SEN Forum at The Ritz Carlton, by Ms. Pratima Thapa

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“They are all big talks and at the end of the day, you return empty handed with added confusions, sometimes cursing the trainer and at times, cursing yourself as well”. This was my impression of seminars before I attended the SEN Forum held at The Ritz Carlton on November 16, 2015.

The experience has been really marvelous, not so much because we were in The Ritz Carlton, although that is a plus, but because it turned out to be an eye-opener due to the dedication and passion I witnessed in Dr. Alweena Awan (PhD, B.Ed- Hons.) on the subject of SEN and inclusion. There were so many people who attended this Forum that there was hardly enough seats for us when we arrived at the workshop venue after the school day. So many people from different countries were there with plenty of queries regarding the subject matter that is considered to be controversial and is high on priority for the government as part of the 2021 UAE vision. No doubt, Dr. Alweena Awan had a good command on her subject knowledge and was equipped with the practical strategies on the day-to-day life of SEN children.

We, the teachers are called “the nation builders” but at the same time we face a lot of difficulties in our objective to help students, not to mention young learners of special needs, who struggle to get on the track where they can fulfill their desire to be treated equally. As said in the seminar, “Do not pity us, we have the same right to be treated equally as normal humans.”

Another very vital topic touched upon is of human aspect, “Movement” or what is termed as “Physical Literacy” which is considered inevitable for human survival. The presenter spoke of many researches indicating the many causes and effects of the different reflexes of human brain. It starts from the age of 6 months to 12 years old, in which all the motor skills must be utilized in order to develop which is essential in integrating these reflexes; for example crawling and improving balance are said to have an impact on a person’s capacity to read, something we never thought had any correlation.

Nowadays, with the use of computer technologies, the hot climate and less availability of play-grounds put together is adding towards this problem. The innocent kids confined in the classroom behaving in an “odd” manner have been labelled many at times. In reality, the main issue is the “disability” on the part of a teacher for not having the proper training to be able to not only teach but help the SEN Child.

After attending the workshop, we in Year 1 are motivated to do something: our challenge is to try to come up with innovative ways to help our young students develop their “Physical Literacy” especially when the hot weather in Dubai does not allow much opportunity for activities outdoors…  But anything is possible if we believe!

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