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School enrollment rate of children with special needs improves from 69 per cent to 85 per cent: ASSA study

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The research findings and the significant positive outcome of this programme has initiated the Tamil Nadu government to scale up the programme

The school enrolment rate of children with special needs improved from 69 per cent to 85 per cent when they received early intervention therapy, finds a study by Amar Seva Sangam, Ayikudi (ASSA), a non-profit organisation in the field of disability management.

The research findings and the significant positive outcome of this programme have initiated the State Government of Tamil Nadu to scale up the programme by funding Amar Seva Sangam to expand the programme to cover three full districts — Tenkasi, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin starting in April 2020. The government aims to make the programme available statewide which will benefit 100,000 children with childhood disabilities.

The study was conducted in association with the University of Toronto and McGill University, Canada on the outcomes of ASSA’s Village-based Early Intervention & Rehabilitation Programme that covered 1152 children with special needs. The programme was funded and supported by Grand Challenges Canada, Handi-Care Intl., Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiative and the Harvard Centre for the Developing Child.

ASSA is also organising an International conference on ‘Early intervention for children with special needs’, in Chennai. The two-day conference (Feb 14-and 15) is scheduled to be inaugurated by Banwarilal Purohit, Governor, Tamil Nadu, on February 14, 2020, in Chennai.

There will also be two pre-conference workshops on February 13, 2020, on designing, implementing, monitoring and scaling-up early intervention programmes for children with disabilities, and home-based early intervention for children with developmental disabilities and cerebral palsy: A family-centred interdisciplinary approach.

The conference will have presentations from more than 50 experts on a wide range of themes such as early identification, early stimulation, intervention through play, assistive and adaptive technology, inclusive education, and social security schemes, among others.

About 500 participants, including the executives of non-governmental organisations, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, special educators, paediatricians, doctors including neurologists and orthopaedic surgeons, research scholars, students, professors, early childhood educators, psychologists, speech trainers, speech pathologists, family counsellors, funders and senior government officials from different parts of the country and the world are expected to attend the workshops and the international conference.

The conference aims to offer a platform for the exchange and adoption of a significant number of diverse experiences, and best practices in the field of early intervention that would maximise children’s potential towards inclusion. The conference will also explore sustainable social development models for overall economic growth through rehabilitation and inclusion of children with developmental delays in society.

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