by Latha Vidyaranya
I come across so many school children who experience learning difficulties that require special remedial teaching. These children find it very difficult to cope with the school lessons in some or all the subjects. It is equally difficult for the subject teachers to give individual attention to the children in a class of 50 to 60 children. Thus, such children lag way behind others in academics and become target of blame, insult and punishment both at school and home. They are branded as lazy, dumb, good-for-nothing etc. These children are routinely sent to tuition classes in their neighbourhood and hardly make any progress as the regular tuition teacher is unable to focus on the special problem areas of these children like reading, writing, spelling, retaining memory, language comprehension and arithmetic. There are many resource centres to cater to the learning needs of these children.
Children who may lag behind in studies due to mental retardation, emotional problems or other physical disabilities like hearing or visual impairment do not fall under the category of learning disabled (LD). Children with LD have average or above average levels of intellectual capacity and they may be smart in other aspects like orally giving out the answers, but unable to write these answers. Also, they may be good in language and poor in numerical skills or vice versa or may be poor in both language and arithmetic.
Minimal brain dysfunction is the cause for this learning disorder which is coming to light through the latest brain mapping techniques. Academic learning requires perceiving things through visual mode, auditory mode, kinesthetic mode (hands-on-activities) and storing them systematically in memory areas and retrieving them when such information is required. Any problem in these circuits can pose as learning difficulties. Training them through special teaching techniques can help children improve their learning capabilities.
The symptoms usually shown by these children are reversal or mirror imaging of letters while writing d for b, or p for q, reversal of letters in a word, like god for dog, no for on, was for saw, reversal of syllables in a word, like aminal for animal, reversal of numbers, like 23 for 32, 456 for 654, reading errors like skipping words, skipping lines, losing place while reading, poor comprehension of read material, writing problems like poor handwriting, poor spacing between words or between lines, number of spelling errors, bizarre spellings etc. Reversal of letters is seen during this developmental phase but soon overcome by the age of 8 years. If these problems persist they may be indicators of a serious learning difficulty.
It is very important for the school teachers and parents to understand the concept of “Learning Disability” and refer them to special educators or educational counsellors for a psycho-educational assessment and remedial guidance, which will help the children to overcome many of their learning problems. Earlier the identification of the problem earlier would be the intervention and better would be the outcome. Left unnoticed and unattended, it can lead to serious emotional and behavioural problems in children.
Latha Vidyaranya’s other articles on RwB:
- Fathers also need to balance home and work
- Postpartum Depression
- Celebrating Differences in Life
- Synesthetics can see smells, hear pictures, and smell colours and numbers
(Latha Vidyaranya is a Special Educator and Counsellor and has founded ‘Empower Counselling Centre’ in Malleswaram, Bangalore.)