Online app for screening children's learning disabilities
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CHANDIGARH: A first screening app of its kind for specific learning disabilities (SLD) – “First Screen” – was developed by an NGO based in the city. The foundation provides remedial action to children with special educational needs, especially those with specific learning disabilities in India, and also operates in the Chandigarh, Haryana and Punjab regions.

The founder of the Orkids Foundation, Dr. Geet Oberoi, said: “The app aims to identify children at an early stage who are at risk of SLD (Specific Learning Disabilities). It also enables early intervention well before the formal diagnosis age of 8 years. It’s a free Android app that is available in both languages, Hindi and English. “The First Screen” app covers nine main domains. Reading and Spelling, Written Expression, Oral Language, Motor Skills, Attention, Social Skills, Math, Executive Functions and Memory. The app includes a 90-point test with 3-point Answers. Yes, maybe no / NA.

It takes 20 to 25 minutes to complete the test. After that, visual feedback (as opposed to text) is given with possible recommendations for the future. For accuracy reasons, the test must be completed by a parent or teacher who has known the child for at least 6 months.

Dr. Geet Oberoi emphasized: “In the guidelines for the assessment of various disabilities under the Disability Rights Act 2016, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) communication mentions a screening test for children who are with 8 years of age should be used, grade 3 to aid in the identification of children with SLD. However, such a screening test app is not yet available. And this loophole could be fixed with the ‘First Screen’ app. ”

Dr. Geet Oberoi emphasized that SLD has been included in the “Rights of People with Disabilities” (RPwD law) since 2016, which means that all provisions are equally accessible to children / individuals. Specific learning disorder (SLD) is one of the most common neurodevelopmental disorders affecting 3 to 10% of children.

In addition, the level of awareness and professional training in SLD and related areas is almost negligible, especially in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. The guidelines for “Children with Special Needs (CWSN)” in the RPWD Act 2016 state that no child can be diagnosed before the age of 8.

Dr. Geet emphasized, “Since the ideal age for children to go to school is 3 years, this is an opportunity that gives children a buffer to adjust and reach the required learning milestones. However, the lack of timely intervention in children who may be at risk results in loss as their problems are not identified in those 5 years. At the age of 8, they have a learning gap compared to their peers. ”

She sums up: “Therefore, a screening tool that is non-diagnostic and therefore not labeled, just screenings to identify children who may be ‘at risk’ is the need of the hour. ‘First Screen’ would ensure that those precious 5 years could be used by providing additional support in terms of training and resources for the children to support their learning curve. ”

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