Have you ever thought about what led to increased awareness about the learning disorders prevalent among children and adults? Though the term ‘dyslexia’ has been around us since 1887 when an ophthalmologist Rudolf Berlin coined it, the awareness did not reach its current state sooner after the event.
People parried the problem of learning disorders by calling it a lack of attention, and other things. However, things changed when President Ronald Reagan declared October as LD awareness month in the United States in 1985. Since then, the country observes lots of events and teaching programs during this month. All of these aim at making attempts to bring people with LDs to stay at par with their peers.
Knowing about learning disorders is important to ensure that the education model becomes more inclusive in nature, and result-oriented as well for one and all. Many students abandon their education dreams after primary or secondary levels, and financial problems are not the culprit always. These students do so because of learning difficulties following which they do not display basic reading, writing, and math skills as expected from them. Such inabilities pull these children down to the gorge of self-doubt and lack of confidence and they hide behind unruly behavior.
If the learning disorder is detected at an early age, the teachers can arrange for changes required in teaching patterns. Thus, to ensure that the learning is not marred by disorders, awareness about these difficulties is very important.
Other reasons why one should be aware of learning disorders are:
1. Get an idea of all types of learning disorders that normally get camouflaged: Though there are various problems like ADHD, autism, etc. that are identified even in the pre-birth stage, these problems may also be accompanied by learning disorders. The learning disorders actually remain undetected because larger problems associated with these occupy all the attention of parents, teachers, or doctors.
2. Allow learning about various learning disorders: Dyslexia is not the only culprit that interferes with a child’s learning progress. It is actually just one of many disorders. Dyslexia was called ‘word blindness’ by the physician who recognized it for the first time. However, the problem of the inability to read and write was not limited to words or language only. Children suffering from disorders showed an inability to read and write numbers and mathematical operations also. This disorder was later identified as dyscalculia. It included the inability to identify and read numbers or understand the meaning of mathematical operations, and so on. Apart from dyslexia and dyscalculia, people displayed difficulties like dysgraphia, non-verbal learning difficulties, etc.
The need to be aware of the learning difficulties is very important because having skills to read and write or count and the inherent intelligence are two different things. We have several examples of the people from the past (like Albert Einstein, the famous scientist) who had very high IQ but did not have the ability to read the words. Learning difficulty has its reasons embedded in neurobiology.
It is just that the children having these difficulties have their brains not wired for doing basic things like reading or writing. But, their critical or logical reasoning abilities are intact. That is why; ignorance can lead to losing a talent; which is something that should not happen to any deserving candidate.
Children or adults suffering from learning difficulties are not to be abandoned. They deserve an education just like their peers. That is why awareness helps people to take initiatives like:
- design a curriculum suitable for children with learning disorders
- start reading and writing programs to give extra cushion for learning
- start a learning community where people with similar problems can team up and share ways to build and improve their reading and writing skills
- take initiatives like running special classes complementing the learning requirements
Ways to Celebrate LD Awareness Month
October declared as LD Awareness Month in the US can be celebrated in quite meaningful ways, such as:
1. Organize awareness camps in schools and residential societies
Awareness is not spread only by words or seminars. Awareness in action is quite important too. Therefore, to celebrate the LD awareness month, you can organize assessment camps in schools and residential societies and tell the parents about the disabilities, if any found.
2. Announce reading and writing programs
As an awareness spreader, you can announce special reading and writing programs derived from various research-backed approaches, for example, the Orton Gillingham approach. You can give an introduction of assisted learning tools and applications and give a demonstration to the people of how to use those.
3. Announce scholarship programs and register people for them
To encourage studies or homeschooling for students suffering from LDs and NVLDs, you can announce scholarship programs or sponsorships for dyslexics and dyscalculics.
4. Organize a discussion forum
You can organize a talk or discussion forum where people can come forward and share their stories of triumph as well as struggles. These can prove to be an invaluable resource for the parents and teachers, and also the students so that they know how to approach the issue and work their way around it.