Shabnam, Aasiya and Ali, MAITS CHW Master Trainers, delivered training to approximately 35 participants (33 Tamil-speaking and 2 Sinhala-speaking who understood Tamil). These participants were employees of the Government of Sri Lanka from the Eastern and Northern Provinces. The participants came from two different departments of the Government namely the Department of Health and Department of Social Services. The Department of Social Services was represented by Community Social Workers (CSWs) , some from Provincial level posts and others from District level posts. Within the structure of the Department of Social Services it appears that these CSWs are responsible for the direct monitoring of services for children with special circumstances. The other trainees were Public Health Midwives (PHM) from the Department of Health. The PHMs have direct access to all families with young children for the first year of the child’s life and are typically the referral source to the CSWs in the event that they suspect that the child may have special needs. There were two primary interpreters, both Physical Therapists, who translated into Tamil on a consecutive basis, while the Trainers presented. The 8-day training was covered over 6 days using the MAITS resource: Working with Children with Developmental Disabilities and their Caregivers – A Training programme for Non Specialists in Low Resource Settings. The topics covered were divided into two two main parts: Part 1 which included Child Growth and Development; Introduction to Childhood Disabilities; Supporting the Family and Child & Beliefs and Perspectives on Disabilities and Part 2 which included Play; Physical Management and Activities of Daily Living; Communication and Behaviour; Eating and Drinking; Child Assessment and Working with Caregivers using MAITSGuide for Parents. The training methodology included a mix of presentations from the Training Manual using Microsoft and hands-on practical sessions.
The sessions were very interactive, with a lot of participation from the trainees. The participants were constantly kept engaged in discussions and discussions were framed around the current context of their country.
Part 1 was covered in a day and a half with all the three trainers presenting their pre-assigned sections. Part 2 again followed a similar methodology but included extensive practical work through real case studies or video case presentations followed by discussions. The trainees were very interactive and they summarized at the end of the training that they had gained a lot of practical strategies to manage children with special needs in their respective settings. The trainers also enhanced their personal knowledge of disability management within the context of Sri Lanka.
This training has enhanced the knowledge and skills in the area of disability management of field level employees who work within the administrative system of Sri Lanka and have direct access to families of children with special needs. The training will help in better identification of children with special needs in