The Deaf-blind and Multi-Handicapped Program in St. Nicholas’ Home is the first of its kind in Malaysia and provides services particularly for children with visual impairment and other related disabilities.
This programme initiated by Hilton Perkins International, USA, commenced in 1997 with seven students and four teachers. At present, we have with us 11 students with 5 teachers, but we would like to increase this number in the future to 20 residential students to cater to the increasing number of children with multiple disabilities in Malaysia. Residential facilities have been expanded last year for this purpose.
The main objective of this programme is to train and educate the deaf-blind and multi-handicapped children so that they gain the self-confidence to lead an independent life. Some of the children under the programme have improved tremendously within a year of skills training and development.
One of the most remarkable transformations we saw was from Chee. When Chee arrived at our Home, he was facing a lot of problem with moving around and identifying directions. We realised that it was not easy to train him to recognise things and his surrounding too.
Chee has made lots of progress for the past six months at St. Nicholas’ Home. Nowadays, he eats and drinks on his own and dresses himself with almost no help at all. He is able to brush his teeth with minimum assistance too.
In addition, Chee developed his pre-vocational skills further in being able to identify bottles and caps and being able to screw a bottle cap on the right place. Today he is able to arrange marbles in the right place in class and identify different shapes. His communication skills are also progressing.
Actions such as walking towards the teacher when called, recognizing the days and calling out friends names are no longer obstacles for Chee. He can now fix all sorts of different puzzles, also climbing up and down the staircase independently. Chee overcame some mobility problems and now he is able to walk from dining hall to classroom and from classroom to dormitory, field and toilet. Furthermore, he has improved in his daily living skills by being able to wash his hands before and after the tea break. He also washes his plate or cup on his own and clean the table with little assistance from his teacher. His favourite activities are running and jumping around.
Another child who has improved a lot with this programme is the seventeen years old Yash. Thanks to the training received in the DBMH program at St. Nicholas’ Home, we can proudly say that he developed his skills to a higher level during the past six months.
Nowadays he is able to communicate by using Malay and English language. He is able to move around in the dormitory and able to follow instructions. Besides that, he can wash his clothes and brush his teeth and bath without assistance. He has been trained to put on his clothes, fold his clothes, and sweep the floor independently. During meal time he is able to arrange the cups and plates for his friends and fill up water into the cups.
In addition, he can scoop food from the bowl to his own plate with little help from the staff. He can wash his plate and cup after the meal. Yash became quite independent in his self-care. He needs minimal supervision. He is able to clean the table after meals with little assistance from the staff. He likes to help in the kitchen by peeling onions and garlic. While peeling the onions he feels the surface of it to know if there is any skin left or not. Besides helping out in the kitchen, he listens to music and likes to dance.
Yash understands most of the instructions given by the teachers. He is echolalic so he will only say the last words or the last sentence. Echolalia is the automatic repetition of vocalizations made by another person. It is frequently found in blind or visually impaired children, although most will outgrow this behavior. A typical pediatric presentation of echolalia might be as follows: a child is asked "Do you want dinner?"; the child echoes back "Do you want dinner?", followed by a pause, and then a response, "Yes. What's for dinner?" Socially Yash does not mix much with his friends but he takes part in group activities. He also learned a lot in motor skills and is now able to bead necklaces and bracelets.
Today he is also speaking better in both Tamil and Malay Language. Our teachers work closely with Yash to equip him with simple abilities to take care of himself. We look forward to see the day when he can accomplish doing more tasks in order to be self-sufficient.
All the children enrolled in DBMH programme are with special needs due to their multi disabilities. With an education plan developed to match their special needs individually, especially in improving their independence and communication skills, we are confident that we can improve and enhance the potential of these children to lead a life of quality and dignity.
All of them have improved their skills by following the DBMH program. All of them have the capability to learn new things everyday with more educational materials which will be provided with the presence of donation from you.
Our sincere thanks to you for providing a better future for young blind and multi-handicapped. You’re a lifesaver. Your contributions will continue to help many other children like Chee and Yash to lead a secured and better life regardless of their disabilities.