Providing invaluable service to society: Special educators
Need for special educators
Human beings whose mental development has been arrested either before birth or at an early age are categorized as mentally handicapped. Such individuals cannot overcome their handicap by themselves and need the help of trained people to make their lives worthwhile and productive.
As compared to normal children, mentally retarded children have significant development delay and lag behind in cognitive, linguistic, social and occasionally motor functions as well. Depending on the extent of their handicap mentally retarded persons are cared for in special homes. They study in special schools and vocational training centres where specially trained personnel help them develop their resources to the optimum so that they may lead productive lives.
Nature of work
Mental retardation or impairment is a complex and challenging problem and those who are trained to help its victims have to be dedicated and sincere. They should have a giving nature and should be able to enjoy the nature of the responsibility. The work does not involve much physical hard work except when dealing with those who have problems with motor functions as well. The emotional demands on those who work with mentally retarded persons are high and they have to constantly think of new approaches to be able to make headway.
In every centre which deals with the mentally retarded persons, there are various specialists such as psychologists, doctors, nurses, and social workers, all of whom work towards common goals - ensuring the well-being of, and providing a useful life to, the mentally handicapped.
Degree or Diploma holders in mental retardation are trained to deal with the mentally handicapped and they know how difficult, yet satisfying it can be. Mentally retarded people respond very positively to love and affection and when one can get the slightest response from them, the satisfaction one gets is immense. Working conditions are relaxed and friendly and everyone working with these special people is very optimistic.
These days special education has become a very competitive career with good remuneration. Educators have the choice of working with an NGO or can be hired as private tutors. There are good chances of going abroad for further studies on scholarship. Things are more professional now and many educators have made a successful career in this field.
They find placement in regular pre-schools, institutes, vocational education or rehabilitation centres. Special schools, integrated schools or special classes in regular schools and special education programming in community bases settings employ special educators to work with children with mental retardation in different settings. Such institutions may be run by the government or missionaries. They have scope of working in pediatric units of hospitals, pediatrics clinics, child guidance clinics, child development centres, rural primary health centres and distinct health centres.
The concept of including these specially gifted children in regular schools is finding acceptance and if it becomes more prevalent then each and every school will be employing special educators.
Personal traits needed
Special educators should have an affectionate nature, patience, kindness and gentleness. A genuine concern without losing objectivity, a practical approach and an encouraging and positive attitude are the must-have traits for those who are planning to work with the mentally retarded.
They should be motivated to work with disabled children, mature to handle crisis situations and develop reading habits and research for questioning. They should also believe in the potential that lies within the disabled, which they have to discover and develop. If the special educators themselves are not motivated enough to work with the disabled and help them discover their talents then the disabled don't have a chance.
The special education courses are not just about teaching reading and writing, they are about slowly drawing out the disabled from their shell and encouraging them to actively participate in the activities of the community and become independent. Rather than concentrating on the disability these courses teach students to find out what these people can do and how to develop those skills.
Courses in this field include:
- Diploma in Special Education (Mental Retardation-DSE(MR)
- Diploma in Vocational Training and Employment(Mental Retardation)-D.V.T.E.(MR)
- Diploma Course in Early Childhood Spacial Education(DECSE-MR)
- Bachelore's Degree in Rehabilitations Service(Therapeutics)-BRT Therapeutics
- B.Ed. Special Education(Mental Retardation)
- P.G. diploma in Early Intervention-PGDEI
- Post Graduate Diploma in Special Education(Mental Retardation)-PGDSE(MR)
The basic eligibility for admission into most of these courses is 10+2 or agraduation in any discipline from a recognized university. The duration of these courses ranges from 1 to 4 years.
- National Insitute for the Mentally Handicapped, Secunderabad
- North Eastern regional Training Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Manovikas Kendra, Guwahati
- Ayurvedic & Magneto Therapy Research Institute, Patna
- Government Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Chandigarh
- Aakansha,Lion's School for the Mentally Handicapped, Chhattisgarh
- Delhi society for the welfare of the mentally retarded children, New Delhi.
- Amar Jyoti Rehabilitation and Research Centre, Delhi
- Instutute for Special Education, New Delhi
- ARPAN, Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Gujarat
- B.M. Institute of Mental Health, Ahmedabad
- State Institute for Mentally Handicapped, Kerala
- Chetana Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Orissa
- Navjyoti Trust, Chennai
- National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped, Kolkata