While most people are busy filling forms to secure a nursery berth for their children in a school of their choice, Priyam’s, 5, (name changed) parents are yet to make their decision. They are not sure whether to send her to a normal school or find a special school for her. Their child is
dyslexic.

Her teachers in playschool identified that she was a special child who needed clinical help and advised her parents to seek clinical guidance.

Diagnosis confirmed she had learning problems. Priyam was slow in understanding instructions and failed to carry them out. She had problems in grasping the words or the tune of her nursery rhymes.

Senior psychiatrists say children like Priyam should be sent to normal schools. It not just help them adapt early to the real world but also instills a sense of confidence. “The idea is to include. For such cases, schools are supposed to have special educators. Even teachers need to be trained to be extra sensitive towards such kids,” said Dr Samir Parikh, director, mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis Healthcare.

“There are many examples which show that if given proper guidance, these children perform on a par or sometimes even better than the ‘normal’ kids,” said Dr Parikh.

Navjot Singh, 6, (name changed) had changed three schools in a year. Reason: he could not sit in a place and teaching became extremely difficult with him around. On sensing, that there was a problem, the teachers contacted the parents and asked them to seek help.

Six months on, Singh is studying in the same school. His teachers are relaxed and he is happier and a little more focused. Mental health experts say 4-6% of school-going children suffer from learning disorders and such problems often go unnoticed.

“As soon as teachers notice such problems in a child, he/she should be sent to a certified clinical psychologist registered with the Rehabilitation Council of India, as they are licensed to carry out the required learning ability tests and certify if there is a problem,” said Dr Parikh.

“It is a myth that only government hospitals or some select private hospitals are certified to give a learning disability certificate,” he said.

The CBSE does not have specific guidelines or a list of hospitals for a child to get concession as a special child. “The onus of certification is on the school, as we believe they will have done the due diligence before applying to us for concessions in board exams,” said Rama Sharma, PRO, CBSE.

“Identification and timely intervention is the key. Even under the right to education Act every child with disability should be facilitated for mainstream education,” said Dr Jitendra Nagpal, senior consultant, department of psychiatry at Moolchand Medicity.

“Once the IQ tests are conducted, then the psychologists carry out the tests. Thereafter, depending on the ability of the child, we advise activity-based learning,” he said.