School for the Mentally Challenged
Shamayita Monodeep– the school for the Mentally Challenged is a unique venture of Shamayita Math in its service towards society. Shamayita Math is based on the principle of love, care and equality for all people across all section of the community. At present, this school is working with few privileged children with an aim to change and shape their lives so that these kids can lead a dignified livelihood on their own. Through humanitarian values, Shamayita Math spreads the message of love for these mentally challenged children. Shamayita Math firmly believes that, given proper environment for their manifestation, these mentally challenged children too can develop their inherent potentialities and be included into the mainstream of the society.
Shamayita Monodeep wants a world in which the nature of autism and associated conditions, mental retardation are fully understood and people with these challenges have their needs recognized and supported, so that they can live their lives to their potential and enjoy the same rights and opportunities as everyone else, within a well informed and tolerant society. Inclusion into mainstream of the society through access to carefully tailored integration programme appropriate to their individual needs is the ultimate goal.
To provide and develop a range of services for children and adults with autism, mental retardation, appropriate to their needs which are specialized, innovative, high quality and well resourced. To continually seek to improve and provide model of good practice which are internationally recognized.
It is to be achieved by-
- Directly providing education, care and support to children with autism, mental retardation in a fully integrated day care/ residential set up.
- Directly providing advice, support and information to the effected families and their care-givers.
- Raising professional and public awareness of the needs of people with autism, mental retardation and associated problems within the society with an aim towards better understanding and tolerance.
Shamayita Math situated on the banks of River Sali beside NH-60, in Ranbahal village in the district of Bankura, West Bengal. Ranbahal is well connected by road from the steel city of Durgapur (50 Kmsapprox) and Bankura town (25 Kmsapprox). The Math is about 220 kms from Kolkata.
The school hours are 4.5 hrs a day from 08-30am to 01-00 pm, 5 days a week from Wednesday to Sunday. Saturday and Sunday are treated as working day to encourage the parents to participate in the school curriculum. Monday and Tuesday are weekly holidays. During summer, because of extreme climatic condition in Bankura, school hours are occasionally changed to 07-30 hrs to 11-30hrs i.e. 4 hours a day.
Further special home based programs are provided to students staying in distant places as they cannot visit the school everyday.
Admission Process & Procedure
At the time of admission a detail application form is required to be completed by the parents with the help of our staff. A proper assessment generally takes few days to weeks.
Following aspects of the child are taken into consideration during assessment:
- Fine Motor Skills
- Gross Motor Skills
- Cognitive Skills
- Expressive Language Skills
- Receptive Language Skills
- Social Interaction
- Attention and use of Sensory Modalities
- Challenging Behaviours
- Interests and Unusual Mannerism
- Self Help Skills
An IEP ( Individual Educational Programme ) is prepared for each student where the goal statement , technique or key strategies , name of IEP contributors, date introduced, date mastered are mentioned . An IEP is usually valid for three months. IEP contributors meet at regular interval, discuss the various developmental aspects on the child and decide on the next course of action. It is mandatory for every parent to participate in an IEP meeting.
Aims and Objectives of the Program
To provide a 365 days provision offering education in the day care centre as well as in the residential set-up to students between 3-19 years of age who have Autistic Spectrum Disorders and associated conditions including mental retardation.
To provide a broad and balanced curriculum so that these children too can develop their inherent potentialities and be included into the main stream of the society.
To provide a quality 24-hour learning environment that supports the individuals in developing their optimum potential.
To provide for each student a service based upon an individual education programme (IEP) that acknowledges and challenges the triad of impairment through a carefully done 24 hour curriculum.
To provide an environment that promotes and supports the development of independence, choice and self advocacy for the students.
In planning and responding to lifetime needs of individuals with Autistic Spectrum Disorders and Mental Retardation, the following aspects are taken into consideration:
The world of a child with autism can be a confusing, perplexing and frightening place. One ‘golden rule’ is therefore to provide each student a regular, predictable, and structured learning environment. Helping the student to interpret their environment in ways that are meaningful to them, reduce levels of stress and anxiety therefore optimizing learning opportunities.
The following approach is undertaken as teaching aid for the child:
Significantly reduce the level of language used in the classroom and rely on the visual cues to help them understand what is required of them.
All teaching areas are organized with clearly designated areas for group work, independent work, play, and individual teaching.
Some tasks are presented in a visual sequence e.g. brushing teeth, dressing etc. in order to promote independence rather than over reliance on constant verbal instruction.
Our approach is based on an understanding that our students are children at the very onset. They need to learn and should have the same opportunities and be provided with age-appropriate activities which are more motivating for the children, they need to be actively involved with their learning and tasks must match the individual child’s level of ability and be achievable.
Developing a service which fulfils the framework as defined in SPELL (Structure, Positive, Empathy, Low arousal, Links).
- Provide a Total Communication environment that supports each student’s communication needs.
Teaching Aids Used
- Montessori Teaching Materials
- Materials For Sensory Integration
- Equipments For Vestibular Stimulation
- Multi gym equipments
- Various Musical Instruments
- Different Play Materials
- Various books and manuals
Curriculum is formulated specifically to the needs of students with autism and associated conditions, mental retardation with particular emphasis, therefore, on communication, social skills and independent living. It is based on the aim towards integration into the mainstream school, Shamayita Convent School, situated in the adjacent compound.
It is also recognized that the students who study at Monodeep arrive at different ages, with vastly different educational, social, and cultural backgrounds. The only common feature they share is that for a wide variety of reasons they need a safe and highly secured 365days placement.
A very high percentage of teaching time is devoted to the development of social, personal, self-help and leisure skills, which may be presented in a variety of formats. Skills such as learning to learn, appropriate behaviours and decision making may need to be taught in order to allow access to other areas of the curriculum.
The primary function of education is to draw out the child’s innate abilities.The secondary function is to increase knowledge of the child.
There is a third function of education - which is to remove blocks, not only to the education process but also to all of life. Our priority thus must be to identify blocks, give direction for overcoming them, and lay key foundation stones, which we would take for granted in the normal child, but which can be identified as missing in the autistic child. For this reason,in the programme which we have formulated, intervention is given priority over educational targets.
Integration into Normal Education
All students will have access to an integration programme when it is considered appropriate to their individual needs. Integration into Shamayita Convent School which is located in the adjacent compound is programmed according to their level of difficulties providing the opportunity to teach social skills / awareness in real situations and / or extend academic attainments. Students from Shamayita Monodeep join Shamayita Convent School to take part in various activities e.g. drama, dance, social experiences, picnic, assemblies, play group , sports , dining as well as regular academic classes. Integration is reviewed on a regular basis. Integration is very closely monitored.
All students at Shamayita Monodeep are registered with Shamayita Jeevan Surya, the health clinic of Shamayita Math and subjected to extensive medical check up at regular interval by a general physician, a neuro-psychiatrist and specialists as per individual requirement.
Home School Relationship
Parents are kept fully informed about everything that goes on in school. Parents are encouraged to spend some time observing or working along with teaching staff in the class room.
Home visits are arranged by the facilitators of the school at regular intervals to ensure that the specifically designed curriculum in the home set up is followed.
Shamayita Monodeep is a 365 days provision. A 24 hour curriculum is in place in the Residential Unit and support across 24 hours is available to students. The Residential service provides a facility for extending the educational day with a structured and consistent approach to residential life in a more relaxed and home like setting than is possible in school, ensuring personal and social development, which maximizes potential and preparation for adult life. The needs of the different age groups are accommodated in a warm and caring environment. Few respite beds are also available for day students. The building is purpose designed with recreation room, a dining room, a well equipped kitchen. The sleeping area is divided into rooms for two children with their respective parents according to their age, general and social needs and peer group friendships.Parents are encouraged and trained to participate in the effective implementation of 24 hours curriculum.
Activities in the residential setup include
Cognitive follow up, participating in morning and evening prayer, Interactive indoor / outdoor games such as carom, bowling, football, basketball, badminton etc, cooking, gardening, general household activities for daily living, marketing, practicing special abilities like singing, playing musical instruments, dancing, painting, drawing etc, TV watching, playing computer games etc
- The school believes in the right of its students to be treated as any other children in the society with dignity and respect.
- It believes in a strong partnership with parents. No one knows a child better than the parents and guardians who have cared for that individual from birth.
- It believes that structure, positive intervention, generalization, concentration on real life situation rather than abstract concepts achieve the best results from students with autism.
- It believes that compassion, tolerance and positive intervention affect change.
The autistic children’s participation in drama, sports as a source of entertainment is encouraged so that they progress through a comprehensive cycle of development for rehabilitation and inclusion in the mainstream.
The following activities are regularly done:
Picnic along with parents teachers and siblings
Cultural programmes with the students of Shamayita Convent School
Celebration of occasions like In Rakshabandhan, Holi etc.
Celebration of Birthdays
The parents participate in all forms of entertainment to support the children in relishing the event providing a cared and secure environment.