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MANNA provides services to children with Autism, developmental and learning disorders. Interventions are provided after screenings and assessment. MANNA provides “one to one“ as well as group interventions, incorporating a combination of therapies such as Applied Behviour Analysis (ABA), occupational therapy, speech therapy, social and living skills training as well as special education. During the past year interventions were provided for the 23 children coming to MANNA, aged between 3 and 12 years.

Individual intervention Plans (IIP)s have been developed for each child including ABA therapies, occupational therapy and special education as per the specific need of each child. During the past year Manna provided its services to 9 children with autism, 1 child with down syndrome, 3 non-verbal children and 10 children with ADHD and learning disorders. Special curriculum has been designed and developed for the interventions, which includes beginners’ curriculum intermediate curriculum and advanced curriculum. This curriculum is covered between periods of one to two years.

Activities are planned with appropriate breaks to include play schedules. Resources like educational toys, picture cards, interactive books, sensory toys, stress busters, workbooks, charts, posters, multimedia technologies, songs and games are used for the therapies.

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All activities are need based and are designed to suit every individual
Autism Intervention Model

The Autism Intervention Model (AIM) is an indigenous model developed by MANNA, focussing on early intervention for effective results. AIM is based on the principles of behavioural modification strategies and techniques, which helps to increase or decrease a particular behaviour, improve the quality of a behaviour, eliminate a behaviour or teach a new behaviour. It is a holistic intervention customised to suit each child’s individual need. AIM is a strategy which nurtures and develops different capacities of the special children which includes behaviour modification, academic support and physical sport activities.

AIM comprises of all elements of occupational therapy, behaviour therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, as well as social skills, play skills and daily living skills. The model also integrates basic academic skills and vocational skills as well as memory and attention development in its curriculum to enhance the child’s academic and personal abilities. Physical education in the form of swimming and football are likewise incorporated in the curriculum to encourage confidence and develop physical skill in our children with special needs. Nearly 75 children with Autism and more than 230 children with various developmental disabilities have been intervened so far.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy, often called OT, is the use of treatments to develop, recover, or maintain the daily living and work skills of people with a physical, mental or developmental condition. OT is generally used in MANNA to help special children in the following ways

  • develop fine motor skills to grasp and release toys
  • develop good handwriting skills
  • address hand-eye coordination to improve kids' play and school skills (hitting a target, batting a ball, copying from a blackboard, etc.) learn basic tasks (such as bathing, getting dressed, brushing their teeth, and feeding themselves)
  • learn positive behaviors in all environments
  • improve focus and social skills

All the 25 children visiting MANNA were provided occupation therapy through the use of beads, buttons, blocks, clothespins, crayons, flour, grains, index cards, foam balls, coins, finger paint, joint connectors, lego, lace, marbles, pegs, puzzles, clay, straws and many other resource materials.

Social Skil Therapy

Children with autism have difficulty in social skills like starting a conversation, involving in activities with other children, making friends, understanding rules of games etc. This leads to difficult peer relationships and often isolation. Social skill therapy is a term for instruction conducted in behavioural areas that promotes positive interaction with others along with problem solving methods to deal with challenging social scenarios. The social skill therapy in MANNA includes

  • manners and positive interaction with others
  • saying please and thank you
  • joining a group activity
  • sharing toys/materials
  • understanding the feelings of others (and accepting them as valid or OK)
  • waiting one's turn
  • appropriate classroom behavior, restaurant behaviour
  • listening, following directions
  • seeking attention properly
  • accepting the consequences of one's behavior
  • better ways to handle frustration/anger

Activities like play sessions, summer camps, sports activities, group gardening projects and field visits are organized regularly to inculcate social skills and provide peer interaction opportunities.

Life Skill Training

Learning self-help life skills can be very challenging for children with autism, but it is highly important for children to deal with the demands of daily life and for independent living. MANNA undertakes a systematic approach to teach basic self care to children especially below the age of 4-5 years. Specific instruction and strategies are used for focusing on four life skills – eating, dressing, toileting and personal hygiene.

Speach Therapy

A child with autism has trouble producing speech sounds to effectively communicate. The child may be non-verbal, may babble, may shriek or utter throaty cries, suffer from echolalia or may use the right phrases but with no expressions. The therapists use various kinds of techniques to treat speech disorders and language problems like the following

  • listening programme
  • videos
  • signing
  • using picture boards with words, known as picture exchange communication systems (PECS) that start out using pictures instead of words to help a child learn to communicate
  • using sounds to which a person is over- or under-sensitive to expand and compress speech sounds
  • improving articulation of speech by massaging or exercising lips or facial muscles
  • having individuals sing songs composed to match the rhythm, stress, and flow of sentences
Special Education

Special education is provided to children with learning disorders. Special education services are customized to address each child’s unique needs. Different instructional strategies are used for these children like individual instructions, problem solving assignments and small group works. The special education teachers of MANNA use special methodologies, materials, teaching aids and equipment to provide academic and non academic skills which are intended to increase the student’s academic and personal abilities. The therapists work closely with teachers and parents to inform them of the child’s progress and suggest techniques to promote learning at school and home. Children who come to MANNA for special education services are of two types

  • children who attend regular schools but require additional assistance due to specific learning disabilities
  • children who are denied admission into regular schools due to autism or other developmental disorders

MANNA follows a specific curriculum which includes basic curriculum, intermediate curriculum and advanced curriculum, as well as specially designed language and Math curriculum to help special children cope with pre-academic skills as well as academic tutoring.

Speach Therapy

Many studies have found that children with Autism respond well to music. Music intervention reduces anxiety, improves social behaviors, enhances focus and attention and increases communication skills. Special children visiting the centre experienced music therapy twice a week in the month of November and December. Ms. Elysia, from Korea studying in South Asia Bible College, Kothanur, volunteered with MANNA to help the children through music.

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