The Dyslexia Association of Chennai was born from the dire need to create awareness. In the past, there was close to no help for children with Dyslexia as not many teachers and parents were aware of this learning difference among children. Many children ended up experiencing this turmoil, associated with not understanding why they couldn’t cope as efficiently as their peers when it mostly concerned academics.
This was when the Madras Dyslexia Association (MDA) was formed in 1992 by a group of parents, educationists and philanthropists. Navigating through several challenges faced by children and parents alike, it was essential to foster the proper education of dyslexic children.
Their mission is to help the existing society become more sensitised towards children with dyslexia, and help nurture them to reach their full potential.
- Help parents understand and accept their child’s condition and empower them to find solutions.
- Disseminate information and train teachers in Tamil.
- Work closely with schools to assist them in accepting and providing support to children with “Dyslexia” in the mainstream environment.
- Consistently spread awareness about dyslexia, extending it to the college setup.
- Strengthen and increase educationists to help and guide children with Dyslexia to provide every child has access to a trained teacher.
- Identify, provide help and support the child, and also actively develop their potential.
The need for awareness of Dyslexia in the society
Not many years ago, Dyslexia and other learning differences went by unnoticed. It was not uncommon to have a classroom filled with the students from the brightest to the ‘dull’. Of course, this is what was understood and everyone, including parents and teachers believed without the need to understand the need for offline or online dyslexic courses. School principals, education institutes and admins all went along with the desensitised notion that if a student could not cope well, they should try harder. This belief went on for a long time without realising the need to further scrutinise a child’s inability to read or write efficiently, let alone comprehend essential learnings in the classroom.
Therefore, awareness was needed at every level, down to every child with or without dyslexia.
- Early identification of the child to prevent the children “at risk” from having a full-blown learning inability later in life.
- Holistic understanding of the child with dyslexia.
- Understand and support the children challenged both at home and at school.
- Reassure the child that they can be a person despite their unique abilities, and encourage self-confidence and self-esteem.
- Discourage side-lining of these students in school, causing them to lose overall interest in academics and other vocational subjects. Reduce the number of dropouts due to the lack of awareness of this learning difference.
MDA role for the awareness of Dyslexia
- Awareness talks on public platforms like corporate gatherings, social clubs, and school gatherings for parents and teachers.
- Organising and promoting discussions on radio and television programmes.
- Write-ups about Dyslexia in English and Tamil dailies as well as English and Tamil magazines.
- Spreading awareness through puppets or film shows.
- Disseminating information through the Quarterly Newsletters, Facebook, Twitter and additional Websites.
Guidance and Counselling sessions for Parents of children with dyslexia
Parents are left in a state of dilemma when they see their child underperforming at school. It further worsens when the teachers and school are unable to see a way for helping the child other than discussing the removal of the child from the school. That said, understanding dyslexia in children becomes an essential starting point. Therefore, guidance and counselling sessions are organised with the parents to understand the difficulties their child is facing.
What happens during guidance sessions?
- Educational assessment
- Screening test for dyslexia
- Referral to other institutions to help the child based on their needs, especially if the child is not dyslexic.
- Asked to bring a report from professionals in other fields, namely Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists. Handing out information on counsellors to understand and help the child better.
- Referred to a Clinical Psychologist For a cognitive assessment.
- Referral to a Child Psychiatrist or Occupational Therapist to get a diagnosis and treatment for the child’s condition other than Dyslexia like ADHD.
- Refer to a Speech Pathologist for Assessment and Speech Therapy, if required.
Parents are advised not to bring their child during these sessions. Know more about how parents can prepare for these guidance sessions.
Assessments and Screenings offered at MDA
- Assessment of younger children (Two kinds of assessments offered)
- Identifying the child’s needs, including their strengths and reasons for poor performance.
- Additional assessments when a child with a cumulative history of dyslexia requires examination concessions offered by various Examination Boards.
- A young child lacking age-appropriate skills with the risk of progressing to a full-blown learning difficulty.
- Early identification and intervention are essential.
- In young children, speech, language, attention, numbering skills, memory for letters and sounds, basic concepts and fine motor skills needed for writing are some areas that are tested.
- The tests performed and results interpreted can help in referrals to specialised therapists and work with a remedial teacher.
- Older children who have not yet acquired the basic skills like reading, writing, and Mathematics. For those whose dyslexia issues have not yet been addressed and are struggling with pre-skills are screened as well.
- A detailed report is generated, providing recommendations of other therapies along with identifying areas to be worked on as a starting point for teaching.
Visit the assessments section for Dyslexia for more information.
MDA offers relevant courses like E Shikshanam and Intensive Teacher Training.
Visit the MDA website to know more about Dyslexia courses and upcoming workshops.
If you live in Maharashtra, you may visit the Maharashtra Dyslexia Association to know more.