Friday, February 25, 2011

Working with dyspraxia

Most of you know about our ongoing experiments with teaching Zach -- or rather with getting Zach to harness his prodigious intellect to such mundane matters as studying or writing tests and exams. It has been a long and rather intriguing journey.
In Prep, the teacher -- Ms Celia Robinson -- told me he could not `sound out' the letters of the alphabet. So I learned basic phonics, from some wonderful CD-ROMs (Disney ones, then distributed by Times Music), worksheets and lots of help from the most marvellous Ms Robinson and my friend Ruchira's mother, Rima Bose. Next came Maths, which we somehow got through. The first barrier came when he would come back home each day from school with a single word written in each of six exercise books -- an indication to me that I needed to ring another mother and get six lots of class work from her. This went on through Stds II and III, while we all collectively trod water, and Zach underwent testing at the Maharashtra Dyslexia Association (MDA) facility at Parel in Mumbai, about 45 minutes from our home by road. In three months, it was confirmed: Zach had dyspraxia -- a learning difficulty characterised by difficulty in sequencing and anticipation. Caused most probably by prematurity at birth and definitely with a genetic basis; Kevin is also, we realised, dyspraxic. By Std IV, the results of the thrice-weekly occupational therapy and remediation sessions began to show. By Std V, he was on par with the class, and better than average...
It has taken us work to get here, but sometimes, I feel really stupid when I think back about how harrowed I was dealing with something that was not even life-threatening. I am humbled when I see how parents of challenged children deal so practically and stoically with day-to-day routines… Nothing I can change about the past, or my preoccupation with Zach’s not being able to handle school in the early years, but this is my effort at atonement: If you know someone whose child may have a learning disability, and would just like to talk or some advice, please let me know. There is nothing more reassuring than to hear a parent in a similar situation tell you it can be handled.

The link for MDA:


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