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Mumbai: Sensory Garden for special children at SNDT

The five senses are the areas through which a person grows, but the formal education system has not focused on this, not just for differently abled children but for all children.

Sherine Raj | Updated on: Wednesday, May 04, 2022, 11:38 PM IST

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Akhil Autism Foundation Sensory Garden was inaugurated on May 4 by the Vice Chancellor of SNDT Women's University. This garden is a unique sensory garden which has elements that stimulate various senses through play which leads to the development of the child’s brain.

The Department of Special Education (DSE) was established in 1977 as the first of its kind to offer Special Education Training at degree level to women graduates to teach children with various exceptionalities. Arushi – The Learning Centre is a self-supporting experimental unit of DSE.

Head of department, of B.Ed special education, Dr. Sujata Bhan, said, “In this garden children play but they learn a lot through play, this sensory garden stimulates the senses like visual, kinaesthetic, olfactory and auditory sense, it also helps in better brain function of the child. Senses are a pathway for cognitive development and we have children with special needs who require more stimulation. We are also going to keep this garden open for other children which paves the way for inclusion as well. The only challenge we faced during this work was financial constraints because it's an expensive affair and Arushi is a self supporting unit but even that was resolved by the humble donation from the Akhil autism foundation. The university students, special children, their parents and their siblings helped in planting saplings and painting the walls of the garden with colourful story characters and learning elements.”

A second year B.Ed student specialising in learning disability, Rukaiya Hyderabadwala, said, “This garden is unique and different from other gardens because of its ability to enhance the senses of the children. All the five senses of a child can be developed by this garden, for the sense of sight - there are colourful paintings on the wall and the entire garden has bright coloured equipments ; for the sense of touch - all the equipments and playing items have different textures which a child can feel, even the walking path of the garden has different textures like sand, pebbles and grass ; for the sense of smell and taste - there are different potted plants in the garden like lemon grass, tulsi, etc which the child can smell and taste ; for the sense of hearing- there are playing equipments which make different sounds which the child can hear while playing in the garden.”

“It was initially started as a student project which later received sufficient funds and was made into the sensory garden for special and other kids. I myself was detected with a learning disability when I was young but it did not let it deter me and I later went on to receive a gold medal during graduation. My own journey inspired me to become a special educator because I know what difference it made for my own self and how the right way of teaching can impact a child's life immensely,” added Rukaiya.

Vice Chancellor of SNDT Women's University, Prof Ujwala Chakradeo, said, “The five senses are the areas through which a person grows, but the formal education system has not focused on this, not just for differently abled children but for all children. If a child is lacking in something then other senses of the child should be developed by the help of the teachers, who should become facilitators and help the child to grow.”

Dr. Yashu Mehta, founder of the Arushi department, said, “When this department was founded, it was not the way it is now, it was just a small room where kids would come and we would teach them and take care of them but now I am very happy to see how much this department- Arushi, has grown over the years and is constantly having various programs for the children.”

SNDT Women’s University (SNDT WU) is the 1st women's university in India as well as in South-East Asia. The university operates from 3 campuses; Churchgate (headquarters), Juhu and Pune.

This garden is a unique sensory garden which has elements that stimulate various senses through play which leads to the development of the child’s brain.

This garden is a unique sensory garden which has elements that stimulate various senses through play which leads to the development of the child’s brain. | FPJ

The five senses are the areas through which a person grows, but the formal education system has not focused on this, not just for differently abled children but for all children.

The five senses are the areas through which a person grows, but the formal education system has not focused on this, not just for differently abled children but for all children. | FPJ

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Published on: Wednesday, May 04, 2022, 11:38 PM IST