Autistic child fit to attend regular school: Panel’s final report

The school authorities had asked the child’s parents to transfer him to another school last year.

Written by Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: September 4, 2013 1:43:40 am

An observation committee looking into the case of an autistic child studying at Jamnabai Narsee School,Juhu,has found him fit to attend regular school with a shadow teacher. The school authorities had asked the child’s parents to transfer him to another school last year.

The final report of the committee was placed before the Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) Tuesday,concluded that the child.

The eight-page report,submitted by chairperson of the committee Dr Samir Dalwai,developmental paediatrician,Sion hospital,says that “30 days of classroom observation reveal his challenges due to autism do not rule him out of a regular classroom setting”. The child,who turned nine recently,was observed from March 25 to April 12 (class 2) and from July 17 to August 14 (class 3).

The school,stating that the child was not fitting into the classroom environment and by demanding constant attention was disturbing other students,had asked the parents to transfer him to another school. Subsequently,the High Court allowed the child to attend class with a “shadow teacher”. The court asked a committee,appointed by the MSCPCR,to observe the child for a month.

While the previous committee,also headed by Dalwai,submitted a report in May saying the child was fit to attend school with a shadow teacher,the school did not accept it. The school said the child was observed for 11 days and not 30 days as stipulated by the court. Accordingly,on July 2,MSCPCR directed Dalwai to observe him for the remaining 19 days.

“His challenges were managed by the presence of a shadow teacher and a sensitive class teacher… Episodes of difficult behaviour were seen. However,they were increasingly better… to the point where they almost cease to be significantly very different from any given group of children… There was no observation to suggest that his presence was of detriment to his fellow classmates,” the report says.

The new committee consisted of an occupational therapist and a clinical psychologist.

In his last report too,Dalwai had said the other students were happy to help the autistic child and that he was not hurting himself or others. “It would be fair to say that during the session I observed him,it was difficult to distinguish him from the rest of the class. He did not exhibit any hyperactive,impulsive or unruly behaviour,” Dalwai says in the final report.

MSCPCR has directed the school to file its reply before September 10.

“It was an enriching experience. We were supported by the school and the parents. It was important to assess the situation with regards to the child’s ability to be a part of the mainstream school and he did well,” said Dalwai.

“We thank the commission for giving us time to respond to this. We understand that the ecosystem to handle unique learning requirements in India is not adequate,though there are good alternative schools for special children. All stakeholders need to collaborate to build this ecosystem,” said a school spokesperson.

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