A helping hand for special kids!

While India is booming with the startup mania, here is one for an ignored social cause. The Gurugram based Mom’s belief is empowering the parents of special children suffering from rare developmental disorders

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New Delhi: As per various reports, there are approximately 52 million children globally who show signs of a developmental disorder such as autism spectrum disorder, down’s syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or intellectual disability.

However, the bitter reality is that not many of us care about such diseases in the busy world until it happens to us or the people related to us. Due to unawareness and lack of education, there aren’t enough qualified professionals available to treat such children.

Yet, there is always a sun of hope and one of its rays has come from the city of Gurugram in National Capital Region of India.

A person with no personal experience with developmental disorders, Mr Nitin Bindlish, came to understand the struggle that parents of special needs kids face. As he wanted to do something about it, he didn’t let his thoughts wander and finally was able to put his ideas into action.

Thus came into being the Mom’s Belief that was created out of a desire to address the overwhelming need for special needs support in India.

“Imagine what it must be like to have a 10-year-old child who is non-verbal, a 14-year-old child who struggles to dress him or herself, or a five-year-old child who can’t hold a crayon,” says Nitin Bindlish, Founder and CEO, Mom’s Belief, “Then imagine what it would be like to have no access to a professional who can help you. That is the reality that these parents face every day. Mom’s Belief was created to empower these parents with professional guidance, knowledge and resources so they can help their child.”

The initial challenges

One of the challenges that Mom’s belief team faced was the lack of knowledge about developmental disorders. Awareness levels were relatively low, and a lot of education was required to help people understand the need that they were trying to address.

Until people understand what developmental disorders were and the impact that they can have on a family’s life, it is difficult for them to appreciate the severity of the problem. Similarly, it is hard for them to understand why it’s so important to give parents support and resources that they can use on their own.

Nitin Bindlish, Founder & CEO, Mom’s Belief.

“India cannot address its shortage of psychologists, therapists and special educators overnight. This will take time, and in the meantime, parents need solutions, ,” says Nitin adding, “Parents are the constant in their child’s life and they know and understand their child best. We believe that they can be trained and guided to help their child on their own, and research supports this. This is what the Mom’s Belief team does – our clinical team members train and guide parents and customize resources for their child, so they can work with their child at home.”

Additionally, Mom’s Belief is also supporting the professionals and therapy centers, NGOs and schools that work with special needs children. By supporting these professionals and organizations with clinical and technical expertise and resources, it is trying to create an ecosystem of support that ensures that no child is denied the care that he or she needs.

“Launching an organization or business is always a challenge, and this experience is no exception. But it’s been a challenge of the most positive kind. Our journey so far has introduced us to parents who are incredibly inspirational. They face struggles, but they persevere. I’m constantly in awe of their dedication and strength,” explains Nitin.

“We’ve also had the honor of meeting and working with professionals who are thoroughly committed to making a difference in the lives of these children. These parents and professionals keep us motivated every day,” he added.

Creating awareness to act early

To remove or at least reduce the stigma, the medical fraternity and educators across India needs to have a better understanding of developmental disorders. Society at large needs to be more informed about them as well. With greater awareness comes increased acceptance, and this translates into more educational and work opportunities for individuals with developmental disorders.

“Awareness levels around developmental disorders are slowly improving, but we still have a long way to go. I don’t think we’re doing enough, collectively,” says Nitin.

In the Western part of the world, the corporate sector has identified “neuro-diversity” as an important goal for its hiring practices. In simple terms, it means that a work force made up of “neuro-typical” individuals (people without a disorder like autism or ADHD) and those with manageable disorders is often a stronger work force than one made up of only neuro-typical individuals.

It’s recognized that people with developmental disorders often have unique strengths that are highly valuable, and the hiring practices of many corporations now reflect that understanding. As a result, more adults with these disorders are finding meaningful work and achieving greater independence.

“There is another important benefit,” believes Nitin, “Greater levels of awareness mean that a larger number of parents, healthcare professionals and educators will be able to recognize the signs of a developmental disorder. If these signs are addressed as soon as they are noticed, the outcomes for the child are much improved. Commonly referred to as “early intervention,” the practice of acting at the earliest opportunity can make a significant difference in the lives of children who are challenged with these disorders.”

Eyeing big targets for future

Since Mom’s Belief is a social enterprise, it was funded through businesses and private investors with whom the founders share a long-standing relationships. “Our home-based program for families is a subscription-based program, and we make the program available at a more affordable price point for families in the EWS category, says Nitin.

Mom’s Belief aims to improve the lives of one million children over the next ten years using a network of one million parents and professionals. To achieve its mission, the company is expanding its team to increase reach across India and into other countries where the demand for services is strong. The UAE, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Vietnam are part of its plans and it is building networks in some of these countries, so it can take these plans forward.