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Diagnosing a learning disability isn’t
always easy. Don’t assume you know what your child’s problem is, even if the symptoms
seem clear. It’s important to have your child tested and evaluated by a qualified professional
never teach my pupils; I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they
says Albert Einstein. He is one among the several personalities who served the
mankind with dyslexia. Dyslexia was discovered in the west very long ago. The history
of disability can be traced back to the work of Straus and Lehtinen who
wrote a book titled “Psychopathology of the Brain Injured Child” in
1947. The official beginning of the
learning disability movement was
started in 1963 when Dr. Samuel Kirk delivered an address to a group of parents
to from the association for children with learning disability. The field of learning disability developed in United States during 1960’s
many as 1 out of every 5 people in the United States has a learning disability.
Almost 3 million children (ages 6 through 21) have some form of a learning disability
and receive special education in school. In fact, over half of all children who
receive special education have a learning disability (Twenty-fourth Annual Report
to Congress, U.S. Department of Education, 2002).
study on Learning Disabilities is relatively new in India, in special
education. It is at its infancy stage even a prominent, actor of Bollywood was
judged as dyslexic by one website. ALDI, Association for Learning
Disabilities India, a non-govermental organisation to help the student
community with their learning problems and their parents, teachers,
professionals involved and social workers. It started in 1992 with its
headquarters at Nellankara, Trissur. ALDI created a system called ARMS (Aldi
Remedial and Rehabilitation Measures) to help children cope up with several
learning problems that affect life. ALDI has conducted several scientific
studies in the area. Approximately 6-8 percent of students in public schools have
learning disability. The school dropout rate for children or adolescents with
this disability is said to be almost 40 percent- one and a half times the
word dyslexia was made popular in India after the release of the film Taare Zameen Par.
This film explores the life and
imagination of eight-year old Ishaan (Darsheel Safary). Although he
excels in art, his poor academic performance leads his parents to send him to a
boarding school. Ishaan’s new art teacher (Aamir Khan) suspects that he is
dyslexic, and helps him to overcome his disability. He reviews Ishaan’s work
and concludes that his academic shortcomings are indicative of dyslexia. On his
day off, Nikumbh visits Ishaan’s parents and asks if he can see more of their
son’s work. He is stunned by the sophistication of one of Ishaan’s paintings.
Let us see one definition :
is one of several distinct learning disabilities. It is a specific language based disorder of constitutional origin characterized
by difficulties in single word decoding, usually reflecting insufficient phonological processing. These difficulties in single word decoding are often unexpected
in relationship to age and other cognitive and academic abilities; they are not
the result of generalized and developmental disability or sensory impairment. Dyslexia
is manifested by variable difficulty with different forms of language, often
including, in addition to problems with reading, a conspicuous problem in acquiring proficiency in writing and spelling.
Diagnosis and testing for learning disabilities
a learning disability isn’t always easy. Don’t assume you know what your
child’s problem is, even if the symptoms seem clear. It’s important to have your
child tested and evaluated by a
The diagnosis and testing process for
a learning disability is a process. It involves testing, history taking, and
observation by a trained specialist. Finding a reputable referral is important.
Start with your child’s school, and if they are unable to help you, ask your
insurance company, doctor, or friends and family who have dealt successfully
with learning disabilities.
of specialists who may be able to test for and diagnose learning disabilities
therapist (tests sensory disorders thatcan lead to learning problems)
and language therapist
Dushyant Kushwah in his book Children with Dyslexia, A Hand
book for parents and teachers, has published some of the queries of
students and parents; let us take a look at some of the answers:
dyslexia is caused by an inherited brain difference, medical insurance does not
cover testing for dyslexia.
medical doctors do not know how to test for dyslexia. They consider it an
is an inherited condition. According to the researchers, if one parent has
dyslexia (and the other does not), 50 percent of their children will have dyslexia.
both parents have dyslexia , then all of their children are likely to have it.
A professional tester from outside the school system can detect dyslexia in a
child as young as five and a
Teacher attitudes towards dyslexia
present study examined teacher attitudes toward dyslexia and the effects of
these attitudes on teacher’s expectations and the academic achievement of
students with dyslexia compared to students without learning disabilities. The
attitudes of 30 regular education teachers towards dyslexia were determined
using both an implicit measure and an explicit, self-report measure. Achievement
scores for 307 students were also obtained. Implicit teacher attitudes towards
dyslexia related to teacher ratings of student achievement on a writing task
and also to student achievement on standardized tests of spelling but not math
for those students with dyslexia. Self-reported attitudes of the teachers
towards dyslexia did not relate to any of the outcome measures. Neither the
implicit nor the explicit measures of teacher attitudes related to teacher
expectations. The results show implicit attitude measures to be a more valuable
predictor of the achievement of students with dyslexia than explicit, self-report
G Mary Sunanda The
author is Assistant Professor of Education, Department of Education, Dr.
B.R.Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad.