Sunday, June 27, 2010

Our Beliefs, Approaches and Strategies at the Remedial Centre


All children are unique and hence each one has a special need. The world is developing at a fast pace and the concepts of relationships, marriage, parenting, schooling and education are also undergoing a paradigm shift. People all over the world are facing adjustment related issues in all arenas. Children are struggling with the stimulating fast paced media and the boredom in classrooms.

There is an increasing tribe of “special needs” children with ADD/ADHD/Dyslexia and behavioral issues more so due the inadequacies in the educational system, parenting, nuclear setups and several other factors.

There is hence, a need for Special Educators and Counselors to step in and bridge this gap, to enable the psychosocial adjustment of these children and to facilitate learning through child-centric, tailor-made resources.

Every child whether attention deficit, hyperactive, gifted or a slow learner all can become valuable and contributing citizens of the world with guidance.
All humans are basically good and are able to find solutions to their problems with a little help to have that insight.

Self awareness and Self-reliance is a central tenet of our Processes
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity, Dyslexia, Autism Features:
Dyslexics are extremely unique, talented, creative and entertaining
people. When properly trained and informed, a dyslexic can use their natural abilities to shift perceptions, enhance creativity, refine thinking, and improve physical performance.

The dyslexic has stronger abilities to analyze complex ideas and resolve ambiguities. These are the inventors and the change leaders of tomorrow. They can think in ways alien to the normal minds.
They can even overcome and learn social behaviors to a large extent when love, trust, understanding and help are extended by parents and teachers.

To help parents, educators and teacher educators understand that the true meaning of education is for us to evolve- as better humans, as better citizens to enable us to live in peace and tranquillity. Education is not participation in the rat race to get ranks, to land in good jobs and take a fat salary home.

To bring about the awareness for the need and importance of special education/educators in the education system

To make this service available and affordable to each and every child in need, in every school by sensitizing all teachers to identify and accommodate their special needs

To enable parents to discover, accept and respect the unique abilities of their child and help them to cultivate these abilities

To enhance the lives of those we meet
  • By helping them face demanding and challenging situations
  • To have an optimistic attitude, enthusiasm and sound mental & social wellbeing
  • To enjoy life to the fullest and pursue their goals with confidence
  • To live each day with faith, confidence, individual worth, knowledge, good work and integrity through continued personal progress and education

Our Approach:

We accept the child as an unique individual irrespective of his difficulties. We look at the Disabilities presented in the reports as a deviation to the so called “normal”. For us there is no ‘normal’ because we understand that the human race is evolving and the children being born in the last 10 years or so, with all kinds of labels, are different and may be so for a reason.

We strive to help the child adapt and adjust to the existing world, giving him the skills and strategies, that will not only allow him to be a contributing member of the family and society, but also empower him to be happy and contended within himself.

We facilitate learning that comes from a three pronged approach - Accept, Illume and Transform. Our teachers respect, care for and empower the children by allowing them to harness their inner potential by using their unique gifts.

Our methodologies and teaching aids are catered to fill the gaps in Learning -Academic, Communication And Social. We have worked with children with Dyslexia, Slow Learners, Mild Autism, Aspergers, ADD and ADHD.

The child is an important decision maker in the Intervention Process and most times the child leads the way the remediation is planned and executed. This is our first step in enhancing communication. The child learns to communicate what he wants.

We emphasise a lot on Perceptual Training that helps the child to pay attention to relevant stimuli which is an important factor for both academic & social learning. We have seen children making great strides of improvement after attending our remedial within a day/week at times.

Skills are taught in context. For eg. if a child has problem in writing, we help the child to apply whatever the child has learnt to read that day in creative writing. Remediation in writing is done on the go as the child writes. This helps to safeguard the self-esteem and build confidence by enabling the child to put the skill into practice immediately while retaining his creativity.

Broad objectives in our Remedial Program :
  • Attention building
  • Visual and Auditory Sequencing Skills
  • Visual and Auditory Figure Ground
  • Oral Language
  • Reading, Writing, Spelling, Math and Written Expression
  • Social Communication Skills
  • Behaviour Management
  • Increasing Confidence
  • Study Skills

Other Services:
  • Identification of Learning Difficulties, Behavioral, Emotional and other issues that interfere in the learning process of children including referral for educational/psychological assessments or any other professional help
  • Interventions – Remedial and Counseling for children with learning difficulties, adolescents, gifted and slow learners
  • Workshops for parents and teachers in handling different learning needs, cognitive, emotional and behavioral issues in children
  • Vocational Guidance for Grade 8-12
  • Life Skills workshops for Personality Development in Children
  • Counseling Interventions – Psychosocial, Academic, Cognitive, Emotional, Personal and Behavioral Modification Needs
  • Group Counseling Interventions
  • Setting Up Resource Rooms for Schools
  • Setting up Counseling Kiosks at Schools

Friday, June 11, 2010

Help is here..Accomodations - Yeah!

Dyslexics around the world are now being allowed to learn and function differently in School! Several accommodations are being given by sensitive teachers and school administrators to ensure that these children reach their full potential.

Dyslexics have many strengths: oral skills, comprehension, good visual spatial awareness/artistic abilities. More and more dyslexic children could become talented and gifted members of our schools if we worked not only with their specific areas of difficulty, but also their specific areas of strengths from an early age.

To do this we have to let go of outmoded viewpoints that a dyslexic child must first fail, in order to be identified. These are the children of our future and they have a right to help and support before they develop the dreadful sense of failure which is so insidious.

Class teachers dealing with dyslexic children need to be flexible in their approach, so that they can, as far as possible, find a method that suits the pupil, rather than expecting that all pupils will learn in the same way.

Above all, there must be an understanding from all who teach them, that they may have many talents and skills. Their abilities must not be measured purely on the basis of their difficulties in acquiring literacy skills.

So what is an accommodation?

We must understand that an accommodations at not a change in the curriculum. It is neither a crutch nor an excuse. Instead accommodations are slight changes in the way tasks are presented or expected. Accommodations are fair. They enable a child to receive equal access to education despite a child’s disability.

Accommodations are required by dyslexic children because their gifts are hidden deep inside the layers of deficits that they usually have. Its only when accommodations are given that these children feel lighter, respond better, perform to their abilities and achieve their dreams.

The academic concessions sanctioned by Karnataka Government and Indian Boards were as follows: -

  • Dyslexic children would be exempted from studying extra languages, other than the main one (focus on one language facilitates their academic progress).
  • The thrust would be more on oral exams than on written ones.
  • Spelling errors in their answer scripts would be overlooked, except in cases of nouns.30% extra examination time would be provided to children with learning disabilities.
  • These children would be allowed to use a simple calculators (since they have this tendency to interchange numbers. Calculators also aid them with visual memory).
  • The children during exam hours can avail the assistance of someone to read out the questions for them.

But the above are for the Board exams. With early intervention now becoming easier, we identify more and more dyslexics in the Primary and Middle School. The following is what we can do to enable their adjustment in their schools

An understanding of the pupil's specific difficulties, and how they may affect the student's classroom performance, can enable the teacher to adopt teaching methods and strategies to help the dyslexic child to be successfully integrated into the classroom environment.

Use of Assistive Technology (AT) Assistive technology is any piece of equipment or product used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities. It serves to augment an individual's strengths, and to provide an alternative mode of performing a task.

Examples of technological solutions include:
  1. Timepieces, computer organizers to help with organization
  2. Books on tape
  3. Tape recorders help students review class materials
  4. Voice recognition software for transcribing dictated reports
  5. An optical character recognition system to enter text or printed material into a computer by use of a scanner.
  6. Software programs like Spell Check to correct spelling and syntactical errors
  7. Word processors for composing written text
  8. Spread out the classes during the Time Table to ensure than children do not get heavy workload for more than 30 minutes. Dyslexics generally have problem in English and Math Classes. Ensure they are never one after the other.
  9. Allow a student to tape-record assignments. Kids with learning disabilities tend to have trouble remembering spoken instructions.
  10. Provide the child with a note-taking partner. Dyslexia- related handwriting problems can make it hard to keep up when taking notes.
  11. Grant extra time for test-taking. The idea is not to make the exam easier for the child but to level the playing field, by providing sufficient time for the child to show what he knows.
  12. Letting the student run occasional errands for the teacher. This can help hyperactive kids burn off some energy.
  13. Accept dictated homework-Dyslexic ,/b>students can dictate answers much more easily and quickly than they can write them down.
  14. Allow parents to act as a scribe.

Reduce homework load
Give a lighter homework load. This is appropriate for children with dyslexia who struggle to get their homework done. The questions are just as hard - there are just fewer of them. Many teachers create homework assignments by estimating how long it would take a "normal" student to complete it. They may not realize it takes a dyslexic student 3 to 4 times longer to complete the same assignment.

By the end of a school day a dyslexic child is generally more tired than his peers because everything requires more thought, tasks take longer and nothing comes easily. More errors are likely to be made. Only set homework that will be of real benefit to the child.

In allocating homework and exercises that may be a little different or less demanding, it is important to use tact. Self-esteem is rapidly undermined if a teacher is underlining the differences between those with difficulties and their peers. However, it should also be remembered that far more effort may be needed for a dyslexic child to complete the assignment than for their peers.

Set a limit on time spent on homework, as often a dyslexic child will take a lot longer to produce the same work that another child with good literacy skills may produce easily. Teachers should agree to a maximum time to spend on homework. Parents should sign the end of the homework page showing the amount of time spent on the assignment.

A dyslexic child's ability to write down thoughts and ideas will be quite different from the level of information the child can give verbally. For successful integration, the pupil must be able to demonstrate to the teacher that he knows the information and where he is in each subject. Be prepared to accept verbal descriptions as an alternative to written descriptions if appropriate.

Alternative ways of recording should be looked at, such as :
The use of computers for word processing.
Audio tapes for recording lessons that can then be written up at a later stage.
Written record of the pupil's verbal account, or voice activated software can be used.
More time should be allocated for completion of work because of the extra time a dyslexic child needs for reading, planning, rewriting and proofreading their work.

For a dyslexic child the feeling of being 'different' can be acute when faced with the obvious and very important need of 'specialist' help for his literacy and possibly mathematical skills. Some specialist methods can be incorporated into the classroom so all children can benefit from them, thus reducing the feeling of 'difference'.

Some more accomodations…

  • load priority scheduling.
  • reduced course – test only chapters that are building blocks for the next grades).
  • front row seating.
  • extended time for in-class writing assignments
  • quiet test environment (e.g. in a side room).
  • large print-size tests.
  • a reader (sometimes called an 'amanuensis')
  • books on tape.
  • provision of someone to write for them (scribe)
  • use of an electronic spell-checker.
  • use of a calculator.
  • tape recorded lectures.
  • note-taking assistance.
Allow them to learn languages at the oral level. Exempt from exams
Opportunity to clarify information and instructions with teachers.
Provision of handouts of lesson notes or copies of overhead projections.

Dyslexic children, like all children, thrive on challenges and success. It is for sensitive and proactive people like us to ensure that that they are provided accomodations so that they have an equal ground with their peers to perform and excel.

Aurinko Academy Pilot