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Early Intervention

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The Early Intervention (EI) services for children, identified by the survey, were started in linkage with the training of the community workers, and were part of our initiatives in the community.

Of the four areas under study, the magnitude of disabilities was the highest in New Seelampur and the resources were meagre. We, therefore, adopted this area for our long-term programme for family support services. The ongoing EI programme includes health assessment and developmental therapy for children under 6 years of age.

Early intervention in the lives of handicapped children is important for the development of basic motor skills, self-care and sensori-motor exploration of their environment. These are the skills that are normally developed in children within a supportive home environment. However, the presence of an impairment or disability, especially in the poverty settings, makes it necessary for additional supports to meet special needs. At the community centre of CARENIDHI, this is accomplished by the community care team by effectively combining centre-based assessments by consultants or programme officers, with a follow-up evaluation as home-based programme, coordinated by the key community worker. The team functions in close association with therapists, social workers, paediatricians and special educators for the transfer of skills. This empowers parents with the basic knowledge of family dynamics, nutrition and general health and core competence in motor, cognitive, language and socio-emotional development of the child. The EI programme focuses on educating and training parents to be the prime deliverers of service and on developing the skills necessary to provide a stimulating and conducive environment for ability development of their children, within the context of routine care at home. One of the important gains of the programme has been the understanding and acceptance of the children’s problems by the family members and significant improvement in care seeking behaviour.

The programme lays the foundation for much of the work to follow; early childhood care and education (ECCE) inputs for the growing child and habilitation inputs are developed as programmes that are continued as the child grows. Regular follow-up is done at the centre and at home to ensure that the parents become motivated and knowledgeable advocates for their children in the complex developmental disability management. Along the way, community care workers develop the empathy and ease to become the major support system in the community for children with special needs and their families.
 
   
 
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