that are developed to evaluate chapters in mathematical text books. Spelling tests are Curriculum Based Assessments, as are multiple choice tests designed to evaluate a student's retention of social studies curricular information.

6. Teacher Made Assessment

Jerry WebsterTeacher made assessments are criterion based. Teachers design them to evaluate specific IEP goals. Teacher made assessments can be paper tests, picture or word cards, or even tasks (sort by color, etc.) for which the teacher writes a task analysis and provides the materials.


Sunday, October 10, 2010

AIKYA's Blog - Special Needs Resources: Calling all parents of children with Intellectual and developmental disabilities to Act now !!

AIKYA's Blog - Special Needs Resources: Calling all parents of children with Intellectual and developmental disabilities to Act now !!

Calling all parents of children with Intellectual and developmental disabilities to Act now !!

Calling all parents of children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities :

Act fast, join the campaign :

Back ground :

National Trust Act came into existence because of the hard struggle put up by the parents of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities under the banner of Parivaar. It was Parivaar  leaders who played a very important role in drafting the National Trust Act and when the National Trust Act was passed by the Parliament at the end of the 20th century, we the parents of persons with these disabilities hailed it as the "Gift of the Millennium".

How was the National Trust Act enacted?

 It was brought in to serve the specific needs of the four disabilities covered by this Act. Hence, in principle it is a “service Act”. It serves the specific needs of these disabilities. Following are the objectives of the NT Act:

to enable and empower persons with (intellectual and developmental disabilities) to live as independently and as fully as possible within and as close to the community to which they belong;

to strengthen facilities to provide support to persons with (these) disability to live within their own families;

to extend support to the registered organizations to provide need based services during period of crisis in the family of persons with (these) disability;

to deal with problems a persons with (these) disability who do not have family support;

to promote measures for the care and protection of persons with (these) disability in the event of death of their parent or guardian;

to evolve procedure for appointment of guardians and trustees for persons with (these) disability requiring such protection;

to facilitate the realization of equal opportunities, protection of rights and full participation of persons with (these) disability.

With these laudable objectives the National Trust has been working and during the last decade of its existence it has launched lot of programmes and schemes which has brought much needed relief to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. But above all the National Trust Act has provided an answer to the most worrying question of the parents “After us What?”

The objectives of National Trust has brought much needed assurance to the parents and families of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities that their children’s future is secure under the provisions of the National Trust Act.

By repealing such an important Act will bring disastrous consequences for the persons with these disabilities, their parents and families.

NT act is basically a service Act providing the services needed by persons with disabilities namely Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and multiple disabilities.

The NT Act is dear to parents because it is the parents' own creation. It is true that the NT Act as it exists today is not perfect. In the changed circumstances it is necessary to revise it and certainly it should be brought in consonance with the provisions of UNCRPD. However, we parents firmly believe that the basic objectives of the NT Act are still very much valid even in these changed circumstances.

The objectives of the National Trust are very much valid even today and it is probably the only disability Act in India which is very progressive and comes very near to the ideals and provisions of the UNCRPD. It is therefore, necessary that the National Trust should be strengthened and its functioning is made more effective.

Repealing such an important Act will bring disastrous consequences for the persons with these disabilities, their parents and families.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Optimus Education - School for students with ADHD,LD and slow learners

A branch  has been opened for students with ADHD, LD and slow learners. This is located at Mylapore.

For details call  9444960643

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Autism Awareness Day

About Autism

Autism is a developmental disorder that typically appears during the first three years of life of the individual.. Autism impacts the normal development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and imagination. It is a spectrum disorder.


Autism is characterized by a marked impairment in the following areas:

• Social skills: Kids with autism have difficulty in initiating and sustaining relationships with their peers. It is not that they do not relate, it is that they relate in a different way. It is not that people with autism do not want to make friends, but often they do not know how. Thus, it becomes critical to teach them social skills. However, some social difficulties remain throughout life. These social deficits are the most difficult to overcome.

• Communication skills: Individuals with autism have their core difficulty in the area of communication. Many of them do not develop speech; even the ones who have a relatively good language development do not use it effectively for communication. Individuals with autism also have difficulty in using and comprehending non-verbal modes of communication like gestures and facial expressions.

• Play skills: A marked absence of pretend and imaginary play is one of the key features of autism.

Autistic individuals may show abnormal responses to sensations. Any one or more of the senses may be affected. All these difficulties manifest themselves in behaviours i.e. abnormal ways of relating to people, objects and events in the environment.

Why an Awareness Week

In the recent years there has been a marked increase in the incidence of autism. Studies have shown that I in every 500 people may be autistic or have autistic features. However, lack of awareness about the condition, leads to misdiagnosis and hence wrong intervention. It has been established that early detection and intervention can make a remarkable difference to the child’s life.

Through the Awareness programme we  seek to educate and empower parents, who we believe, are the first and the best resource for their children. AIKYA seeks to create awareness in the community about autism, because an accepting and understanding environment can go a long way in rehabilitating an individual.

Autism Awareness day - April 2nd

AUTISM: Are You Aware?

April is Autism Awareness Month, check your awareness level on Autism.: understanding certain facts about this condition is extremely important.

Autism is no longer an obscure, rare thing. It's all around us, and we need to be tolerant, supportive, and vigilant in searching for answers so that we can eventually shed some light on what is causing this mysterious disorder.

• Are you aware that autism has now been deemed a worldwide epidemic?

• Did you know that one in one hundred fifty children has autism in the United States? (That's a whole lot.) .We do not have figures in India

• Did you know that a child is diagnosed with autism every twenty minutes?

• Are you aware that autism is more prevalent than breast cancer, leukemia, juvenile diabetes, and many other conditions?

• Did you know that autism is not caused by bad parenting or a lack of parental bonding?

• Did you know that the symptoms of autism vary greatly from child to child, with some being severely affected and others only mildly?

• Experts now say that children with autism have a genetic predisposition to the condition, but it is set in motion by some sort of mysterious environmental trigger. (This is the same explanation experts are giving for juvenile diabetes, too--genetic predisposition plus environmental trigger.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Retinitis pigmentosa

Retinitis pigmentosa awareness month

February is retinitis pigmentosa awareness month.
Learn more about this potentially disabling condition characterised by night blindness and "tunnel vision”.

What is Retinitis pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is an eye condition characterised

by progressive loss of visual field, diminished dark adaptation (night blindness)

and damage to the retina. In patients with retinitis pigmentosa, peripheral

(side) vision is lost, making moving around safely difficult. Thirty million people

worldwide are afflicted with age-related macular degeneration

and retinitis pigmentosa.

What causes Retinitis pigmentosa?

Retinitis pigmentosa is caused by mutations in genes that are

active in retinal cells. Gene mutations are programmed into cells at the

time of conception. Retinitis pigmentosa is not caused by injury, infection or

exposure to any toxic substance.

What Are the symptoms of Retinitis pigmentosa?

Many people with retinitis pigmentosa disease retain some sight all their lives. Others may go completely blind from Retinitis pigmentosa, in some cases as early as childhood. Patients with Retinitis pigmentosa have trouble adjusting well to dark and dimly-lit environments. They often experience vision loss in their mid-periphery with some vision in their very far periphery.

In some forms of Retinitis pigmentosa, prolonged, unprotected exposure to sunlight may accelerate vision loss.

However, since Retinitis pigmentosa is an inherited disorder and runs in families, the disease is not preventable. Therefore, if someone in a family is diagnosed with retinal degeneration, it is strongly advised that all members of the family contact an eye care professional. There is no known cure at present.

What Are the Symptoms of Retinitis pigmentosa?

Normal visual acuity in early stages, possibly progressing to no light perception

Visual field loss progressing to loss of peripheral vision

Night blindness

Decreased response to magnification

Need for more light

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Aspergers Syndrome


What is Asperger Syndrome?

Asperger syndrome (AS) is a developmental disorder. It is an Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), one of a distinct group of neurological conditions characterized by a greater or lesser degree of impairment in language and communication skills, as well as repetitive or restrictive patterns of thought and behavior.

The most distinguishing symptom of Aspergers Syndrome is a child’s obsessive interest in a single object or topic to the exclusion of any other. Children with Aspergers Syndrome want to know everything about their topic of interest and their conversations with others will be about little else. Their expertise, high level of vocabulary, and formal speech patterns make them seem like little professors. Other characteristics of AS include repetitive routines or rituals; peculiarities in speech and language; socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior and the inability to interact successfully with peers; problems with non-verbal communication; and clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements.

Children with AS are isolated because of their poor social skills and narrow interests. They may approach other people, but make normal conversation impossible by inappropriate or eccentric behavior, or by wanting only to talk about their singular interest.

Children with AS usually have a history of developmental delays in motor skills such as pedaling a bike, catching a ball, or climbing outdoor play equipment. They are often awkward and poorly coordinated with a walk that can appear either stilted or bouncy.

An effective treatment program builds on the child’s interests, offers a predictable schedule, teaches tasks as a series of simple steps, actively engages the child’s attention in highly structured activities, and provides regular reinforcement of behavior. It may include social skills training, cognitive behavioral therapy

With effective treatment, children with Aspergers Syndrome can learn to cope with their disabilities, but they may still find social situations and personal relationships challenging. Many adults with AS are able to work successfully in mainstream jobs, although they may continue to need encouragement and moral support to maintain an independent life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


Did You Know?

- Mental Retardation is different from Menal illness and children with Mental retardation  are not mentally ill. Persons with mental retardation are called persons with Intellectual Challenges.

- Down Syndrome condition is caused due to the presence of an extra chromosome in some cells in the body

- Autistic Children are not schirzophinic.

- Cerebral palsy refers to a group of disorders of movement and posture

- ADHD – Children with Attention Deficit Disorder have problems in learning,memory & attention

- Dyslexic children have problems in reading and writing

- Learning-disabled children will have difficulty with the mechanical aspects of writing,and problems with spelling, punctuation, and handwriting

Autistic Savant

'Autistic savant' means a person with Autism who has a special skill. 'Savant' comes from the French word for 'knowing' and means 'a learned person'. A person with this condition was once known as an 'idiot savant', since 'idiot' was an acceptable word for mental retardation in the late 19th century, when the phenomenon was first medically investigated. Around 10 per cent of people with autism show special or even remarkable skills. For example, a person with autism, who may be intellectually disabled in most ways, could have an exceptional memory for numbers.

A range of savant abilities

Around 10 per cent of people with autism show special or even remarkable skills. The skills range includes:

Splinter skills - the most common type. The person, like an obsessive hobbyist, commits certain things to memory, such as sports trivia.

Talented skills - the person has a more highly developed and specialised skill. For example, they may be artistic and paint beautiful pictures, or have a memory that allows them to work out difficult mathematical calculations in their head.

Prodigious skills - the rarest type. It is thought that there are only about 25 autistic savants in the world who show prodigious skills. These skills could include, for example, the ability to play an entire concerto on the piano after hearing it only once.

Specialised skill

In all cases of savant syndrome, the skill is specific, limited and most often reliant on memory. Generally, savant skills include:

Music - the piano or keyboard is the most popular instrument. For example, the skill may be the ability to play the instrument without being taught.

Art - such as the ability to draw, paint or sculpt to high standards. For example, Richard Wawro is an autistic savant who is also blind, but his crayon drawings command up to $10,000 each.

Mathematics - for example, the ability to work out complicated sums in their head, or to calendar calculate (for example, work out what day it was on 1 June1732).

Language - in rare cases, the person may be unusually gifted in languages.

Other skills - such as knowing the time without seeing a clock, untaught mechanical skills, having an unfailing sense of direction or the ability to commit maps to memory.

The brain's right hemisphere

Autistic savant behaviour is so far unexplained. However, researchers think it might have something to do with the right hemisphere of the brain.

The brain is divided into two hemispheres, left and right, bridged by a thick band of nerve fibres called the corpus callosum. While left hemisphere skills are involved with symbolism and interpretation (such as understanding words and body language), the skills of the right hemisphere are much more concrete and direct (such as memory).

CT and MRI scans of the brains of autistic savants suggest that the right hemisphere is compensating for damage in the left hemisphere. It seems that the right hemisphere of an autistic savant focuses its attention on one of the five senses - for example, if it concentrates on hearing, then the autistic savant may have a special skill in music. Research is ongoing.

Their skills may be reinforced

It is thought that habitual memory centres of the brain take over from higher memory centres, which helps to explain why some autistic savants are like obsessive hobbyists who do the same thing over and over. Apart from habitual memory, other factors that may help an autistic savant to hone their special skill could include:

The ability to focus and concentrate

The desire to practise endlessly

Positive reinforcement by family, friends and caregivers.