If you have had occasion to be associated with a special need child, you would know that such children face great difficulty in coping with their school work. In some cases the disability is obvious by looking at the child while in other cases it is not. Parents of such children often lament the lack of a knowledge base and seek guidance. Here is a general guide for them.
Charity Begins at Home
True it is a cliché; even so, the first thing to do is to get your family members to accept the problem. A child who is hyper active for example will be constantly on the go within the house. This can prove frustrating for the family. Be patient until you can get help and do not abuse the child. Children who are otherwise “normal” yet are constantly reprimanded in school often have to face similar situations at home. Remember that your child is not doing anything deliberately. On the contrary if the reprimands and scolding continue, he may begin to deliberately lie and cheat. So the first thing is to be patient and accept the fact that the child has a genuine problem.
When to Seek Help
It is often difficult to distinguish between pranks and hyperactivity. One of the first signs parents see is the child’s inability to recognize the alphabets when they are first introduced. In some cases like slow learners, the child is able to recognize the alphabet but unable to reproduce them on paper. The child may show other signs of difficulty such as delayed milestones, delayed toilet training, appearing to day dream, and other such subtle indication. If you see any of these symptoms or those around you indicate that the child is not “up to the mark”, it may be an indication that your child is or will be facing some educational difficulties.
What to do
The first thing to do is to talk to your child’s school teacher. She will give you an idea of his behavior in school and will tell you if she thinks your child needs help. In fact very often it is the teacher who identifies LD and suggests diagnosis and intervention. The next step is to have your child tested for Learning Difficulties. There are many private practitioners who will test your child in exchange for a certain fee. However several Boards only recognize and accept certificates from certain institutes. You can check with your school whether they would accept certification from a private practitioner.
Every school is now required to have at the very least a counsellor who can help identify the children who are facing difficulties in learning. Teachers often first refer parents to the school counsellor for identification and diagnosis. Once it has been established that your child has a learning difficulty, you then must seek help. Once your child has been diagnosed, he will require help. Help comes from three main areas – a psychologist who can test your child and offer help in the area of cognition and general awareness, a special educator or remedial educator who can offer help in the area of learning skills, and an occupational therapist who can offer help in the area of physical development and motor skills. Your child may require one or more of these professionals to help him. Your school counsellor can probably refer you to professionals in your area.
One thing that parents often ask is “What is Remediation” or “What does a Remedial Teacher do”. To put it very simply, a remediator helps your child learn. Children who face learning difficulties often vary in level of achievement in the different skills required for learning. For example a child studying in grade 6 may have the ability of a fourth grader as far as reading is concerned and that of a third grader as far as writing or vocabulary is concerned. The same child may have the ability of a fifth grader in the area of mathematics. These levels are determined by standardized diagnostic tests which compare your child’s abilities to that of other average children. A remediator will attempt to bring your child’s skills to an even footing and then boost them to the level expected. You must remember however that a lot of ground needs to be covered, and expectations are becoming higher and higher as your child grows. Catching up may therefore be a painfully slow process requiring extreme patience and perseverance on your part.
Children with LD along with their parents, face a great deal of difficulty in learning and coping with their school work. They also face ridicule at the hands of their peers, teachers, and in other social relations. It is important for parents and family of such children to offer full support in the form of love and affection to such children and help them grow into responsible and independent individuals.
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