From the establishment of the Bombay Institute of the Deaf and Mutes in 1885 to the government initiative PM eVidya’s recent introduction of e-learning guidelines for students with a range of disabilities, the world of education for children with special needs in India has indeed come quite a long way. The founding of Sped@home – a Mumbai-based company that caters to the differential needs of children – is, in many ways, symbolic of both that progress and the future of special education in India in general.
A child and adolescent psychiatrist who’s been involved in the field for 25 years, Dr Dhaval Mody found that many children with differential needs were reported to be regressing in their academic and even developmental progress. This heralded the need for an urgent intervention and Sped@home was born.
Following Sped@home’s founding in 2020, Dr Mody and his colleagues conducted scores of interviews with the parents of children with differential needs in order to understand the core issues many of them were having during the pandemic. Based on these interviews, they realised that many of the remedial centres that the parents had come to depend upon for their children were solely focused on academic performance at the expense of personal growth. The team conceived Sped@home as a corrective to the state of special education in India – a service provider that focuses on the holistic growth of its students to ensure their development over the longer-term.
Sped@home offers a customisable and affordable approach to special education that blends coach-led and tech-led interventions for children with differential needs. Whilst their interventions cater to educational tasks such as literacy and numeracy, they also place an equal amount of focus on both physical and cognitive tasks to ensure a well-rounded and holistic development.
The services provided by Sped@home can be broadly split into four categories:
In order to ensure a strong foundation for a child’s growth, it’s necessary for one to understand their core strengths and weaknesses. This is where occupational therapy comes in handy. According to Merriam-Webster, it is:
“[T]herapy based on engagement in meaningful activities of daily life (such as self-care skills, education, work, or social interaction) especially to enable or encourage participation in such activities despite impairments or limitations in physical or mental functioning”.
Based on assessments of a child’s proficiency and development rather than their academic grades, the experts at Sped@home create education plans that are perfectly tailored to them.
Sped@home’s therapeutic interventions are designed to meet every child’s cognitive, physical and academic development needs. Our plans offer a high-level of flexibility in selecting a number of remedial and occupational therapy sessions, while providing and advocating an approach integrating both remedial and occupational therapy.
In remedial therapy, Sped@home’s experts draw up educational plans based on analyses of a child’s strengths and areas where improvement may be necessary. Available in both ‘Lite’ and ‘Standard’ versions, the service also includes among others:
Sped@home’s occupational therapists create exercises based on the child’s one-on-one sessions which might include exercises and activities to help them incorporate lessons into their daily lives.
Communication is a vital aspect of life in general. Sped@home’s speech and language therapists teach valuable techniques to help with a range of different communication issues that a child may be encountering. These issues include, among others:
The techniques utilised by Sped@home’s speech therapists include oral muscle strengthening, breathing exercises and other relevant strategies.
Sped@home runs various group sessions for children all year-round – some also run during term times and school occasions. They play the important role of socialisation that many children with differential needs may lack in lives.
Children with strong socio-emotional skills have been found to cope better with daily challenges and thus benefit socially, academically and professionally. Sped@home helps children develop self-control, self-awareness and interpersonal skills that are vital for success anywhere in life. Some of the many issues that socio-learning helps tackle are:
Providing children with differential needs the right kind of holistic education is only the beginning. Attitudes towards disabilities such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dysgraphia and Autism are gradually but surely shifting in the mainstream through the advent of the internet (that has played a vital role in making unheard voices heard). A solid psychological and educational foundation will go a long way in ensuring a full life. It is Sped@home’s hope that it not only sets an industry standard when it comes to special education, but also plays a small role in the progress of those with differential abilities in India.