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  Life   More Features  05 Sep 2019  Every educator is special

Every educator is special

THE ASIAN AGE. | MANEK S KOHLI
Published : Sep 5, 2019, 5:36 am IST
Updated : Sep 5, 2019, 5:36 am IST

Sometimes, children require more attention than a regular classroom can provide, and that’s where special educators come in.

Guntasha Sangla
 Guntasha Sangla

How can anyone forget Ishaan Awasthi from Taare Zameen Par, and how the child not only thrived, but shone once individual attention was given to him by Aamir Khan’s character. Not many know that the role Aamir played in Ishaan’s life was that of a special educator, or a teacher employed to address individual differences and needs of students with specific needs or learning disabilities. These people are teachers, but more so, they are friends, counsellors and facilitators who ensure each child can conquer every adversity, lock, stock and barrel.

One such individual is Neetika Dhingra, who works as a special educator in a Delhi-based school. Three students, who otherwise study in regular classrooms, come to her for this specialised attention. She says, “All of them have completely different needs and unique mental backgrounds. One 10-year-old child who I’m helping has incredibly limited speech, but uses an app to communicate with us. Because of that, his cognition level is very low. So, we have completely changed the curriculum for him.”

It is extraordinary the kind of techniques and attention a child receives. Neetika continues, “For instance, if a child is unable to comprehend what is written on a blackboard, the special educator will use colour coding to make understanding easy.

Additionally, lots of hands-on activities are used.”

This way, a special educator uses the best of technology and techniques -- even adapting the learning environment to the child’s needs -- to ensure the student can perform adequately well. Another special educator, Guntasha Sangla, adds, “It is a supportive, and not an exclusionary set-up we create. We support the children, but we ensure that they do not feel any different or left out.”

Often, a class teacher is unable to accord sufficient attention to every child. The student-to-teacher ratio is not very good in India either, and a lot of students lose out this way. Luckily, continues Guntasha, “With acceptance and change in the environment, a lot of people are coming out and getting their children enrolled in such set-ups and schools, heightening the demand of a special educator.” As per her, the hiring of OTs (occupational therapists, who focus on helping individuals with a sensory, physical or cognitive disability), speech therapists and other such individuals have similarly increased, so that no child loses out on the attention s/he deserves.

However, the role of a special educator doesn’t stop here, but it extends to include all aspects of the student’s life. Neetika continues with the example of a child, in whose case only the mother would come to meet the educators. Eventually, she insisted that the father should come; however, as it turns out, he had issues with the mother. So, the educators began to counsel the parents and suggest ways through which the couple can be in a cordial relationship. After all, the parents’ relationship has a major impact on the child. Turns out, their relationship drastically improved as a consequence.

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