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5 ways to help children whose parents refuse to acknowledge their learning disabilities

Mumbai city news: Parents often shy away from testing fearing social stigma

mumbai Updated: Jul 03, 2017 13:12 IST
Puja Pednekar
Puja Pednekar
Hindustan Times
Mumbai city news,learning disabilities,dyslexia
Some do not know where they can get their child tested, others cannot get time off work to accompany their child to the appointments.(HT File Photo)

More than 16 lakh students in Maharashtra are grappling with learning disabilities (LD) — cognitive difficulties in reading, writing, and comprehension.

Several education boards such as the Maharashtra state, CBSE and CISCE offer various concessions to students having an LD certificate from an authorised testing centre. But, parents are often unwilling to acknowledge these issues and shy away from testing fearing social stigma.

Here are five steps to tackle parents who refuse to get their children tested for dyslexia and dysgraphia:

1. Find out why the parents are reluctant to get their child tested

“My child does not have LD, he is just lazy,” is a common excuse parents make.

Often many are unaware of such disabilities.

Others fear the stigma attached to such disorders.

Some do not know where they can get their child tested, others cannot get time off work to accompany their child to the appointments.

Experts say
  • “Children with LD can be treated if the disorders are identified early on. However, most parents refuse to get their children tested even if teachers recommend doing so,” said Dr Harish Shetty, senior psychiatrist.
  • Depriving students of interventions and treatments is a child rights violation.
  • “Schools and parents can be held accountable if they fail to help children who have such disabilities,” said Shetty, who prepared a guide with help of the counselling centre at Bunt Sangha’s SM Shetty Educational Institutions, Powai.

2. Educate the parents

Call for a joint meeting with the child, parents, teachers, counsellor, special educator, and present factual information about LD, including social behaviour that manifests if LDs go undetected.

Give them a simplified one-page fact sheet about LD in English/Hindi/vernacular languages.

Hold coffee table sessions with parents and students, to which you can invite parents of LD students to share their experiences. You can also invite LD students who are pursuing further studies or are employed.

3. Address the parents’ social and personal issues that are preventing them from seeking help

The excuse “I’m a single parent and do not know the route to the hospital” can be resolved by making a route-map on paper if parent is not tech-savvy, or connecting the parent to another who is also going to the hospital. You can encourage such parents to stay in touch and support each other.

The excuse “My employer will not grant me leave to attend hospital appointments” can be resolved by contacting the employer and explaining why such leaves are necessary. Tell them their co-operation will benefit the child and non-compliance will be detrimental to his future. Tell them they could be held liable for hindering the child’s right to education and dignity.

4. Issue written notifications to parents

Send three letters to the parents’ house at weekly intervals, reinforcing the need to test the child for LD and how difficult his life will be if they do not.

Get the school principal to counsel the parents.

5. Get the parents to write and sign a refusal letter to the school, if their reluctance persists

Here’s how you can get the education department and the child welfare committee involved:

Write to the education officer of the area.

Write to Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan. Mumbai residents can contact Mr. Ajay Kakade on 9892568854.

Alert the child welfare committee as mandated by the Juvenile Justice Act.

Write to the state child rights commission and the deputy director of the education department.

Letters should include what steps the child’s school has taken so far.

First Published: Jul 03, 2017 13:04 IST