After three consecutive lockdowns, we have settled in the fourth. Over the last two months, each of us has responded, adapted and come up with our own perspective to the pandemic and the changes induced. Ishanya India Foundation had earlier shared the viewpoint of a parent (in our story “Staying afloat”). Today, the foundation brings to you some more thoughts. Shivani Khanwalkar, who has been working with individuals with special needs for the last 10 years, provides the experiences of a special educator.
Aditya opens up
Bonding over chores
Pre-lockdown era, siblings (of special need individuals) were always busy with school and after-school activities. Today, they are cooped up at home with only each other for company. When the lockdown began, many siblings were not used to spending so much time together. This led to many challenges in the household. Parents reported frequent arguments, fights, and squabbles over minor issues.
With so much time and no option of leaving the house, slowly siblings began to help and understand one another. Playing board games, watching videos and movies, attending online workshops, and doing chores are some activities they started to enjoy together.
Parents of students at Ishanya India Foundation reported that their children began performing chores like cleaning the living room, washing dishes, folding clothes, together. The special needs child also got support while doing these chores, from his or her sibling. Other activities that they are do are – craft making, dancing, cooking, meditation, exercise in the form of dance and storytelling.
The special needs individual found a friend and confidante in their sibling. This bonding and camaraderie has also helped the regular sibling to be more sensitive, empathetic, patient, inculcating team and leadership spirit. They have learnt to love and live together as a family.
Together we can
Special educators are forever looking for new approaches to help their students. Designing tailor-made “Individualised Education Plans (IEPs)”, therapy plans, worksheets and resources for each session are only some of the tasks on an educator’s to-do list. As every child is different, every plan and each session is also different. Customisation knows no bounds, when it comes to working with individuals with special needs!
Therefore, the current COVID-19 situation was not much of a major deterrent for the educators at Ishanya India Foundation.
We continued our sessions online even before the lockdown began. We were ready with a plan for the lockdown and kept all parents in the loop. Although e-classes were new to our students, their parents were more than happy to help with orientation. They sat along with the special needs person to start and log-in to the call and even learnt how to screen share! Some parents also reported that the sibling had a pivotal role to play during online sessions. They assisted, helped solve technical glitches whenever possible and acted as mediators during sessions. They were like a mentor and the special needs sibling thrived with this support.
With changing times, our educators also changed their strategies to work with the students. They sent online tutorials, worksheets, presentations and videos to make the learning process easier for the students. The time taken for each student to get used to online sessions varied, but they all got there!
This would not have been possible without the team effort that was put in.
Do not feel disheartened or dejected, For we are not affected. This is the time to analyse, Ponder over and realise, That together we can overcome, Every obstacle beneath the sun. United we have hope, Together we can cope. Tomorrow is a new day, Come what may, we will find our way.
Cover image credit: Amrita Dasgupta
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