CHENNAI: Sunday morning saw school students from 19 schools including AMM Matriculation School, Bala Vidya Mandir, Olcott Memorial School, Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan and Sankalp Foundation dabbling with paints and brushes, with a hushed excitement. These students with dyslexia (a learning disability) were given a free rein to express their artistic impulses, as a part of the five-day programme that focused on using the talents of students with dyslexia.
The reason is the ideology of early identification of disorders and providing inclusive education. “Schools always push their academic achievers for events. We don’t agree with that,” says D Chandrasekhar, president, Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA), who brought this initiative to fruition.
“Dyslexic children are highly skilled and gifted in other areas besides academics. But parents fail to accept that their child has a difficulty, and push them till a breaking point,” he explains.
Dyslexia, being a disorder that affects a student’s learning ability and aspects of his/her personality, has no overtly visible disability or symptoms, which he says is the reason they’re usually tagged as ‘slow’ and ‘lazy’ by teachers who are unaware of the condition and its debilitating effects.
The kids gathered at Asan Memorial on Sunday showed no signs of hesitation as they were engrossed in painting sceneries and colours from their palettes. And this is largely the effect of the ‘Resource Centres’ set up by MDA over the last year.
In an effort to mainstream special learning methods for these children, Chandrasekhar and his organisation have created teaching modules for teachers from the city’s schools. “The methods are often not stressful and hands-on. Our modules help them retain their interest in whatever they’re learning and understand concepts better. We need more teachers onboard to help students,” he explains.
In the coming year, the organisation plans to set up more resource centres across several districts in Tamil Nadu, tying up with several schools. “We need to give them the platform to excel without writing them off,” he adds.
The next four days will see Asan Memorial conduct more art-centred programs like Junk Art, Rangoli and Dramatics. Sunday saw over 100 active participants, and many parents dropping off their kids. “My daughter is extremely good at sketching and does it with immense concentration that surprises us. We want her to get more chances like these, as she’s shy to raise her hand in class. It helps bolster her confidence and give her a sense of personal achievement,” says Usha Rani, a parent of 11-year-old dyslexic child studying at Padma Seshadri School.