Clipped from: https://www.financialexpress.com/healthcare/news-healthcare/facilities-for-children-with-autism-and-other-developmental-delays-are-still-inadequate-in-countries-like-india-ravi-shekhar-singh-india-head-moms-belief/3069455/
The company is planning to invest Rs.100 Crore spread across the next 2 years, to further help and strengthen the ongoing efforts in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders.
Ravi Shekhar Singh, India Head, Mom’s Belief
Around 200 million children do not reach their developmental potential in the first five years, studies suggest. According to experts, this is because of poverty, poor health, nutrition and lack of early stimulation.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15-20 percent of children, worldwide, have disabilities; 85 percent of which are in developing countries.
Financial Express.com reached out to Ravi Shekhar Singh, India Head, Mom’s Belief and he talked about the status of neurodivergent children in India, the company’s plans for the India business, and its focus on research and development among others. The company is planning to invest Rs.100 Crore spread across the next 2 years, to further help and strengthen the ongoing efforts in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders. The first phase will be completed in mid 2023. The investment is for India, USA, and Dubai. Excerpts:
What is the status of development facilities for children with Autism and other Developmental Delays?
In many countries, including India, the development facilities for children with autism and other developmental delays are still inadequate. Children with autism require specialized services, including diagnostic assessments, therapy, and specialized education programs. However, there is a shortage of trained professionals who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autism, and the few facilities that exist are often concentrated in urban areas, leaving many children without access to the care they need.
Furthermore, there is a lack of awareness and understanding of autism among the general public, including parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals. This can lead to delays in diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and inappropriate treatment. The social stigma and discrimination associated with autism can also isolate and exclude children with autism from society.
Despite these challenges, there are some organizations, both government and non-governmental, that are working to improve the status of development facilities for children with autism and other developmental delays. These organizations offer a range of services, including diagnostic assessments, therapy services, and specialized education programs. However, much work still needs to be done to ensure that all children with autism and other developmental delays have access to the care and support they need to reach their full potential.
What is the role of Mom’s Belief in providing help to children with special needs and empowering their families?
Mom’s Belief is a social enterprise in India that operates under the motto “No Child Should be Left Behind,” and is committed to providing help and support to children with autism and other developmental delays. We have an extensive network of Learning Centers that provide occupational, speech, and behavior therapies to children. We also offer a range of services, including diagnostic and assessment services, therapy services, and special education programs. Mom’s Belief recognizes that each child is unique and works closely with families to create individualized intervention plans that address the child’s specific needs and challenges.
In addition to providing direct services to children with special needs, Mom’s Belief also focuses on empowering their families. We offer training and support to parents and caregivers, helping them to better understand their child’s condition and how to support their development. We also work with schools and other community organizations to raise awareness of special needs and to promote inclusion and acceptance.
One of the unique aspects of Mom’s Belief is our use of technology to provide remote support and services to families in rural and remote areas of India. Mom’s Belief has developed a teletherapy platform that enables children to receive therapy services from trained professionals regardless of their location. This technology has been particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic, which made it difficult for families to access traditional in-person services.
Overall, Mom’s Belief plays an important role in providing help to children with special needs and empowering their families in India. Through our comprehensive approach and use of technology, we are helping to improve the lives of children with special needs and their families across the country.
One of our iconic programs is the Home Program, which is a combination of hands-on learning through kits delivered to the child’s doorstep and guidance provided online to parents. This program empowers parents to become co-therapists for their child, thereby ensuring that the child receives continuous support and assistance. In addition to programs for children, Mom’s Belief also offers various programs for parents and families, such as parental guidance, counseling, and the School of Moms.
By offering a variety of programs and services, we ensure that we reach children with developmental delays through all possible mediums. Through our innovative approach and use of technology, Mom’s Belief has left no stone unturned in their efforts to ensure that no child is left behind.
What are the challenges and struggles that such children often go through in India?
Autism is a complex developmental disorder that affects social interaction, communication, and behavior. In India, children with autism face various challenges and struggles, including:
Lack of awareness and understanding: There is still a lack of awareness and understanding of autism among the general public, including parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals. This can lead to delayed diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and inappropriate treatment.
Stigma and discrimination: Children with autism and their families may face social stigma and discrimination, which can lead to isolation and exclusion. They may also be subjected to bullying and teasing by their peers, which can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and mental health.
Limited access to services: There is a shortage of specialized services for children with autism in India, including diagnostic and assessment services, therapy services, and special education programs. These services are often expensive and inaccessible to many families, especially those living in rural areas.
Lack of trained professionals: There is a shortage of trained professionals in India who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of autism. This can lead to delays in diagnosis and inadequate treatment for children with autism.
Financial burden: The cost of caring for a child with autism can be high, including the cost of therapy, medication, and special education. Many families in India may not be able to afford these expenses, which can further exacerbate the challenges and struggles faced by children with autism and their families.
Overall, children with autism in India face significant challenges and struggles, and there is a need for increased awareness, understanding, and support for these individuals and their families.
What are some of the upcoming plans of Mom’s Belief for the India business in the current financial year?
Mom’s Belief has set out on a bold and ambitious mission to touch the lives of one million people through their Parent & Professionals Network in the next five years. In order to achieve this goal, we are focused on building a strong infrastructure for service delivery.
One of the primary objectives is to ensure geographical reach through the establishment of 500 Learning Centers in the next two years. We have already opened 75+ centers, including 33 centers in just the last three months. This expansion will enable us to reach more children with autism and other developmental delays and provide them with the support they need to thrive.
Another critical component of the mission is the establishment of Special Schools, known as ASLE (Autism School of Learning and Excellence). We aim to have 100 schools open in the next two years, providing children with support throughout their life cycle until adolescence.
To further empower children and prepare them for real-world jobs, Mom’s Belief plans to impact vocational as well as entrepreneurial skills through the establishment of Special Cafés. These cafes will be operated and maintained by a team of special needs individuals, providing them with valuable experience and skills.
Mom’s Belief has pledged INR 100 Crore towards this mission, and we have already taken significant strides in this direction. The commitment to expanding reach and providing support to more children with autism and other developmental delays is a testament to our dedication to ensuring that no child is left behind.
What is the Family Engagement Model? How can it help children with special needs?
Family engagement is an essential component of any comprehensive support model for children with special needs. When families are actively involved in their child’s care, it can lead to better outcomes and improved quality of life for the child.
A family engagement model for children with special needs should involve a collaborative approach between families and healthcare professionals. This approach should focus on building a partnership between the family and the healthcare team, with the goal of developing an individualized plan of care that meets the child’s unique needs.