Friday, May 21, 2010

Schools in Hyderabad and Tiruchi

              This school, Saandipani, in Shanti nagar is in Hyderabad. It follows the Waldrof curriculum that does not have a mass appeal with parents of regular kids. It works for our kids feels a mother of an autistic kid. The school believes in lot of physical activities, the academic sessions start only at 11.30. They teach more of vocational skills such as stitching and carpentry. After the gym, OT , and exercises , the mother feels the child is more focused. There are no deadlines. Her son is in the 5th grade. The best part she says, I don’t have to nag him, and he feels it is his responsibility to do his work. I feel that is major, major …. (Guess it cannot be emphasized enough) learning. Today he writes A-Z, numbers independently and she feels it is an accomplishment to be proud of it. Earlier he was doing a whole lot of academics, none of it independently. ABA is an absolute NO -NO with her son. The Waldroff curriculum is based on the principles of Rudolf Steiner. According to him a regular kid is not ready for academics till the age of 7 and a special child till the age of 12. No wonder this philosophy has no takers in India.
                     The other school in Tiruchi, Shivananda balalaya in Srinivasa nagar is a mainstream school with a separate set up for special kids. They gradually integrate the children. The mother, I spoke to says her daughter, a CP child is attending school here. There are autistic children also. And the children are taken care of. They also allow shadow teachers. The student –teacher ratio is 4:1.
                            As the loreal ad with Aishwarya Rai goes “5 problems, one solution…………….” an ad for schooling for autistic kids should probably be something like this “I problem, multiple solutions, no guarantees”.  Anyway the parents cannot be blamed for want of not trying. Montessori, TEACCH, ABA,  Waldroff,  to state syllabi, different techniques, different methodologies  work for our  children. Jo  Jeeta wohi sikander.                       

Friday, May 14, 2010

Equine therapy and autism

Equine therapy is considered a potentially promising therapy model for children especially with  autism, ADHD and bipolar disorders. Equine therapy involves individuals interacting with and riding on horses. Specially trained horses and therapists work  the special child to facilitate the desired change. Equine therapy maybe either therapeutic horseback riding or hippo therapy.  Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded sensory input. It is more complex than your therapeutic riding. To do therapeutic horseback riding the child need not have previous experience with a horse. We initially had tried this when Ramam was very young around 2 years. Then his trainer would make him sit on a blanket on the horseback .This way, one feels the movement of the horse better. We used to carry sugar cubes and carrots for the horses. After a hiatus of 8 years he is back to it again. But now he sits on a saddle.
                               It is important to use trained horses for this purpose. Horses are can be trained to respond to simple commands as a whoa, whoa or move back and hence is known to work well with autistic kids. The kids can be taught to give these simple instructions and they are in control of a situation for a change. The children learn to interact with their horse and may extend their learning to other situations. This helps them form meaningful relationships with people. “It has been clinically proven being in the vicinity of horses can change brainwave patterns. They have a calming influence which stops people from being fixated on past or negative events, “says Franklin who works with special children and horses in the UK.
                                   The theory of horseriding apart, kids in general enjoy horse riding .My daughter loves it. They are also taking instruction from the instructor such as pull the rein, bring the horse to a stop, and swing your right leg to get down. Over a period of time this would probably become habit. From my precarious understanding of this therapy model, it is important to for the child and the horse to bond. This may happen only if the same horse is used every time. The child knows the horse by its name and begins to understand and handle the horse. I remember the smile on Ramam’s face when his horse broke into a trot after they started to hurry back when it began to drizzle.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Simple basic cake

                               I tried yet another cake after a long time. It is almost like a sabbatical from GFCF cooking. With the kids having their summer hols, one is just trying to catch up with them. Any therapy cancelled or rescheduled spells double trouble, as it means more work for me,  and I need to find options to keep him engaged. Anyways the recipe is as follows. I had wanted to use cashew milk as a substitute, but as the baking had been scheduled during one of his absences from home, I wanted to make it as quick as possible, in the process forgetting to add milk itself. Phew. It is a wonder, the cake still came out well and Ramam asked for more servings.
·         1 cup white sugar
·         1/2 cup ghee
·         2 eggs
·         2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·         1 1/2 cups all-purpose  GFCF flour
·         1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
·         1/2 cup milk?
.   Preheat oven to180 degrees. Grease and flour a 9x9 inch pan or line a muffin pan with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and ghee. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth. Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. I just whisked everything in the mixer and poured it into the pan.
Bake for 25  minutes in the preheated oven. Cake is done when it springs back to the touch. It is probably the easiest cake to bake. 

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