Dr. Krishna Mahathi holds diplomas in Pediatrics and in the management of allergies and asthma. She has worked as a junior consultant in Christian Medical College,Vellore and then at the Learning Disability Clinic in Lokmanya Tilak Medical College and Hospital in Sion, Mumbai. Years of working and interacting with children and parents have given her insight into developmental disabilities. She wishes that there was more awareness and acceptance of the issues that differently-abled children face and hopes that through this blog, she can enable thse children and their families to make sensible and informed choices.
“Do not train a child to learn by force or harshness; but direct them to it by what amuses their minds, so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each.” ― Plato
There are quite a number of children who do not perform very satisfactorily in academics in spite of having no intellectual or learning disability. They are usually called slow learners, along with children who seem to have cultural differences or distracting personal problems that make comprehension difficult. A majority of these children have borderline intellectual function. This means that their scores on the standard intelligence tests will be below those of normal individuals but not low enough to be labelled as intellectual retardation.
In India we use the adaptations of the Wechsler’s Intelligence scale for children, wherein a score of 85 and above indicates normal intelligence and a score below 70 is classified as mental retardation. These slow learners typically have scores ranging between 70 and 85.Classically, they have difficulty understanding new concepts and with abstract thinking. Many slow learners show difficulties in perception. They tend to ignore details and go for overall comprehension and production. Those teaching them may mistake this tendency as a reluctance to learn, or a lack of concentration. As society continues to stress academic performance over other skills in appreciating a child’s potential, we might be judging these kids too harshly and consequently breeding oppositional traits,violence,depression, and a tendency to suicide – all of which we can attribute to frustration and low self-esteem. It is crucial therefore to be able to identify, accept and understand slow learners. Although it is unfortunate that they don’t qualify for special education there is much that a well-informed parent and teacher can do.
Some characteristics that help to identify borderline intelligence are: