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“Parents with mentally retarded children need support”

Special Correspondent

Poonam Natarajan says there are very few programmes on early intervention

— Photo: R. Ragu

Creating awareness: Poonam Natarajan, chairperson, National Trust, New Delhi (right), distributing a certificate to a participant at a workshop in Chennai on Saturday. Vimala Kannan, director, Madhuram Narayanan Centre is in the picture.

CHENNAI: Awareness about early intervention in mental retardation is relatively less among doctors in the north, said Poonam Natarajan, chairperson, National Trust, New Delhi.

Speaking at the valedictory of the national workshop on ‘Early intervention in mental retardation’ organised by the Madhuram Narayanan Centre for Exceptional Children, she said recently she conducted programmes for doctors in Himachal Pradesh and North-East.

Demand for more workshops

About 80 medical practitioners attended the programme and they wanted more such awareness programmes in their State. Most of the doctors did not want to send the child to a non-governmental organisation working on this issue. Physicians in the metros were better informed, she said.

Talking about the role of parents, she said those with mentally retarded children needed support. They needed to be empowered with the knowledge on early intervention. The Union Ministry of Human Resources Development wanted all the children irrespective of their health condition to get education.

There were very few programmes on early intervention in the country, she said and appealed to the organisers to conduct similar workshops in other parts of the country also.

A set of recommendations were prepared after the workshop. Good antenatal care, nutritional care for expectant mothers and paediatric care were important aspects for prevention of mental retardation.

Multi-disciplinary approach

A multi-disciplinary approach was needed in diagnosis, treatment plan, family education and counselling. Interventions had to be tailor made to suit the needs of each child and the family environment.

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