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Inspiring Indians

I, too, did not know how to deal with dysgraphia

By Tintu Mathew | NOV 2016

Dysgraphia is one of the most common learning disabilities.  It is a specific learning disability that affects the written expression.

Dysgraphia can appear as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper. It can be a language-based, and/or non-language-based disorder. Many people have poor handwriting, but dysgraphia is more serious.

Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder that generally appears when children are first learning to write. Experts are not sure what causes it, but early treatment can help prevent or reduce problems.

In India, even 10 years ago, we did not know how to deal with learning disabilities in school. The Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) training programme for teachers in India did not have any special module to identify learning disabilities in children and address them.

There are a few schools in Delhi now like Educare, Orchid and Action Dyslexia, but the states have no such facilities. In India, researchers say only 10 percent of children suffer from learning disabilities, but the number is growing because of parents' expectations and faster lifestyles.

People often hesitate to tell a parent that their child has a learning disability. But I don’t think that this hesitation would eventually bring a solution.

The parent should be aware of it.  Even teachers sometimes hesitate to reveal this and the child, not receiving help, remains the same throughout his life.

Even I hesitated, when I realised that the child of one of my relatives is Dysgraphic. Whenever I visited him, his mother used to complain to me about his academics.

I believed that she wanted a solution for this from me, as I am a teacher and a person to whom she could talk frankly.

I observed him for a few days. I listened to her very carefully to find out what his exact problem was. Observing him, I realized that he lacked the coordination of his fingers, especially while eating.

I went through his notebooks and saw a lot of corrections made by his teacher. Even the way he wrote the letters was extremely different. He wrote ‘b’ instead of ‘d’. He had made up his own spellings like ‘paret’ (parrot) or ‘colam’ (column).

It reminded me of the famous movie Taare Zameen Par. But I was sure that I could never be Aamir Khan in this case.

This was really a very sensitive case for me because his mother was very worried about him.  I was totally confused and could not do anything as I too was hesitant, like others, to tell her the truth.

Around this time, I got a golden opportunity to attend a seminar on Learning Disabilities.

I also bought a book which dealt with these in detail along with the remedial measures to be taken, with a number of real-life examples. I gave this book to my relative. She was really shocked to see that most of the symptoms mentioned in the book were found in her child.

Later, she and her husband took the child to a specialist for further consultation. I am eagerly waiting for the result as I pray for him.

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