By Mohan Kayaka
By 2050, nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss as per a recent World Health Organisation’s (WHO) report. In India, 63 million people (6.3%) suffer from significant auditory loss and four in every 1,000 children are suffering from severe to profound hearing loss.
For children diagnosed and intervened at a very early stage, regular pre-school programmes are the best option. However, assistance from special teachers would be required so that the child develops good reading and writing skills, but for children who are diagnosed late or those who have not developed adequate functional language must be enrolled in special pre–school programmes.
Established in 1966, All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru, has been providing professional training and education to the public on issues related to communication disorders such as hearing impairment, mental retardation, voice, fluency and language disorders.
AIISH has set up a unique pre-school for little children in the year 2003. Special Pre-School curriculum has been designed to suit the needs of these children. Here, they learn conversational skills using various scientifically proven techniques. Activities such as storytelling and guided play have been contrived to develop receptive and expressive language in hearing impaired children.
AIISH Pre-School is the only model school in the country to provide special education for such children in six languages. Little kids suffering neuro-developmental conditions such as autism spectrum disorder, deafness and physically and cognitive impairments are being educated and treated at one place here.
Every year, parents from places such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar visit this Pre-School for special aid and support. Out of 30 classrooms, 23 rooms have been earmarked for the benefit of these children. A total of 15 special teachers along with three lecturers and five assistant staff have been working here.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, a special teacher working here said, “In this Pre-School campus, we have built a life size model of signal light and zebra crossing. Every day, these little kids walk hand-in-hand, observe traffic lights and learn to follow traffic rules. For them, learning is a continuous process and such life size models are certainly helping them a lot.”
Each classroom here is a smart room and has been specially designed to suit the cognitive, social, emotional and physical needs of these special children. To enhance learning and nurture curiosity, these smart classes have been equipped with colourful pictures and toys. The concept of theme-based learning model has been implemented here.
For example, the topic of wildlife and environment is taught with the aid of life size models and attractive visuals. Children here learn about Mysuru Dasara festival with a colourful model of ‘Chinnara Dasara.’ Classroom walls have been adorned with the most eye-catching theme-based paintings to aid in this process. Music, sports and meditation are also part of the curriculum here. The school also houses a unique library where kids can borrow books and toys.
Clinically, persons with special needs refer to individuals who require assistance for their disabilities. One might be born with certain disabilities, but there is no rule that they have to remain the same throughout their life. Each year, 400 to 500 special children get enrolled to AIISH. For those children who become eligible for enrolling into normal schools, we hold and celebrate ‘Pre-school Graduation Day’ every year. — Prof. M. Pushpavathi, Director, AIISH
AIISH Pre-School is the only model school in the country to provide special education for such children in six languages. Various educational services such as Parent Infant Programme (PIP), Pre-School Parent Empowerment Programme (PPEP), Pre-School Programme and Curricular Support Services (CSS) are provided to children with communication disorders. Most importantly, six persons with special needs are pursing Ph.D degree here. — Dr. Alok Kumar Upadhyay, Associate Professor, AIISH, Mysuru