Children at school.
(photo credit: INGIMAGE / ASAP)
Roughly half of parents have tested their children for learning disabilities or attention deficit disorder, according to a survey released by NITZAN – the Israeli Association for Children and Adults with Learning Disabilities in collaboration with hearing disabilities organizations.
The organization will hold its annual donation day on Wednesday. Thousands of children are set to knock on doors throughout the country, asking for contributions that will be used to fund scholarships and private lessons for needy children with learning disabilities.
Some 60 percent of respondents who tested their children did so at their own initiative and not at the insistence of school educators or other professionals, with two-thirds of the children tested in first through sixth grades.
Furthermore, three out of four parents believe that testing their children for learning disabilities or ADHD will contribute to better achievements at school.
“Even though the number of diagnoses has grown significantly over the years, unlike in the past, today children with learning disabilities are no longer regarded as lazy or lacking ability whose place should be in special settings,” said Ophra Elul, chairman of Nitzan.
According to Elul, the majority of children with learning disabilities are integrated into the regular education system and are able to achieve good results through adjustments to the “way of learning” and in taking exams.
“More and more students with learning disabilities reach achievements in school, take matriculation exams and study challenging subjects,” she said.
Despite the high testing rate, four out of 10 parents know families who refrain from diagnosing learning disabilities due to financial reasons.
The Education Ministry released guidelines in November according to which professional certification of learning disabilities will no longer be the basis for youngsters to receive certain benefits in school. The guidelines are set to take effect for 10th-graders during the current school year and the ministry plans to eventually expand the reform to encompass the entire educational system.
Under the reform, school committees will be established that will decide what benefits to grant children with learning disabilities.
According to the ministry, the initiative aims to increase the trust placed in educators and will allow teachers to better learn the needs and challenges facing each pupil. In addition, the ministry aims to save parents the thousands of shekels required for evaluation by a trained professional.
Dr. Maly Danino, executive director of Nitzan and founder of the Learning Disabilities Unit at the Education Ministry, called on the ministry to reevaluate its policy and attempt to identify children with learning disabilities at a young age, preferably in grade school.
“Only by doing this can we prevent the gaps that develop over the years between struggling children and their peers and their status in the future as learning disabled,” she said.
The survey was conducted by Smith Consulting among 400 respondents representing parents of children aged six-18 in the Jewish population. The results have a +/- 5% margin of error.
To make a NIS 10 donation, send a text message to 3656 or via telephone at (03) 537-2270.