Having explored causes and types of Learning Disability (LD) over the past two weeks, what is most important to note is the acceptance of the disability. Remember, that LD is not a disease; hence there is no medication. The only solution is ‘remedial education’ – counselling the person as well as the rest of the family as this facilitates acceptance and cure. Do not base your diagnosis on similar symptoms – tests like Audiometric test, Vision test, Psychological assessment, Occupational therapy and Psycho educational assessment are required to ascertain LD. Various Education Boards; Maharashtra State Board of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education, ICSE board, NIOS Board, will grant concessions on having a valid medical certificate issued by a neurologist and countersigned by the District Civil Surgeon. For certification one can go to the following places, with a referral letter from the school:
Learning Disability Clinic
- Kem Hospital, Parel, Mumbai – 400012. (Ph.: 022 65182624, 9664547633)
- LTMG Hospital, Sion, Mumbai – 400022. (Ph.: 022 24076381, 02265297881)
Life Centre For Learning Disability
- BYL Nair Hospital, Mumbai Central, Mumbai – 400019. (Ph.: 022 23081490/99; 022 23012027)
Remember that the LD person is not stupid, nor does he play up on purpose. He has a genuine disorder, and his symptoms are the result of the disorder.
What Can We Do To Help?
- Be patient – take the time to listen to children as much as you can. Look for and encourage their strengths, interests and abilities. Help them to use these as compensations for any limitations or disabilities. Make sure that the allotted home-work is understood. Reward them with praise, good words and smiles.
- Involve them in establishing rules and regulations, schedules and family activities. Tell them when they misbehave and explain how you feel about their behaviour. Help them correct their errors and mistakes. Do not nag!
- Provide toys, games, motor activities and opportunities that will stimulate them in their development. Further their ability to concentrate by reducing distracting aspects of their environment as much as possible. Permit various aids to help them. Consciously look for skills. Encourage and motivate. Offer special care. Help them develop self-esteem and to compete with self rather than with others.
- Never force them to conform to the day’s lessons. Be flexible regarding the content of the lesson. Avoid putting them under pressure of time or competition. If need be, explain to their peers what the problems are. It is important that they progress at their own rates and be rewarded for doing so. Encourage them to ask questions, discuss stories, tell the story or read it to them.
- Be aware of the possibility of the child using avoidance techniques. Be positively critical. Don’t punish without reason, be reasonable.
- Don’t hesitate to consult with other teachers or other specialists whenever you feel it to be necessary, in order to better understand what might be done to help your child learn.
What Is The Treatment?
There is no drug or medicine to cure this problem. Remedial Education (RE) is the best treatment for the child to cope with his disability and needs to go hand in hand with the school curriculum. Starting RE early helps. An individualized educational program should be planned by a remedial teacher/ special educator focusing on the child’s strengths.
What Should The Educational Program Include?
A good Educational Program will include programs focused on Reading; Spelling; Writing; Number concepts; Language Development and skills related to enhancing ability in Math, Reasoning, Memory, Perception, Motor and attention.
Always keep in mind that a person can do anything he/she desires. A number of those with LD have been extremely successful professionals and achievers.
For detailed information regarding facilities provided by school Boards as well as subject schemes for students with LD, log on to www.educationmaharashtra.gov.in and www.mahahscboardmaharashtra.gov.in.
Provisions are provided at the HSC board too and at university examination levels too.
Did You Know Of The Right of Persons with Disability Act, 2016?
This bill comprehensively covers a whole spectrum of problems from physical disabilities to mental illness and multiple disabilities under it. It complies with the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which India became a signatory in 2007. Rights of persons with disabilities states that Persons with disabilities (PwDs) shall have the right to equality. They shall not be discriminated on grounds of their disability. Rights include protection from inhuman treatment and equal protection. It provides for the access to inclusive education, self-employment and vocational training to disabled persons. At least 5% seats in all government institutions of higher education and those getting aid from the government are required to reserve seats for persons with benchmark disabilities. It includes 21 types of disabilities – Blind; Low vision; Leprosy cured persons; Hearing impairment; Loco motor disability; Dwarfism; Intellectual disability; Mental illness; Autism spectrum disorder; Cerebral palsy; Muscular dystrophy; Chronic neurological conditions; Specific learning disabilities; Multiple sclerosis; Speech and language disability; Thalassemia; Haemophilia; Sickle cell disease; Multiple disabilities including deaf, blindness; Acid attack victim and Parkinson’s disease.