It is probably a parent’s worst nightmare to find out that any of their children has a learning disability or disorder. Affecting a broad range of academic and functional skills, learning disorders include the inability to adequately speak, listen, read, write, spell, reason or organize information. And while it is natural for parents to initially resist this reality, the disorders are quite recognized and common nowadays that parents are increasingly aware of them. Yet, Teachers in the Middle East are faced with the difficult task of convincing parents that their child has a special need. Arabic culture makes it shameful for parents to admit such shortcomings for they are tantamount to admitting they produced failures or that they are failures themselves, which is unacceptable.
These culturally-born denials are rooted in parents who are also oblivious of the fact that special needs is not an indication of low intelligence. Quite the contrary, research found that special needs children have above average intelligence and other intuitive skills that normal people don’t possess. Having a problem with short term memory due to a chemical deficiency in that area of the brain that controls the process has no bearing on deductive reasoning which a special needs child might excel in.
So it is not uncommon to have an Arab parent tell a teacher “My kid is fine! You are not teaching him properly.” Unfortunately, it is the child who pays the price, who stands to suffer from being labeled stupid for not having a good memory, not being able to read letters or write them properly. Children are apt to believe anything they are told and when enough people ridicule them or disapprove of their disabilities, children start to believe something must be wrong with them. Instead of utilizing their hidden talent in productive and ingenious ways, these kids generally become society outcasts. Treating special needs children starts by operating on parents. They need to recognize that their kids are indeed special. That’s a positive thing and not something to shun, hide or deny.