GULF DIGITAL NEWS
7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Learning problem

FOUR schoolchildren in every Bahrain classroom are struggling with learning difficulties that have never been detected, according to an expert.

Bahrain Institute for Special Education (BISE) president Dr Zahra Al Zeera said they could be destined for a life of crime if they don't get the support they need.

However, she said her request to conduct a nationwide survey into the extent of the problem had been rejected by the Education Ministry.

She thinks most children with learning difficulties have never been diagnosed, which means they are growing up with low self-esteem thinking they are stupid.

"Fifteen to 20 per cent of the population have some kind of learning difficulty," she said.

"If undetected, a child with learning difficulties starts with one problem such as dyslexia, but ends up with more because they think they are dumb or stupid.

"The earlier you detect the problem, the better the solution."

She said the Education Ministry needed to do more to help those with dyslexia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and other learning difficulties.

"If children aren't helped they are likely to turn to crime and drugs," she said.

"These children are so vulnerable they become criminals. You have to teach these children how to learn, you need to give them the keys for learning and understanding, so you empower them with tools."

Dr Al Zeera was speaking yesterday on the sidelines of a ceremony marking the opening of BISE's new centre in Sanabis.

The ceremony was held under the patronage of Supreme Council for Women chairwoman Her Highness Shaikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty King Hamad.

It was attended by Social Development Minister Dr Fatima Al Balooshi, as well as officials from the Supreme Council for Women, United Nations and other organisations.

The opening of BISE was also celebrated at a reception held at the new premises last night.

BISE has moved from Mahooz to a multi-purpose three-storey building in Sanabis.

BISE, established in 2002, is a non-profit organisation that aims to help those with special needs, especially children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and ADHD.

The centre caters to about 60 children, aged from three to 18.

It has six full-time and five part-time specialists who provide occupational therapy, behavioural therapy and speech and language therapy to children in one-to-one sessions.

It provides services in evaluation, diagnosis and programmes designed for children with specials needs.

It also offers behaviour modification, speech and language therapy, family support, research development in special education and other services.

"We are the only centre in Bahrain. Our capacity is very little and imagine we have thousands of children that need help," said Dr Al Zeera.

Treatment

"We treat children that have average or above average IQ, but have learning difficulties.

"We are working on an electronic diagnostic tool for children with learning difficulties."

Dyslexia, which affects about 10 per cent of the world's population, is a learning difficulty that affects a person's ability to process information. It is mainly associated with difficulties in reading, writing and spelling.

ADHD is characterised by serious and persistent difficulties resulting in poor attention span, weak impulse control and hyperactivity (but not in all cases). It is estimated that three to five per cent of school aged children suffer from ADHD.

For more information about BISE, contact 177556613 or visit www.bised.org.

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