Teachers find solutions for children with hidden disabilities
Government school teachers in Uttar Pradesh enthusiastically bring up cases of neurodevelopmental disorders in their class and seek solutions to them
Gunjan Saxena is eager to share the problems of two of her school students. She suspects the duo to be having some kind of hidden disability that separates them from the rest.
Being the headmistress of Government Primary School in Narayanpur block of Hapur district, she has her hands full. Still she keeps herself updated with the progress of students in her school.
She has a feeling that one of the students class 4 students, Suhail, is suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) which makes him impulsive, hyperactive and inattentive, while another student of class 2, Anas, is a slow learner as he is showing symptoms like poor memory, lack of focus, is unorganized and talkative.
Gunjan Saxena (extreme right) attending the training session
“I want these children to improve. My role as the head of the school will have no purpose if I am not aware of each and every child in my school and am not able to provide inclusive education to all,” she said during the Project Inclusion training session in Dhaulana block of Hapur district.
Saxena became aware of these hidden disabilities during the Project Inclusion training of Sri Aurobindo Society in Hapur district. It provides regular school teachers with tools and techniques to identify and support children with mental health issues.
Thereafter, special educators also help parents and siblings of these children to support the child’s learning inside and outside the school. The aim is to improve retention in schools and the quality of life of these children.
While talking about these students, Saxena categorically points out their problems and explains her efforts she has taken till now to help them.
“I visit their houses and counsel parents but they do not understand. They feel bad if you point out their child’s mistake again and again. I also make these students to sit with me during lunch break and play indoor games as they enter into pity fights with other students, she said.
Saxena hopes that the training will help her deal with the problems of children with disabilities in a better way.
For Gargi, another teacher who attended the training, said the Project Inclusion training is more about personal development.
“We have to bring a change in our attitude towards these students first and then we have to find ways to keep these children in the mainstream education,” Gargi said.
Explaining about Tamanna, a suspected slow learner, she said that the girl stammers and is a below average student. She gets aggressive and has difficulty in understanding the basic concepts in the class.
“I myself used to get irritated while teaching her but now I understand that she has a problem that needs to be addressed and I need to be patient,” she added.
These teachers are among the 21 in the 7th batch attending the 4-day training. Over 300 teachers have till now undergone the July-Oct, 2018 training and have submitted over 167 case studies of children with suspected neurodevelopmental disorders.
Gaurav Kulshrestha during the session
Gaurav Kulshreshtha, Manager Project Inclusion who is also heading the training sessions in Hapur, said that the aim is to reach each and every teacher and make them aware about the hidden mental illnesses among children that often go unnoticed.
“Not a single child with hidden disability should be left behind. Every child deserves a chance to thrive and follow his/her dreams. Our efforts are just a small drop in the ocean. The real work is done by the teachers who go the extra mile to bring these children to the mainstream,” he said.