Getting out of the home, camping, trekking and spending time with friends has become more of a fantasy in this new normal, especially for special needs children and their caregivers.
As a parent of a neuro-diverse child, I continue to experience this. With schools closed and therapy classes unavailable, the turns of events since last year has taken a toll on people, physically, mentally and emotionally. This has had an effect on stress levels and behaviour, making things more difficult for parents.
Recently, 28 special children from Chennai got a much-needed break when Brio Sports Academy conducted a life skill development camp for them at Yercaud. What was unique about the camp was that parents did not accompany the children during the five-day programme. The group left from the city taking the train and reaching the camp with 12 coaches from the Academy conducting activities like trekking, sightseeing and group work.
The camp was a life-changing experience for my 17-year-old son Daniel. He learnt many day-to-day life skills. After a long time, I had a break and personal time for myself.
Muthuperiyanayaki, a parent of a child with visual impairment and mental retardation, also felt the same way.
It was the first time in 15 years that her son was on his own. More importantly it has given many of us the confidence to allow our children to travel without the support of their parents or caregivers.
The coaches started as swimming coaches and slowly expanded to form a team under the guidance of Sathish Kumar. Many of the coaches help parents of special needs children individually. Talking about the trip, Sathish Kumar says: “It is important to understand that each student behaves differently, so you need to identify their triggers and communicate clearly.”