Six-year old Natasha’s mother is a stressed as her daughter can’t read the way her classmates do. Not even the three letter words like ‘CAT’. Rather there is a terrible confusion in the six-year olds’mind, each time she comes across these words. She pronounces them wrongly as CAT becomes MAT or vice versa.
Special educator Swati Dixit says: “This is called Learning Disability (LD). It is a neurological disorder. In simple terms, a learning disability results from a difference in the way a person’s brain is wired.”
Children with LD are as smart or smarter than their peers. But they may have difficulty in reading, writing, spelling, reasoning, recalling and/or organizing information if left to figure things out by themselves or if taught in conventional ways.
LD can’t be cured or fixed; it is a lifelong issue. With the right support and intervention, however, children with learning disabilities can succeed in school and go on to successful, often distinguished careers later in life.
Learning disability can be overcome with the right kind of remedial teaching
Parents can help children with learning disabilities achieve such success by encouraging their strengths, knowing their weaknesses, understanding the educational system, working with professionals and learning about strategies for dealing with specific difficulties.
“Albert Einstein couldn’t read until he was nine. Walt Disney, General George Patton, and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller had trouble reading all their lives. Even some of our Bollywood celebrities had LD,” says Dixit.
Difficulty with basic reading and language skills are the most common learning disabilities. As many as 80% of students with learning disabilities have reading problems.
Common learning disabilities are:
Dyslexia: A language-based disability in which a person has trouble understanding written words. It may also be referred to as reading disability or reading disorder.
Dyscalculia: A mathematical disability in which a person has a difficult time solving arithmetic problems and grasping math concepts.
Dysgraphia: A writing disability in which a person finds it hard to form letters or write within a defined space.
Auditory and Visual Processing Disorders – sensory disabilities in which a person has difficulty understanding language despite normal hearing and vision.
As the expert points out, early intervention and remedial teaching can offset the problem and help to reintegrate learning-disabled children into the mainstream. But awareness about it remains low.
“Unfortunately, with any other disability, the signs are very clearly identifiable, but this is a hidden disorder. Our education system at present doesn’t cater to these children, who often get labelled as slow learners,” she says.