Can special-needs children find place in mainstream schools?

According to an expert, lessons and content need to be modified for such students, and the emphasis should be on visual methods and less on rote learning. — File Photo: M.A. Sriram  

The mother of a 10-year-old child with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) hates the end of every academic year. She dreads having to, yet again, look for a mainstream school that will take her daughter in and be sensitive to her learning needs.

The debate on whether a child with special needs to be enrolled in a mainstream school or a special school is not new. But parents of such children point out that most of the mainstream schools are not equipped to deal with them. Many parents say that these children are often unable to cope with the pressure and are punished for not performing well in academics, labelled as “not focussed” or “lazy”, bullied by their peers and even asked to quit school.

Priya Lourdes, whose nine-year-old son is dyslexic, says she was forced to remove her son out of a mainstream school two years ago as the school did more harm to him than good. “In UKG, he was unable to write and his teacher would always complain and was very rude and even used to beat him up. Although my son’s oral skills were very good, he even stopped talking. Things gradually became worse and he stopped laughing, became violent and was frightened about school. So we decided to pull him out of the school,” she says. Two years later, he is now enrolled in a remedial centre and has a high IQ and understands things quickly when teaching is done through visual aids. Asked if she was considering enrolling him in a mainstream school again, Ms. Lourdes says, “I have looked for several schools that say they would help dyslexic students, but there is no difference in the teaching method. All they do is reduce the number of chapters that a child with special needs has to learn,” she says.

The mother of the girl with ADHD (who did not wish to be named) says the neurologist the family is consulting has said that her daughter is fit to go to a mainstream school.

“But the school my daughter is studying does not want her nor is she benefitting from the school,” she says. “All schools are the same and no teacher is willing to give individual attention to a student when she has a class of 40 students.”

Shilpa Naik, who runs Vineethi Learning Centre, a remedial learning centre, says school needs to have training for teachers and need to understand the concept of differentiated instructions. “The lessons and the content need to be modified for such students, and the emphasis should be on visual methods and less on rote learning,” she says.

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Printable version | Jun 16, 2021 5:14:54 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/can-specialneeds-children-find-place-in-mainstream-schools/article6933671.ece

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