Education for children with learning disabilities

Education for children with learning disabilities



Nepalese society has indeed made some strides in terms of recognizing mental illnesses, but it still has ways to go when it comes to learning disabilities. Many children suffering from learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, autism, etc. are completely ignored by the educational system and simply deemed as ‘lazy’ or ‘unwilling to work’ by the people around them. This is a major issue that has been swept under the rug for years instead of being dealt with.

Children with learning disabilities cannot function under the same conditions as children with no mental issues, or neurotypical children. They need special equipment, special environment, and special care. The caretakers should be specially trained to handle children with learning disabilities. In fact, not even all learning disabilities are same; autism, for example, is a very broad term for an array of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behavior, speech, and nonverbal communication. Autistic children are more vulnerable and are relatively easy targets for bullies. An article published in January 2019 discusses how a teacher in Florida was found abusing two autistic children by locking them in a dark bathroom or blowing loud a whistle in their ear as punishment. This happened in the United States, which is supposed to be more developed than Nepal. If this behavior is seen even in first world countries, then how are children with learning disabilities living in Nepal supposed to be hopeful? How can they anticipate a change? It is not just a national problem, but a global one.

In order to bring this issue to light in the Nepalese society, we must first acknowledge that it exists instead of turning a blind eye towards it. No change happens overnight. We can’t expect special learning schools to be constructed immediately, but we can hope that schools start to recognize that some students suffer from these conditions and prepare a curriculum suitable for them. Hiring counselors and consultants who are educated in this area can also be extremely helpful. Other children should also be educated so that they don’t view their classmates with learning disabilities as ‘lesser than’ or a ‘freak’. They should be aware that having a learning disability is like having any other disability and that a person suffering from one is still deserving of friendship and respect. We should try our very best as to not make special needs children feel like they are ‘different’. Children with special needs often have the same brain functionality as developing children, even though they are not equipped with the tools to express that. This is why talking down on them or making fun of them can be detrimental to their health. They feel the same emotions as neurotypical children, but the degree in which they do can vary depending on what disability they have.

Treating all disabilities as the same is also a common mistake. All children with learning disabilities cannot be helped with the same tools. For example, a child with Asperger’s cannot be treated using the same tools as a child with dyslexia. They are radically different issues and affect children differently.

The stigma not only exists in schools however, children might also face problems at home.  As a society, we are not educated enough about learning disabilities. Some parents may not be aware that their child may be suffering from one and might assume that their child is making excuses not to study. We can raise awareness among families. We can start campaigns that raise awareness of learning disabilities. This is not a solid solution to this widespread problem, but it is a start. We have to make strides in reducing the stigma as it is the root of all problems. We have to make sure that children who suffer from these disabilities are not discriminated against or treated with any less respect than ‘normal’ children. 

Right now, all we can do is start somewhere. Start at grassroots levels to ensure that special needs children will one day have the same privileges as neurotypical children. Start to make them believe that the system is not inherently rigged against them. 

Written by: Saisha Dixit (Canopy Nepal)
Edited by: Sabanam Thapa (Canopy Nepal)

Canopy Nepal is a team of visionary youths working in the field of education, skill and leadership development, diversity and inclusion. We seek to improve the quality and efficiency of education by focusing on the learners and reshaping the way they learn.


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