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Studies Show Early Intervention Services to Children with Disabilities Reduce Parents Strain and Improves Children’s School Enrolment

By Amar Seva Sangam On 28 November 2020
Studies Show Early Intervention Services to Children with Disabilities Reduce Parents Strain and Improves Children’s School Enrolment

The home-based and tech-enabled Early Intervention project of Amar Seva Sangam - Ayikudy (ASSA), launched in eight rural locations in the districts of Tirunelveli and Tenkasi in 2017, has reduced the psychological, emotional, personal, physical, and financial burden in 75% of parents of children with disabilities, found a peer-reviewed study, published in the October 2020 issue of the prestigious international journal, Disability and Rehabilitation. Parent strain was reduced by 36% on average, which are levels of strain reduction never before seen in other research studies. The study also found 83% of families showed greater empowerment in caring for their child with disabilities. 


Another peer reviewed study that appeared in the November issue of the prestigious international journal, Frontiers in Public Health, showed that age adjusted school enrolment for children with disabilities in the same program improved from 70% to 85% for those provided with early intervention. The study also showed that early intervention therapy visit attendance improved, from 60% to 95%, over the 2.5 year study period, indicating parents’ recognition of the benefits of early intervention. These studies were conducted by researchers from the International Centre for Disability and Rehabilitation, University of Toronto, Canada and Handi-Care International, Toronto, Canada - in association with ASSA. This study was funded by Grand Challenges Canada through their Saving Brains programme.


Amar Seva Sangam is a premier organisation in Disability Management and is pioneering community participatory, technology based rehabilitation solutions that are affordable in rural settings in southern Districts of Tamil Nadu.  Its outreach programme used the Enabling Inclusion (EI) mobile app to connect rehabilitation specialists with community rehabilitation workers and parents, so that early intervention therapy services could be provided in the child’s own home.  It also enabled the specialists to monitor and collect data remotely including assessments, therapy goals and plans, prescribed interventions, parental measures, developmental progress, and school enrolment.


These 2 peer-reviewed studies involved 1050 children and over 300 parents in ASSA’s Early Intervention programme. The studies assume significance as they highlight the role of family-centered, home-based approach and technology adoption in early intervention in reducing the psychological burden of parents who have children with disabilities, and in empowering those parents and improving program attendance and school enrollment rates of their children.



Commenting about the study, Dr. Dinesh Krishna, Director of ASSA’s Early Intervention Programme and professor at University of Toronto, co-author, said, “The home-based and family-centred care approach of ASSA had a positive impact on the lives of the children with disabilities, and their families. It is not just about technology adoption. The programme involved families in the interventions through collaborative goal-setting, information-sharing andteam coordination, The program also advocated for inclusion of children at the level of schools through advocacy and school and community awareness programs. We found that these approaches helped mitigate caregiver burden, empower families and improve child integration.”


In his comments, Mr Sankara Raman Srinivasan, Honorary Secretary, ASSA, and Principal Investigator said, “In India, there are nearly 2.3 Million children under the age of 6 with developmental disabilities. About 100,000 of them are in Tamil Nadu. Early intervention services can enhance the physical, cognitive, communication, social and emotional development of these children, and increase their inclusion and participation within their families, schools and communities. However, the vast majority of these children in India find it difficult to get the early intervention services for their children now - and we need to make use of technology to empower families and local communities to improve the lives of these children for better. Our study has shown that we can improve access and attendance to early intervention services, improve school enrollment and thus maximize the potential of children with disabilities and enable their inclusion in society.”


In light of the positive impact of ASSA’s EI programme on parents and children, the Tamil Nadu Government’s Department of Welfare of Differently Abled Persons recently provided funding to expand the programme to 23 new blocks in Tenkasi, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin district. The entire programme is expected to cover over 3000 children and their families in 2021 and expand further over the next few years. In addition, ASSA plans on helping other organizations in India and other countries by providing them with training, support and access to the Enabling Inclusion app, so that they can also provide Early Intervention services to children with disabilities, and eventually reach millions of children.  



Ref: The published studies, titled “Impact of a family-centred early intervention programme in South India on caregivers of children with developmental delays”, Disability and Rehabilitation, a peer-reviewed journal, and  ‘Rapid-cycle Evaluation in an Early Intervention Program for Children in South India: Optimizing Service Providers’ Quality of Work-life, Family Program Engagement and School Enrollment’, Frontiers in Public Health, a peer-reviewed journal. 


Media Contact: Mr. Aravind Bharathwaj, Lead, Business Development, Marketing & Customer Support, Early Intervention,  Amar Seva Sangam @ +91 99523 36943.


Tag : Children Education

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