Lebenshilfe (regd.), Association For People With Intellectual Disabilities., Visakhapatnam, 530017, AP., India

Initiatives

Tiger Dance Therapy

A sound-based & Sensory-Centered Therapeutic Application

(India's rich Contribution to the rest of the World)
By

Tallapragada Saraswathi Devi
Lebenshilfe, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh India

National Conference on Music Therapy 12-13 Feb 2007 India International Center-New Delhi

Organized by Dr Kalyan Bagchi



Folk Art TIGER DANCE WORKING WONDERS As An Alternative Medicine

The WHO defines Health as 'a state of physical, mental and social we-being'

In view of its holistic nature, Traditional Art Tiger Dance is developed at Lebenshilfe as a therapy for its universal application as an alternative medicine. It deals with the physical body, vital movements, mental thoughts, intellectual convictions and emotional feelings of the mentally challenged, emotionally disturbed, intellectually disabled making them fit for socialization. This Therapy was developed 26 years ago by SaraswathiDevi Tallapragada (Sarah) founder of Lebenshilfe, India, utilizing the folk form of art of Andhra Pradesh for physical and mental health promotion of the intellectually disabled people. She tried to translate the irregular body movements of the mentally challenged into meaningful gestures through this therapy.

It was specially tailored for developmentally challenged people to address problems ranging from sensory disorders, inability to concentrate, socialization handicaps, as well as physical and emotional challenges. By promoting body-Mind coordination, Tiger dance shows a greater therapeutic promise for these and other behavioral challenges. It has proven itself suitable for people of all ages and functioning levels, including those with severe intellectual abilities (SID).

This therapeutic technique was found to be helpful to convert the aberrant behaviour disorder into an acceptable behaviour pattern. Tiger dance engages the entire body in rhythmic dance movements, giving a head to toe experience to the participants through subtle and strong gestures. It extends an excellent stimulation and marvelous motivation to both the players and viewers.

Tuning the tiger hunt jumps with rhythmic drumbeats proved to be an effective therapy. It offers the added benefit of being a performing art, hence is an extremely enjoyable activity for performers and audience alike. As Lebenshilfe's experiment on behavior management and activization of sensory receptors was successful, Tiger Dance is included in the intervention program of Lebenshile. This therapy is yielding wonderful results.

Papers presented on this therapy in various National and International.Conferences is receiving greater appreciation and applause drawing rapid global attention.

INTRODUCTION

Our national animal tiger is most alluring. His movements are so graceful. 'In all of creation there is no wild animal to match the tiger. His sheer beauty, the glorious coloring and stripes can be awe-inspiring.'(E.Ajaikumar Reddy'.) Normally tigers are found in deep forests and zoological parks. Some times they make appearance in circus companies too.

ORIGIN

Tiger Dance is an ancient man-evolved creativity. The primitive man who lived in close proximity with the wildlife imitated the tiger movements for creating fun. That fun-sake imitation turned slowly into a traditional dance form. Later it was transmitted to present generations. (Reference: News Papers 'The New Indian Express' and 'The Hindu')

What is Tiger Dance Therapy?

Tiger Dance is a very popular and truly enjoyable folk art. It is a source of entertainment, a cause for social unity and a reason for thrill. It gathers larger groups to the places of presentation.

People enjoy seeing tiger dancers, dancing at their door-steps during the festive occasions and present gifts and cash awards. Tiger dance requires no language and goes by a rhythmic drumbeat produced by 'TASA', an instrument specially made for this purpose.

What is 'TASA?

TASA, is a specially made drum meant for Tiger Dance. It activates the ears and helps for receiving proper sensory inputs. (Sounds). The tympanic Membrane is the receptive part of the ear which trembles at any acoustics and transfers it to the three small bones in the ear and through them to the auditory nerve and from there to us for pleasure of hearing. In mentally retarded these pleasant changes could sometimes be interrupted due to various reasons. Instrument TASA helps to boost the brain through producing excellent drum-beats. While dancing, the foot and its fingers touch the floor receiving the pressure to the muscles and that helps to transmit the information to Brain.( boosting the brain)

It needs no stage for performance. Painting yellow color with black scars all over the body and covering the face with tiger masks are the primary requisites for performance. This old-style street dance can be presented on roads or even in the open streets, any time and anywhere.

This traditional dance is crowd pulling and brings the audience to the performing place instead of taking them to the auditorium. It needs no theatre, no curtains no stage properties for presentation. In view of the above features it differs from a few folk and other classical dances of India. It is usually performed in village rituals and festivals. It is greatly patronized by the folklore of rural communities. Even now it is practiced especially in the states of West Bengal as 'BAGH', Karnataka as' HULI VESHAM and Andhra Pradesh as Pulivesham. Across the western coast of Karnataka, people dance in worship of tigers. Tiger dance is performed in some parts of Kerala also. Hindus and Muslims perform this dance following the ancient traditions during Dusshera, pongal or Moharrum. It is performed during the festivals of Goddess Durga, local deities like " Paidi talli, 'Jai Bhavani', 'Polamamba', Maridimamba etc..'in the spiritual land of Asia they have acquired a religious significance and supernatural potency. "In India the tiger is the hollowed steed of the Hindu Goddess Durga and is thought of as a God in its own right". Stephen Mills)

How this therapy was started?

Case report: It was started 26 years ago when a distraught mother brought her fourteen year old son, MURALI for admission. He was extremely aggressive with a destructive bent of mind. Pelting stones, pulling hair, hitting, breaking things, destroying plants, tearing clothes, pulling the tails of the cattle and there by irritating others became his regular routine. In other words he was impossible and uncontrollable.

Birth history:

There were traces of mental retardation in Murali's family. His own paternal aunt was a severely retarded person. Murali's mother fell down twice during the conception period. He was born at home assisted by a mid-wife. Mother had a prolonged labor. Murali was born in total blue color and birth cry was absent. He turned into a severely mentally retarded followed by epilepsy. After admission it was fully realized that he was uncontrollable and causing greater disturbance to the institution. He started beating everybody using abusive language. He was constantly crying making louder voices. Nobody was willing to keep him in their classroom. Murali's challenging behaviour challenged me indeed and hence I decided to keep him under my personal care. I converted my office room into his classroom. I applied no force. I delivered no commands or demands. Standing at the window and crying continuously became his routine. My sensitive and affectionate handling has no affect .This situation continued for many months. I was at my wit's end.

One day, many moon nights later, a sudden change was noticed in Murali. He stopped crying and shouting and he was completely engrossed listening to hypnotic drum-beats which were accompanying a group of tiger dancers, dancing in a procession from a distance. I was totally flabbergasted to find Murali, relaxing and loosening his grip on the iron bars of the window.

Immediately I invited the whole group of tiger dancers encircled by thirty to forty men, women and children into Lebenshilfe premises and asked them to continue dancing for about five to ten minutes. Murali was greatly excited with the movements of the tiger dancers. Tiger dance caught the attention of Murali .He started giving body movements suitable to the drum-beat. Initially he went to a corner and tried to imitate the tiger hunt jumps. Later he went to the dancing group and tried to touch them to ascertain whether they were real animals? After 6-7 minutes he started dancing together with them and enthralled everyone.

Next day he was seen in the school premises much in time to everybody's surprise. Entering into the office room without any hesitation, he asked for drum-beats. A pre-recorded drum-beat was kept ready to use the same as an incentive. He spent whole day in cheers giving movements suitable to the drum-beats. Gradually Murali attained concentration and stability. He stopped beating, biting and destroying things etc and started sitting in the classroom.

Tiger Dance worked out wonders and a remarkable change in Murali's behaviour was noticed. It was quite obvious that Rhythmic sounds attracted (turning his head towards the drum-beat direction and following the rhythm with his fingers). In view of the satisfactory results, it was decided to continue this therapy on Murali as usual. Later an educational team was formed for this purpose to explore the possibilities for tiger dance application on other children.

How this therapy helps?

Sensory Cognitive Development:

The relationship between the body and mind of the retarded, remains as a conundrum. Their thoughts can not be converted into meaningful actions as quickly as it is done in the case of normal people. This therapy helps the mentally retarded to imitate the tiger hunt jumps with application of mind. Tiger hunt jumps closer to yoga postures help for physical emotional expression whereas drum-beat helps for conveying the thoughts adding to sensory cognitive development

Outlet for accumulated aggression and anger

Tiger dance is a cerebral creative art. It is good to promote expression skills. Imitating the definitive movements of the tiger, acts as an outlet for accumulated aggression, anger and tension of the retarded person thereby releasing their pent up feelings. The tiger cubs or the baby tigers are attached to the mother tigers till they learn the technique of hunting. During this period, tiger cubs learn expression of love, happiness and joy from the mother tiger through the acts of licking, rubbing, patting etc. Tiger Dance therapy helps children to learn expression of love, joy and happiness while imitating the movements of the baby tigers.

Learning Expression Skills

Learning from sounds: Promotion of communication skills

It is interesting to notice that the tigers and tigresses communicate with each other using limited vocabulary. 'a contented tigress being nuzzled by her cubs will sometimes purr. Cubs if they are unhappy they miaow as the cubs grow older and their play becomes increasingly robust they sometimes snarl and whicker at each other'. It uses sharp grunts for three times to indicate them to follow her. "The most important is the short, sharp grunt often in threes-ur, ur, ur which seems to be a sign for the cubs to follow her." "The friendly sneeze appears to be an affectionate note of greeting which can also be used between adults". Tigers roar to express their desire to mate or just to say' here I am' out of sheer. (Stephen Mills). Mentally retarded imitate these sounds and acquire better communication skills.

Step III: Involves movements upwards keeping the head up, looking at the sky, raising the hands upwards and moving the shoulders like a peacock.

Step IV: Helps to remove Gaseous Accumulations

Rolling movements in a crawling position. (Yoga Mudra and Dhanurasana) an excellent exercise to the upper and lower limbs and to strengthen the spinal cord. Crawling and Rolling are involved bringing pressure on the intestines.

Duration:

Each participant is allotted 30 minutes. (twice a week). A four-week period is provided for each learning step and extends if required. The therapist's role. The therapist should collect the baseline data and information relating the participant's behavior before planning for the therapy module. Therapist should be friendly and create a suitable environment for learning. He requires a fair amount of patience. No force should be applied. Therapist should help the child to express their feelings, problems, anger, guilty hatred etc. tuning to the drumbeat positively.

Application of Yoga:

A sound mind in a sound body: As per Yoga the body and mind are interlinked with the invisible energy i.e.' PRANA'. It is nothing but produced energy with a power to prolong ones healthy life. Body makes actions or physical expressions as per the commands given by the Mind. Body acts and Mind reacts. Body looks at the Mind to receive commands and Mind looks at the Body for suitable application. Both depend on each other for promotion of perfect functionary of all the systems of the Body. There should be a balance in the collaborative functionary of Body and Mind. Yoga brings such collaboration. This is possible through 'inhale and exhale'. Certain tiger hunt jumps and body movements help systematizing inhale and exhale process thereby leading to perfect health. The ancient Indian concept of yoga is to boost and to kill stress and tiger dance carries the same purpose.

Impact of Tiger Dance on Murali.

Social skills:

Achieved social recognition, acceptance and appreciation, using public transport independently, .acquired social skills, good behavior habits, politeness in social gatherings, friendly relations with neighbors, helpful to parents at home etc.

Love for nature:

Watering the plants at Lebenshilfe and feeding the cattle of the neighbors show his increased sense of responsibility.

Sensory cognitive skills:

Tiger masks preparation, painting the costumes etc. developed logical and meaningful thinking. Learnt application of mind for sensory inputs. Stopped destructive behavior.

Vocational skills:

Turned into a good carpentry worker.

Dancing in a group:

increased his sense of tolerance, unity and caring for others etc..

Discussion:

The application of this therapy can be assessed from various aspects.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ASPECT:

Promotes concentration and power of attention, develops observational skills, expression skills and reasoning.

PHYSIOLOGICAL ASPECT

1. Provides body concept.
2. Develops fine and gross motor activity, leading to best loco-motor function.
3. Promotes excellent body balance.
4. Strengthens both upper and lower limbs. Even the minute muscles and nerves are strengthened by certain postures like picking up currency note with the eyelids and lips.

SOCIAL ASPECT:

Tiger Dance as a significant therapy: creates relationship between the mentally retarded and the society. As a group activity: promotes unity and reduces fear complexity. Children learn to move in a group and accept other children. Promotes unity and urge for friendship. The larger crowds encircled at Janatha colony during the local deity 'JAI BHAVANI' to catch the glimpse of the tiger dancers. A cavalcade of people has come to see the tiger dancer's presentations. Mentally retarded have come outfitted in alluring yellow costumes with black stripes painted, wearing similar colored tiger masks. They were flanked by huge audience. The viewers were excited and truly engrossed in tiger dance presentation with a greater amount of curiosity'. Every time and everywhere they present, sure they steal the show, marking a place for them in the hearts of audience thus receiving tremendous recognition and possibilities for integration.

HEALTH-PROMOTIONAL ASPECT:

Regulates all most all the systems of the body.

1. Digestive system
2. Respiratory system.
3. Excretory System.
4. Circulatory System e.g. Nervous system : finger massage, usage of four Paws.

TECHNOLOGICAL ASPECT

No sophisticated machinery is involved. Total dance goes with a drumbeat. Costumes, pair of hand gloves and masks are hand made. They are inexpensive and require a little painting. EONOMICAL ASPECT: No cost is involved.

Masks are made out of waste paper material. Costumes are made out of cotton material.

OUTCOME:

26 years ago: Before application of tiger dance: forcible stay at home, tying up with ropes. 26 years after application: Social recognition, appreciation and acceptance leading to social integration.

What says Dr Roxanne Kamayani Gupta, PhD, USA?

Tiger Dance stands for The Spiritual Dimensions of a Holistic Therapy

What makes dance an inherently holistic, and potentially spiritual activity is its ability to integrate the five senses in a total aesthetic experience. In this sense we can understand Tiger Dance as a holistic therapy. But from an Indian perspective it is something more: The integration of all the senses in an artistic experience leads naturally to a "transcendent" state. While involving the body, mind and emotions, art goes beyond all of these to create something more-a totality that is more than the sum of its parts.

In yogic philosophy and science, each of the five senses may be analyzed in terms of their respective cognitive fields and operations, and yet their underlying unity is an intuitive reality that needs no scientific proof. This yogic perspective was the basis of all aesthetic theory in traditional India. Whether today they are classified as folk or classical, traditionally the main purpose of dance and other performing and fine arts in India was to bring the human closer to this "total" transcendent or spiritual experience. An artistic performance was designed to take one out of oneself, to virtually launch the individual beyond the boundaries of his own particular life into the shared universal and experience shared by all humans. In contrast to religion which divides people according to group membership, spirituality has as its reference point not an outer community but an inner experience of unity, a state of being that is felt and experienced as real and valuable in itself, requiring no external validation.

Yet despite its emphasis on individual experience, the shared spiritual goal of experiencing a higher unity also became the cement that bound the community together, irrespective of its great diversity on the ground floor. As pointed out by C.G. Jung, human beings intuitively tend towards a holistic experience, and naturally attempt to make sense of their place in the world by use of powerful symbols of totality (Man and His Symbols, p 196). Tiger Dance, is not only therapy, it is art. It is not only art, but a symbolic spiritual activity that engages the senses, focuses the energies, and involves the whole person, body, mind, and emotions. Most important, this total involvement of the whole person gives rise to a shared spirit that unifies not only the self, but also the entire community. This spiritual perspective is India's contribution to the world, but it is not merely a theory. It is embodied in the Tiger Dance at Lebenshilfe.

For India, the Tiger has a special significance. As the national animal of India, it conveys power and majesty. The Tiger also represents the wild animal kingdom although today unfortunately most tigers are encountered only in zoos or circuses. India is committed to protecting the Tiger, an endangered species, in national reserves like Siriska in Rajasthan. Save the Tiger" Foundation, headquartered in New Delhi, is working hard to protect India's last tigers from extinction.

We can imagine that early humans, our ancestors who lived in close proximity with nature, imitated the movements of the tiger for ritual purposes, out of fear and admiration, or perhaps even just for fun. Out of these ancient tribal practices developed traditions of Tiger Dance handed down from generation to generation, and found in India today.

In short, through the Tiger Dance, human beings access the archetypal untamed energy and qualities of the Tiger. As an activity it offers benefits that go beyond the merely physical. The symbolic elements of the dance provide an added dimension that is difficult to scientifically measure, but nonetheless obvious when observing its practice. Tiger Dance has been the cornerstone of Lebenshilfe's program that for nearly 26 years achieving astonishing results. To discuss the benefits of Tiger Dance sometimes attention is drawn upon basic concepts from Indian culture, including those of yoga philosophy and practice.

Few Focusing Facts:

-Tremendous technique to bring control over aberrant behavior.
-An excellent technique for reduction of accumulated tensions, stress etc.
-Best activity for stimulation and motivation.
-Promotes self confidence, concentration, reasoning, health, visual and hearing skills.
-Best loco motor activity both fine and gross motor.

Purpose:

1. To patronize the folk art Tiger Dance, disappearing day by day from the present so called civilized scenario.
2. To deliver a message to the fellow human beings through the people with intellectual disabilities (SID) through cultural presentations of tiger dance and jungle tribes.(Mass Education by the mentally Handicapped).
3. To focus the Tiger Dance Therapy to the rest of the world as a powerful tool to develop people with intellectual disabilities.

Conclusion:

Tiger dance is a less expensive therapeutic innovation bringing astonishing results. Encouraging the usage of this therapy leads to revival of this dying traditional folk art. The tiger population is depleted and fast disappearing. Protecting the tiger race has become a global concern now. Mentally handicapped of Lebenshilfe also would like to contribute their might to create a sense of awareness through tiger dance. It is their social commitment. We welcome further study to explore the therapeutic approach for persons with SID for suitable application. Good exercise for upper and lower limbs, toes, fingers, hip joints, wrists etc.

References.

1. Jim Corbett: The Man-eaters of Kumaon (1944) Oxford University Press:1991
2. Bjorn Kurten Dance of the Tiger Avon Books New York 1991 Nearderthal man
3. JILLIAN Hunter, Tiger Dance Harpercollins 19954
4. Nocholas Courtney's book " THE TIGER": courtesy: Saving Wild Tigers 1900-20000, Valmik Thapar :2000
5. Yogic postures Drawings: Courtesy: Jaya Uruma USA


Snoezelen Therapy


Snoezelen is introduced for the first time in India at Lebenshilfe Visakhapatnam, as a relief to the suffering of parents and families having people with severe mental retardation. The idea of Saraswathi Devi Tallapragada to bring Snoezelen to Lebenshilfe was very well appreciated by Floor Jonker and Jeanny Mannekes who motivated Lolkje Brouwer, Esther Borgmann, Ellis Goede and Irma Rusche resulting Snoezelen at Lebenshilfe, India.

What is Snoezelen?

It is a Dutch Therapy founded by Mr. Ad Ferheul in the late 1970's in Holland and it is introduced worldwide. It is a multiple sensory activity that is focusing on the five primary senses organized in a sensory world creation. The word Snoezelen is a combination of two Dutch words: 'doezelen', that means to relax, and 'snuffelen' that means to explore, to seek out.

Snoezelen is an excellent therapy in a safe, comfortable environment with nice, proper, soft stimulus. The five senses (taste, feeling, smell, hearing and vision) will be discovered and experienced. The most important ingredient of the Snoezelen Therapy is the attitude. The right attitude is more important than any material or technique. During Snoezelen the child is free to explore or relax. In a Snoezelen room the child is expected to respond to this sensory world in his own special way. The teacher is no longer a teacher but more a companion. The Snoezelen environment should be safe and non-threatening giving the child a sense of freedom.

Snoezelen is used for the therapeutic gain, motivation encouragement, pain reduction, anger management, stress relief, or simply for recreational pleasure and relaxation. It offers a wealth of benefits. It gives teachers and parents an opportunity to give a better communication, more understanding of each other and build up trust in their relationship with the child. Snoezelen is a wonderful experience to enjoy and share a place that gives new balance and energy.


Working Wonders - Bringing Excellent Results.

1. Alekhya

This eight year old severely mentally retarded girl Alekhya, stubborn in nature and aggressive in behavior was turned into a greater challenge. Parents at home and teachers at Spl. School were totally fed up, managing this girl. Classroom entry was difficult for this girl as every teacher was afraid of accepting her as she tears the clothes in rage, bites, and pinches, injures other children etc. and becomes impossible to control if her wish is not fulfilled. Moreover she sits with crossed legs around the waist of people that come nearer to her for interaction (in a scissors position) and tears the clothes. She holds the waist tightly with one hand to get her job done with other hand. She wets her pants to express her anger. She cries continuously. She likes to be alone all the time and gets irritated when kept with more people. She developed attachment to teacher Kezia at school and Sowbhagya lakshmi in the hostel. Sitting in classroom for a short period during day time and moving around Sowbhagyalakshmi, holding her clothes and calling her 'PINNI' (aunty) in the hostel turned into her day routine. She likes to lie on her lap all the time. She is imitative and has communication problems. She speaks yet times some (acquired) bad words like 'kukka', (dog) 'pandi' (pig) to scold others while in anger. Her power of concentration is limited. Her response is slow and span of attention is low. Prior to sending into Snoezelen room, she was experimented with tiger dance therapy for concentration promotion which helped her a lot.


Behavior before Snoezelen:

Initially Alekhya did not like to enter into Snoezelen room. She refused to enter and ran away from the entrance door itself. When the therapist tried to take her inside with convincing words, she immediately bounced back crying very loudly. She did the same thing next day and the day after and following day too. A few days later, Alekhya was taken into Snoezelen room once again, of course not alone this time but together with another girl Supriya, who helped her go round the room, holding the finger. When she was immersed in observing things and toys, Supriya was asked to leave the room silently. Alekhya enjoyed a lot touching soft toys and looking around. The multi-colored fiber lamp that revolves round caught her attention. Looking at that lamp, she said 'Akka', (Sister) 'Pinni' (Aunty) laughing to herself. When therapist asked her if she wants to go out of the room, she followed her without any hesitation. Since then reflection of happiness coupled with bundles of smiles is seen, every time she enters Snoezelen room.

After Snoezelen application:

Alekhya stopped scolding, using bad words. Teachers and other service providers are out of tension as she stopped tearing clothes. To everybody's surprise, a sense of affection to other children and responding to teachers instructions outside Snoezelen room are developed. She stopped wetting pants in anger and her observational skills are increased. Too much attachment with the same person is controlled. Sitting in smaller groups and listening to what others say is not refused by her now.

2. HARITHA 13 Years

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Sitting alone, moving head quite often for no reason, looking always down, very bashful, closing her eyes and hiding her face if somebody goes nearer to her, was getting afraid of soft toys, lacking self confidence and passing urine wherever she sits.

After Snoezelen application:

Moving head meaningfully, Sitting in the room with stability, observing toys looking up, toilet control up to 45 minutes obtained, not afraid of soft toys and now playing with them. Increased self confidence is clearly seen.

3. K. Sowbhagyalakshmi 25 years

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Pulling her hair as well as others, beating another girl Adilakshmi, kicking children keeping her fingers in the mouth, spitting on others, not paying attention to sounds, or to what teacher says etc. she likes children younger than her. Non-communicative and knows only one word "Appu" and she repeatedly says the same thing.

After Snoezelen application:

Started touching everything enjoying sounds and smiles. She stopped saying 'Appu' repeatedly. Observing things in the room and sleeping in bed in a relaxing way. Before entering into the Snoezelen room started saying 'Amma" (mother) "Nenu" (I) and acquired new words as a response to the Snoezelen entry.

4. M. ANILKUMAR 16 years.

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Continuous crying, keeping his fingers in mouth, moving around non-stop, liking the only puzzle what he likes and pushing other puzzles out of reach, taking the eatables with force from peers and eating, smelling everything.

After Snoezelen application:

Stopped keeping his fingers in mouth, picking up the pieces of puzzles even though they are kept in different places , started accepting other puzzles also, stopped smelling everything except a few given things.

5. DILLESWARARAO 26 years.

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Moving around always, enjoys making fun of the teacher by pulling her sari (dress) and laughs. Doesn’t sleep during night times in the hostel and disturbs other children, if asked not to do by spitting on them.

After Snoezelen application:

Sitting at one place and playing with toys, touching them what he likes, stopped pulling the teacher's dress and making fun, stopped spitting on people despite instructions, stops unwanted behavior if teacher says 'you will be taken into the Snoezelen room'.

6. TEJA

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Always jumping up and down like on a trampoline, not willing to sit constantly at one place and moving always here and there, When he gets angry he bites himself and when he feels hungry, he throws aside anything that is given to him. He doesn’t look at things properly. He moves here and there restlessly.

After Snoezelen application:

Concentration was developed and spending in the Snoezelen room looking at objects. He likes the swing and it helped him for concentration promotion. Observing the revolving lights, lying on the mattress is his liking which promoted a sense of relaxation. He stopped jumping up and down like earlier and self biting was also reduced to some extent.

7. D.BHARGAVI

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Fear complexity and afraid of soft toys, habituated to throw things aside without any observation, Liking to sit alone and dances, doesn’t show any interest in the given task.

After Snoezelen application:

Started touching soft toys by observing them top to bottom, playing with them for a longer period, attending given activity correctly with comprehension, body image, showing body parts properly was also developed quite a lot.

8. MAHESH

Behavior before Snoezelen:

Always looks down, keeping his head downwards ( in falling position), responds to his name yet times lifting his head for couple of seconds, keeps things closer to his eyes to take a look, walks very slowly turning his body towards the sounds.

After Snoezelen application:

He started responding to sounds with the head up and going to the toys that makes sounds to catch them. He also started trying to move his head side wards.

Paper clipping: The New Indian express 29 April, 2003

Snoezelen therapy gives a new lease of life to mentally challenged kids Express news service: Visakhapatnam April 30: Two young psychologists (Snoezelen therapists) from The Netherlands with the latest Snoezelen- a multi sensory activity-techniques are trying to give a new lease of life to mentally challenged children of the Lebenshilfe Association for the Mentally Challenged here.

Floor Jonker, a 32-year old graduate in Higher Professional Education in Social pedagogical work and Jeanny Van Mannekes, a 31-year old graduate of the same stream: are camping at Lebenshilfe School on a four-week program to share their experience and work with children having severe behavioral disorders. Speaking to reporters here today, the duo said that 'Snoezelen' was an activity focusing on the five primary senses. The technique was developed in the late 70s and is now popular the world over.

The teaching will be done by creating a special environment with bright lights, colors, sounds and massage to stimulate the sensory organs and this method will coordinate between "body and mind" they said. They have noticed a big difference in culture between The Netherlands and India because of change in bringing up from early childhood and the way of approaching the children is also different. The therapists said that they have observed here a demand of the teachers to teach children in such schools because the children were having some behavioral problems.

We are trying to evolve solutions in sessions to overcome these problems they said. The schools founder-secretary general and executive director T. Saraswathi Devi was present.

Back to Top

Hug Them Tight

Nadine Inagurating the project

Hug Them Tight was a four- year collaborative research project taken up between university hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland and Lebenshilfe Visakhapatnam, India. Due to the Sincere efforts of Dr Giuliana Galli Carminati, Head, Department of Psychiatry, HUG, Geneva and Saraswathi Devi Tallapragada, founder, Lebenshilfe, India. this project came into existence. The Hug Them Tight study was taken up on the evolution of persons with learning disability, having the partnership between families and Lebenshilfe institute. The aim of this study was to observe the importance of the family implication concerning the development and behavior of persons with learning disability. People with learning disabilities of Lebenshilfe chosen for this research project were split into two groups with some people who could benefit of the support and meetings with the socio-educational team (Families Living close to the institute, great implication in their child's education) and some other families who could not benefit of this support, because of social problems. (Parents living far away from institutions, No Parents)

Nadine Kempf, and Samuela Variscco, Psychologists from University Hospitals of Geneva were active in this project and could complete successfully under the guidance of Dr Carminati.

News Paper Clipping


Research to understand behavior of mentally challenged

The New Indian Express: 28 January 2004: Express news service Visakhapatnam, Jan, 27: The Vizag-based Lebenshilfe Institute for Mentally Retarded has collaborated with the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG), Switzerland, to carry out a four year research project-HUG Them Tight.- to understand the behavior of mentally retarded children using the psycho Education Profile-Revised (PEP-R) device.

Addressing a press conference here today, HUG psychologist Nadine Constantin said that the research project, a first of its kind in India, conducted with the scientific equipment PEP_R, would help in observing the behavior, abilities, communication skills and needs of a child suffering from acute autism and adults with extremely low level of I.Q.

Besides helping the families of the children, the study would also help in the research work which Lebenshilfe would carry out on 30 mentally retarded children. The reports would be later sent to the scientific committee at Switzerland, said Nadine.

Nearly 10 teachers were trained at Lebenshilfe to carry out the research. The research would start in March after getting a green signal from the international scientific committee in Switzerland. Lebenshilfe Executive Director T. Saraswathi Devi said, that the PEP_R was worth and HUG was providing an aid of Rs 6.5 Lakh for the research in first year. The amount of the aid in the future would depend upon the quality of work Lebenshilfe does, she added.

The study would help parents to develop a better understanding about the strength, Saraswathi Devi, said.

Back to Top

HIDDEN SPROUTS




They look strange. They are free-associates. They are totally detatched from this materialistic world. They do not understand what is happening around them. It matters nothing if they are recognized or not? They are above to all the man-created comforts. They are far from hunger and thirsty. Their Bodily presence carry no sense for them and their Mind centres around divinity. They are unconnected with this glittering world Nothing motivates them. But yet, they are pious, carrying holy souls. They are eager to merge themselves into God.They give devine inspiration. They make India's yogic treasure. If we are a bit keen in observation, we come to know these facts.

Who are they?

They are Hidden Sprouts, carrying severe mental retardation. They stand as a big challenge to people around them. They are brought by same God on to this earth. They look unconnected but yet they respond to love. They are like living saints. They carry holy souls like anybody else. Their Body and Mind do not work in coordination. Yet they are human beings. They exist physically carrying certain special needs.They are lovable and respond to affection.. Music motivates them. Play stimulates them. They experience affectionate Hugs and enjoy simple smiles.

   They look to embrace humanity-filled hearts. Making them walk for a while and taking them to a state of smiles require humanity- filled hearts .It's a great human responsibility and greater social commitment. It is indeed a 'HUMAN YAGNA'. (Yagna is a group worshipping being undertaken by saints , sages and yogis for a human cause, aspiring social welfare promotion)
Just like the hidden seeds under the earth starts growing with drop of water, these Hidden Sprouts also blossom with love. we comfort them with and let them live.


Best Buddies International


New Project Under consideration


T. Saraswathi Devi with Anthony Kennedy Shriver, founder and chairman Best Buddies International, USA

New project under consideration

I am really impressed with Anthony Kennedy Shriver’s simple mission to invite student volunteers from secondary schools, colleges and universities to meaningfully engage intellectually disabled to enhance their lives through proper opportunities creation for one-to-one friendships and integrated employment. This is indeed a great idea that springs from a few greater minds like Anthony Kennedy.

My enthusiastic interest to start Best Buddies International at Lebenshilfe, Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, India was very well received by its Founder and Chairman Anthony Kennedy Shriver. Words fail to make a proper expression to how much I enjoyed meeting him during the 3rd International Forum on Special Needs Children April,2008), organized by Shafallah Center for the Spl. Needs Chidren, Doha, Qatar under the dynamic leadership of its chairman Hasan Ali Bin Ali.

In August 2000 I happened to see a poster of Best Buddies at IASSID’s International Conference held at Seattle, Washington, USA. in a stall organized by Eunice Shriver, Anthony’s Mom. I started making number of trips to that stall to know more about this program and I feel proud to say that I was acquainted with this word for the first time.

Later my good friend and well wisher Mary Gale Budzisz of IASE (International Association Of Special Education, USA) suggested me to introduce Best Buddies Project at Lebenshilfe. I am thankful to her for her nice words of introduction to Anthony Kennedy, suggesting him to give Lebenshilfe an opportunity for starting this project. The response given by Anthony Kennedy to come and visit Lebenshilfe to consider this project strengthened my wish. Later Chairman Anthony Kennedy and Valerie Vitale, International Programs Director and I are involved in necessary discussions to explore the possibilities to start this international project at Lebenshilfe, Visakhapatnam. I am quite confident that this project Best Buddies International will add strength and value to what I have been doing since 28 years by involving students from High Schools, Various Colleges and Universities at Visakhapatnam.

For more information about Best Buddies International being organized by Founder and Chairman Best Buddies International Anthony and his committed team please visit: http://www.bestbuddies.org/