Every student at the time of admission to the school has to go through a baseline physiotherapy assessment. This forms the basis for mobility and postural management programmes that are tailored to individual needs.
Physiotherapy to the students is given in individual sessions, as well as within the group, and is integrated into the classrooms and also at our residential school in boarding houses. The physiotherapists train the teaching staff as well as caretakers to handle the children in appropriate manner, so that there is a consistent approach to the physiotherapy programme of the child. The physiotherapists at the school ensure that the students fulfill their individual functional potential. The parents of the children are also trained to handle the children in suitable manner so that the therapy given by specialists at the school is continued at home.
Each school is equipped with Physiotherapy Equipments, Occupational Therapy Equipments and Rehabilitation Equipments that include traction units, exercise chairs, tilt tables, hi-low tables, treatment couches, quadriceps benches, hand and arm exercise units, continuous passive motion units, wheeling and walking aids.
Music therapy is an effective educational and therapeutic tool that is used by the school. There is a special music teacher employed by the school and music forms an important part of the school curriculum. The experiment with music therapy has resulted in improvement in skill areas for the children with varied forms of disabilities such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, autism and many others.
From a therapeutic perspective, music has a number of benefits for children with disabilities. It is an important learning tool, memorization assistance, and is enjoyable. The most important objective of music is that all the children, irrespective of their disability have been able to participate in music even if they experience difficulties in other areas.
Music has also been used as an effective tool for stimulating the child’s speech. From an emotional perspective, music provides the children with many opportunities to express and experience a number of emotions, and has a positive effect on their self-esteem too. Music has provided a calming effect when a child’s anxiety interferes with cognitive focus.
Many of the children admitted in the school have various kinds of speech impairments. These impairments may be due to hearing impairments, cognitive or other developmental delays, weak oral muscles, excessive drooling, chronic hoarseness, birth defects such as cleft lip or cleft palate, autism, motor planning problems, respiratory problems, feeding and swallowing disorders or traumatic brain injury. The speech therapists works with the child one-on-one, to overcome difficulties involved with a specific disorder. The therapist interacts with the child using a variety of strategies, including:
Language intervention activities: It involves playing and talking, using pictures, books, objects, or ongoing events to stimulate language development. The therapist may also model correct pronunciation and use repetition exercises to build speech and language skills.
Articulation therapy: Articulation, or sound production, exercises involve having the therapist model correct sounds and syllables for a child, often during play activities. The level of play is age-appropriate and related to the child’s specific needs. The therapist physically shows the child how to make certain sounds, such as the ‘r’ sound, and may demonstrate how to move the tongue to produce specific sounds.
Oral-motor/feeding and swallowing therapy: A variety of oral exercises — including facial massage and various tongue, lip, and jaw exercises, blowing on to objects like candles or little balls are used by the therapist in order to strengthen the muscles of the mouth.
Based on the recognition that children express emotions through their bodies freely, SEC uses dance as a therapy which aims to help participants regain some of the freedom and spontaneity of expression that is lost through inhibitions created by their emotional and physical experiences.
A few years ago Shiamak Davar’s Victory Art Foundation (VAF) initiated a programme for the children of SEC, the objective of which is to ‘Spread the joy of dance’ and use dance as therapy. The power of dance has helped to light a spark of joy in their hearts and improve their self-esteem.
An ex-student of SEC, Shahnavaz has been appointed by VAF as a dance coach not only for the children of SEC, but also for other children attending his Dance Institute.
Art therapy is a psycho-therapy which is used by the school varying ways. Children are encouraged not only to draw or paint, but also are taught different types of vocations like block printing, tailoring, knitting, diya painting, screen printing. Festivals are celebrated by making rakhis for Raksha Bandhan and making rangoli designs for Diwali.
Art is an important way to escape from the stress of disability. It is also used as a symbolic language. The child deciphers the meaning of the picture and discusses with the teacher the underlying issues that inspired the artwork. No matter how it is used, art therapy can be a creative outlet for children struggling with the circumstances of their lives.
Children are naturally creative, and it is usually easier for them to draw a picture as opposed to answering questions directly. They may be reluctant or even hostile about discussing certain topics. Creating artwork is a non-threatening venue that allows the children to tackle tough issues in a creative way. Art therapy can be used to assist children with a number of issues, such as childhood trauma, learning disabilities, emotional issues, fear, improving cognitive abilities, dealing with the challenges of serious diseases, understanding and treating behavioral problems, relieving stress, increasing self-awareness, developing healthy and effective coping skills, in short, helping the children understand and deal with all aspects of their physical disabilities.
Some years ago a few young students of SEC were identified as having a great potential in the field of art. The school employed a special art master, and under his grooming they started producing beautiful pieces of painting. Some of these artists are wheel-chair bound, and one of them is devoid of both his hands. In the year 2010, and again in 2013, SEC presented two of its very successful Art Exhibitions at the Jehangir Art Gallery. Every piece of their work was sold out. The ex-students earned a sizeable amount of money from the sale, have gained confidence, and have started supporting their families.
Swimming forms a very important part of the curriculum of the school. The students are given swimming lessons by professional coaches. This training is used as a form of therapy and also to prepare the students for swimming competition held every year by the SEC.
Water eliminates the effects of gravity on the body; pain and stress on muscles and joints are greatly reduced. As a result, the children with disability can stretch and strengthen weakened arms and legs within their full range of motion. While standing in a pool, they can also use the weight of water to help correct problems in gait and balance with less effort than on land.
Therapists at the school often supplement a child’s rehabilitation programme with aquatic therapy because water has been shown to help increase flexibility, decrease pain, relieve muscle spasms, and improve circulation. Swimming encourages them to move beyond their physical limitations.
Mobility programmes for the students are planned after they go through an assessment at the time of admission. Mobility training includes programmes which enable the children to be as physically independent as possible. For example, wheel-chair bound children are taught to use the wheel-chair and to ply it to the destination required on their own. Some children who are initially wheel-chair bound are gradually given orthopedic calipers as they show improvement. Auxiliary crutches, special shoes and braces are also provided to compliment mobility.
Strength activities that challenge their muscles are undertaken by pulling, pushing or holding muscle contractions.