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Autistic child wins battle against Mumbai school to attend classes

The child won the right after the school and parents reached an agreement in the High Court yesterday allowing the kid to attend the school along with a shadow teacher.

The boy’s parent had moved High Court on November 21 against the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) order that was contrary to the report submitted by pediatrician and expert panelist Dr Samir Dalwai on October 1.

Submitting his report before the commission, Dr Dalwai recommended the appointment of a shadow teacher allowing the boy to continue to study in the same school. As per the report, the shadow teacher would keep the boy “occupied and gently prevent circumstances that would aggravate his behaviour and restrain him from harming himself or others”. However, the MSCPR order did not provide for this shadow teacher.

Autistic child wins right to attend school which threw him out
Autistic child wins right to attend school which threw him out. Representative Picture

Hence, now a month later the High Court has, in a first-of-it's-kind circumstance, facilitated this agreement between a school and parents to help the inclusion of a child with the aid of a shadow teacher.

Dr. Samir Dalwai, developmental pediatrician, Founder of New Horizons Child Development Centre, Goregaon, said, "Indian Academy of Pediatrics supports the acceptance of a shadow teacher as integral to the practical implementation of Inclusion in schools and society. This episode will lay the foundation of a new era for differently-abled children and move society 'from label to enable'.

Interestingly, the Right to Education Act specifies that not only can a school not deny admission to special children, but once a child has been admitted, the school has to ensure that he/she sees through his/her entire school education.

The shadow teacher acts as a bridge between the school’s teacher and the student with learning difficulties to help facilitate smoother learning within the class. Their duties include helping the student stay attentive in class, encouraging the student to take part in class activities, providing extra guidance when completing class assignments, encouraging the student to interact with his classmates and also seek help form his classroom teacher. Often, the shadow teacher provides guidance to the classmates of the student with learning difficulties, to help him cope with social situations and also allows his classmates to understand him better.

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