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Include learning disabilities in Disability Act, say docs

delhi Updated: Nov 22, 2011 00:47 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Hindustan Times
Jaya Shroff Bhalla

While the Right to Education (RTE) provides for the rights of those with disabilities, the Disability Act itself does not cover people with learning disability.

On Sunday, the Indian Association of Paediatricians (IAP) called for the inclusion of children with learning disabilities in the Persons with Disabilities Act, (1995) in a discussion at Maulana Azad Medical College.

“The Disability Boards constituted by the government must include paediatricians, psychiatrics, special educators and psychologists. There should be a clear-cut criteria for diagnosis of specific learning disability,” said Dr Kiran Aggarwal, senior pediatrician at Hindu Rao hospital and convener of the programme for IAP.

“There should be compulsory integration of slow learning disability component in B.Ed programme at national/state level. Also, regular teachers should do a six-month course in education of children with disability,” she said. The IAP also asked for the Specific Learning Disability (SLD) be recognised as a disability and such children should get all the dues from the government and society.

According to estimates, more than three crore children in India suffer from learning disability. The learning problem, say, physicians is visible from their classroom performance. But instead of understanding the problem, the students are labeled ‘weak’, both by teachers and parents.

“Children with learning disabilities are visible at pre-primary and primary stages in schools in the form of drop-outs and under-achievers. Professionals in the field are not able to convert themselves into doers. There is an invisible untouchability among the professionals,” said Dr RK Srivastava, Director General Health Services.

“While teachers and parents blame the child or themselves for the poor performance, the responsibility should also be shared by the physician,” said Aggarwal. “The clinician plays an integral role in ruling out the learning disability disorders,” said Dr. Jitender Nagpal, senior psychiatrist at VIMHANS.

“If this was done properly, it could answer many of the potential problems of these students,” he added.