Mr & Mrs B, a very loving couple, was suggested adoption having realized that it is not possible for them to have a biological child. Mrs B wanted a child badly but was more concerned about what will people say?; What will I say if someone asked me upfront, “Oh! You adopted?” How embarrassing it would be.
Although Mrs B was counseled on “Nothing to feel embarrassed about. You are not the first one to adopt a child etc”, Mr B was advised on how to handle this issue.
The day they brought the lovely girl, entire society woke up to getting sweets from B’s with a note saying ‘We are happy to announce that, we are now the proud parents of a lovely girl’. And no queries, no embarrassing glances. Mrs B had learnt a lesson that was to come handy in future.
6 years later; when the girl Chandni, entered Sr KG, Bs came to me, very worried. “Doc, she recites all nursery rhymes; knows A to Z perfectly well. She is so intelligent. But when it comes to writing, she is a big zero; even copying what the teacher writes on the board – she just crawls lines. Doc, please help.”
Having had similar cases earlier, I reassured them and sent them for some detailed analysis at a specialized center. My doubts were confirmed. Chandni was diagnosed with ‘Dyslexia’ and Mrs B was shattered?
All the negative emotions a parent would go through if the cynosure of their eyes were certified NOT perfect! Thoughts like –
- How could this happen to me?
- How can I bring up a subnormal child?
- What wrong have I done?
- I have never ever harmed anyone knowingly. (Those with a religious bent)
- What will people say? (This does not come, if it is a sinister disease)
- How can I face the people?
In this case Mrs B’s biggest concern was how could I tell the people that Chandni needs special education. The negativism, fortunately, was not directed at Chandni; the showering of love continued unabated. The frustration was directed at self and that started showing at her work – she was a teacher – she was snapping and even hitting the children, hitherto unheard of behaviour from her.
Fortunately for us, Mr B was well grounded. We used him to counsel his wife and help her come out from the self-inflicted deprecation on one hand and manage special teaching for Chandni on the other.
He / we made her realize and accept that
- Dyslexia is just a learning disability (LD) and not any complex, sinister ailment.
- It is very common; only not picked up often.
- A learning disability affects brain’s ability to receive, process, store and respond to information received, which in turn hinders the normal learning process of a child.
- A child with LD feels bad about himself and parents need to understand this and provide their children with continuous love, support and encouragement.
- Explaining LD in common language – The problem they are going through is similar to a situation when you see a message on your satellite TV ‘if it is raining, please do not adjust your TV set. Wait for the weather to improve’. Apparently there is nothing wrong with the TV camera at the station or the TV set in your home. Yet, the picture is not clear. It is caused by “technical problems” in the transmission. Something in the internal workings of the satellite transmission prevents it from presenting a good picture.
- There is usually nothing wrong with the way children with LD take in information. Their special senses of sight and sound are fine. The problem occurs in the brain after the eyes or ears have finished their job. It is easy to blame reading difficulties on the eyes. But, visual problems do not cause LD. Children with LD do not have more eye problems than the rest of the population.
- LD requires special teaching methods. If LD is identified and rationally managed early enough, there’s a greater chance that children with LD disabilities will achieve their potential. If it is not, it could lead to major emotional problems causing depression and withdrawal.
Chandni’s father took it upon his shoulders to learn the special ways of teaching her. When he was teaching her, he would even not take calls from his Boss. Mrs B was convinced that even biological children can have LD, can have low IQ and may behave badly. She accepted that it is none of Chandni’s fault; Went in an over protective mode and if anyone was to comment on Chandni’s LD, God save the person.
Both the parents proved that My Child is mine and I will continue to love her, whatever the circumstances.
Why am I narrating this here, today?
Chandni was slow to clear her Xth; somewhat better at graduation and has just completed 1 year PG program at University of Sussex in PR & Corporate Communications.
…& if I have to give one reason for this – unlimited, unconditional love and rational guidance of her parents.
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post-graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.