Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘society’ Category

February 14th is an exciting day for young and old lovers alike. It can be a day of celebration of love. Love of all hues and colours, with all its grandness and simplicity. It gives me great pleasure to greet you all on the occasion of Valentine’s Day and say that I Love You All very much!

The word ‘Love’ has various connotations to it. As many connotations as the number of people who think about it and contemplate upon its meaning! The mother’s love to her children, the love between siblings, love and affection between spouses, the love between a Guru and a Shishya, love for God, the love among friends, the love we have for our pets, the love of the country, the love for a noble cause dear to us and so many others and then the most prevalent meaning as understood by ordinary mortals, the love between a young girl and a boy that has been celebrated through out human civilization in various forms of art and literature.

This love between a couple – a boy and a girl, a man and a woman, between two people of the same gender, as it is coming out of the closet more and more these days, generally have three faces to it. The intimacy, passion and the commitment. The generation and sustanance of love between two people depends on the amount of these three ingredients in different proportions.

First of all it is the physical attraction that brings two people close together. This attraction is triggered by the proximity of the two people. Perhaps they live in the same neighbourhood or study in the same class/college or work in the same company or may travel together to workplace. (It need not always be the physical proximity. It can even be the frequent proximity over an electronic medium like this, where the physical attraction exists only in imagination! 🙂 ) This proximity helps develop  aquaintence that may lead to excahnge of ideas and opinions. When the similarities in ideas and ideals become known, the attraction may grow stronger. They can come closer to each other  emotionally too and sparks fly, making the relationship a passionate one! But sometimes it is mere physical attraction that leads to passion and it may or may not last long. It may be just infatuation and may die down soon.

The emotional closeness leads to intimacy wherein the two individuals are ready to care and share. They may develop concern for each other’s wellbeing that leads to lot of sharing of personal information. This intimacy can lead to passion when the two may desire sexual intimacies. But their love may not feel complete until they feel committed to each other in this relationship. It is this commitment that takes them to the marriage altar.

Out of these three ingredients of intimacy, passion and commitment, passion may not last very long. After few years into relationship, it is bound to wane. It continues its existence, but not on the top of the list. Without a burning passion also, two people can remain good friends. It is the intimacy that keeps them close. Lot of sharing and caring continue to happen that keep them together. They show concern for each other and help the other resolve so many issues. In certain cases love can just be a platonic relationship (without hint of sexual desire between the two) being good friends and being there for each other in case of any crisis.  Coming back to what we were discussing, some times, the intimacy may slowly decline in relationships because of so many factors, like, getting too involved in their own careers, excessive indulgence in undesirable habits like drinking and gambling or even extra marital relationships.  People then slowly drift apart emotionally. They may even go in for a legal separation. But in some cases the commitment that they have made to each other can still bind them together, in the common interest of others who are depending on them.

Now a days we see lot of passion between a couple in the initial stages of friendship, which they may mistakenly believe as love. During the passionate moments they would have revealed their intimate matters to each other. But when passion dies and no commitment binding them, they can break apart leading to the emotional devastation of both.

It is this set of passionate couple that may go overboard celebrating Valentine’s day in all its elation. They shower expensive gifts to each other, dine at the most upmarket restaurant, promising everlasting love to each other. But without the commitment, it just can not last long. Many would be nursing a commitment phobia! How long can they go on like this? One of the partners is bound to seek the commitment in this relationship and the other partner feels that it is time to quit!

These days there are many ‘no-strings-attached’ casual relationships that both young girls and boys are ready to carry on. But it can have very serious repercussions, both on physical and mental health. They can not tread this path ignoring all the warning signs well written on the wall. Somewhere they need feel responsible for themselves and also the other person involved and wake up from this foolish stupor.

Marriage requires commitment. It can have the other two -passion and intimacy also in equal measures. To continue the commitment ’till death do us part’, lot of adjustments and compromises are needed. Subtle sacrifices are done. Love and trust are the strong pillars that keep the couple together. One needs to work on it like in any other relationship. No body can take the partner for granted. Mutual respect need to be accorded, space given to each other and yet feel totally connected. Valentine’s day or no valentine’s day, the intimate emotional bond can continue to get strengthened over the years……………….

All the above mentioned love are limited, conditional. If conditions are not fulfilled, then love disappears. But there can also be a love of a different kind that is limitless and unconditional! It is beyond bodily love or commitmental love. This love is in all our hearts. It is a gift that comes with creation. We are not aware of it. When we are ready to give that love unconditionally to others, the spring of love can overflow. It can touch every heart that comes in contact with that flow. This love is beyond gender, race or religion. It is the ultimate love that can soak everybody and is therepeutic to all. It can be panacea for all illnesses. It is spiritual. You just have to look within and unleash it. It can spread everywhere and pervade the whole universe. More you are ready to give, more it gets replenished. That is the Truth, the auspicious and the beautiful – Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram!

And it is this Love that I am giving all of you on this Valentine’s Day. I have no expectations of reciprocation from the other end.  I simply give becoz I have it in abundance! And I love giving 🙂

Love you all!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Read Full Post »

I read an interesting (read nonsensical) piece of Research result, in New Indian express, bangalore Edition, dated 7th Feb 08,  found out by the Italian scientists. I call it ‘junk research’ as the results of such researches do more harm than good to woman-kind!

They have found out that wearing high heeled shoes can boost a woman’s sexual desire, as walking with high heeled shoes improves the strength of pelvic floor muscles thus upping her sex life!!!

Can anything be more stupid than advising wearing high heel shoes to improve strength of pelvic muscles? Are there no better exercises to improve ones muscles than to resort to heeled shoes?? Have we all not heard of people breaking their back bones by falling down, unable to balance themselves with a pair of high heels? How many ladies suffer twists in ankle bones, tear in the ligaments, postural faults, all because they could not manage their steps while climbing stairs or by walking on uneven surfaces with these shoes on?

Podiatrists (foot specialists) say that the anatomical position of a heeled shoe wearer is abnormal. This causes lot of stress to the feet as well as to the back bone. This leads to many stress fractures to the foot bones. This also leads to foot ailments, swelling of toes, shooting pain caused by injuries to foot nerves, swelling of the balls of feet etc.

When such is the long list of ‘rewards’ for the high heeled shoe wearer, was there any need to pump in funds to this kind of research to declare another ‘attractive’  result of increased libido for the wearer?! I wonder which woman would want to break her bones, have plastered limbs, be bed-ridden with a ‘high- libido’ !

Any takers???

Read Full Post »

Two days ago we all learnt about a suicide bombing at Baghdad’s two pet markets, in Iraq, that killed nearly 75 people, wounding 150 people and hundreds of birds and other pet animals. Many of you may not even have read it as these days we have all become immune to such suicide bombings and killings as they have become the daily news in all news papers! and we have lost the sensitivity to even grieve over such matters.

But the most horrible fact about these two bombings were the two suicide bombers were girls with Down’s syndrome! and a person with Down’s syndrome does not have normal intellectual capacity and he/she is a mentally challenged person. How can such a person willingly give consent to be a suicide bomber? Surely, the girls here must have been tricked into it! and that is the most tragic part of the whole incident. How can this be an act of “jihadi”? Would Allah praise such an act??

Many of you may have heard of the term “Down’s syndrome”, but may not know what exactly the term refers to. Let me briefly explain.

Down’s syndrome is a life long condition of disability that results in mental retardation. The retardation can be of mild/moderate/severe degree. It is a chromosomal anomaly called “Trisomy 21” in which there occurs                  3 chromosomes in set 21 instead of 2 chromosomes. Human beings have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 in total) in each cell of the body, except in sex cells, eggs and sperms, where only 23 chromosomes are present. These 23 become 46 when the egg and the sperm  get fertilized to procreate and the species continues with 46. These 46 chromosomes are arranged in pairs of two and there are 23 such sets. But in Down syndrome child, the 21st set of chromosomes contain 3 chromosomes instead of the usual two (totalling to 47) and this excess genetic material in each cell results in a dsabling condition called Down’s syndrome, named after the scientist Langer Down who described this anomaly.

I have mentioned Trisomy 21 as the cause of this disability. In a small 2 to 3% of Downs syndrome, the cause is Mosaic Trisomy 21 that appears not in all body cells but only in few of the cells. Whether it is plain Trisomy 21 or mosaic, the features are the same and the degree of disability does not depend on the kind of the cause.

All children born in this condition share very similar facial characteristics that make them all look alike. They generally have a round, flat face with slanted eyes. They slant upwards and they have an extra skin fold on their eye lids that accentuate this slant. But they can have normal vision like anybody else. The babies have poor muscle tone and are floppy at birth. Slowly their muscle tone improves as they grow. It is also observed that these kids have a single crease running on their palm instead of the usual three deep ones that run on our palms (some normal kids also have only one crease on their palm, but not have down’s syndrome). They also have a large gap between their big toe and the second toe that usually grips the sandal. Their tongue usually protrudes outside as they have a smaller oral-cavity and a larger base of the tongue that keeps their mouth slightly open always. This may make them vulnerable to many respiratory infections.

Like in any other condition of mental retardation, these children also show delayed developmental milestones. Their motor (movement), speech and language, social and cognitive development are all slow. The condition can be detected at birth itself by the pediatrician and it is obligatory on their part to inform the baby’s condition to the parents at that time. But unfortunately in India, many Downs Syndrome births go undetected or uninformed to parents that it may jeopardize early interventional strategies that can mitigate the damages to a large extent.

The condition can not be cured. But their abilities can improve to a very large extent by training that is given in special schools. A positive and an accepting attitude on part of parents, siblings and other relatives can help the child to a very large extent to improve its skills. These days many early intervention programmes are taken up at various special centres to children of a much younger age, as soon as it is identified. Physio therapy programmes can improve their muscles’ and joints’ strengths that improve their mobility skills and their gross and fine motor skills (bigger muscles and smaller muscles of the body). Most of them have speech delays and speech problems. They may lack clarity in their speech, articulation problems, language reception and expression problems that can be reduced through speech therapy. Most of these children are friendly by nature and they draw attention from others through their smiling face and readiness to strike friendship with others. This also makes them very vulnerable and children need to be protected from any kind of abuse. Their social skills make them very endearing to all and they are very helpful in nature. Many of them love music and dance. Depending on their intellectual level, they can be taught functional academics that teach them the basic reading and writing skills. They are soon trained in vocations of their interest and later on as adults they can work in sheltered workshops under supervision. Some downs syndrome adults can lead fairly independent life.

As I mentioned earlier, they are prone to many respiratory diseases and many children have congenital (by birth) heart defects too. These children may have to undergo heart surgeries at a later date when they can withstand the surgery.

Coming to the sexuality aspect, they also have normal sexual desires like any other person. But their cognitive deficits may make them vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. And as adults, they get isolated from the mainstream and this loneliness also makes them vulnerable to any kind of affection offered by the abusers. They need to be given sex education like any other person. The fertility rate is reduced in women with Downs syndrome and researchers believe that males may be sterile. But one case of a downs male fathering a child has been cited in journals. Many females with Downs are fertile and there are many instances of them carrying their pregnancy to term and successfully delivering kids – either downs child or a normal child. These are cases from abroad and in India, it is very difficult to get such a person married and expect to carry out the responsibility of a marriage relationship and rearing a child. But it is not impossible with family support. Just because somebody is disabled, we can not deny them their marital and sexual rights. It is purely their family decision.

When such are the abilities/differences in their ability levels of Downs syndrome persons, it is highly condemnable that two downs syndrome girls’ vulnerability was used and abused by the terrorist gang in Iraq and they have now fallen victims to their suicidal bombing pact!

Our heartfelt condolences to the families of these two innocent Down syndrome girls.

Read Full Post »

The following is the letter to the TOI editor that mr vidyaranya bellur emailed, but unfortunately the letter was highly edited and published on 28/01/08. since he had emailed a copy to me, i thought of publishing it here unedited so that it might interest my readers and they may write their comments on this:

 

************************************************************************

 

Your news item “Sweden to study belching cows TOI dt. 23-1-08” is not only hilarious but epitomizes height of senselessness on part of research funding agencies. Cows every where have been nurturing from time immemorial on naturally grown greens and have been yielding milk that is nourishing human kind ever since civilization. Also, it is a well known fact that cow dung is an excellent manure that enriches the soil solely because it’s herbivorous nature. We may recall here how processed meat & bone were fed to these poor herbivorous animals which resulted in spread of mad cow disease in Europe which in turn lead to the butchering of thousands of innocent cows.

Now we hear of this crazy research being carried out on these poor bovines’ belchings which is supposedly contributing to the emission of green house gases! Instead, I strongly suggest the funding may be diverted to measure the emissions under the pants of junk food eaters where the results would indicate the contribution of human methane levels that would far exceed those of bovines’ belching!

Thanking you,

Yours faithfully,

B.S.Vidyaranya

Read Full Post »

In my last post I had written about the various difficulties that children with LD face while reading. Most of these difficulties occur because of visual and auditory perceptual problems. Let me explain.

Children will have normal vision, normal hearing ability, but may have difficulty in:

visual and auditory discrimination – they may be unable to discriminate between similar looking letters, like, ‘b’ and ‘d’, ‘p’ and ‘d’, ‘q’ and ‘p’, ‘m’ and ‘n’, ‘n’ and ‘u’, ‘m’ and ‘w’ etc During the developmental phase, young children can recognize the object ‘chair’ as a chair in whatever position it is – upside down, sideways or turned in any other way – it still remains a chair. As they grow up and enter the school age of 2 1/2 to 3 yrs, they start looking at letters in books and are made to understand that certain letters may look similar, but the direction of the strokes and curves differentiate them from each other. Children with visual perceptual problem will not be able to understand this concept and hence unable to discriminate between similar looking letters and confuse one for the other. Reversal of letters, reversal of words – mirror reading and writing occur because of this perceptual issue.

They may have difficulty discriminating the geometrical shapes, between an oval and a circle, between a square and a rectangle and have more confusions with polygons. They may find it extremely difficult to copy drawings from science lessons. The minute differences go unnoticed.

Coming to auditory discrimination, children with LD may have problems perceiving minute differences between sounds, like in words ‘tin’ and ‘thin’, ‘sign’ and ‘shine’, ‘pin’ and ‘bin’. This difficulty is more pronounced in our regional languages where there are ‘mahaa praanaas’ and ‘alpa praanaas’.

They may not be able to understand the nuances of speech like pitch and tone and hence their reading a passage sounds very monotonous.

Children may have visual and auditory memory problems. It becomes difficult to keep in memory the order of letters in a word and hence have spelling problems. When the teacher writes notes on the black board, these children may not have enough short term memory or working memory to keep the words they have seen on the black board in their memory and bend down and transfer it to their notebooks. Their notes always remain incomplete. While writing dictation, they may not have sufficient auditory memory to keep the words in mind and write them. Or while listening to a story, they may have difficulty connecting the various pieces they have heard as they may forget many things inbetween the narration. Also, because of comprehension difficulties, many things that they hear or read or write remain as isolated fragments of information, unconnected and meaningless that they soon forget.

Figure-ground perceptual problem that I have explained in my previous post is another kind of perceptual difficulty that these children may face.

Apart from sequential difficulties mentioned in another post, they may sometimes have difficulty in categorization. This is evident in their writing when they mix up upper case letters with lower case letters. They may find it difficult to sort out pictures of vegetables, fruits and flowers. They find it difficult to write long answers to questions because of their inability to organize matter, categorize them according to themes and present it. In higher classes, it may become difficult for them to classify the elements and compounds, or classify the animal kingdom into reptiles, birds, mammals etc

Visual and auditory closure is another perceptual difficulty many of these children face. We are able to read a word or a sentence even if some letters or words are missing inbetween or the print is hazy. We have the ability to picturize the whole even if parts are missing from a figure or a story. But kids with LD may not. Presented a piece of poem in between, children may find it difficult to know from which poem it is extracted or how to complete it.

………………… to be continued

Read Full Post »

We will continue with the identification features of Learning Disability in Children. Many of these features may be present in a child below the age of 8 as part of their developmental phase. There are developmental norms in various domains of child development and children differ in their pace of attaining these norms. If they persist beyond the age of 8, then special assessments for LD need to be done. Below the age of 8 if these problems are seen, it may indicate that the child is  ‘at risk’ of developing LD and suitable remedial measures are taken to alleviate the problem earlier.

We will now see what are the various errors that a child with “Reading Difficulty” or “Dyslexia” may commit:

Children with reading difficulty generally show a reluctance when suggested to read a book. They may give excuses like, “these are not taught to us in the school” or “we will first do some other activity and then do this”.

They may struggle so much to read that the pace of reading becomes very slow.

They may need to finger-point each and every word in order not to miss the position in the text while reading. They may skip words or skip sentences.

They may make errors like omitting words, adding words not in the text, guessing the words (team as time, clock as cloth, paper as pepper), calling out each letter and unable to blend them, reversal of letters in a word – on as no, was as saw, dog as god, tap as pat, pin as nip.

They may jumble up the soundsin a word, like, saying aminal for animal, pheletone for telephone.

They may find it difficult to ‘attack’ an unfamiliar word and get it right.

They may read a whole passage in a monotone and also pay no regard to the punctuations. This can be due to lack of comprehension.

Reading comprehension may be poor. They may find it difficult to understand what they read. Most of these children would be struggling to blend letters into words or join words together to make a sentence that it becomes difficult for them to give attention and grasp the meaning of what they are reading. The same children, if they are read to, can listen well and understand what has been read out as they are spared of the struggle to read! That is the reason why many of these children insist that their mother read out the question and answers of lessons while they sit and listen and understand.

Reading is a process of de-coding. The letters that go into the formation of words are nothing but symbolic representation of sounds that we produce through speech. Each language has its own coding in the form of letters of alphabet. The difficulty to read arises because of an inability to decode the letters or associate the sounds (phonemes) with the respective letters (graphemes) and blend these sounds to make meaningful words. This difficulty is more evident in English language where the phonemes and the graphemes have no connection at all. The letters b-a-g that make the word ‘bag’ are in no way connected to the sound that we make as ‘buh’ – ‘aah’- and ‘guh’ that blend together to make the word ‘bag’! The words ‘put’ and ‘but’ have different sounds associated with the letter ‘u’. Some letters make more than one sound. For ex: the letter ‘a’ makes different sounds in different words like apple, car, lake, again. Letter ‘g’ has a soft sound as in the word ‘gem’ and a hard sound in the word ‘gate’. Letter ‘c’ also has two different sounds as in ‘cinema’ and candy’. And there are many words where certain letters become ‘silent’. This leads to lot of confusion in a child’s mind who has difficulty in understanding a new language that he has not been previously exposed. Many of the regional languages of India, like Hindi, Kannada and others have their grapheme and phoneme the same. The letters we write represent the same sound and become easy to blend together to make a word. Though the grapheme-phoneme confusion is not there in these languages, the enormity of ‘kaagunithas’ and ‘ottaksharas’ make these languages difficult to learn for these children. 

We need to understand that dyslexia is not just a difficulty to decode letters and words. It is a whole problem of processing language to make sense out of it.

Children learn reading through sight first. They just look at whole word, listen to the sound of the word, associate it with a picture of an object or the real object that they see and understand their meaning. When you gradually remove the picture, they are still able to recognize the word as their brains would have stored these words and sounds like photographic memories. You can see young children reading out big billboards of advertisements that have been made familiar to them through advertisements on Television. Later when they enter school, letters are taught and they automatically recollect the earlier sight-reading and slowly pick up the skill of decoding the words. In many schools, the sounds of english letters are taught first – “phonetic way of teaching reading” – instead of A B C D they are taught ‘aah’, ‘buh’, ‘kah’, ‘duh’ etc. They believe that this is a better way of teaching letters of the alphabet as children can easily decode the words at a later stage. There is also the other school of thought that says “whole word approach” is a better way to start off where children blindly pick up whole words, sounds and their meanings. In fact this was the way we were all taught reading long long ago. But children who have been taught reading through phonetic way find it easier to attack unfamiliar words, however long they are.

Many children with LD have the problem of “figure-ground perception”. In any picture or music or a story, there is a fore-ground and a back-ground. Generally we all pay attention to the foreground and ignore the background thus able to grasp the main theme running through it. But these children are unable to distinguish between the important and the unimportant or the relevant and the irrelevant details. Hence when they read a long passage or listen to a long narration or look at a picture, they may miss out on important points and give attention to the irrelevant. They may not be able to sustain their attention and concentration for long to catch the main theme. Hence reproduction of a task becomes difficult for them.

…………………… to be continued

Read Full Post »

Let me once again make it very clear to all that the intention of my posts on Learning Disability is early identification and early intervention so that most of these kids will come out of the problem or the damages are minimized or intelligent kids are helped to make their own strategies to overcome the issues bogging them down. Please do not be hasty in labelling a child as dyslexic just because he/she shows some of the features of LD. There can be other reasons too as I have explained earlier.

Some children have very specific problem in the area of spellings or in writing or in one particular subject. The problem is then referred to as Specific Learning Disability or SLD.

Let us see what may be the indicators of LD in a child. And parents, please do not get unduly perturbed if your child shows any of these symptoms. The child may not yet have acquired these skills and given exposure and practice, it would surely catch up.

Many parents complain that the child is able to narrate the full dialogue of his/her favourite hero of a particular movie, but unable to learn three stanzas of a poemin the text book! Here we need to understand that there is no pressure upon the child to narrate the dialogues of a hero nor will the child be evaluated by anybody for at the end of this task! And the child has learnt it of his/her own free will because saying those dialogues gives the child satisfaction and he/she loves to identify with that actor that in-turn may boost his/her self-image. Whereas, the text book poem is not meaningful to the child’s life in any way, nor does it serve any personal satisfaction. Teacher has assigned this task and she is going to evaluate each child by the rendition of the poem. That may spell doom for the child for anxiety can create havoc in its mind!

Come to think of it, which are the most remembered events in our lives? I am sure each one of us have many memorable events that may or may not be significant to others! And I am sure each of those remembered event is associated with a wide variety of emotions! Yes, moments that have impacting emotions are remembered best! Some times you do not even remember what you had eaten for the morning breakfast, but would recollect with ease which coloured shirt you had worn when you dated your ‘would-be wife’ 15 years ago or even 50 years ago! or what words were exchanged between you and your girl friend in a fit of rage on that fateful evening!

Now make a story of that poem and narrate it interestingly to your child. Use many of the words that are present in the poem and in a similar sequence. Once you are able to hold your child’s attention and interest through this story, the child will soon be able to narrate the poem very well.

Some children who have LD may have problem understanding the emotionsprevailing in a situation. They will not be able to assess a situation as per the expected norm for that age. For ex: A 12 year old boy may start telling jokes to others when people may have gathered to mourn the death of somebody. or a child of 15 may not be able to gauge the intensity of his father’s anger and may wrongly place a demand for a toy at that time. This can happen because of a developmental lag in emotional maturity. This lag may persist even in adulthood. Parents may need to teach the intricacies of emotions and consequences to these children like how they would teach a lesson from a text book.

Many of these children have problems in sequencing information. For ex: they may not be able to list out the names of months in a year in their correct order. If they listen to a story, later they may not be able to narrate the happenings in the story in the right sequence. If you show them a calender and ask them to take out the page in which their Birthday would fall, they may aimlessly turn the pages without knowing where their birth month would occur.

Some of them have difficulty with directionality – the positioning in space, like confusion with up- down, next to, above-under, inside-outside etc. Most of them may have difficulty deciding the ‘right’ from the ‘left’ (laterality), reading a simple map and locating some body’s house. If the school building is very huge and students have to change classrooms for different subjects, some of them will have a tough time locating their class. They may be poor in ‘spatial ability’, ie, ‘what-fits-where‘ kind of problem in arranging puzzle pieces.

Children with LD may have poor temporal concept. They may be unable to gauge the period of time that needs to elapse between two events. Suppose their Birthday falls in the month of May, from January they start asking their mother when May would come? If they are having their tests in a week’s time, they may not have the concept of how long or short they have to wait to write the test.  They may have difficulty reading a clock, understanding the time concept and managing the time available to them.

…………….. to be continued

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »