A teacher to children with multiple disabilities

She began her journey as teacher at Clarke School for the Deaf in RK Salai.

Now working with National Institute for Empowerment of Persons with Multiple Disabilities (NIEPMD), Vijayalakshmy has found her calling in teaching special children.

While her son would be in the class, she would wait right outside the classroom.

“Founder of Clarke School for the Deaf, Dr Leelavathy Patrick asked me to help them in creating a medical record of all the students at the school as she knew my background,” says Vijayalakshmy, a paediatrician.

There began the grooming, which has included a slew of responsibilities and being sent to conferences and even stints beyond the Indian shores.

“In 1995, the first deaf-blind student joined the school and I was asked to work with the child,” says Vijayalakshmy. In 1997, the school management sent her on a sponsored trip to Netherland to help her with a deeper understanding of deaf-blindness, early identification of multiple disabilities and multi-disciplinary aspects in holistic schooling. This was followed by a six-month stint in London.

After 14 years at Clarke’s, she moved to NIEPMD as lecturer in Medical Sciences, focussing on early identification, diagnosis, programme planning and parent training. Those were the early years of NIEPMD and the team had the task of creating awareness about the centre.

“We adapted a number of teaching learning material like B Active Box, Resonance Box for the Institute to our requirements. I was one of the first teachers in the deaf-blind unit (cerebral palsy was the only other unit it housed then),” says Vijayalakshmy, a resident of Kelambakkam.

Vijayalakshmy has spearheaded various programmes at NIEPMD, which includes being a course coordinator for a diploma in special education and deafblindness, a post graduate programme in early intervention — enrolling students for these courses was a challenge as awareness about multiple disabilities was low those days. Besides, she has also trained professionals of district Early Intervention Centres of Tamil Nadu.

The teacher, who has won a few awards for her work in the area, is currently working on a hand book on multiple disabilities, with focus on autism and its causes.

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