I would like to tell you about my site
http://www.learningdisabilities.ourfamily.com I am Jason Fernandes,
a Learning Disabled teen 15 yrs old, from Bombay, India, diagnosed
just 8 months ago. That day of the diagnosis changed my life. I was
diagnosed as 'Gifted with superior intellectual functioning, as well
as learning disabilities (dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia) -- a
I started the web site on December 3rd 98 (World Disability Day) to
help other kids just like myself. I spent all the years up to the
time of my diagnosis punished and misunderstood. I wasn't allowed to
go out to play. I wasn't allowed to watch TV. Homework took me well
into the night, and my parents were angry and disappointed in me all
the time. Even I could not understand why I couldn't perform
academically as well as the other kids. I knew I wasn't stupid. I
could handle computers better than anyone else I knew, but sometimes
I doubted myself. What other explanation could there be, I thought,
and got terribly upset and demoralized.
It was because of all those years of pain and trauma that I went
through bringing me to near suicide sometimes, that I started my site
to help others like myself. Things have changed for me now. My
academic performance has improved by 80%! I am a happy teen with a
mission, and I have developed self tailored learning compensation
strategies which I share with others on my site's message board. This
message board welcomes others to share their tips too. When I was
diagnosed information regarding help in India was hard to come by,
even on the Internet. There were lots of web sites for kids in the
USA with info on LD for a better understanding and where they could
go for help. There was a comprehensive guide on their legal rights
and the accommodations and concessions that were given by their
respective governments, but there was no information anywhere
regarding testing/help/concessions/accommodation provided in India.
Because Learning Disabilities, unlike other disabilities/handicaps,
are invisible disabilities, they often go undiagnosed. The concept
and diagnosis of learning disabilities like Dyslexia has only
recently been given credibility in India, and a lot of ignorance
still surrounds these conditions. Many learning disabled Indian
children go through most of their lives punished and misunderstood
because of a lack of social awareness. I was one such victim of
ignorance, and I am sure there are many other kids like me out there
still going through anguish, along with their anxious parents.
Undiagnosed learning disabled kids are often erroneously labeled
"lazy" and "unmotivated" and suffer needlessly, being punished most
of the time for appearing to be off-task and for failing to
demonstrate their obvious intelligence in their academic performance.
This results in loss of self esteem and depression. Feeling
'uncomfortably different' they develop poor peer relations, and often
become academic and/or social dropouts. My site was started as an
effort to avert such disasters. It promotes social awareness and
offers a common place where LD kids and their parents may go to share
information, lick their wounds, and find out from each other where
they can get testing, help and support around the world but
especially in India, where information is very hard to come by. I am
working currently on making information about the various kinds of
assistive technology available like software and hardware, that could
go a long way in aiding Learning Disabled kids achieve their full
potential. Unlike in the West, such help and information is not
available to Indian learning disabled children.
Indian Learning Disabled kids and adults often have a hard time
asking for help because of fear of ridicule. Lots of people think
erroneously that learning disabled kids are retarded!
This site is the only site of its kind in India offering a library of
information, on-line community, chat and message boards for kids,
with a special focus on where Help can be found in India. It provides
an anonymous medium where people can share their views, experiences
and info and thereby help each other. This is a completely free and
non-profit organization. The site was the small link that started the
chain to unite kids like this all over the world as well as India,
and in sharing their own discoveries find out that they can find ways
they never thought existed to help themselves perform well
academically. I'm glad that my site has done a lot of good. It is the
medium through which Mr Richard Wanderman of LD Resources in the USA
has chosen to communicate with the Indian kids and parents after
conducting a workshop on dyslexia in Mumbai, India in March 98. The
site has also recently won a lot of awards.
My site has so far helped many kids, and the membership for the
community is growing. In fact, the recent very positive review of my
site in the local Indian newspaper (Times of India, Bombay Times
Supplement, dated 12th March 99 under column 'Net News') greatly
increased the traffic and membership.
Every kid has a dream. We all need to know we can make that dream
come true. We all need somebody to show us the way and we all need a
helping hand. This site became that helping hand, and it makes me
real happy to know I have made a difference. We have come a long way
since the 3rd of December when I started the site as one simple page.
Now this online community is on its way to becoming a movement!
I wrote this young man to praise his work and tell him I was featuring it on MenWeb. Here's his reply:
Webmaster -- Learning Disabled Kids Support (India)
Dear Mr Bert Hoff
Thank you for appreciating my work. I hope to build a world wide family of
kids who can lean on each other now and then when things get rough. With
everybody sharing tips and tricks we could get ahead one step at a time.
You are absolutely right about there being a higher incidence of LD in boys
than in girls. Boys do get misunderstood and unfairly labelled. I could
never sit still in class, and that made my teachers very angry. Actually I
was getting pretty shameful grades in class.
When you do so badly academically, you have two choices.
1) To have the others parents and teachers believe you are stupid and
2) to have them think you are lazy, unmotivated, and uninterested in your
I didnt bother to correct anybody when they called me lazy , unmotivated and
uninterested. That was just what I wanted them to believe. It was
definitely better than being called 'stupid'!!!!
Whenever I was called stupid, I would stand up in my defence, and that would
make them think I was arrogant as well!
My brother Carlos is a member of MENSA. That means that he is certified
super intelligent. His was hard enough living under his shadow of success.
To be considered stupid was something I couldnt live with.
There are no testing facilities for ADD or ADHD in India. My handwriting
was always a mess and my mind could be here focussed one minute and
completely foggy the next!
One day my teacher got so mad at my slow and illegible writing, that she
decided that she was going to teach me a lesson. It was a few months ago,
around the month of August 98. She decided on this this new thing to
'train' me! She made me come up in front of the class and kneel and do my
writing on my knees holding my book in my hand through the half period 20
mins... It was impossible for me to write that way. When she found I had
hardly written anything she thought I was willfull and defiant. It was very
humiliating especially in a coed class room. I wanted to just have the
ground open and swallow me up!
I dont want to think about those awful days anymore... I have put the past
behind me. I found out that with the right skills I can learn, and I can get
those marks! If dyslexic Albert Einstein could do it, ,so can I!
I dont harbour any resentments, I know it was all a result of ignorance.
With time, I hope my website will correct that, and contribute to a better
I just want to make the world a more humane place for LD kids .
Dyslexics have trouble reading. I also have plans to include an electronic
text to speech facility. This will enable Dyslexics to highlight a certain
amount of text and have an electronic character read it out to them.
I would be very happy if you made a small mention of my site in the hardcopy
version of your magazine. Could you do that for me please? The more people
that know about my site and join our community, the more people are helped.