Don’t Waste Your Time on Him or Upside Down
Written by: LILY OMANE BOATENG
On one of my evangelism spree’s, I met a young boy of about 6 years in a household whom I got to know as Gods way. He wouldn’t stop crying and disturbing his mum who was busily preparing the evening meal. I took the opportunity to distract him and calmed him down. I gave him my pen, which he was tugging on. Soon the cries died down and he left his mum in peace. Few minutes later, I spotted him lying on a bench busily scribbling something in an exercise book. I drew close to him and noticed he was writing numbers in a very interesting way. Some numbers had been written upside down.
I sat by him and tried assisting him by writing the correct form for him to replicate. It took a while for him to write the numbers right. While we were at it, a neighbor passed by and remarked, “Presbyterian [Sunday School] teachers really have a lot of patience. Don’t waste your time on him. Even his teachers are tired”.
I deduced from the statement that the boy had a peculiar challenge. It was my first encounter with something of the sort and I didn’t know what to associate it with. Since I was on evangelism, I concluded it probably had a spiritual cause. I prayed with him and occasionally said a prayer for him too.
Sometime later, when I returned to campus where I was pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, my roommate happened to volunteer at a Dyslexia Awareness Week. She spoke a lot about the interesting things she was learning which were very new to me. I knew about some challenges children were born with but not this. It was then that I thought of Godsway. Could it be that he was not under any spiritual influence after all?
Today and even then, there are movies like “My Name is Khan”, “Like Stars on Earth”, “Front of the Class” among others, including written literature which address some challenges in children that may be biological, and which may be noticed at birth but become evident during the developmental stages. These abnormalities may not be given the needed attention as the child may look physically fit.
Such innocent children may suffer discrimination, violence and in our part of the world, even stigmatized especially when people associate spiritual causes to the challenge. Just as Godsway, born to uneducated parents, suffered some sort of discrimination because of his learning difficulty, so do a number of children all over the country. They may be whipped unduly because they can’t do what kids their age do. But have such adults ever stopped to notice what the same children easily excel at?
According to Special Attention Project (SAP) - an NGO that centers on children with specific learning difficulties especially those who have dropped out of school and run away from home - teachers and parents are the most influential in the lives of such children. If the parent or teacher is not well informed, the likelihood that the child is up for a hard time is almost inevitable.
From the interaction they (SAP) have with the children they come across on the street, most of them feel left out at school and eventually loose interest. Parents, unaware of what their children go through, scold them, call them stubborn and lazy and force them back into school. When these children can’t take it anymore, they run from home and school altogether. The company they affiliate with is another topic of discussion.
Are we well informed as parents, teachers and community? Are our doctors assisting us with the needed information? Are you as oblivious of these challenges as I was? What are we doing as parents, and a community to address this, to help children like Godsway?
Something to ponder on.