Our Special Educational Needs (SEN) programme works with over 140 families in the Jinja district, providing quality education and therapy services for children with a range of special needs, free of charge.
Kyomya Residential Unit
Only an estimated 9% of children with disabilities in Uganda attend primary school for various reasons including proximity to specialist services, a lack of funding for specialist equipment and schooling, or simple stigma stemming from society’s misunderstanding of their condition. To tackle this, Soft Power Education provide safe, secure housing for 24 children at Kyomya Residential Unit which allows them to attend a local government school with special educational facilities. Our specialist teacher and occupational therapist visit the unit weekly and provide one-to-one support to ensure each child’s individual needs and targets are being met.
Social Communication Disorder Group
Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are often the hardest children to locate, diagnose and support in Uganda due to the stigma surrounding the disorder. In November 2016, with the help of a highly specialist Speech & Language Therapist, we set up a Social Communication Disorder walk-in group for children presenting with characteristics similar to that of a child with ASD. We first work on building positive relationships – initially through intensive interaction, and then by providing a range of stimulating and engaging activities, in a safe and pressure-free environment.
We work to support parents by addressing specific difficulties they are experiencing within the home and local community, and by introducing effective strategies to manage challenging behaviours such as communication systems like Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS).
We provide a safe and well-resourced learning environment for 6 children with disabilities at Kyabirwa Children’s Centre. These pupils are children from the local community who have been ostracised by their mainstream schools because of their disability. We know that children additional needs learn most effectively and successfully when learning is fun and exciting so offer a multi-sensory curriculum in a traditional classroom style setting. These children would otherwise be kept at home and uneducated because of their disability. Wherever possible, pupils are later integrated mainstream education system by providing support and sensitisation to government schools.
We also aim to support mainstream two government schools (Walukuba West Primary School and Kyomya Primary School) who are already providing education to children with special needs. Class numbers tend to be very large at these schools and so our specialist teacher provides small group and one-to-one education programmes for these children to ensure their individual needs are being met, as well as supporting these partner government schools in delivering quality special needs education.
Outreach Community Therapy
The therapy team run multiple outreach clinics at four different locations every week offering free physiotherapy and occupational therapy services for the children with disabilities. We understand parents are an integral part of any child’s multi-disciplinary team and are often the most influential agent of change in a child’s treatment plan. Thus we work closely with parents and families to support them in providing home-based therapy for children in-between their sessions with the therapists. We are continually inspired by the parents’ changes in attitude towards disability and how involved they are in the therapy sessions to improving the quality of life for their children. The clinics also serve as a means of assessing and referring children to hospitals or other NGOs or organisations for medication, surgery or specialist appliances and we provide a key service in being a bridge between families and other services.
Training & Sensitisation
Throughout the year we run a range of training sessions for parents and other practitioners such as teachers on understanding specific disabilities, traditional beliefs, stigmas and managing specific conditions. The aim of the trainings are to educate and empower parents and teachers in understanding disability and the individual potential that all children have. We want to be part of the movement that changes attitudes towards disability.