KATHMANDU, June 17: Shriyog Rijal, strings the beads into a thread with the help of his teacher at the Special School and Rehabilitation Center at old Sinamangal in Kathmandu.
Six year old Shriyog Rijal was different than his friends at Montessori School. He would push his friends, nag a lot, enjoyed staying by himself and wasn’t able to speak properly which worried his parents as his development and behavior was different than those in his class.
Sensing that he required special attention and environment he was shifted to this school.
Alongside Shriyog, a relatively healthy looking Poshan Paudel is transferring balls from one vessel to the other. Though Poshan looks healthy, he is physically very weak and can’t move his hands and legs very well.
However, since he joined the Special School, Poshan has been able to clench a pencil with his mouth and write alphabets. Currently he is in the process of making his hand and legs more active.
Along with Shriyog and Poshan, 30 other students who are differently-abled, mentally and physically, study in the Special School at the moment.
Keeping in mind the special needs for its student, the environment and teaching methods adopted in this school are very different from that of regular schools. And unlike other schools, each student is individually different and so are their needs.
“Each of our students requires special attention,” says Sabita Uprety, the Managing Director of the school, adding, “They need individualistic training and special schooling.”
20 students in the school are mentally disabled and according to Uprety noticing it at a younger age and specialized education can help curb it to an extent.
Some of these students also have symptoms of autism, a development disorder whose symptoms are seen mostly after three years of birth, which require special therapy as the children with autism have extreme behavior - very active or loners. Some kids with this disorder don’t make eye contact, is withdrawn and indifferent.
Shriyog, after therapy has been able to speak a few words. “If the vocal cords are open, therapy such as blowing off candles, can help improve speech,” says Uprety who believes other therapy such as toys and puzzles can also help improve the mental stability of these children.
Anushka Basnet, another student at the school, was born with a leg shorter than the other and couldn’t remember things well. After being enrolled in the school and the special attention she got, has helped her improve her memory, dance and even run as any other kid. She now studies in a regular school.
Similarly, eleven year old Prajwol Khanal was weak both mentally and physically, had problems with his speech and was malnourished. After joining this school he stood first among five students in his lower kindergarten class. He can now have a proper conversation.
“We’ve been able to rehabilitate such five kids into normal schools in the past one year,” says Uprety with pride and informs that the school doesn’t have a fixed fee and charges parents as per their economic capability.
Charging up to Rs 4000 per month, the school is currently educating four students for free and till date has rehabilitated 200 students with special needs.
While therapy helps those with mental challenges, physical therapy helps those with physical challenges like Anushka, Poshan and Prajwol, informs Uprety.
“Through occupational therapy the problems related to limbs and legs can be cured by proper exercise such as holding the pencil and proper food. If the five senses don’t work then the sensation exercises are used,” informs Uprety.
“My students ask me to run school on Saturdays too from time to time,” shares Uprety with a smile and adds, “They don’t enjoy doing things by themselves and would rather have maximum participation from their friends when they read, write or play and they can’t get such environment at home.”
Uprety informs that the teachers from the school at times also make home visits to check the environment at home.