In the wake of a spate of incidents of atrocities against children with special needs in various city schools, Forum For Autism (FFA) an NGO formed by parents has decided to set up a monitoring committee to ensure that good practices are observed at learning centres.
The committee, which will only oversee those institutions that volunteer to be monitored by it, will begin its work today, on the occasion of International Day of People with Disability.
“This committee aims at addressing the rising instances of corporal punishment in schools dealing with special children, the absolute inability of families and professionals to comprehend certain behaviours of such children, and various other issues,” said Parul Kumtha from FFA.
The decision to form a monitoring committee was first considered early this year, following allegations from parents about their children facing corporal punishment and mental harassment at the hands of so-called special educators.
“Nothing is mandatory. We’ll offer help only when asked. So far, 16 organisations, including special schools, therapy centres and vocational centres, have willingly come forward to be monitored by the committee, which comprises professionals and parents,” Kumtha said.
Professionals who are part of the committee include Dr Harish Shetty, a renowned psychiatrist; Rubina Lal, special educator, professor at SNDT and founder trustee of Society of Parents of Children with Autistic Disorders; Dr Dinaz Wadia, audiologist, speech language pathologist and director of Disha Comprehensive Rehab Center; Dr Roopa Srinivasan, developmental paediatrician; and Jaya Rangarajan, a special educator.
Two parents, also members of FFA, and a child rights activist are also part of the committee. Following several discussions and meetings, the committee is formulating a draft of regulations and guidelines, based on citations from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Person with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the National Trust Act and the Persons with Disabilities Act.
“Our primary objective is to maintain transparency, build on the parent-professional partnership, and acknowledge the parent as a resource,” Kumtha said. Besides the monitoring committee, a resource committee has also been set up to provide resources to parents and professionals. The resource committee will hold its first-ever seminar-cum-workshop at the Nehru Science Centre on Sunday.
Meanwhile, members of Able Disable All People Together (ADAPT) will be holding an event today at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), to spread awareness about disability. Panel discussions will be held on overcoming barriers, and the role of the media in spreading awareness on the issue.