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Welcoming a new student with dyspraxia

Icha Julisca
Icha Julisca

Teaches children in the morning and writes at night

Jakarta | Sat, July 8, 2017 | 08:57 am
Welcoming a new student with dyspraxia

This is the first time in my life as a teacher that I have had to handle a child with special needs, so it was a new experience for me. (Shutterstock/File)

My school welcomed a new student with dyspraxia in the second semester of this academic year, and he was placed in my class.

We are aware that our school is unable to provide decent and appropriate facilities for children with special needs, so it was initially of great concern to us all. The teachers held a vote to decide whether to accept the boy.

After much consideration, he was accepted and six months have passed since.

According to Wikipedia, developmental coordination disorder (DCD), also known as developmental dyspraxia or simply dyspraxia, is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and coordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body. Because of this state, the boy finds it difficult to focus and stay still for extended periods. To be comfortable, he always moves around the class. Sometimes he jumps, sometimes he runs and other times he lays down like a lifeless body with no energy to even sit up straight.

Last time we went to a fun park on a field trip, I had to hold his hand so as not to lose him in the crowd. I can still remember the day clearly: I went to the toilet for only five minutes and I came back to find he had run off and left the group. As someone who dislikes exercising, I had to run as fast as I could just to fetch him. I don’t know how many times this happened, but I almost fainted from exhaustion during our five- to six-hour field trip.

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In the classroom, he loses focus. He needs an infinite human alarm to always tell him to sit down properly and remind him about all the class rules.  He is so busy with his own thoughts that none of us can even touch him or guess what makes him so comfortable with his solitude. Confidently yet so effortlessly, he walks around the school without a single care. He likes his friends, but being alone is never a problem for him. He whines a lot saying, he cannot do this and that, as his mood determines how he behaves in class.

This is the first time in my life as a teacher that I have had to handle a child with special needs, so it is a new experience for me. The counseling room has become my most visited place, as I always seek help from our school counselor in dealing with my frustration.

Surprisingly, I have come to realize that this special boy has brought special meaning to my life. To talk about him daily with colleagues has become my favorite work routine. Despite all the burden he puts on my shoulders, I am more than delighted to tell people how this special kid can be a source of joy for me and for the whole class. He makes the class laugh with his silly jokes and random movements. He makes me proud when he finishes his work wonderfully, and all the funny moments when out of nowhere he starts singing out loud in the middle of a silent class and sometimes dances oddly.

It excites me to talk about every single detail of his actions, but it feels strange at the same time as I remember again how he upsets me on a daily basis. But I just can’t help myself; everything about him is just so lovely and warm. So then I try to figure things out and finally understand; this must be how unconditional love feels.

I care for all of my students, but if I may quote what my principal said, “Being there for a child is way different from extending your heart to him so that he can relate to you.” Love makes you want to do more than what is asked of you; love makes you want to give more than your role requires. This boy puts me in a situation where the only thing I can do to overcome this adversity is to open my heart and let him walk into my life, while on the other hand I have to leave my comfort zone so that I can enter his world. (dev/kes)

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Icha Julisca teaches children in the morning and writes at night.

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