Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Orkids Foundation Develops ‘First Screen’ App for Screening Learning Disabilities among Kids

By 121 News

Chandigarh September 08, 2020:- A first of its kind screening app for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) - 'First Screen' has been developed by Orkids Foundation. The foundation provides remedial intervention to children with special education needs, especially those with Specific Learning Disabilities. Orkids is the largest chain of multidisciplinary clinics in India and operates in the Chandigarh, Haryana & Punjab regions as well.

Dr. Jayanthi Narayan, former Deputy Director of the National Institute for the Mentally Handicapped (NIMH), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India was the guest speaker on the occasion.  

Founder of Orkids Foundation, Dr. Geet Oberoi said that the app aims at early identification of children who may be at the risk of developing SLD (Specific learning disabilities). It also allows for early intervention well before the formal age of diagnosis at 8years. It's a free android app, available in both languages, Hindi and English.

'First Screen' app covers nine major domains; reading & spelling, written expression, oral language, motor skills, attention, social skills, mathematics, executive functions, and memory. The app includes a test of 90 scoring items with 3-point answers; yes, maybe, no/NA.

It takes 20-25 minutes to complete the test after which visual feedback (as opposed to text) is given with possible recommendations for the future. And for accuracy purposes, the test must be filled by a parent or a teacher who has known the child for at least 6 months.

Dr. Geet Oberoi underlined that the Guidelines for Assessment of various Disabilities under the 'Rights of Persons with Disabilities' Act 2016, notification 'Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment' (MSJE) mentions a screening test for children to be used at 8 years, class 3 to aid identification of children with SLD. However, no such screening test app is available so far. And this lacuna could be addressed by 'First Screen' app.

Dr. Geet Oberoi underlined that since 2016, SLD has been included in the 'Rights of Persons with Disabilities' (RPwD Act) hence making all provisions for the children/individuals equally accessible by them as well. Specific learning disorder (SLD) is one of the most common neurodevelopment disorders affecting 3% to10% of children.

Additionally, 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 have given 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 highlighted that since the ideal age for kids to enter school is 3 years, this is an opportunity that gives a buffer to the kids to adjust and come up to the required milestones in learning. However, the lack of timely intervention in the case of the kids who may be at a risk puts them on the losing end because their issues are not identified in these 5 years. By the time they turn 8, they face a learning gap as compared to their peers.

She concluded that therefore, a screening tool which is not diagnostic and thus does not label, but only screens to identify kids that maybe 'at risk' is the need of the hour. 'First Screen' would ensure that these valuable 5 years can be utilized by providing extra support in terms of training and providing resources to the kids to help their learning curve.

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