Maithree runs a dedicated and fully structured special education program which aims at maximizing the potential of children. The program covers specific areas, namely, functional academics and functional training, therapeutics (including physical and occupational therapy) and co-curricular activities. In addition, there are specific programs offering vocational training for older children, socialization and extracurricular activities for all children.
Functional academics are training curriculums that specifically address the function-oriented needs of special children. The pedagogy is built on activity-oriented instructional programs, where the emphasis is on learning skills that are age appropriate. There are comprehensive instructional plans that include activities and practical generalization of the skills so acquired. The approach is vital because it helps special children to integrate into their societies and communities. Skills acquired are used frequently so that they are retained. The curriculum includes functional literacy and numeracy. The children are trained to read, write and do functional math that includes such things as time, money, measurement and other concepts that come in handy for everyday living.
Functional training is centred specifically around all of the daily life activities that a child is expected to perform in their everyday lives. The program seeks to make a child competent in performing all of his everyday functions and also develop a sense of independence.
Therapeutics touches upon mental and physical therapy provided by professionals with expertise across various disciplines. Occupational therapy and physiotherapy help a special child develop motor skills. While working with infants, there is a considerable amount of overlap in the roles of the physiotherapist and the occupational therapist. The physiotherapist handles gross motor activities, while the occupational therapist is more involved in evaluation and treatment of fine motor functions and activities of daily living.
In therapeutics, given the importance of communication and speech, we focus on empowering special children with means to effectively communicate and integrate their abilities effectively. Special children do tend to present varying degrees in their deficits in communication. In order to help these children in learning to communicate well, specific attention is given to speech therapy.
There may also be problems in sensory integration, either in the form of over or under sensitivity to an incoming sensation. When there is over arousal, the child may manifest defensiveness to sensations of touch, taste, vision, hearing and smells as well as hypersensitivity to movement and sometimes even gravitational insecurity. When there is under sensitivity, the child may lack appropriate arousal to sensation, showing a lack of registration. In both cases, the problem can cause behavioral and emotional difficulties, and when severe can interfere with sensory discrimination and skill development. Some children fluctuate from over to under arousal and in turn, their behavior varies and their response requires sensory integration.
In order to help special develop in an all-round manner, there is a need to emphasize upon co-curricular activities that go beyond the scope of reading, writing and arithmetic. To help them practically apply and understand what they learn in theory, and to help become well-rounded, a range of activities are included within the scope of co-curricular engagement. These include visual arts, performing arts, craft, sports and games, yoga and physical education. They form part of the curriculum with trained teachers to teach, involving evaluation and accountability. In the field of mental retardation the co curricular activities play a significant role.