2-3 children with learning disabilities in every classroom

Asia-Pacific, April 28 2013

MUMBAI, INDIA: Fifty years ago in the month of April, the movement to sensitize people about learning disability began. Despite this passage of time, there still isn’t enough awareness or rehabilitation measures available for people with learning disabilities.

A new study from the University of Melbournesays that every classroom is likely to have two or three children with learning disability. Moreover, many of children with learning disabilities is likely to have more than one learning disability. The most common learning disabilities in classrooms are dyslexia (the inability to read or interpret lessons and symbols), autism(a neurological disorder in which the child has poor social skills) and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.

The Melbourne team led by Professor Brian Butterworth said the results showed there were many neurological development disorders that result in learning disabilities, even in children of normal or even high intelligence. For example, in children with attention-deficit or hyperactivity disorder, 33 to 45 % also with dyslexia and 11 % from dyscalculia, a learning disability in mathematics.

“We are also finally beginning to find effective ways to help learners with one or more learning disabilities, and although the majority of learners can usually adapt to the one-size-fits-all approach of whole class teaching, those with special learning disabilities will need specialized support tailored to their unique combination of disabilities,” he said.

The team calculated that 10% of all children suffer from learning disability and may need special methods of learning.

In India, the learning disabilities movement is nascent with schools and education boards having made concessions for LD students less than a decade back. Popular Hindi film, Taare Zameen Pe, in fact, helped spread the learning disabilities concept more than any parental or medical group could. But Indian schools, even those in metros such as Mumbai, do not have adequate special teachers to handle such children in classrooms.

Experts working in the field also complain that the idea of inclusion – including children with learning disabilities in classrooms with other children who don’t have learning disabilities – isn’t being implemented in its true spirit. Mumbai-based developmental pediatrician Samir Dalwai said that children with learning disabilities still lose out, especially when they enter the critical IXth standard. Due to directives to promote all children to the next class till Class VIII, most children with learning disabilities manage to reach higher classes. But many of them are asked to leave the school in Class IX due to poor scholastic performance. Schools need to adapt better teaching techniques to include children with learning disabilities in classrooms, say doctors.

Source: The Times of India

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