Preschools reopening: Whose court is the ball in?

Preschools report increase in enquiries for children with special needs

April 1, 2022
Reshma Ravishanker 

As preschool admissions for the next academic year commences after two years of pandemic induced closure, the number of admissions sought for children with special needs has increased rapidly, schools say.

Preschools across Bengaluru are flooded with calls of parents seeking admission of their children with delayed learning, delayed speech, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD), selective mutism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

A study published by the National Library of Medicine, which identifies the potential impact of Covid-19 on child growth and development has it that children who spent most of their time at home were bound to have speech delay, social interaction deficits and selective mutism.

Vijayachitra Kamalesh, director, Firstcry Intellitots said that the requests from parents of children with special needs has increased multifold. “We have considered the maximum number of children possible but are still flooded with requests. Last month, out of the 100 enquiries we got, 25-30 students had special needs. Not all parents are forthcoming about the condition the child has and only upon enquiry do we understand the same,” she said.

With several children with speech delay, learning loss and slow learning challenges because of the pandemic, Kamalesh also hopes to reopen the preschool early to allow students to catch up.

Renuka Nair, founder, Fun N Learn Preschool, agrees that the number of children with special needs for whom admissions are sought has increased. “The number of children with conditions such as ADHD, ASD, and speech delay has gone up. There have been studies that indicate that excessive exposure to gadgets, particularly cartoons, could affect adrenal glands, resulting in various issues,” she said.

Nair has also onboarded a special educator to meet the demand. “Parents already go through much in accepting the condition of the child. Getting them to shuttle between playschools seeking a seat only adds to the burden. As we saw the demand spurt this year, we appointed dedicated staff,” she explained 

Dr Mahesh Gowda, psychiatrist and managing director, Spandana Hospitals said, “This was predicted that children are bound to have speech delay, learning and behavioural challenges. It is what we term as a cumulative effect of the pandemic which has forced children to stay indoors. It has limited their learning, social skills and developed in them an inhibition to go to school. The increase in special needs children could be a result of the same.”  

Also read: EducationWorld India Preschools Rankings 2021-22

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