Hello Friends of U&I - Here is a report about our work in the State Home for Mentally Challenged Boys during the months June to August 2013.
The Institute for Mentally Handicapped Children (IMHC) currently houses 83 boys with special needs who have been abandoned by their families or lost and brought to the Institute. Working with the boys in a State-run Home is bound to be challenging with everyday bringing us new issues, experiences and situations.
Thank you so much for supporting our work at the Institute and believing in the work we do for these wonderful children.
Some of the main highlights and challenges are:
• Health & Hygiene - Mumps was one of the battles that was fought and won over the month. Apart from that, U&I has hired 3 assistant carers who take care of bathing, brushing and grooming of the boys every day. They also ensure all the clothes are washed and sorted and the boys do not wear any wet clothes. The corridors, bathroom and dorms are also cleaned regularly which has resulted in improved hygiene conditions at the Home.
• Therapy & Activities - Activities started at the Home include computer training for a few of the older boys. They enjoy working on Paint where they draw squares and fill them with various colours. They are also learning to type alphabets and numbers with Microsoft Word. In vocational activities the boys are learning to string beads to make pretty chains and bracelets. They have also made bookmarks that were handed out to the State staff.
• Physiotherapy - The physiotherapist has been working with 10 boys with cerebral palsy and other equilibrium problems. The boys are closer to achieving independency in motor movement after the intensive therapy of last few months.
• Trip to the Zoo - The boys were taken on a one day trip to a local National park where they learnt about different animals and birds. They especially loved the elephants and the monkeys!
• Volunteering at the Institute - Every Sunday about 40 volunteers visit the institute and engage the boys in different activities. They follow a special needs curriculum designed for the different levels of mental retardation. They also spend time cleaning and gardening at the Institute and help provide a better environment for all the boys.
Story of the month :
A part of the usual guidelines given to all the people who enter the Institute includes warning them of a few boys who one needs to watch out for. The first on this list was a boy called Nalla Raja. He is a 16 year old boy with autism that is characterized by a lot of stereotypical behaviour like rocking his head, flapping his hands, squinting, biting his hand and his knee. Nalla was notorious for walking up to people and spanking them hard when you least
expected it. And on special days he would end up biting a volunteer or two as well!
This interesting characteristic of Nalla got my attention as I started working at the Institute on a daily basis. An expert in the field had worked with him before and explained how he liked being tapped gently on the cheek as a reward for sitting quietly. Being wary of trying this by myself, I let an old volunteer go ahead and do it the first time. After observing that Nalla was neither agitated nor out to bite the volunteer, I decided to try this on a regular basis myself. What started out as a cautious challenge soon turned into something I looked forward to every day. Nalla had slowly become one of my favourite boys at the Institute. I wanted to shower him with my attention and affection every time I was around the boys.
The changes were slow and went unnoticed, until one day I went up to the boys to greet them and was pleasantly surprised to see Nalla let out a screech and come running towards me with a smile on his face. There was no hitting or biting and he just put his hand out to be touched. After gently holding my hand he pulled away and went and sat down again. Soon we noticed Nalla had stopped biting and rarely hit people who were around him. We were amazed at the results of how a little care and attention can go a long way to bring such positive change in a child!
Plans for the next few months include:
- Training for all staff at the Home
- Conducting a specialised health camp
- Assessments and diagnosis of the boys to help form short and long term goals
- A Big Birthday Bash for all the boys.
Every day at the Institute we learn something new. Every day they give us a reason to smile because they manage to accomplish something, no matter how small. All the challenges and struggles become worth it when we see the change in the boys and know that today, we made them a little bit happier.