The Deaf-blind and Multi-Handicapped Programme at St Nicholas’ Home is the first of its kind in Malaysia and provides services solely for children age ranging from 7 to 18, with visual impairment and other associated disabilities. This residential programme, initiated with the help of Hilton Perkins International, USA, commenced in 1997. The target groups for DBMH programme are children who are Deaf-blind and Multi-Handicapped, ranging from 7 to 18 years old irrespective of race or religion. The main objective of this programme is to train and educate the children in this programme, so that they gain the confidence to lead an independent life. The focus of the programme is centralized more on physiotherapy which will help to improve the children’s mobility as well as occupational therapy which will focus on the stimulation of the brain senses and also to monitor their developmental skills in the area of Cognitive, Language, Social & Communication, Motor and Daily Living Skills.
The disability of deaf-blindness and coupled with other disorders, brings unique challenges to families, teachers and caregivers. Issues ranging from daily care to health care, training and stigma arise from the day of birth. We must make sure that these children have access to the world beyond the limited reach of her or his eyes, ears and fingertips so that they can realize their full potential in life.
In this programme the children are categorized in 3 levels in based on their capabilities; The levels are:
1. Primary Level - For children who are beginners and totally dependable on others
2. Secondary Level - For children who are more or less adapted to the environment and able to do a task with minimum assistance.
3. Deaf Blind – For children who are Deaf & Blind and in need Tactual communication through sign language.
An Individual Educational Plan (IEP) to all children is developed to provide comprehensive information that provides for suitable decisions to be made about a child’s educational placement in the programme. The IEP is a written plan describing the specific education and training designed to meet the immediate and future needs of the students with multi-disabilities. The IEP contains objectives and goals that are developed based on the child’s condition and current level of performance. Once the goals are set for each child, the goals are then broken down into measurable terms and short term achievable objectives.
Assessments are carried out every 6 months to re-evaluate the progress of each student and adjustment is made to the IEP as required.
Deaf Blind and Multi Handicapped
The activities of the DBMH programme include:
Self Help Skills: Refer to the everyday activities of daily living such as eating, drinking, toileting, dressing and grooming. These skills enable the child to be independent in looking after his/her basic daily needs.
Motor Skills: Motor skills refer to the activities such as Orientation & Mobility that involve large muscle movement related to movement and mobility whereas the fine motor skills focuses primarily on the child’s ability to use his/her hands constructively.
Functional Academic: To develop their cognitive abilities to understand the surrounding environment and also in basic reading and writing skills using print and Braille.
Language, Social and Communication skills: These skills refer to the child’s ability to vocalized/speak words/sign/gestures and their ability to understand what is said to them by other people. It also relates to their ability to interact with others.
Transitional / Pre-Vocational skills: Transition is a coordinated set of activities that will help the child to move from one environment to another. It also helps to practice self-determination, develop their interest and abilities, develop independent living skills to the greatest extend possible, learn methods to increase social relationship and experience a simple work task such as packing and assembling.
The daily classroom activities are more theme-based to provide more structure for the children enrolled in the programme. For example, Mondays will focus on Music, Tuesdays Play activities, Wednesdays on Outing trips, Thursdays on Kitchen activities such as cooking and Fridays on Gardening activities.
A sensory room and PT room which aims to assist the children in enhancing their sensory and physical skills was set up and equipped with the necessary equipment’s. The focus is also on more to physiotherapy which will help to improve the children’s mobility as well as occupational therapy which will focus on the stimulation of the brain senses.