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Unveiling the Unknown: Identifying and Addressing Underlying Developmental Disorders or Health Conditions in Students

Our classrooms have students with learning disabilities such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, etc., how can we manage them as parents and educators to foster inclusion?
Image credit: Inclusion Magazine
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“God forbid!”

That’s exactly what you’ll hear some parents say when a school gives the information that a child is exhibiting symptoms indicating a specific learning disability such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, etc.

There are cases of adamant refusal to having the school’s Special Educational Needs (SEN) specialist do a comprehensive check of the child to ascertain the symptoms being observed.

At the extreme, some pull out of the school and take their children to new schools where no mention of the earlier characteristics noticed in their children will be mentioned by them.

In 10 years of teaching in Nigeria, I have come to realise that some children who teachers are consistently struggling with and it looks like all efforts exerted aren’t yielding any  efforts often have underlying conditions which may only be detected by a SEN (Special Educational Needs) Specialist, therapist or by a teacher well versed in recognising signs and symptoms of various developmental disorders.

Take for instance,

My year started with a rather PUZZLING twist.

A student who had been of impeccable behaviour and hadn’t given me any concerns for months suddenly started off with lots of tantrums, disruptive sounds during lessons, consistent shoulder shrugging and other disturbing gestures.

My shock level was 1000%!

One-on-one conversations and other corrective strategies weren’t working.

As my concerns persisted, I had a conversation with his parent and I was told of the student experiencing something called “Tourette Syndrome” and that he was already getting a therapist’s help.

I was shocked. Apparently, I wasn’t dealing with deliberate behaviour by the student.

If you’re an EDUCATOR, you may want to research this as well as other characteristics and symptoms of various behavioural or learning disorders.

Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder exhibited by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics.

A tic is a sudden, uncontrolled, and repetitive movement or sound and there are various forms of it.

Tics involving movements are called motor tics while those involving sounds are called vocal tics.

Some Tic symptoms include:

      • Nose wrinkling
      • Head twitching
      • Eye blinking
      • Facial grimacing
      • Shoulder shrugging etc.

This experience reinforced my belief in always ascertaining root causes of situations and recognising that there’s always more beyond the surface.

Dear Parents,

Please let your child’s school or teachers know of any underlying health conditions your child is experiencing. This will help in offering the right educational experiences. Also do not take observations from your child’s teacher or school with levity.

Dear Teacher,

When dealing with behavioural issues, be sure to delve into the root cause of each situation. This helps you have the right response and strategy to  groom the student better.

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