INTRODUCTION It’s heartwarming to read about the Bombay High

INTRODUCTION

Across
the world, statistics show that up to 10% of the population are affected by
Learning Disabilities (LD). In a country like India 13-14% of children are
affected by Learning Disabilities. “Learning disabilities are not a
prescription for failure. With the right kinds of instruction, guidance and
support, there are no limits to what individuals with LD can achieve.” Sheldon
H. Horowitz, Ed.D., Director of LD Resources National Center for Learning
Disabilities ( https://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-State-of-LD.pdf
)

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In
India the number of children with LD is large, the resources are scarce and the
problems are complex. Also other factors like lack of awareness, lack of
knowledge and lack of trained special educators often lead to children not
getting the necessary help and support. There are certain myths and assumptions
people have about children with LD such as: they are less likely to attend
regular school, be successful in life and have a good career.

It’s
heartwarming to read about the Bombay High Court intervening and coming to the
rescue of the children with LD. As per the news published on 30th
June, 2015 in the Times of India (https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/list-kids-with-learning-disablity-HC/articleshow/47873109.cms
)

MUMBAI: The Bombay high court, in a recent
order, has directed the school education department to identify the number of
students who are detected with learning disability (LD) in Maharashtra in the
age group of 8 to 15yrs.

The HC said, “The school education department
of the state government shall submit a further report by August 15.” It had
taken suo motu cognizance of a letter in April written by two mental

Health professionals – Dr. Harish Shetty and
Dr. Sanghnaik Meshram following a student being told that there could be no
writer during exams conducted by the National Institute of Open Schooling. The
Hc has also allowed other boards like the Maharashtra state board. ICSE, CBSE,
IB and IGCSE to be made respondents..

One
of the suggesting measures for Maharashtra, Vijaykar said, “These kids should
have the option to appear for only two written papers and one performing
skills. They may not be eligible for degree colleges but can be made eligible
for Mumbai University’s Vocational Certificate Courses. The suggestion given is
good and would be a positive move if implemented.

According
to National Centre for Learning Disabilities “Learning disabilities arise from
neurological differences in brain structure and function and affect a person’s
ability to receive, store, process, retrieve or communicate information.”

Learning
Disabilities may not necessarily be due to genetic factors, illness after birth
or complications during pregnancy but may be due to consequences of insults to
the developing brain before birth or during birth involving factors such as
drug or alcohol use during pregnancy, oxygen deprivation and premature birth,
prolonged labour, maternal malnutrition or low birth weight. Even post-natal
events result in LD which include traumatic injuries, exposure to poisonous substance
or severe nutritional deprivation. Some people fail to discover that LD are one
of the reasons for their life long difficulties in the areas such as Math,
reading, comprehension and written expression.

The
common types of LD that impact areas of math, reading and written expression
are as follows:

·       
Dyslexia – is associated with learning
disability in reading. Children with Dyslexia have difficulties in reading and
writing, speaking and spelling. They also face difficulties in talking
fluently, their reading is slow compared to other children and are not able to
notice the difference between similar sounding words. Dyslexia is the most
common learning disability that is well recognized among children.

·       
Dyscalculia – is associated with learning
disability in math. Children face difficulty in learning number, counting,
mental math, solving math problems, using money, understanding time and
measurements. Also characteristics of LD in math differ from child to child depending
on the severity.

·       
Dysgraphia – is associated with learning
disability in writing. Children find it hard to form letters, they have
problems in handwriting, they cannot follow a straight line or a margin and are
not able to organize their ideas and thought on paper. Some of children even
face difficulty holding a pencil in their hand.

https://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-State-of-LD.pdf

 

Challenges:

Children
with learning disability face daunting challenges at different phases of life.
Each new step or goal achieved by them is celebrated and considered a success
on a daily basis. The parents of the children have concerns about their future,
have conflicting feelings about where to get the right help and on the other
hand some parents feel positive that they have the ability to cope up in life.
Some parents say that their children have been bullied in school more than
other children which makes them feel insecure, rejected and they end up losing
confidence in themselves. But the bottom line not all the children with LD get
the best support from their families.

Especially
in India, the children who are born in poor families are often neglected or do
not receive the care and attention that is essential for their development.
This is also due to lack of awareness about learning disabilities that they do
not understand the severity of the child’s problem. The negligence of LD in a
child can cause problems in the later stage of life.

 

Misconceptions:

There
are many misconceptions about learning disability among the public. Most of
them think LD is treated with medication and mental health counseling which is
an incorrect idea. The attitude of the public also has an impact on the child
with learning disability. According to a study, up to one third of the people
apprehend LD is caused due to the following reasons:

·       
More than 1/3 think it is the lack of
guidance by parents or teachers in the early childhood can be a reason for LD.

·       
21% think it is caused because of spending
too much time watching television.

·       
31% caused due to poor diet

·       
24% think it’s because of too many
vaccinations in the early childhood

All
these misconceptions and challenges can be removed and made better with
assistive technology.

 

 

What is Assistive
Technology?

Assistive
Technology for children with disability is defined as any equipment, device,
product, software that acts as an aid to indemnify for the child’s learning
deficits. AT is not a solution or cure to eliminate learning disabilities but
it helps in palliating the symptoms and helps the child reach its potential ( https://www.ncld.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/2014-State-of-LD.pdf
)

(https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/list-kids-with-learning-disablity-HC/articleshow/47873109.cms
)

Challenges: ( https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/getting-started/what-you-need-to-know/learning-disabilities-facts-trends-and-stats
)

Assistive technology

( https://www.unicef.org/disabilities/files/Assistive-Tech-Web.pdf
)

Definition: WHO, ICF Browser, Chapter 1 Products and
technology: World Health Organization; (June 9, 2014).  Available from: http://apps.who.int/classification/icfbrowser/.

( http://www.readingrockets.org/article/assistive-technology-kids-learning-disabilities-overview
)

(Kristin Stanberry, 2009)

(Pubmed, 2001)