Success Stories:
Her Story Her Way

Surabhi Verma is the director of ‘Sparsh For Children’, an organisation that provides complete care facilities for children with special needs. Here is her story.

Tell us about yourself and Sparsh
After completing my masters in child development and then PGD in developmental therapy, I started working as a consultant with various organisations and hospitals. Sparsh for Children is a multidisciplinary organization providing interventions ranging from Early Intervention Centre (EIS), Special Education, Occupational Therapy, Play & Study Groups, Speech & Language Therapy and Psychological Assessments and Family Counseling for differently abled children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Learning Difficulty/ Dyslexia, Attention Difficulties, Speech & Language Difficulties, Intellectual Disability and Social & Emotional Difficulties. It started with only five children and two special educators, and now it helps more than 60 children and has around 17 professionals including a psychologist, special educators, occupational therapist and speech therapist. Over the period of time, many children with difficulties have moved out of protective environment of Sparsh and are now completing various professional courses.

Why did you set up Sparsh?
The parents of children with special needs had to go from one therapy centre to the other for different therapies which lead to a lot of time being spent in travelling which was tiring for the parent as well as the child. The need for a therapy centre where all the services (early intervention setup, special education, occupational therapy, speech & language therapy, play & study group therapy and psychological services) can be provided under one roof lead to the idea of Sparsh.

What have been your biggest challenges till date?
As all children with Autism are different thus there is no set plan that needs to be implemented. Thus it is always very challenging to work with each child as one has to come up with new innovative strategies. This also means that all children would not improve and progress with same speed and thus striking a balance between our expectations and the parent’s expectations and helping the child move forward is the true challenge.Since there are not many institutions which provide vocational training to these children, it becomes difficult for us and as well as the parents to decide where the child can fit in after reaching a certain age and skill level.
Part of our work also includes parent counseling as many of the parents remain in denial of the special needs of the child.

Who has been your biggest inspiration?
The children have been the biggest inspiration to work in this field. The satisfaction derived from working with children with special needs when they are able to achieve milestones which are not expected out of them provides you with the energy to work harder.

According to you, how difficult is it for the society to accept special children?
Acceptance is the first and most important challenge, as there is certain mindset of the society towards people with disabilities. As all children are not affected in similar way, this also means that all children would not improve and progress with same speed. It is important to understand that these difficulties are not a form of disease and there is no cure. Many a times there is a social stigma attached to it and many people think that it can be transferred to their children if they play with children with autism.
There is a need to change the perception in the society towards children with special needs and instead of pity.

Words for IWIL.
IWIL is a great initiative to connect with fellow women entrepreneurs. I always believe that there is no end to learning in life and it is can be enhanced when you get to learn from the experiences of others. It is heartening to know that there are so many women who are working towards empowerment of others. Bringing them together on one platform is no small feat so Kudos to the great effort put in by the team.