At a seminar held in Delhi, social workers, doctors, educationists and parents of mentally handicapped children discussed the problem of inadequate facilities available in India for the education, training and rehabilitation of mentally handicapped children and decided to form a society.
This resulted in a society under the name of The Delhi Society for the Welfare of Mentally Retarded Children being registered in the year 1965. This is a voluntary organization registered under the Indian Societies Registration Act of 1860. Later, at a General Body Meeting held on 5.03.06, it was decided that, in keeping with the times, the Society be renamed as Delhi Society for the Welfare of Special Children.
As per census in 2001, the range of the completely disabled in the country was between 2-3% of the total population. It was estimated that in India more than 50% of the disabled were mentally challenged people, of whom about 8 million were children of school-going age. These children could not go to an ordinary school; they could not grow up with the mind of an ordinary adult. Yet, with patience and skill, they could be trained to do things for them selves- to read and write a little, to learn a simple trade and to become useful members of the community. Unfortunately in the earlier years, adequate facilities for education, training and rehabilitation of these children were not available in the country, with the result that a vast majority of them were forced to lead a life of isolation, which was a source of frustration to themselves and their families.
The Society organized the first All India Seminar on Mental Retardation. At this seminar both the Prime Minister Ms. Indira Gandhi and the Minister for Social Welfare made it clear that in the subsequent years, care for the mentally handicapped would fall on voluntary agencies. The Society, therefore, launched a project to provide special schooling and workshop training to the mentally disabled, to establish research facilities for the study of causes and prevention of mental disability and also to find ways and means for their rehabilitation.
The Building Fund was launched in November and within a short span the Society raised Rs.1,00,000/- through sale of Building Fund coupons and donations. This was matched by an equal grant by OXFAM. The Government of India also sanctioned a grant of Rs.84,000/- towards the Building Fund.
The President of the Society Mrs. Yasho Karan Singh also made a personal contribution of Rs. 1 lakh to build a Holiday Home for the children.
The Society acquired a plot of land, situated directly opposite the Holy Family Hospital, from the Delhi Development Authority, for the purpose of construction of its own building.
On 6th April, the late Dr. Zakir Hussain, then President of India, laid the foundation stone of the building. Less than a year later, the first wing housing a school for 50 children, was ready for occupation. Two playgrounds and a second wing were built shortly afterwards to expand the school to include 100 children.
On 1st March, the All India Women's Conference (AIWC) handed over the Society and the School for Mentally Retarded
Children started by them at 6, Bhagwandas Road. Mrs. S.M. Pathak of the AIWC continues to be associated with the Society
as one of its oldest serving office bearers.
On 5th April the Training-cum-Research Centre for mentally retarded children was formally inaugurated by Shri V.V.Giri, the then President of India.
The President of the Society, Mrs. Yasho Karan Singh made a personal donation of Rs.2.75 lakhs to construct a Vocational Training Centre block in the school.
The Society equipped the Diagnostic Clinic for the purpose of assessing the children in Audiometry.
This was later expanded.
With financial assistance from the State Bank of India the Society set up the Vocational Training Centre to equip mentally retarded children with simple repetitive skills in printing, candle making, handloom weaving, caning of chairs, and making of file covers and envelopes.
The services in the Diagnostic and Child Guidance Clinic were expanded to evaluate development of mentally handicapped children in the area of academics, learning, skills, psychosocial adjustment, interpersonal relationships, vocational aptitudes and health. Around a 150-200 children were evaluated each year by a team of specialists consisting of a pediatrician, clinical psychologist, speech therapist, special educator, physiotherapist, occupational therapist and social worker.
A comprehensive rehabilitation programme was designed for each child. Parents were given guidance for home training of those children who could not be admitted to the school.
The Society launched a project for sponsorship and adoption of poor children by charitable trusts, social and welfare organizations and well-wishers of the mentally challenged. Under this scheme a donor paid the annual expenses of one or more of the students on the rolls of Okhla Centre. The Centre kept them informed about the progress of such children.
With a generous contribution of Rs. 2,71,424/- by the Women's India Association of the United Kingdom, London, the Society set up a Rehabilitation Centre to provide sheltered employment to handicapped children trained at the Vocational Training Centre. Initially, 10 handlooms were installed which provided employment to about 20 children.
The Society constructed a Sheltered Workshop block at a cost of Rs. 13 lakhs.
The Teachers' Training Institute was established, in collaboration with the Rehabilitation Council of India. It was set up essentially in order to upgrade the existing special educators and to train them with necessary skills required in managing children with special needs.
In the new millennium, on 9th January, another milestone was reached, when Lt. Governor Shri Vijay Kapoor inaugurated the new building ‘Yasho Bhawan’ on the birthday of Mrs. Yasho Karan Singh, President of Delhi Society for the Welfare of Special Children. Dr. Karan Singh, M.P., presided over the function.
A Grant in Aid for Purchase of equipment to upgrade Diagnostic Clinic was received from Delhi Kalyan Samiti, National Capital Territory of Delhi, New Delhi for Rs. 9,00,000/-
A Library grant was received from Raja Rammohan Roy library foundation Calcutta, under the non-matching scheme of financial assistance to voluntary organization providing Public Library Services.
Every year since 2010 an Eco - Club Grant is received from Delhi Govt. for Plantation/Greening Drive, Disposal of Garbage/Zero garbage concept, etc. Besides this since the year 2009 generous patrons have been funding major renovation & improvements, which have been in the process in the Society Buildings & environment.
The State Bank of India still continues to contribute machines & equipment for the school.