Thursday, July 4, 2019

100 Rays Of Son - 53

The Dyslexic Dilemma

For the first time yesterday, Rayyan seemed a little bit embarrassed with the post I put up about Dio. He feels it was not as important as to share it on Facebook. May be for him it is not, may be for many people it is not, but for me it means a lot. I have known the joy of zooming through the roads and also enjoyed bullying those who do not follow rules or try to act smart. So Rayyan, you can be rest assured that it means a lot to me.
I came across this passage in Rayyan’s writings and it shows how a child suffering from dyslexia finds it difficult to manage in school, even if they have good intelligence to learn.
“As far as I can remember, I was a very lucky child. I was living with my mom’s family in Whitelfield, where I was loved by everyone. I had the best food, clothes and whatever I wanted. My grandmother filled me with butter, ghee, and other fatty food, to make me fat, but I never gained weight. As for school, I went to a convent initially. I don’t remember how I did in my L.K.G or U.K.G, but I remember the teacher would give me sweets when I did something good. After that, we moved to Rajarajeshwarinagar, which was a little on the outskirts of Bangalore city. I was shy kid back then. I used to go and hide behind my mother whenever someone tried to talk to me. I was in a new school called New Horizon Public School. I studied there for 6 or 7 years. I was poor in both Kannada and Hindi languages. Even then the teachers liked me; maybe because I was one of the well behaved students, and never disobeyed them. I worked hard on languages but could never score good marks in them. The teachers would give me the passing marks in the languages, so that I could go for the next class. As years passed by, I had more difficulty in learning languages as they were getting more and tougher. My mom being diagnosed with breast cancer had affected my studies too and I had a very bad time emotionally back then. I was still learning the basic alphabets of the languages, when my classmates were learning letters, poems, etc. Nevertheless, I was good in maths and science”.
Rayyan still has problem with spellings and names. In our education system, there is no escape from studying at least 3 languages. English, Hindi and a local state language. In Rayyan’s case, it went to be 4 with Urdu added to the list. His father wanted him to study his mother tongue and sent him to a school where the language was included.
By the time Rayyan was 9, I realized that he was mildly dyslexic due to the mistakes he would make. Now I was in a dilemma whether I should reveal it to the school teachers and Rayyan or work to help him out with my strategies. It was a tough choice. All of Rayyan’s teachers I spoke to had no idea what dyslexia was, neither had they had any clue to help a dyslexic student learn. So, I did not discuss this with either Rayyan or his teachers much but I gave them a hint that he had problem learning languages and words confused him.
For all his shortcoming of learning languages, Rayyan had photogenic memory. He could look at an answer and could recall how the words were placed there. I was quite surprised by this skill. I would ask him to create the answers in bold big letters and memorize them the way he could. Until grade 6, Rayyan struggled with Hindi and Kannada and later on he had to face Urdu as well. When he faced the SSLC board exams, his school had kept a target of 100% passing of students. The highest risk they had was of Rayyan not clearing the languages.
Once, his Urdu teacher was in tears. She said, “He puts so much effort, does everything I ask him to do, yet he is unable to learn the language. What should I do? I don’t want him to fail because of my subject”. I promised her that I will try my best and see what can be done about this.
I sent him to my neighbour to learn Urdu, because though I was teaching a lot of children all the subjects, I had no clue about Urdu. We had just 8 months to prepare for the exam. The neighbour was good with the language, but she did not have any clue how to teach Rayyan. I was again in a dilemma as to what we could do. Finally I decided to take charge of the situation. I started learning the language starting with alphabets. I assured Rayyan, that I will learn and help him clear the exams. I know this looks like one of those Bollywood movie story, but this was the only option I had. Two months of hard work, and I was reading Urdu. Now, I surfed through previous papers and understood the pattern. One of Rayyan’s classmate who was good in Urdu helped me with my learning, and in turn I helped her with math and English.
First, I made Rayyan memorize poems which were repeated often, followed by fill in the blanks, match the following etc. Later I encouraged him to learn short answers, followed by any detailed answers he could manage.
This is the most inspirational thing I have achieved according to Rayyan. He was in awe of his mom, but as they say, for every person born there is opposite (heard it from Mr. Glass) and I am opposite of dyslexic I think. Languages are easy for me to learn and it works naturally for me.
Finally as exams neared, I clicked pictures of Rayyan studying hard for it, so that in case he failed, he should know that he had tried and given it his best. I did not want him regret or blame himself for whatever happened. I hoped for the best but was prepared for the worst as well.
Finally the SSLC exams were over. Rayyan did great in English, Maths and science. Average in Social Science, Hindi and Urdu. His poorest marks were in Kannada, where he barely scraped through. When we heaved a sigh of relief and celebrated, I revealed to Rayyan about dyslexia and what it means. He was completely shocked and couldn’t believe that he still managed to clear all the languages. I think it was the placebo effect, he feels it is mom magic. Honestly, he started trusting and respecting more after I learned Urdu.
What I realize today is, all that stress year after year and hard work was not necessary for him to go through. If he did not have so many languages to learn, he could have utilized the time to learn something more important which could be useful for him today. He has no use for any of those languages today. Moreover, I feel he has forgotten to either read or write them all of them. I hope school and education system will come up with better study strategies for students with dyslexia so that they do not have to struggle like Rayyan. 

Memorizing the answers as photos

Sitting on a tree to feel fresh

Never parting from books

Pillow hanging on head 

Giving sleep a stiff challenge

Looks like dreaming of reading

Lost to sleep again

These two pictures will tell all about the struggle and stress he went through. 

He looks so pathetic here ... poor child!

Fighting the last round of boxing with sleep...

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