According to the Maharashtra Dyslexia Association:
Dyslexia, literally means “difficulty with words” (from the Greek “dys” meaning problem and “lexis” meaning words or language). It is a specific learning difficulty which affects a person’s ability to read, spell and understand language that he/she hears, or express himself/herself clearly while speaking or in writing.
Dyslexia is not a disease; it has no cure. Dyslexia is caused by abnormalities in the way information is processed in a brain which is often gifted and productive in many other areas. Dyslexia is not the result of low intelligence. People with dyslexia are unique, each having individual strengths and weaknesses. Many individuals with dyslexia are creative and have unusual talents in areas such as art / graphics, sport, architecture, electronics / computing, drama, music, or mechanics / engineering. They often display special talents in areas that require high levels of visual, spatial, and motor integration. Their problems in language-processing distinguish them as a group. This means that the person with dyslexia has problems translating language to thought (as in listening or reading) or thought to language (as in writing or speaking).
According to Maya Kalyanpur, writing in “Global Ed Leadership”, there are no equivalent local words for terms like LD or dyslexia in India, suggesting that the lens by which these children are being identified is imported from the US. However, the Dyslexia Association of India states:
“Dyslexia is a Neurological Condition that is characterized by difficulties that mainly affect the ability of a child to read, write and spell. Categorized as a Learning Disability it usually manifests as a problem in listening, thinking, speaking, reading, writing, or spelling or in a person’s ability to do math. Dyslexia is not an indicator of intelligence and many children who have Dyslexia are of above average intelligence. But being limited by their ability to read fluently due to a difficulty in the area of language development and memory, makes a Dyslexic child learn differently”.
“Unfortunately, many in India still think that a learning disability comes under the ‘mental illness’ category and this adds to the shame and stigma”, says T.D. Dhariyal, the government’s deputy chief commissioner for persons with disabilities. Only 61% of children with special needs in India attend an educational institution; while 40% of children with dyslexia drop out of school. In 1995, the Indian government passed a comprehensive disabilities law that guarantees rehabilitation, job quotas and housing for people with visual, hearing, mental and physical disabilities. It does not mention learning disabilities.
It doesn’t come as a surprise then to learn that recognition of dyslexia in India may be a problem. According to the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology, the two primary reasons dyslexia remains undiagnosed in India tend to be:
- 1. lack of sufficient awareness amongst school teachers and parents
- 2. absence of appropriate standardized screening and assessment tools in Indian languages.
It should also be noted that many States and organisations in India have been making provisions for dyslexic students in school exams for a number of years:
Nevertheless, the prevalance of dyslexia in India is estimated to be 15% of the population (although the Dyslexia Association of India states that this figure may go up “as multilingualism can also impact on the difficulty”). At the very least, the many officially recognised languages in India make creating a standardised national assessment measure for the specific detection and educational intervention of children with dyslexia problematic.
See for instance: