Unique calling

Updated: 2013-05-08 00:44

By Xu Lin (China Daily)

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Unique calling

Dyslexic children cannot be cured with medicine or surgery. Instead, they can only be helped with special education. Photos provided to China Daily

The founder and president of Langlang Learning Potential Development Center in Beijing, Lan Zi, says: "Early identification and treatment is very important and teachers should modify teaching methods and the educational environment to meet the children's unique needs."

The center offers professional training classes for children below the age of 12 with dyslexia.

Wu sends her son to the center, and he now writes much better and enjoys his training classes. He is happier as the teacher is less strict with his handwriting.

Wu says she can see his improvement every day.

According to Lan, to have a definite diagnosis, one should go through a nuclear magnetic resonance scanning of the brain in the 306 Hospital of the PLA (the only hospital in Beijing offering the diagnosis) or take a test on reading and writing abilities in the center.

"Dyslexia can't be cured with medicine or operation, and can only be corrected with special education," Lan says.

She says children should undergo the right trainings to help them improve reading and writing abilities.

Children below the age of 8 show up to 80 percent improvement after one year's training in the center.

Lan says the progress rate drops gradually as the children become older, to as low as 40 percent at the age of 12. After 12 years old, she advises parents and teachers to allow the children to develop naturally according to their talents.

In Lan's center, children are divided into groups according to their levels and taught by multi-sensory and associative memory. For example, teachers put Chinese character radicals in different colors to help the kids remember.

About one third of the students' families find online about the center.

One third is introduced by parents who send children to the center, and the rest are those who participate in the center's activities.

According to Lan, dyslexia not only affects children's academic life and relationships with families and classmates, but also their psychological health. Some may have a proclivity toward violence and some are self-abased.

She says about 14 percent of her students are receiving psychotherapy at the same time. Some refuse to go to school because they had a hard time there.

"Teachers and parents should acknowledge their difference and not blame the kids for their poor reading and writing abilities. A healthy personality is the most important, and kids should live in a relaxed environment," she says.

Lan used to own a publication company. In 2007, she got to know about dyslexia by accident and started to research about it with the help of an NGO in Hong Kong.

"It was at that time that I realized dyslexia is a serious social problem in China," says Lan, who closed down her company and established Langlang.