February 9, 2009 12:25:28 am
When the parents of a visually-challenged student in class IV called the CBSE counselling helpline,they learnt about the plethora of options and the kind of facilities available for disabled students in the board exams.
The father of a dyslexic class X student called the helpline to discuss his daughters reluctance to engage a writer for the boards for fear of being singled out,and he discovered the lengths the board was going to help such children take their exams without facing any discomfort.
The CBSEs board exam helplines,which opened on February 1,now have four special educators to cater to the needs of differently-abled children. Counsellors,however,say that the requirements of the differently-abled children are not very different from the rest.
The most important issues mentioned in the calls are problems of concentration or confidence. These are not problems exclusive to any group of students, says Vinita Kaul,who has been working with helplines for students for the past six years.
Geetanjali Kumar,who has been counselling students for the past 11 years,also says the basic difficulties faced by students are similar. A child who is physically or visually challenged or has auditory impairment gets used to the impairment by the time he or she reaches this stage. A slight difficulty might arise with children who have learning disabilities,and even there,we can help them overcome fears and counsel parents, says Kumar.
The bigger challenge is for the children with learning disabilities,she says,because physically-disabled students learn to work around their handicap. There are so many visually challenged or hearing-impaired students who get good marks every year because their problems are identified and dealt with at an early stage, says Kumar. The target scores for disabled students,say counsellors,may be slightly lower than regular students. Parents should not pressure such children or make them feel that there is something wrong with them, says Kaul. Regular students who have not concentrated on their studies in a planned manner also face the same concentration and confidence problems,she adds.
Children with learning disabilities may need more frequent breaks while studying,and the CBSE allows them a number of exemptions. Students with dyscalculia can choose not to take math,the CBSE also allows them extra time for the exam,and a writer can also be engaged for the dyslexic or autistic children, says Kumar. Rama Sharma,CBSE spokesperson,says that the special educators have been roped in as part of a pilot project. The growing number of special educators in schools and the large number of disabled students on the CBSE rolls is a reason for the initiative.
We have to analyse how far this addition to the counselling helplines helps students, says Sharma. More information about the helplines is available on the CBSE website http://www.cbse.nic.in. The special educator in Delhi,Shweta Khanna,can be reached at 9717882074. The special helpline is open from 8 am to noon every day.
For parents of children with learning disabilities
* Do not make the child feel that there is something wrong with him/her. Setting a lower score target also eases pressure
* Do not rush the child. Most children with learning disabilities need more frequent breaks,shorter sections to cover
* Help them develop a multi-sensory approach to studies. Reading,reading aloud,writing,rhymes etc all need to be used
* For children with dyslexia/dyscalculia/autism etc,CBSE allows exemptions in the number of subjects
* Writers can be arranged for students with dyslexia
* Ensure multiple revisions. Especially for children with attention deficit disorders
For children with physical or visual impairment
* Writers can be arranged for the disabled children through the CBSE. Guidelines are available on the CBSE website http://www.cbse.nic.in.
* Braille books,recording of lessons,repetition,can all be used
* There are separate questions given for the visually challenged students in the exam paper to compensate for the map based/ visual questions
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