October 5, 2016 marks a special day in the lives of those living with Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Disorders in Sri Lanka – as much as it becomes a momentous milestone in the journey of the Merrill J. Fernando Charitable Foundation (MJFCF). The National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders, officially inaugurated to coincide with World Cerebral Palsy Day, serves as a national hub in giving education, therapy and training, not only for those living with CP and other developmental disorders but also for their caregivers and for teachers and trainers who work with such special needs individuals. Facilitating individual/family/ community oriented rehabilitation, it is believed, would enhance the quality of life of such individuals.
The lack of awareness and social stigma associated with Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Disorders often lead to children and youth with such conditions having to lead a life of isolation and marginalisation, particularly in the absence of a national level programme to facilitate the integration of such groups into mainstream society by way of early intervention, special education, therapy and family training /counselling. Having identified this serious vacuum, MJFCF, partnered by the Cerebral Palsy Lanka Foundation (CPLF) spearheaded the task of establishing the National Centre for Children with Cerebral Palsy and other Developmental Disorders (NCCCPDD) and the Database of Persons with Developmental Disorders, to build a better understanding of these conditions, and thereby alleviate the pain of those shunned and the neglected; to give them a chance to lead a dignified life free of marginalisation and social stigmatisation. The MJFCF run Moratuwa Centre already provides care for those with Cerebral Palsy conditions attached to its Rainbow Centre initiative and the newly set up NCCPDD will reach out to a wider community, making a tangible difference in the lives of those with special needs.
The Centre is the first to introduce hydrotherapy in Sri Lanka, additionally it carries out the following Specialized services
- Special Education programme using normal curriculum and Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) for Children with Cerebral Palsy – 8 Class rooms
- Bobath Therapy with Mr. Rajkaran Mahendran, Certified Pediatric Bobath Therapist – (only available at this Centre).
Bobath Pediatric therapy is internationally recognised as being an effective therapy for children with all types of cerebral palsy, regardless of their accompanying disabilities or age. The Bobath Concept analyses the specific difficulties a child has in participating in ordinary activities; finding practical solutions that can be incorporated into everyday life.
- Conductive Education – Conductive Education, or CE, is an educational system, based on the work of Hungarian Professor András Pető, that has been specifically developed for children and adults who have motor disorders of neurological origin such as cerebral palsy.
The goals of conductive education include assisting children in developing maximized orthofunction (the ability to conduct activities of daily living, such as dressing, eating, and self-care). The program also seeks to develop maximal independence in school, the community at large, and the workforce using minimal or no adaptive equipment. This program especially targets children under age six for maximal potential impact.
- Physio, Speech and Occupational therapy – Fully equipped rehabilitation services available with qualified Therapists.
- Whole body Vibration therapy (WBVT) – to improve spasticity, bone density, muscle strength and coordination.
- Dysphagia management for children with swallowing difficulties – The goals of dysphagia treatment are to maintain adequate nutritional intake for the children and to maximize airway protection.
- Suit Therapy – – A very holistic approach to treatment of individuals with neurological disorders like Cerebral Palsy, Developmental Delays, Traumatic Brain Injuries, Autism and other conditions which affect a child’s motor and or cognitive functions.
- Hippo therapy – – using Hippo therapy unit – The movements of the horse riding help the child’s posture, balance, coordination, strength and sensorimotor systems.
- Hydro therapy (Aquatic therapy) with trained Aquatic therapist in a wheelchair accessible and heated pool.
- Advanced Gait training using Unweighing Support System.
- Sensory garden and inclusive play area with a wheelchair swing and a wheelchair merry go round (first time in Sri Lanka).
- Snoezelen room – multi sensory environment environment to enhance the sensory integration.
Speaking at the inauguration, Dilhan C. Fernando, the son of Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando emphasised the need to change the mindset in Sri Lanka to allow children with developmental disability to achieve their potential.
“There is a very unfair stigma associated with these conditions. People who are different are considered disabled. We want to overcome that. These kids may be different but they are absolutely not disabled, unless we treat them as such. In Sri Lanka there is a terrible dearth of information on these conditions and the efforts of the NCCPDD is to address that gap and make them engaged members of society,” he added.
Through the global network of Dilmah, MJFCF expects to bring best practices and expertise from around the world to the NCCPDD to train the professionals.
Dilmah collaborates with Kumar Sangakkara to set up SL’s first Database on Persons with Developmental Disorders
Dilmah Founder Merrill J. Fernando and the cricketing legend Kumar Sangakkara collaborated in building Sri Lanka’s first Database on Persons with Developmental Disorders as a part of a strategic plan to enhance the quality of life for children with Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome and Autism and to educate Sri Lanka to overcome the stigma associated with different ability.
The database is aimed at facilitating effective planning, implementation and monitoring of a national strategy aimed at building the capacity of children and youth with developmental disorders and their families, taking their individual needs into account.
|Elaborating on the initiative, the Founder’s son -Dilhan C. Fernando said, “We want to build a better understanding of these conditions and alleviate the pain caused by the social stigma and marginalization that these children and youth experience today. Doing so benefits them by restoring their dignity and giving them quality of life and it benefits the community by harnessing the contribution that they can offer if they are given a chance.”|