Dr. Dathu Rao Memorial Charitable Trust, Pathway Centre for Rehabilitation and Education of the Intellectual Disabled, Chennai, India, is a voluntary, charitable, non-profit organization established in the year 1975. Its purpose is to provide comprehensive care and educational opportunities for mentally handicapped children. Pathway is founded on the philosophy that every individual should be given the opportunity to utilize their potential in order to live with dignity and self respect, regardless of mental or physical limitations. Today over 100 children receive full care at the live-in facility, while another 300 children are seen on daily basis for rehabilitation and educational programs. In Pathway, all children are served for free, without any charges. Prior to being admitted to the centre's Day or Residential program, each child is thoroughly screened and evaluated to assess their level of mental, neurological and physical development. These methods of testing and observation assist in designing a special education and vocational program for each child. Pathway's goal is to offer medical care, special education and vocational training to as many mentally and physically handicapped children and adults as possible. During the last 39 years Pathway has served more than 40000 children and adults with various problems and disabilities. Services that pathway offers for children, special education, speech therapy and audiology, physiotherapy , occupational therapy, medical care, neurological and pediatrics services, psychiatric out-patient services, dental care and treatment, residential care unit, day care programme, pre-vocational and vocational rehabilitation, yoga, literacy program for children, recreational therapy, employment of the disabled.
Examples of successfully rehabilitated and integrated patients:
❖ Nearly 50% of children with Cerebral Palsy
❖ Almost 90% of children with speech and learning disabilities Includes language and voice disorders, stuttering, and others
❖ Adults with CVA or stroke with Hemiplegia and Aphasia
❖ Adults with Carcinoma Larynx 90% are accomplished esophageal speakers
Disabled Population in India as per census 2011 (2016 updated) – In India out of the 121 Cr population, 2.68 Cr persons are disabled which is 2.21% of the total population. Among the disabled population 56% (1.5 Cr) are males and 44% (1.18 Cr ) are females. In the total population, the male and female population are 51% and 49% respectively.
Majority (69%) of the disabled population resided in rural areas (1.86 Cr disabled persons in rural areas and 0.81 Cr in urban areas). In the case of total population also, 69% are from rural areas while the remaining 31% resided in urban areas. The number of disabled persons is highest in the age group 10-19 years (46.2 lakhs). 17% of the disabled population is in the age group 10-19 years and 16% of them are in the age group 20-29 years. Elderly (60+ years) disabled constituted 21% of the total disabled at all India level.
The Intellectual Disabled pose a unique challenge toward rehabilitation, as cultural biases in India shun those with retardation, and jobs are scarce. The Indian government in 1977 had reserved jobs for the Disabled but had included only three categories like locomotor disability, blind and deaf. This continued for about 18 years. In 1995, reservation was extended to all categories and the definition of disability now was expanded to include people with low vision, hearing impaired and leprosy cured. The number of disabilities had risen to seven. It was only in 2016, the government introduced a bill increasing the number of disabilities from 7 to 21. After enactment in 2017 the government has worked out the specifics in January 2018. The reservation from 3% has now risen to 4% for jobs for the disabled.
Pathway has continued to successfully place many rehabilitated children and adults in workshops and small businesses and provides employment within its own centers. More than16,855 Intellectual Disabled children served by Pathway
❖ 50% are considered “trainable”
❖ 35% have been placed in sheltered workshops and small businesses
❖ 10-15% are profoundly retarded This unit caters to all disabled children regardless of their abilities and limitations. Each child is properly and comprehensively assessed with special educational tools. Base line scores are established for progress measurement. Parameters include:
❖ Level of performance
❖ Specific behavioral problems
❖ Social integration
Data is used to formulate individual educational needs and programs. Once children have been thoroughly tested, they are classified according to degree of disability, and placed in the appropriate educational course for optimal rehabilit
The medical centre serves to relieve the agony of poor man the disabled in their day life and it is our aim to provide quality medical care to the poor who cannot afford this service outside due to high costs. We believe in serving god through serving the poor.
I am delighted to visit Pathway and its exhibition of art work by the exceptional children of Pathway… and we the `so called normal` people gain so much spiritual benefit and joy in this area in working with the children. I compliment the effects of Pathway and my department will help all efforts of this good organization”.
My visit to Pathway Centre for Rehabilitation and Education of the Mentally Retarded has been sacramental for me. The dedication and devotion of all who are serving here is of the highest order. They have found the meaning of their life in sharing the wisdom that flows from the wounded existine of the mentally handicapped. The whole community here is well designed to fill the vacuum in every heart with infinite love. I pray to lord almighty to bless everyone here with grace abundant”.
From a small rented house with very poor facilities Pathway has now has its own building to serve many more deserving children who are disabled and orphans, I compliment the untiring efforts of Dr Prasad and Chandra for this great good work and I will support them fully.