Not all disabilities are visible

Shria Abrol

I believe that the human spirit is one of ability, perseverance and courage that no disability can steal away.Before I begin talking about learning disability I would like all the readers to know that disability is natural. We must stop believing that disabilities keep a person from doing something. Because that’s not true . . . Having a disability doesn’t stop a person from doing anything.
Please read the following text
“elbativeniemocebnoosyeht, lliwehtnommusewnehw, nehtdna, elbaborpmimeesyehtneht, elbissopmimeestsrif ta smaerdruofoynamos”
What challenges did you face while reading this? Didn’t you make an extra effort to read and interpret the line? Well this is how a child with learning disability feels everyday at school.
Let’s understand what learning disability is : Some individuals, despite having an average or above average level of intelligence, have real difficulty acquiring basic academic skills.
These skills include those needed for successful reading, writing, listening, speaking and/or math. These difficulties might be the result of a learning disability. Learning disability is a condition when a child’s achievement is substantially below what one might expect for that child.
Learning disabilities do not include problems that are primarily the result of intellectual disabilities, emotional disturbance, or visual, hearing, emotional or intellectual disabilities. Therefore IQ has got nothing to do with LD, a child with learning disability can have an above average IQ or even superior IQ. To sum it up we can say Learning disabilities isreferred to as “hidden disabilities:” the person looks perfectly “normal” and seems to be a very bright and intelligent person, yet may be unable to demonstrate the skill level expected from someone of a similar age.
LD is a broad term. There are many different kinds of learning disabilities. Most often they fall into three broad categories:
*Reading and learning disabilities (often referred to as dyslexia)
*Written language disabilities (often referred to as dysgraphia)
*Math disabilities (often called dyscalculia)
Learning and behavioural characteristics of people with LD often include disorders of attending, reading and writing difficulties, poor motor abilities, oral language difficulties, social skills deficits, psychological process deficits, quantitative disorders, information processing problems.
Parents if you often see letter reversals in your child’s notebook for example t for d or f for v or spellings likes fled as fed or polish as plsh and also there are other signs of learning disability take your child for a psycho-educational assessment by a certified RCI psychologist and counsellor. What an assessment helps you with is to get a good sense of your child’s intellectual abilities overall.
The sad reality of children with LD is that they’re invisible in school and they can be perceived as lazy or lacking motivation. They may also have trouble making friends and they may experience bullying. This can be a cause of frustration, children with LD know they are not the same as their peers and due to lack of acceptance from parents and peers they start thinking of themselves as ‘Stupid’. Children with LD also start showing somatic signs for school refusal like stomach ache, sleep issues and anxiety. Parents and teachers should know that learning disabilities can not be mistaken for intellectual disability because learning disability doesn’t mean your child will not be successful.
We must also keep in our mind that just because the signs are there, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a learning disability. There may be another underlying cause – like depression for example. Children as young at two years can have depression. Parents should communicate with child and his teachers and then devise a plan to move forward with the child’s learning.
As a child counsellor I suggest make sure to reassure your child and appreciate him every day. A child with learning disability can have a very fruitful future If an early assessment is done and then school can make accommodastions for the child. CBSE provides accommodations like exemption from third language,extra time, scribe etc. NIOS is also another option for children with LD to complete their education.
If the child can’t learn the way you teach, teach him the way he learns. A lot of parents of children with learning disabilities experience anxiety themselves but its important to take care of yourself too , it can be exhausting. Always remember children are great observers, they will pick that up and will immediately become anxious themselves. The key is to get the child help as soon as possible. The earlier the issue is dealt with, the better the outcome.
“Abled does not mean enabled. Disabled does not mean less abled.” ? Khang Kijarro Nguyen.
(The author is RCI child counsellor Jodhamal Public School)