Having a child with dyslexia is not an easy thing and especially in India where awareness about this issue is very limited. Luckily when my younger son was diagnosed or rather when I thought that he might be dyslexic, I was already aware about this since my elder son is on Autism spectrum and so I was keeping an eye on my younger one because such issues generally run in the family. When he started school in kindergarten in Apeejay School in Kolkata, as per CBSE curriculum much of his work was audio visual and writing meant copying the alphabets and repeating them verbally. And so he was doing quite well in school.
The issues started from middle of Class 1 when he had to write words and became an issue in class 2 when there were answers to be written. Luckily my son’s School had a special educator as well as a school Counsellor and a when the issues started cropping up, I was advised to get him tested. I took him to Rajabazar Science College whose post grad department of psychology is well renowned, and government certified. They talked with him, tested him and the result was present in a sealed envelope which I gave to the school. As per suggestion, his remedial classes with special educator started immediately and now he is in class 6 and reads quite well. He still needs his remedial class and has problem with reading new words, but he is more confident now and does fairly well in class exams.
So, if you have read so far and still wondering what exactly dyslexia is, then let me tell you what I heard when I attended a fantastic seminar on dyslexia organized by Breaking Through Dyslexia, a NGO working with educators, parents and teachers to help recognize students with dyslexia and how to help them. There I learnt that when we first learn to read an alphabet, our mind creates a memory of its shape and structure. So, the next time we see that alphabet our mind unconsciously reads it. It is like when we hear a certain word, say “home” and an image comes to our mind; similarly, when we see alphabets anywhere, our mind reads them. But for person with this learning disability, what happens is that the neurone, the connective tissues of brain that connects this memory of that alphabet with its visual clue, is somehow missing. So, a child even if he knows the alphabet cannot read it because he cannot connect the dots! Thus, dyslexia is a neurological problem; you are born with it, you cannot catch it nor you can get cured. But what you can do, with help of educators and parents, is learn how to use your other faculties to compensate it. Hence early intervention and early recognition of signs of dyslexia is very important. So here are some points which happened with me, which I can tell you as a mother with a dyslexic child that you should be aware of:
· If your child is having difficulty writing mirror alphabets like b or d. He may say b but write d or read words with d as a b. If he is regularly doing that, then talk with your child’s teachers and if the school has one, the school counsellor.
· Another point that I heard in that seminar was for teachers, but parents can also notice that. If the child is doing very bad spelling wise, make a note of what kind of mistake he or she is making. Is the same mistake being repeated again and again? Or was it one-time thing? These little things help to identify a child with learning problems.
· Never scold or berate him for not reading properly. Remember reading is a part of studying; if he can remember what is being taught by hearing it and then explain or tell it aloud, encourage him to study that way. Of course, he has to write but it will come slowly with help and special guidance.
· Dyslexic children are highly intelligent which is why sometimes their problems get overlooked. Teachers and parents think they are being naughty and lazy and punish them for it. So, if your child is having such issues in school, don’t scold him, sit with him and talk to see if he has problem reading. Most of the time, they will feel ashamed to admit that and it is your open communication that will help him come out with his real problem.
Dyslexia is not something to be ashamed of or hide; the more you talk about it, the more you will learn how you can help your child. There are many people, from scientist to actor, who have succeeded in life with dyslexia. And if you don’t know them, it is time to watch Taare Zameen Pe.
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Disclaimer: I don’t own the two images associated with Dyslexia; I downloaded them from https://weallcanread.com/dyslexia-learning-disabilities/ and https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-dyslexia-disorder-symbol-concept-isolated-white-image25542431