Founded in December 1989, The Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children was started as a social initiative by Indchem Research and Development Laboratory (Indchem Electronics) promoted by The Sanmar Group, in fond memory of Mrs. Madhuram Narayanan, wife of K S Narayanan, the late Chairman Emeritus of the Group. The late Air Vice Marshal V Krishnaswamy and the present Director Mrs Jaya Krishnaswamy spearheaded the initiative.
The centre is the first institution in India devoted to an early intervention programme for children with development delays. The school admits and provides training to children in the age group 0 to 6 years. Starting with three children, the school today has so far trained over 4500 children and empowered their families.
Inspired by the time tested childcare legacy in India, and designed to suit the socio-economic conditions and the cultural milieu of the country, UPANAYAN meaning ‘lead along’ an early intervention programme was developed indigenously, by the parent organisation- Indchem Research and Development Laboratory, as part of its societal responsibility. This fulfilled the void in the area of disability, particularly that of mental retardation, the worst and most neglected of the disabilities.
The computer aided teaching programme identifies over 250 skills in children relating to motor abilities, language, cognition, etc. It has also been programmed to train children associated with conditions like epilepsy, autism, cerebral palsy and other disorders.
The Upanayan Early Intervention programme of the Centre has been included in the curriculum for training of special educators (in the area of mental Retardation) laid down by the Rehabilitation Council of India.
On an average around 150 children are present at the centre on a daily basis and receive training with their parents and caretakers. ”In addition, every parent is trained to become a co-therapist and they eventually become teacher aids for other children here. The programme’s chief feature is that it’s observable and measurable,”
says Mrs. Jaya Krishnaswamy, Director of Madhuram Narayanan Centre.
In an effort to improve its training programme, the centre launched a tabulation process, whereby every student’s data relating to his/her training and development is fed into the system, thus providing invaluable research material.
Every year MNC conducts the ‘Moving Ahead’ Day function for the students. This is an occasion of celebration for each child moving out of the cradle and the play area at the centre, on to the outside world of school education.
A support system from the centre namely ‘The Sanmargam’ meaning ‘Good Direction’ is a project formalising the ‘mainstreaming of children with special needs after receiving intervention in the Upanayan Early Intervention Programme at the Centre. The project is aimed at hand holding and guiding the mainstream school teaching staff for a period of two years. Every year most children join the mainstream schools and some pursue their education in special schools.
As Priya Rajkumar, the principal of the centre says, “The emphasis, besides academic requirements, has been on socialisation and communication needs, so the transition to mainstream education environment is smooth”. MNC stresses on total parental involvement in their early intervention programme for the exceptional children aged less than six. It helps mothers come in terms with the situation and provides the child with all the necessities.
The children come mostly from the city of Chennai and its vicinity. The centre also caters to exceptional children from other states in India as well as from countries overseas. The staff comprises trained teachers, occupational therapists, special educators, physiotherapists and helpers.