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December 2000


Issue 4

Inside this Issue:

2 "Need for Assessment�, by Meghana B.W.

3 "Theater and Education", by Swaroop Rawal

4 "Giving the child a better world", by Eric D’Souza

Our team at Drishti: Dr. Smita Desai (PhD) Anand Desai Meghana Wadnerkar Mitali Purohit Simi Pais Manisha Bhoola Anuradha Patpatia Sadia Saeed Karen Fernandes Viveca Braganza Vrucha Pandya Shweta Choksi Christina Trindade Swaroop Rawal Devika Vohra

Dear Friends, I am glad to have this opportunity of presenting you the 4th issue of the Drishti News letter. We constantly learn from our interactions with the community in which we operate and this reflects in the revised format of this issue. We have now begun an annual Drishti Student Newsletter, which allows our children to contribute and showcase their talents. As a result (this) the Drishti Newsletter will not any more have their contributions. Thus allowing space for persons (from and outside Drishti) directly related to the fields of Psychology & Special Ed to contribute articles that we hope will be of interest and use to our community. The new format will be made up of the following section headings: Psychologists corner, Special Ed corner, Experts corner, and Parent corner. Depending upon the space available, we will feature articles under some or all these sections. We have made a conscious effort to make this a medium through which we can provide information to the community connected with the special child. Although titled Drishti News, the emphasis of this newsletter is not on news about Drishti, but on useful information for the community that Drishti operates in. After some delay, our web-site (, which is geared towards providing specific information to our community, would be live by the time you receive this newsletter. Do take time out to visit us there. As always, your comments and suggestions are most welcome and would go a long way in the evolution of this newsletter and to better our services to the community in general. I wish to thank all the contributors to this newsletter. Editor Anand Desai

206 Midas Chamber, Andheri (W), Mumbai 400053 Phone: 022-6348732

Psychologists corner Need for Assessment By Meghana B.W. (Clinical Psychologist)

Screening and identification: assessment can tell whether the difficulties faced by the child are due to a genuine problem or not.

Diagnose the specific nature of the student's problems or disability: what exactly are the difficulties? What are the areas of difficulties? 

To determine the extent of the problem: to check the degree of severity of the problem. To see what is the prognosis?

To check for the need for special help (eligibility): whether the child is eligible for special education services.

When is it Felt? Parents ask: “Why is my child not achieving in school?” “I don’t know what it is, but my child seems to be different…not like other kids.” “My child is good at everything……except studies.” “My child has always been slow at everything, right since childhood.” “Is he just lazy or is there something wrong?”

Going further, assessment can help in:-

Development of IEP and placement: by providing detailed information so that an Individualized Education Program (IEP) can be developed and appropriate decisions be made about the child's educational placement.

Instructional planning: to develop and plan instruction, which is appropriate to the child's special needs.

Teachers observe: “Your child seems to be a smart chap, but the school reports tell a sad story.” “She can’t sit in one place!” “Why is your child so aloof?” “He finds it difficult to cope with studies.”

Different questions…… similarity

Evaluation: to evaluate student progress over time. Changes in test scores over time provide the means They all feel-> a sense of discomfort, concern, anxiety, to assess benefit of uncertainty. services or regression. These are the questions, (Berdine & Meyer, 1987, "If something exists, it exists in some amount. situations, where a carep. 5) If it exists in some amount, then it is capable of being taker/parent/teacher gets the measured." In short- Assessment creates feeling of a problem. Rene Descartes, Principles of Philosophy, 1644 and defines ways for help.


A school counsellor, doctor, a psychologist is consulted….at times with reluctance… hesitation. Parents are often asked to get the child assessed, to see what is wrong. True an expert can very well tell what is wrong. But for a more in-depth view, assessment is suggested. A doctor advises a blood test, only when a problem is suspected.

Why assessment is done? To use an analogy from the medical field, assessment is--examination before medication. Assessment is done for determining:

The strengths and weaknesses of a child: it gives a factual picture of the child’s abilities and deficits.

Most parents of children with special needs know that they must understand the services and concessions offered. What they also need to understand are the 'facts' of their child's case, which are contained in the various tests and evaluations conducted for the child. Most important educational decisions, from eligibility to the intensity of educational services provided, are based on the results of psychological and educational achievement testing. As a parent, you may believe that your child is not making adequate progress in a special education program. The special education staff may firmly believe that he/she is doing as well as he/she can --- or that the parental expectations are too high. Without objective information, both sides will take positions that are based upon emotions, tempered by hopes and fears. Effective educational decision-making must be based on objective information and facts, not subjective emotional reactions and beliefs.

111206092455-f6a9c96be63d49e69a6f290f725106ea.fileViews expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.


“Drama is about experience, reflecting on that experience and sometimes acting it out.”

Before you can participate in the development of an appropriate special education program, you must have a thorough understanding of your child's strengths and weaknesses. This information is contained in the various tests that are used to measure the child's ability and educational achievement.

them little opportunity to act and to accept responsibilities. Theater games are designed to give them equal freedom, respect and responsibility within the classroom.

Assessment is a key component of special education and education reform. Children are assessed individually to determine their eligibility for special education services and to ascertain learning needs. Reputed assessment tools are standardized and normed on a large representative sample. Thus, what students know and are able to do is compared to standards of knowledge and skills, rather than to the performance of other students.

In particular, these games enable awareness (of self as well as others), improve communication skills (both verbal as well as non-verbal), enhance self-esteem and self-concept, and eventually induce self-motivation, all essential ingredients to an individual’s personality.

References: Betsy B. Waterman Ph.D. Assessing Children for the Presence of a Disability. National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) News Digest, Volume 4, Number 1, 1994 Martha L. Thurlow, Ph.D. Assessment: A Key Component of Education Reform. National Center on Educational Outcomes. Prepared for Parents Engaged in Education Reform (PEER Project) Federation for Children with Special Needs Boston, Massachusetts Peter W. D. Wright, Esq. And Pamela Darr Wright, (1997) Understanding Tests and Measurements for the Parent and Advocate

Special Ed corner Theater and Education By Swaroop Rawal (Sp. Educator)

At first glance, a drama class may not seem important - at least not as important as the 3 R’s. A lot of parents would now a days agree that education is a drudgery, it has taken “play” out of their child’s life. Play is the work of childhood, and the latest research has shown that, “playing with peers is crucial to a child’s social, emotional, verbal and cognitive development.” (H.E. Marano, Editor, Psychology Today) This is precisely the objective of the drama class. The theater games have a serious intent. They not only help students develop performance skills but even help them become responsive to their classmates and be able to transform ordinary situations into extra-ordinary ones. Most importantly the games make students know more about themselves. The social skills learnt and practiced through theater games do far more than just teach them to be friendly within the group. They also enable them to learn rules and roles and acquire a sense of themselves as effective human beings. Playing these games gives them an opportunity to acquire, exercise and rehearse many life skills. Their world is controlled by adults and it gives

I once conducted a workshop with a group of learning disabled children where we began with a simple game aimed to be an ice-breaker, which more importantly helped increase group interaction, self-awareness and self-concept. All the children were asked to sit in a circle and one child was asked to leave the room. The children sitting in the class were asked to discuss positive qualities of the focal child. After a while the child returned to the class and the group leader then told him/her of all his/her good points. The child was made to guess who said what. It was very interesting to note that even the most popular children could not believe that their friends thought so highly of them. One of them even remarked, “I can’t believe so many people like me.” The shy ones with low self-esteem became much more confident and relaxed after knowing their friends liked something about them. Drama is about experience, reflecting on that experience and sometimes acting it out. Using drama with children brings rich rewards and provides children with learning opportunities, which they will rarely forget.

Parent corner Come visit us on the web…

Giving the Child a better world By Eric D’Souza

My career, especially my present assignment as the General Manager of a major Daily news paper, has given me a keen insight into the workings of our modern Indian society. Being parents of a special child, my wife and I have been exposed to the idiosyncrasies of this very same society vis-à-vis the world of special children. I take the opportunity of sharing with you some thoughts on what we as a society could jointly do to give our special children a Better World.

111206092455-f6a9c96be63d49e69a6f290f725106ea.fileViews expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.


The Government

Just as basic education is being recognised today as a right of every Indian child, so should the need for special education be recognised as a right of every Indian special child. Our legislators need to address this issue seriously.

There must be a concerted effort on part of every regular school to integrate special children into the main-stream.

The number and quality of special schools needs to be greatly enhanced. Today, some special schools have a 1-2 years’ waiting period!

A job reservation quota needs to be provided such that it realistically reflects the population size of special individuals.

The Corporates

As with governments, the above recommendation for job reservation must be adopted by all corporates.

Corporates can greatly enhance the productivity of employees with special children, by recognising their special parenting needs. For example, stress arising out of parenting a special child can often impact job performance and companies helping such employees would not only increase employee loyalty but also ensure optimum on-job performance.

As special children require greater customised and special services, the cost of educating them is substantially higher than that of normal children. Corporate sponsorship can go a long way in aiding the efforts of the government.

Corporate sponsored workshops for parents on means of coping with the stress and strain of parenting is a strongly felt need. Such workshops could be designed to benefit not just parents of special children, but also the general parent community as a whole.

Professional help and Medical research

Professional support in the form of qualified counseling is required for parents to learn how to prepare for (secure) the child’s future. In cases where the only child is a special child the parents too could do with help to secure their own future.

With the present advances in the human gene research, what hope is there of ensuring a normal child?

The Community

Parent support groups, which are widely present in the west are non-existent here in India. The experiences and knowledge shared within these groups would go a long way in alleviating many of the troubles faced by parents of special children.

An attitudinal change in the way many of us in society perceive special children is imperative. They need to be accepted (without questions) as an integral part of our community and rather than shown sympathy, they need to be respected for their rightful place in our society.

Trained domestic help and appropriately trained nurses will aid the household cope with the added responsibilities of special children and could provide the needed support for the family.

Modern Parenting…simple and ingenious “I often narrate to my children their favourite bed time stories in Marathi or Hindi and I find that this helps them in their learning process of these languages.” “We make it a point to have breakfast together as a family and at that time read aloud the main items of the morning news paper. This way the children get to know some current events and it begins to arouse their curiosity about news in general. Eventually I think they will on their own ask to see and read the morning news!” - inputs by a parent at one of Drishti’s “Modern Parenting” workshops.

111206092455-f6a9c96be63d49e69a6f290f725106ea.fileViews expressed in this newsletter belong to the individual authors.



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