Aditya Govindaraj writes about how a mother’s quest to help her child overcome hearing disability has led to the creation of Sadhya Educational Trust
The ability to hear and, more importantly, understand and speak sounds is one of the most challenging hurdles for a hearing-impaired child. Normally, a hearing child listens to speech and sounds every waking moment—from the time of birth or even before. On the other hand, a hearing-impaired child misses out on everything—from birth till she is diagnosed and given hearing aids. Hearing impairment at birth affects speech and becomes a ‘double handicap’. Even if a child responds to loud sounds, she will not pick up speech if she does not hear language spoken at normal levels. This often leads to late diagnosis of the problem. Parents need to act when the child is just a few months old, to help her take advantage of the brain’s neural plasticity to be able to learn the spoken language. How can parents teach such a child to understand and speak sounds?
Chennai-based Sadhya Educational Trust, founded in 2002 by Neela Govindaraj, show how. ‘Sadhya’, in Sanskrit, means attainable and, to her, the goal is making hearing-impaired children speak. The Trust works at empowering parents, usually the mother, through information and training. She says, “As a parent of a hearing-impaired child, I know that parents are the key people in making the child speak. I, therefore, wanted to help other parents take on the responsibility.”
Ms Govindaraj uses auditory-verbal therapy, an innovative teaching method she learnt at the Education Audiology and Research Centre (EAR Centre) in Mumbai and, subsequently, at John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles. The therapy teaches the child to interpret sounds as a meaningful language which requires intensive cooperation from parents in a natural environment, through hearing aids or cochlear implants. “The method is built on the premise that the brain of a hearing-impaired child learns language the same way as a hearing child. It is not taught through lip-reading but through listening and speech. This means that the child must be trained at an early age,” she says. Ms Govindaraj conducts one-hour individual sessions twice a week, setting goals and demonstrating to the parent the method of communicating with the child. “We play the roles in class with real objects such as toys, puppets, dolls, charts, etc. We tell the parent how to involve other family members and how to create the best environment at home for acquiring language skills,” she adds. Since they are the child’s very own special educators, classes are structured in a way that goals are constantly reviewed and set to ensure progress. People from all strata of the society come to Sadhya for help.
About how she learnt auditory-verbal therapy, Ms Govindaraj says, “When my child was diagnosed with hearing impairment, I was lucky to be referred to an early intervention centre in 1984—EAR Centre. My family helped get reading materials from London. I enrolled for a correspondence course for parents from John Tracy Clinic in Los Angeles and also attended the summer course. I kept learning from various people for the next 10 years. I also did my Bachelor’s in special education recently which has reinforced my understanding in teaching.”
Sadhya also offers good quality hearing-aids at reasonable rates—at times, free. It offers parents the facility to get moulds, batteries and repairs done under one roof. Ms Govindaraj conducts interactive sessions among new and older parents, counsellors, hearing-aid specialists and ENT doctors as well. Currently, Sadhya Educational Trust is funded by Ms Govindaraj’s family and private donations. Apart from enrolling children for Sadhya Educational Trust, they also accept financial donations which are exempt under Section 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.
Ms Govindaraj is Aditya’s mother. Aditya writes from his first hand experience. — Editor
Sadhya Educational Trust
Flat #13, Temple Rise,
261, RK Mutt Road, RA Puram,
Chennai — 600028
Ph: 09380638516 (Chennai number)
Email: [email protected]
Interlinking of rivers was mooted in the 1970s by the then irrigation minister KL Rao. The Supreme Court, in February this year directed the government to set up a panel to implement the project but nothing really has happened so far
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) which has been giving the anxious public small doses of ‘deficit’, “poor and inadequate rains”, “below normal” and other similar assurances on the monsoon conditions, has now come to terms to accept that the ‘drought’ is a confirmed event, and the third in the last one decade. The earlier ones being 2002 and 2009.
It is not that anyone wants to blame the IMD for no fault of theirs, if the monsoon does not come in time or in adequate quantity and spread all over the country evenly!
Five states of the Union have been identified as the worst affected so far, which are Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Haryana and Gujarat. As a first step, the government has announced a Rs2,000 crore relief package as well as a 50% diesel subsidy for these rain-starved states.
Already, there is the fear that the rains in August and September also many not be adequate either, due to the anticipated El Nino effect. This weather phenomenon is likely to affect the weather patterns in many parts of the world, including India.
However, if there is a favourable rainfall in the ensuing months, the situation is likely to affect the farmers. But the actual impact will be known only after the season ends, according to agriculture minister Sharad Pawar.
Since 60% of the land under cultivation in India is rain-fed, the monsoon vagaries affect the country in a huge way. The lack of rains also affects hydel power production which will have a domino effect on farmers not being able to use electric pump sets. But as a large number have standby diesel generators, they may be able to get some relief.
It may be recalled that in the 1970s, the then irrigation minister, KL Rao had mooted the idea of interlinking the rivers. In fact, such a proposal was the brainchild of late M Visvesvaraya who conceived and prepared the plan, more than 100 years ago, to form a national water grid. But that was never given its due importance by the British fearing that such a interlinking of rivers would bring about nationalistic feelings among the Indian masses. This great report is still collecting dust in the Indian achieves.
However, the modified proposal by KL Rao, and later expanded by Capt Dinshaw Dastur called for an establishment of a “grand canal” which would transfer water from surplus river basins to deficient regions by building series of dams and irrigate some 34 million hectares of land and also generate 34,000 MW of power. In fact, the Supreme Court, in February this year directed the government to set up a panel to implement the inter-linking river project. As far as we know, nothing really has happened so far, in this matter.
It would be gratifying to know from the ministry of irrigation about the progress they have made in this regard, considering the sordid fact that millions of our countrymen and the parched earth are starving for water to quench the thirst?
(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)
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