What is SpEd@home?

 

Special Education at Home (SpEd@home) is a therapeutic approach based on years of experience of teaching children with special needs. The goal is to give children with differential learning needs an opportunity to get better support for their educational & emotional needs so as to enABLE them achieve their best. SpEd@home was developed out of the clinical practices of Dr. Dhaval Mody Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Ms. Aysel Engineer Clinical Psychologist, Ms. Minaz Ajani Special Educator & Ms. Supriya Das Clinical Psychologist. In their interactions with children with special needs and their parents they found that:

  • Giving children access to care was the biggest challenge
  • Teaching children to learn at the pace of class was significantly difficult
  • Most of children with special needs have lost access to all forms of care to meet their additional needs during this Covid pandemic
  • Children are showing significant signs of regression since there is no support to meet their needs

 

What makes SpEd@home effective?

 

Children with differential learning needs may be affected by various factors both innate and environmental, SpEd@home provides a unique blended approach to learning for children with special needs making learning fun and interesting. Bringing significant experience to the program our experts have devised strategies to ensure every child benefits from the individualized approach and plan designed to cater to the specific needs of that child rather than a one size fits all approach. The SpEd@home approach utilizes all cues to understand the learning style of the child and their core strengths and addresses the child’s deficits and areas of weaknesses in an integrated way to improve academic, behavioural and emotional outcomes for children.

SpEd@home strives to improve academic, behavioural and emotional outcome of children by:

  • Creating a nurturing and learning environment for every child
  • Providing integrated services of team of experts to meet varied needs of every child.
  • Making learning more interactive, participative and fun for the child

 

Why SpEd@home?

 

SpEd@home brings a cumulative experience of over 100 years in managing children with special needs. It brings in global best practices and the latest pedagogies to ensure every child enABLED.

Our unique blended approach customized for every child ensures every child learns at their own pace. Even though each child’s progress will vary we believe in every child and their potential to continue striving to work towards helping them achieve their optimum. SpEd@home doesn’t claim to be a cure for these children but believes in being a partner to care with the parent to meet their differential needs of their children.

 

What are Learning Disorders (LD)?

 

Learning Disability is a childhood disorder which affects certain skills such as ability to read, write, spell, solve problems, organize, comprehend and retain information. A learning disability is not a problem with intelligence, it majorly affects the ability to interpret what one sees and hears or the ability to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways such as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can hinder learning of the child. Learning disabilities can be lifelong condition that, in some cases, affect many parts of a person’s life i.e., school or work, daily routines, family life, and sometimes even friendships and play. In some people, many overlapping learning disabilities may be apparent. Other people may have a single, isolated learning problem that has little impact on other areas of their lives.

 

Does your child have trouble concentrating on schoolwork?

 

Many children find it difficult to focus during the class hours and have trouble in completing their homework. They are easily distracted by noises or by activities around them. Attention problems are very common amongst children with LD, in part because they aren’t able to do the assigned work and very easily get bored and restless. To be able to focus on their lessons is an important aspect of learning. Learning involves listening, understanding, following instructions, staying focused and completing an assigned task on time. For instance, the child may be bored because s/he has trouble with understanding of comprehension or sequencing hence this could be the real reason for the inattention during the lessons. Our expert team can help to delineate and identify source of the child’s difficulty and recommend strategies that can support the child to accommodate and adjust during the lessons.

 

Does your child have trouble focusing on most tasks?

 

Children as well as adults may have difficulty concentrating and can be easily distracted by surrounding noises or their own thoughts. Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) are caused by neurobiological differences in the brain which affect a person’s ability to start tasks and remain focused on them until they are completed. The difficulty of individuals with ADD is limited to attention problems. Individuals with ADHD experience the additional component of hyper-activity and impulsiveness. Professionals of our team regularly sensitize and conduct awareness programs for the parents and update them about different aspects of ADHD/ADD. Parents are also guided and supported on how various strategies can be effectively implemented to see a productive and positive change in their child’s personal and social developments.

 

Does your child have difficulty in sequencing information?

 

Children with particular LD (dyslexia and dyscalculia) may have difficulty organizing, prioritizing, and managing tasks and time. When an individual takes in information, the brain selects what is important, stores the data long enough to record it, and then sequence it in a way that makes sense and can be retained. When a child has difficulties in any of these areas, s/he can have trouble completing tasks. Types of sequencing difficulties are defined by the source of the problem. Children may have difficulty sequencing information they have seen or information they have heard. For instance, when a child hears or reads a story and is asked to retell it in his/her own words, s/he may start at the middle, then go to the beginning, and then shift to the end, interspersing the story with details from different non-sequential parts of the story. S/he may also provide irrelevant details of the story and not understand the key points. In other situations, a child may memorize the days of the week but when s/he is asked which day comes before Friday, she cannot answer and has to go over the days starting from Sunday to figure out the correct answer. Thus, keeping in mind the deficit area, our professionals collaboratively work together to improve the sequential memory of the child by using tailor made techniques which focuses on filling up the gaps.

 

Does your child have difficulty understanding and using shapes, images and patterns?

 

An individual use images to remember information and spatial ordering to distinguish between patterns, images, and shapes (circles, squares, triangles). Some children find it difficult to distinguish between different objects and/or shapes and identify or sequence patterns. They have trouble managing and organizing the information they are given, figuring out which additional information and/or tools they need, and using these systematically to solve problems. They may also get confused between letters of the alphabet that look similar such as b and d, or g, q, and p. They may also mix up shapes like rectangles and squares. Our Team uses differential strategies and techniques to teach various concepts related to shapes, images and patterns. They also focus on developing the child’s deficit skills.

 

Does your child having trouble recalling material s/he learned? Does s/he have trouble using information s/he learned?

 

Successful problem-solving requires us to remember what we are trying to figure out (short-term memory) while sifting through our long-term memory until we can identify and access information we need. Then, in our active working memory we use the information and the steps needed to solve the problem. Some children with LD have trouble with their active working memory or with their short-term memory. Consequently, they may study diligently for exams and memorize the information they require, but during the exam they find themselves unable to recall the information they need to solve problems. Our Team uses various organisational strategies to improve the child’s working memory. Techniques like mnemonics and acronyms are taught to them for better retention of learnt material.

 

Does your child have difficulty understanding and/or following oral or written directions or information? Does s/he have trouble communicating his/her ideas?

 

Dyslexia refers to difficulties related to using and understanding language. Children with dyslexia have difficulty processing and/or understanding information they hear or read because of the way their brains interprets and/or processes information. As a result, they may have problems with speaking, listening, reading, spelling and/or writing. Individuals with Dyslexia may be extremely creative and talented, and excel in the visual arts, drama, sports, mechanics and other areas that require visual-spatial integration. Our individualised sessions focus on teaching children various decoding techniques that can help them in reading, writing and comprehending the written material.

 

Does your child have very messy handwriting or hold the pen/pencil awkwardly? Does s/he have trouble tying shoelaces or buttoning a shirt?

 

Dysgraphia is an impairment that is characterized chiefly by very poor or often illegible writing or writing that takes an unusually long time and great effort to complete. The root cause of messy handwriting is usually due to improper holding of pencil. (The most common form of fine-motor skill problem) Children with dysgraphia have difficulty in muscle coordination of the dominant hand which results in slow and illegible handwriting which, in turn, causes problems in completing work legibly in the allotted time and affects their writing skills.

Dyspraxia is a developmental & neurological disorder of the brain in childhood causing difficulty in activities requiring coordination and movement. It also affects an individual’s ability to plan and process motor tasks. It could lead to poor balance, poor posture, fatigue, clumsiness, differences in speech perception problems, poor hand-eye coordination, difficulty in tying shoelaces, or buttoning etc. The intervention provided by our professionals include strategically constructed techniques that help the children to develop their fine motor and gross motor skills. The expert special educators and occupational therapist of our team help to maximise the learning of the child by designing an individualized plan that focus on rectifying the deficit areas.

 

Does your child shy away from speaking in social gatherings, or have difficulty making or keeping friends?

 

Social skill deficits are difficulties in using and understanding social information and conventions. Children with LD exhibit poor interpersonal understanding and social adaptation. They struggle to communicate with their peers and have difficulty in making friends. They have difficulty coping with the resulting feelings of loneliness. Our personalised counselling sessions with children help and guide them to understand the root cause of their inappropriate and undesirable feelings and support them invariably to build up their self-confidence and self-esteem. Guidance by our expert counsellor on behaviour management can help the child to understand the various methods by which he/she can manage his/her behaviour during problematic and troublesome situations.

 

Does your child have trouble solving problems or thinking critically, creatively and logically?

 

Critical thinking and problem-solving are important tasks which can be quite challenging for children with certain types of LD. Even slight variations in the way questions are presented can lead to confusion and frustration. The rules and steps for solving problems, which most people do automatically, can be a mystery of these children. Experts of our team use differential and well-planned techniques/ strategies to enhance children’s creativity, critical and logical thinking skills which in turn help them to perform tasks and projects successfully at home and at school.

 

How can parents and teachers help?

 

Parents and teachers can help children with LD by:

  • Valuing their strengths
  • Understanding their weaknesses
  • Learning about and implementing specific strategies to deal with specific difficulties
  • Supporting and encouraging children to learn strategies and tools to build on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses

Myth: There’s no hope for people with mental illnesses.
Fact: There are various treatments, strategies, and community support available for people suffering from mental health issues. People with mental illnesses can lead active and productive lives.

 

Myth: I can’t do anything for someone with mental health needs.
FactYou can do a lot, starting with the way you act and how you speak. You can nurture an environment that builds on people’s strengths and promotes good mental health. For example:

  • Avoid labelling people with words like “crazy,” “wacko,” “loony,” or by their diagnosis. Instead of saying someone is a “schizophrenic” say “a person with schizophrenia.”
  • Learn the facts about mental health and share them with others, especially if you hear something that is untrue
  • Treat people with mental illnesses with respect and dignity
  • Respect the rights of people with mental illnesses and don’t discriminate against them when it comes to housing, employment, or education. Like other people with disabilities, people with mental health needs are protected under Federal and State laws

Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: In reality, the vast majority of people who have mental health needs are no more violent than anyone else. You probably know someone with a mental illness and don’t even realize it.

 

Myth: Mental illnesses cannot affect me.
Fact: Mental illnesses are surprisingly common; they affect almost every family. Mental illnesses do not discriminate-they can affect anyone.

 

Myth: Mental illness is the same as mental retardation.
FactThe two are distinct disorders. A mental retardation diagnosis is characterized by limitations in intellectual functioning and difficulties with certain daily living skills. In contrast, in people with mental illnesses the health conditions causes changes in a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior.

 

Myth: Mental illnesses are result of weakness of character.
FactMental illnesses are a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Research has shown genetic and biological factors are associated with schizophrenia, depression, and alcoholism. Social influences, such as loss of a loved one or a job, can also contribute to the development of various disorders.

 

Myth: People with mental illnesses cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.
FactIn essence, all jobs are stressful to some extent. Productivity is maximized when there is a good match between the employee’s needs and working conditions, whether or not the individual has mental health needs.

 

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who have received effective treatment and have recovered, tend to be second-rate workers on the job.
FactEmployers who have hired people with mental illnesses report good attendance and punctuality, as well as motivation, quality of work, and job tenure at par with or greater than other employees. Studies by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) show that there are no differences in productivity when people with mental illnesses are compared to other employees.

 

Myth: Once people develop mental illnesses, they will never recover.
FactStudies show that most people with mental illnesses get better, and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. For some individuals, recovery is the ability to live a fulfilling and productive life. For others, recovery implies the reduction or complete remission of symptoms. Science has shown that having hope plays an integral role in an individual’s recovery.

 

Myth: Therapy and self-help are wastes of time. Why bother when you can just take one of those pills you hear about on TV? 
FactTreatment varies depending on the individual. A lot of people work with therapists, counselors, their peers, psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, and social workers in their recovery process. They also use self-help strategies and community supports. Often these methods are combined with some of the most advanced medications available.

 

Myth: Children do not experience mental illnesses. Their actions are just products of bad parenting.
FactA good number of reports have shown that 5-9 percent of children experience serious emotional disturbances. Just like adult mental illnesses, these are clinically diagnosable health conditions that are a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, social, and sometimes even genetic factors.

 

Myth: Children misbehave or fail in school just to get attention.
Fact: Behavior problems can be symptoms of emotional, behavioral, or mental disorders, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. These children can succeed in school with appropriate understanding, attention, and mental health services.