By - Purnima
Dyslexia is a learning disability in children. The awareness of dyslexia or any kind of learning difficulties was not known widely in India three decades ago. Luckily, with growing awareness and more professionals in the field, our schools are beginning to understand and accept these children in the mainstream, which is really important as they need all the support they can get to realize their potential. And make no mistake - they have the potential within them as you can see in their reflections given below.
Having worked with so many children, and seen not just the academic change with remedial help, but the emotional see-saw that the children go through over the years, a while back, I asked some of my oldest students who I had taught "light years" away, to pen their thoughts about their learning difficulties and these are some of their thoughts
One child wrote (of course he is now an adult and a father of two... but he is still one of my children for me, especially as he was my first)
"As I remember my days in KG I had a sense of feeling aloof, from the rest of the class. I wish I cloud mingle around as the rest of the class would do with each other.
My class teacher saw me and fired me. I got frightened and thought how these things happen to me. Well a series of such incident must have happened which made me famous for all the wrong reasons.
I was named as a "Naughty Boy"
It was drilled into me that I had not failed but was detained. This did not make a negative impression but at the back of my mind I knew something was wrong because all kept asking me, "Have you failed?" The only thing that I missed was my best friend whom I had become very close to.
Two of my teachers made me feel so comfortable that I never wanted to do bad in their subjects. I worked hard and waited for their class. I could only confide in them. This was because they worked hard towards me and showed confidence in me.
Another child wrote
"The challenges with growing up with dyslexia for me were far less stressful than I can imagine other children have. The reasons for this were I went to a school where there are no formal examinations until the 5th grade, which never put me under pressure to fail. The emphasis at school was on developing well rounded men and not academic nerds. I had opportunities to excel in debates, elocution, drama, sports (basketball, cricket and football). I was also extremely popular with my peer group in school, which was always a boost to my confidence. I ended up getting an 80% in ICSE and left school with only pleasant memories.
My career has be a unique one for a 25 year old. I have word in the financial Planning Division of a major fortune 500 company in Chicago and New York. I am now working in London for a Financial analytics company. I am currently planning to peruse an MBA at a top 5 business school.
I have faced tremendous challenges growing up with Dyslexia. But the other side of the coin is that I have been battled harden growing up that it keep the spirit of fight alive and makes work harder to get where I want to be.
I am also blessed with a family who have done nothing but support me a 110% and a brother who claims he is always proud of me, I have friends who are kind enough to look up to me.
To sum it all up I consider dyslexia for most parts a gift rather than a curse, because I have worked twice as hard as other individual in school and this has made me a natural hard worker."
Another child wrote (Unlike the others, this child made no attempt to use spell check to correct his spellings as you can see below)
"I think i discovered i was dyslecsic, at the age of around 13 or 14, while i was still in school. I had difficulty with reading writing and spelling ( which i may say im still not terrabily good at ) however after a few years of training i still wasn't doing as well at school as expected. This was at a time when dyslecsia was still more or less completely an unknown thing in India, and unknown clearly even in a good school's.
A few years later when i move to a school in England with a special division for dyslecsic children, did i really know the potentital that lay within me... I was doing the regular curriculam as other children, but got special help on certain aspects that i had difficulties with , such as spelling and math ! Hoever i did well over all as a student and learnt many techiniques to overcome my difficulties.
Looking back at the time with the total lack of awaeness, i think any student in my situation would have felt...perhaps, that he isnt he brightest of the lost, but through the years of training and eventually passing on the collage and now working in the ral world. I rearlised that ad there been more awareness it would have befefited not only me but other kids like me a whole lot more..."
Another child wrote
"Dislexia" - this is how I heard it and this is how I spelt it. When I was at school in India, the word dyslexia never existed - but descriptive words like dumb, stupid and useless existed. One would theoretically believe that people who teach you should be motivating or encouraging. I was often reprimanded and taken to the front of the class to be hit by a ruler. I was the mascot for punishment. Soon, with the fear of the embarrassment and the despising of teachers, I would often retreat to the back of the classroom. I grew more and more detached and distanced from this learning forum.
Believe in yourself, hard work, determination and a goal. Any dyslexic person should never say that he has a DISABILITY but an UNIQUE ABILITY and capability to achieve whatever he wants in life. This is what I believe in and that is how it has been for me. All dyslexics have a unique ability. If not known yet, it is there, you will find it.
Have faith - never give up!"