Dr. Bina Nangia on writing “Dyslexia Decoded”, a handbook for special educators, teachers and parents
Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Thomas Alva Edison. Also add to the list the names of Woodrow Wilson and Alexander Graham Bell. Now tell me, what’s common among them?
No, not the Nobel Prize though almost all of them won it. Bell didn’t, simply because when he invented the telephone, the Nobel was yet to be instituted. But the answer one is looking for here is dyslexia. All these leading lights shone in a cross-section of fields in spite of suffering from the learning disorder as children.
A good number of school going kids in India suffer from dyslexia silently. Though the term is familiar to a large number of people today, a lot needs to be done in a sustained manner to achieve success. Yes, the 2007 Aamir Khan caper Taare Zameen Par did help spread awareness about it. Many a professional say it to that effect but they also say that public memory is short-lived.
Delhi-based special educationist Dr. Bina Nangia draws from over two decades of experience in the field to note that the film did help professionals like her “get many referrals” but adds, “More needs to be done.” Early detection of dyslexia in children, a sustained awareness drive in the media and mandatory training of school teachers on special education are among some of the thrust areas that would help bring a long term change in the society, she states. In “Dyslexia Decoded” (Hay House), a handbook for special educators, teachers and parents that Dr. Nangia has just brought out, these points among others get hammered on.
“It is understood now that inclusive education is the only way. If done systematically and with specific goals, it can integrate those with special needs into our system very well and the society benefits on the whole. But training in special education is still very scattered and diffused. The need of the hour is to have a massive systematic training on a large scale. It should be mandatory for teachers to be trained in special education during their degree course,” says Dr. Nangia.
The point is important as “sensitivity towards a child’s emotional and educational needs go hand in hand.”
Dr. Nangia, instrumental in setting up the mandatory special education centres at more than 20 schools across the country, says research has shown that boys show a greater learning difficulty than girls. “This is also probably because boys tend to be noticed more in schools and homes. Socially, parents focus more on boys getting more academic support than girls.”
The sooner dyslexia is identified, the better the coping strategy. “Early interventions help children deal with their difficulties educationally, emotionally and socially. An adult with undiagnosed dyslexia will never realise his/her potential and try to fit in a world with no skills,” she cautions. In Taare Zameen Par, we saw the little boy almost on this path till of course Aamir Khan stepped in.