Like flowers, every child is special and unique. They bring a magical bliss and happiness like how a variety of flowers make a heavenly garden. This has been well proven through the group activities program for the children with visual impairment and multiple disabilities (VIMD) at the “Vision Enhancement Clinic (VEC)” located at the Shenoy Nagar campus of SankaraNethralaya, Chennai. The clinic which works for the empowerment of patients with visual impairment strives to provide all possible services beyond the regular rehabilitation routines, as the patients received here are not seen as individuals with impairment but as a part of their families who struggle to shoulder the loss.
And particularly for the children with VIMD, the clinic offers a wide range of individualized therapy programs such as visual developmental therapy, sensory integration therapy, special education, behavior modification and fine motor stimulation therapy to enhance their functional level as much as possible. But the VEC team wanted to push the line beyond that therefore initiated the group activities sessions for the children with VIMD to experience socialization, group learning, creative art, sharing, taking turns, listening to instructions, winning and losing, music and movements, a bunch of socio-emotional elements to which they are not exposed because of their developmental disorders. On the other end, the parents of such children have been provided with a supportive platform to learn, share their experiences, and strengthen themselves to manage the condition of their children.
The session comprises meet and greet for social skills; creative art therapy for multi-sensory stimulation and sharing; visual skills and eye-hand coordination activities; circle time game for turn taking, listening skills, behavior correction, concept of ‘win & lose’; music & movement for auditory, vestibular, proprioceptive coordination, spatial awareness and recreation. The VEC team has conducted 2 such group activities sessions successfully in the month of July, 2019 and going to conduct the sessions on weekly basis with the overwhelming and encouraging responses from the parents and the children.
Empowerment of persons with visual impairment defines the complete functional independency and self-reliance in all aspects of their life. The whole process doesn’t come to end without enabling them to compete in the society and to become successful contributors of the nation. In this way, the “Vision Enhancement Clinic” of Sankara Nethralaya is conducting weekly adults’ supportive group meet for the young adult patients with visual impairment. The motto behind this initiation is to promote accessible technology, communication skills, personality development, knowledge sharing, resource exchange, confidence level, leadership qualities, volunteering and awareness on Government concessions. The young adults with visual impairment are getting the opportunity to overcome their depression by interacting each other and able to explore themselves into carrier building options. The participants expressed their pleasure in means of laughter, applauses during the meetings and by volunteering to motivate the new patients who comes with depression.
The meeting is conducted as three sessions as follows:
- Update on accessible technology – to share and learn about computer and mobile assistive software,
- Knowledge sharing – to share and discuss about the options for higher studies, job fairs, talking books, educational devices, and learning materials for competitive exams,
- Quiz and debate – to keep them updated on global events, current affairs, constitutional policies, scientific facts, general knowledge and to develop group communication skills which are essential for professional competency.