It wasn't until Jinesh was 15 did his parents realize that their son had dyslexia. Hoping to solve their son's problem, they took him to experts at Inclusion Central in Ernakulam. However, it was much like closing the barn door after the cows have bolted.
Most students with special needs are not recognized as requiring special education and care until they are young adults. Ajit Sacheendran .M., Chairman of Inclusion Central, believes it is a tragedy of the first order if there's no mechanism to identify and help these children before failure takes hold.
“Appropriate care and support can make a world of difference – there have been many such instances. At Vigyan Valley, a school run by Inclusion Central in Ernakulam, students with special needs have cleared their Class X and Plus Two NIOS (National Institute of Open Schooling) board exams with flying colors,” Ajit says.
Children with special needs are divided into several categories on the basis of age, social interaction, intelligence quotient etc.
Some of the most common categories are:
a) Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): This is the most noticeable disability among children. However, with the right technique and methodology, this problem can be curbed at an early stage.
b) Learning disabilities: An ideal example in this category is dyslexia. These problems are identified based on the child’s ability to attain certain skills as well as their comprehension of a subject.
c) Intellectual disabilities: Earlier known as mental retardation, this is determined on the basis of a child's intellectual quotient and adaptive skills.
d) Autism: This refers to a neuro developmental disorder characterized by stereotypical behavior as well as the child's social and communication difficulties. Autistic children are further categorized in to two groups - low functioning and high functioning. High functioning autistic kids often possess a high IQ level as opposed to those of the low functioning category.
The current scenario
At present, most schools don't have a separate curriculum for children with special needs. “Ideally, a school should have a minimum of three or five trained special educators. How many schools adhere to it? “Also, many parents are unaware of government's policies for the care and upbringing of children with disabilities,” Ajit says.
How can the issue be tackled?
Let the child and parent know of the problem
More often than not, parents find it rather difficult to accept that their child requires a certain degree of assistance at a particular stage. Likewise, the child is unaware of his or her weaknesses and is often looked down upon. It is important, therefore, to counsel the parents regularly as well as address the issue tactfully. Regular follow-up sessions should also be made essential as part of the therapy.
Earlier the better
Studies have shown that early intervention (even at the age of 1 and 2) can help prevent several disabilities from aggravating. Most cases occur due to factors such premature birth, low birth weight, etc.
Teach the parents, especially the mother
Mothers are the primary caregivers in the family. So it's important for the mother to be taught the correct way to deal with the child. Then again, both parents should play a participatory role in the development of the child.
Switch to an open-school syllabus
It is unfortunate that many do not appreciate the value of an open school certificate. This syllabus is a viable option for those who wish to study what they love, without being compelled to pursue a course. Children with special needs would find this curriculum welcoming as they have the opportunity to learn more about topics that interest them.