Tuesday, 6 September 2016

I didn’t do anything about the early signs and she’s in primary school now!

Don’t panic! Intervention for language difficulties won’t start until she is 6-7 years old at least. That’s by Class 1 or 2.  If her school teachers are well-trained they’ll spot it by that time.

Since most of our children go to schools where the average class strength is 40 students per class, and each class has anywhere between 5 to 10 sections depending on how much space is available to the school, teachers are burdened to finish ‘portions’ for examinations (Yes! We are a nation obsessed with exams and scoring well in exams).

Many teachers (and parents) believe LD and dyslexia are conferred on children as an excuse for laziness. Some think it’s a lifestyle disorder (I never get this!), others say it’s bad parenting (Yeah, the jam bottle you produced stinks!). A good thrashing will exorcise any semblance of dyslexia and its ilk out of the child! (universal remedy for ‘curing’ a child off bad behaviour, disrespecting elders, the list can go on.)  

Most teachers simply don’t know. They’re not aware of Learning Differences/Difficulties. Such teachers may have empathy for the child in their care but may not always be successful in teaching a Learning Different child.

You have to take up the cudgels on behalf of your child.

When a child at 6 years can’t do the following things appropriate to their age, seek help:

  • Cannot sit or stand still even for a few moments.
  • Can’t button down her shirt.
  • Is unable to tie his shoe laces.
  • When his attention is deeply focused on something or when he is excited he wets his pants.
  • He sometimes does ‘potty’ or poops in his pants. He can't wash himself after he uses the toilet.
  • She’s clumsy when she eats – she can’t mix rice, or tear rotis with her fingers and spills food around her plate. She may sometimes use both hands.
  • He gets confused with directions – can’t differentiate between right and left. (Wears shoes/slippers on the wrong foot.)
  • Has bad dental hygiene which can be due to sensory issues. Therefore, he can’t chew properly and prefers food which is soft in texture.
  • Skips numbers and letters of the alphabet.
  • Garbles nursery rhymes.
  • Has trouble counting numbers backwards. (So, struggles with subtraction.)
  • By class 3 the child will have trouble doing sums in multiplication and long division.
  • Handwriting is a mess.
  • Doesn’t complete classwork.
  • Disturbs others in class.
  • Loses or misplaces his things.
  • Talks too much (sometimes without context or connection) and jumps topics.
  • Is always asking questions.
  • Can’t play by himself.

Your child’s school by this time will have started complaining to you about some of these issues. If your paediatrician hasn’t figured out what’s happening with your child by now, go to an experienced learning centre for children with Learning Difficulties. They’ll have special educators who are certified and trained to assess your child. It’s important that you contact qualified people. A wrong assessment will make the situation worse. If you don’t know of anyone, contact the support groups I’ve cited in this blog, they will guide you.  

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