During a global online consultation on creating holistic support systems and enabling environments for children with disabilities, experts from India, Slovenia, UAE and USA stressed the importance of early detection and intervention.
Keynote speaker, Jo Chopra-McGowan, who has been working on disability services, rights and awareness for three decades, said, “The sooner the child’s family is aware, the better. India has made a lot of progress in awareness-raising. When we (Latika Roy Foundation) started work, 12 years was the average age for detection. This has now come down to 3.”
Dr Amrita Dass, Founder-Director, Institute for Career Studies (ICS) spoke about empowering the kids with meaningful and fulfilling career choices. “At ICS, we believe in fine-tuning the choices to each one’s unique frequency. Every career can be accessed by persons with disabilities provided we know what is required. In my experience, students with special needs have proven their talent in diverse areas such as health & fitness, teaching, computers, social work, design, sports, entrepreneurship, etc. We just need to discover their talent and support them.”
The participants – special needs educators, teachers, counsellors, parents and doctors –agreed that awareness and support systems were needed not just for children but for other stakeholders, too.
Suzana Drabik, Project Manager, International Center for Promotion of Enterprises (ICPE), Slovenia, shared her perspective as a mother of a child with special needs. “My journey was from acceptance to dealing with the systems – schools, people not understanding that my child was different…I sought information from books, forums, and the Internet. All stakeholders need support – children, parents, teachers, doctors, social workers, etc.” The consultation, ‘Bright New World’ – jointly organised by ICS and ICPE – highlighted a wide range of subjects related to creating an inclusive and equitable world for children with learning disabilities and neurological disorders.