“There is a need to change the perception of the society pertaining to the children with special needs. The society should work towards providing equal opportunities to the children with special needs and should not discriminate against them,” says Surabhi Verma, director and founder of Sparsh for Children — a multi-disciplinary therapy center in Delhi — was established in 2005 with the aim of helping intellectually challenged children. The organisation endeavours to improve the quality life of the children who are facing autism spectrum disorder (ASD), learning difficulty (dyslexia), attention difficulties, speech and language difficulties; intellectual disability and emotional difficulties.

Surabhi has a wide range of experience working with children for more than 6 years. She specialises in children between the age of 2–15 years with learning difficulty (dyslexia), attention difficulties, speech and language difficulties, intellectual disability and social and emotional difficulties. “Our dedication is to act as a catalyst and “a bridge” that helps the child to successfully cross over the real world, as we realize the child is definitely the apple of any parents eye, and in fact an extension of your own being,” says Surabhi. The mission is to provide the highest value-added hands on and therapeutic services to the children, families and schools.

Surabhi recalling the case of a kid who was suffering from autism, says “When I first met Aisha (name changed), she was a four year-old functioning in many areas as low as an 18 month old. She was unable to communicate with others but could put on a whole show with her dolls. Speaking perfectly, later I figured out that she was just mimicking conversations she had heard. I tried conversing with her on her level with basic therapies and exercises; she was sometimes really slow and sometimes really hyper. Eventually, she started enjoying the therapies and improved leaps and bounds to the point that the school was amazed at her improved focus. The therapy was mainly instrumental in helping her with processing ability and boosting her confidence in every possible way. She took speech and language therapy through the school system. Aisha is now 13 years old and is in the 7th grade. She is now a student with a healthy social life. She likes to spend more time alone than most teens but does enjoy sleepovers, movies and mall visits with her friends. I believe that she will go to college and excel in life. Her ambition, currently, is to be school counselor so she can help other kids succeed in school as she has.”

 Siddarth (name changed) was diagnosed with autism in November 2010. He was four year-old when his parents observed that something was wrong with their son. “He used to speak less; he preferred staying alone. He used to ignore everyone including us. His teachers told us that he was always absent minded in the class and failed to respond like other kids. We took him to a pediatrician assuming something must be wrong with the diet or eating habits. The doctor told us that he was suffering from autism. It was really difficult to accept it at first. But Sparsh gave us a ray of hope. With practice of different therapies and exercises he showed traces of resuscitation. It’s been 5 years now and we have a new Siddarth. He speaks well, responds to everyone and most importantly, he’s has turned into a new leaf with confidence and positive individuality. We’re thankful to Sparsh for it.”

Ignorance to the syndrome in the tender age can actually worsen the state of mind of a child. About the therapies and exercises, Surabhi says, “We have developed and introduced innovative structured training courses for nurturing the abilities of children with special needs. These all therapies are practiced simultaneously to improve the state of the mind of the child.” Sparsh not only provides medical care but also the warmth of a family which is imperative for the child.

Surabhi believes that all differently abled children have a different problem, so the approach too is different. She says, “It is always very challenging to work with each child as one has to come up with new innovative strategies.  This also means that all children would not improve and progress at same pace. Thus, striking a balance between our expectations and the parent’s expectations; and helping the child move forward is always challenging. A part of our work also include parent counseling as many of the parents remain in denial of the special needs of the child.”

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