One of the greatest challenges for parents in raising a family is the chance of having special children with very particular needs. The developmental pace of these little ones’ growth may be different from that of other children, to the point where they may be figuratively “left behind”, slower in learning the basic skills of communication like speaking, reading and writing. While parents could mean well, at times they might be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of attention needed to see their special children prosper and get along in society.

This is where the concept of special education (SPED) comes in, from both public and private institutions with custom learning programs for each child. Here in General Santos City, one of the new rising stars of private SPED institutes looking to give the best service for those wonderfully unique young ones is the J.A. Bernal Center for Exceptional Children.

The JABCEC was established on October 24, 2014 by its Director Jaybee Bernal, one of GSC’s foremost experts in SPED. This is interesting as Mr. Bernal didn’t initially decide to make a career of helping exceptional children as he does now. Originally planning to become a doctor, a choice of Psychology as a requisite course in Premed, followed by a visit to a SPED school in Dumaguete, opened to him a new path. Finishing with an Education Master’s Degree Majoring in SPED at UP Diliman, along with 12 years’ practical experience as a special educator in Manila, Mr. Bernal now regularly commutes between there and General Santos City for an alternating two weeks as he consults on new cases of special children being brought to his attention.

Now well past their second year and operating from a new address, the JA Bernal Center continues its push to see through its vision to become the leading SPED center not just in GenSan but in Mindanao by means of providing the best practice to give the best service to developmentally challenged children and their families. Their “students” are mostly referred to them by the families’ doctors for “intervention”. In addition to special education the center provides other services in speech and occupational therapy, language courses, and psychiatric help. Their child development program encompasses the formation of work behavior, encouraging receptive and expressive language, cognition, and the honing of motor and fine motor skills. Not only the children but their parents receive instruction in the SPED program, the better for the young one’s families to continue their development at home.

Sessions at the center last anywhere from one to two hours, with days of attendance being anywhere from once to twice a week, and scheduled from Monday to Saturday. Mr. Bernal is ably assisted in the task of intervention and education by a “faculty” of five special education experts, all bold, engaging, resilient, nurturing, accepting, and loving of their duties, responsibilities and their many various charges throughout the week. Intervention usually ends when Mr. Bernal and his fellow instructors deem a child ready to take an assessment test to gauge their improvement in their various fields of development. Promising results are then forwarded to the children’s physician, who may then discuss the child’s future in the wider world with his family.

Even with the JA Bernal Center already having a full plate of special children that rely on their aid and guidance, Mr. Bernal sees even more room for growth in the Center. He plans in the coming years to expand their purview from school-aged special children to older teens and grown adults. In their case, it’s hoped that the center can also provide them with enough training to qualify them for basic employment. They can be taught to work handicrafts for instance, and certain foreign companies for example have also found gainful work for developmentally challenged grown-ups at assembly line jobs where they might excel at routine and repetitive actions. The future looks bright and full of possibilities for Mr. Bernal and his labor of love, something that many special people and their folks would most certainly appreciate.

For more inquiries on what the JA Bernal Center for Exceptional Children can do for any special child you know, come visit them at their institute at the third floor of the Santanna Medical Plaza next to St. Elizabeth Hospital, along Santiago Boulevard, General Santos City. You can also check out their official Facebook page here.