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Identify hearing disability at early stage, says US expert

Bangalore, Feb 15, 2014, DHNS : 1:44 IST
Prathibha Karanth of Comm DEALL Trust, Lois Heymann,  Director of  Auditory Processing Centre, New York, and  Dr Neena David, Aditi counsellor, at a seminar on Auditory Processing Issues in Bangalore on Saturday. DH Photo
The difficulty experienced by children in hearing should be identified at an early age to provide necessary care, according to Lois Heymann, Director of Auditory Processing Centre, Centre for Hearing and Communication, New York.

“Although the child may hear what was said, there is a problem in the process between the hearing and comprehension in the brain leading to misinformation. A need to recognise such children early and provide the necessary care is a must,” Heymann said here on Saturday. She was speaking to Deccan Herald on the sidelines of a seminar on “Auditory Processing Issues - Identification and Management Strategies for Educators.” The event was organised by Mallya Aditi International School in association with Com DEALL Trust.

Listing simple steps at schools that could go a long way in addressing the problem, she said, “Making the child sit in front row of the class and making sure there is no noise or disturbance around is most important. They are most disturbed by noise.”
About the situation in schools in the US when it came to taking care of children with learning disabilities, Heymann said that the government provides money to schools for training teachers of such children. There are different levels of classes for them as well as a special model of education, she added.

Limited avenues

Speaking at the seminar, Jayna Kothari, Founder, Centre for Law and Policy Research, Bangalore, said a number of children with learning disabilities had no avenues of help from the government as their disorders do not come under the ambit of Person’s with Disabilities (PWD) Act, 1995.

“Auditory learning disabilities and other such impairments, for example, technically do not come under the Act which leads to the possibility of them being left out of government benefits,” she said.

The present law identifies only seven types of disabilities - blindness, low vision, leprosy-cured, hearing impairment, locomotor disability, mental retardation and mental illness. The PWD Bill, 2014, that was recently tabled in Parliament, however, widens the scope of the definition and includes 16 more types of disabilities. While funds are provided to disabled children in government schools, the private schools have to manage on their own with funds from parents of such children, said Kothari.

Deepa Chikarmane had taken the lead role in organising the seminar to help school administrators better assess and react to children who have hearing problems in the classroom.

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