Home | About Us | National | Regional | Politics | Business | Sports | Opinion | Archives

With personal attention, this school helps kids with learning disability

Shiny Kirupa

Piling garbage in the city has created a major waste management crisis.

Sameeksha, a school in Cooke Town, has taken upon itself the task of teaching children with learning disabilities like autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Students who suffered setbacks in academics have shown overall improvement, say the teachers.

Principal Mary Selwaraj, a business studies and economics teacher, was the brain behind the initiative. Confrontation with her son, who having difficulty in reading and writing, inspired her to build a school for children with learning disabilities.

Speaking to The Observer, she referred to Rohini, 26, who joined Sameeksha at the age of nine. “She has a heart problem. It was difficult for her to concentrate as she was weak and tired. She used to fall at times, gasping every time she climbed the stairs. Her parents took a lot of interest in her academics; so did she. She isn’t physically active but is hardworking. She works in the school counselling and motivating children.”

The Observer spoke to a few students who overcame their odds.

Angela Louis, a class 10 student: My parents thought that it was just laziness that I did not study well. When I was in class 1 or 2, they came to know I had a problem in my learning process. They admitted me here in 4th grade. I was identified as having reading difficulty. I was a shy and timid person. But counseling and guidance transformed me into the person I am today – bold and confident. Personal attention and care by the teachers helped me fight my weaknesses. Now I teach fellow students. We understand everyone here has some difficulty or the other.

Sarah, a class 9 student: Both my parents would go to work and return late. That affected my studies. I needed someone to share my immediate feelings with. The teachers gave me space to share my problems. Their rebuke led to improvements in me. My favorite subject is science. I want to become a scientist.

Rebecca, a class 9 student: I came in with a bossy attitude, and would dominate the rest. I was rude and arrogant towards my classmates. In the first few months, I did not make any friends. It created loneliness inside me. I knew what I was doing was wrong. I’m grateful to my teachers and friends without whom my behaviour would not have changed. Crafts and cooking classes taught me more than what textbooks did. I learned to coordinate, share, be polite and patient with others. It gave me life lessons.

Maths and science teacher Sunita Mahendar said they spend time and energy with kids. Personal care makes them feel overcome their learning disabilities
English teacher Antony Raj said handling a class with four or five students with different disabilities is challenging. The secret to managing this is patience and endurance. She recalled she was appointed not on the basis of her educational qualifications but on the basis of her patience and dedication.