Remember ME - You Me and Dementia

Monday, December 31, 2007

'Taare Zameen Par' in Real Life

Does Y come before X, or vice versa? This problem of sequencing that the protagonist in Aamir Khan's latest 'Taare Zameen Par' faces is typical of children suffering from dyslexia, or learning disability, and reflects in their poor performance in studies, especially maths.

Such children are often the butt of mean jokes by peers as their incomprehension of figures, which normal children find easy, makes them recoil into a shell.

For Amit, a 10-year-old, maths makes his head go into a blur. It has been so since he was three. In his nursery class years, he would sit for hours with his mother as she patiently explained sizes and sequences with plastic pyramid squares. It took him months to understand, what for an average child would be simple, that the largest square had to come at the bottom and the smallest at the top, and conversely.

'Sequencing is a major problem with children with dyslexia, and therefore mathematics. In the initial years, they find it difficult to put their thoughts and speech into sequence, their attention span is limited,' said Bindu Prasad, a senior counsellor with Sardar Patel Vidyalaya who has with her innate patience dealt with many such children and seen most grow into cheerful, confident youngsters.

'The sequencing of thoughts, organising data in the head is a problem. Such children can't visually organise data in their head, and therefore putting it down on paper becomes difficult,' Ruchi Kapoor, a counsellor with the same school, told IANS.

But if identified early, before the child reaches Class 1 or 2, remedial measures can be taken, she said.

Dyslexia can be in reading and writing, arithmetic disability, oral expression and visual and spatial difficulty, explained Kapoor.

'The way to help such children is to identify what part of their learning is hampered, use audio visual aids to help. And also see which learning capacity is higher, and use that,' said Kapoor.

Sometimes dyslexia exists with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), a behavioural and neurological disorder among children which makes the learning disability more pronounced.

'Many cases with patient handling do get better by the time they are 11-12 years,' said Kapoor, adding that in a school roughly three percent children would be having some kind of leaning disability.

'For such children, we use a multi-sensory approach to learning, using all senses, even through dance movement therapies. Teachers use the 'talk and chalk method', where the teacher speaks and writes to make the child understand.'

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has a provision for such children, informs Swati Mohan, a counsellor with G.D. Goenka School.

'The CBSE gives extra time for such children, only marking them for content and not for spelling mistakes or grammatical errors,' Mohan told IANS.

Early identification of such difficulties in children is important, said Mohan, as 'the earlier the intervention, the sooner the learning gap (with other children in class) can be lessened'.

An initial problem that counsellors face is parents who aren't able to accept that their child has such a problem. 'Parents don't accept the fact and go through denial. After their child is repeatedly not able to perform, then they are forced to get to terms with it,' Mohan said.

'In such a child, the IQ is average but when it comes to writing, the data processing is at fault. It is here that the school educators are able to help.'

Children with learning disability do not need sympathy, but 'more empathy' - keeping oneself in the child's position, says Mohan.

'Such children realise that when it comes to writing there are reversals and omissions, that they are not able to deliver what they know and show on paper. This results in a lot of frustration for the child, they get confused, make grammatical errors,' she said.

Many children with dyslexia are good at art, singing or acting, said the counsellor. These children should be helped to bring forth their talent so that it gives them the self esteem that they lack and bloom into creative individuals.

By Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at


Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

1 comment:

Hiren said...

Very informative. My published article on the movie and dyslexia is here-