Rajapalayam, is a town surrounded by the western ghats. It is less populated yet rich in culture.
As I enter a narrow lane flanked by houses I see a big gate with grills towards the end. It has a board above the gate which reads ‘Ritham School for Special Children’ The gate is operated by a 19-year-old, severely challenged, boy. He could not find a job anywhere else due to his disability hence; he was trained as a watch man and now takes care of the school gate himself.
Most of these kids come from a very poor background. They belong to families of laborers who never have regular incomes.
Once the children are enrolled, they are assessed based on their IQ levels. They are then divided into groups. “A 10-year-old child might have a mental growth of 2 years hence we conduct a basic test where we ask the child to say his name, address etc and based on his response categorize accordingly. A moderately child can even write quite well “ says Mr. Venkatramanan.
There are simple methods such as a trampoline and walking on balls to control hyper-activeness and puzzles to stabilize hand movements. Ritham also provides vocational training in tailoring, knitting to the children above 18 and also teaches them basic daily activities so that they are self-dependent.
A child is assessed every three months and then promoted to the next level.
Mr. Venkatramanan has plans to provide employment along with vocational training but is stymied by lack of funds. He wants to reach out to more people and create a bigger impact.
There are 107 students currently who are undergoing speech therapy, physiotherapy, vocational training etc along with special education.