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Last Updated 27 January 2010, 12:17 IST
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Tackling learning disabilities

Dear Ma’m,
My son is in 1st PUC and has opted for PCMB. He scored 75 per cent in SSLC.  But he has problems with spellings. For example, he spells festival as ‘festivel’, membrane as ‘membrain’, seen as ‘sene’ etc. His handwriting is illegible.  His classwork is untidy.
His teachers have pointed this out to me and suggest that he should write whatever he studies as many times as possible. He does not speak fluent English even though he has been in an English medium school.
Arguments regarding his reading habits are frequent. Others at home have told me that I am too critical, but I am only trying to instill a few basics in my son. How can I do this? How do I improve his reading skills in English? Can you suggest some guidelines, books or websites where I can get some help?

Dear VMP,
How long do you think it will take you to read my reply?  About 1 to 3 minutes?  Once learnt, reading is an instinctive skill and we do not stop to think about the mechanics involved in reading.
But, if an individual is in the 10 per cent of the population that has some form of dyslexia, then it is a struggle to make sense of written words, making it difficult to acquire the skills of reading, writing, spelling and sometimes number work.
Your son appears to have dyslexia. This term is used to cover a wide range of learning problems from mild spelling difficulties to complete illiteracy. Please surf the net (plenty of information is available) to understand the disability, which in turn could help you to understand your son.
Considering that your son got 75 per cent in SSLC without making use of any concessions available to such children by all boards, I would think that the disability (if there is one) is not severe.
However, the only way to diagnose the problem is to have a complete evaluation for Specific Learning Disability. Think about doing the evaluation only after going through the information on the net.
As far as my knowledge goes, the topic on Learning Disabilities has not yet been included in the curriculum for Teacher Training.
Therefore, due to lack of awareness and knowledge teachers could prescribe remedies that can create an aversion for studying — for instance, writing answers many times. If a child is having difficulty with writing and spelling, then one could be compounding an already difficult situation.

Have you seen the movie Taare Zameen Par?  Do see it if you have not yet done so.

(Published 27 January 2010, 12:17 IST)

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