Gulshan Kavarana–Woman of Impact.

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When Gulshan Kavarana’s daughter was diagnosed with Dravet Syndrome, she thought her world would fall apart—but it didn’t. She stayed strong and resilient and made a difference in the lives of other families. The key to surviving any kind of tough situation is resiliency. She tried to find the silver lining that was not apparent and took the setback in her stride. She developed coping skills and strength from adversity. Gulshan Kavarana can be best described as a strong woman who has an awareness of the obstacles in her way and the misogynistic expectations people have for her, but she decides for herself what she wants and works to achieve it. Furthermore, she is a strong woman who is very willing to find help or gain strength from supportive friends, family members, and mentors–despite the notion that women should be ‘independent’ and ‘do it all. With the passage of time she has become more self-aware and continually tries to overcome her fears, she knows how to control herself, and she is patient no matter the situation. She isn’t afraid to reveal her feelings because we all have them, and she shows hers without caring what other people think. She is someone who  is realistic enough to know what you can do, is grounded enough to know when you need a hand, and is confident enough to know you can ask for help without fear of being judged. I met her a few years ago at a programme at the Indian consulate and I was amazed by her optimism and her ability to push herself forward, even when all odds are against her. She doesn’t let others influence her decisions. She’s resilient and knows when to be selfish and when to be selfless, when to follow her head and when to follow her heart. She has a good, stable head on her shoulders, and she knows when to play the hand she’s dealt and when to fold and hope the next one’s better. She isn’t afraid to share her opinions and speak her truth. She listens, but she doesn’t allow others problems to bring her down. She is filled with kindness, generosity, compassion, integrity, a willingness to be vulnerable, and authenticity. No matter what she is true to herself.  Even though she is confidence personified, I think the best way to describe her strength is a sense of ‘confident humility,’ paired with faith and passion. By ‘confident humility’ I just mean someone that isn’t so humble that she comes across as weak. Rather, someone that can stay confident without getting arrogant. Her strength lies in her ability to bounce back, to lead, be creative and  have the compassionate and caring side that cares for all. What I learnt from my interaction with her was that you always create the narrative of the story you put in your head. If your thoughts stay negative, it is because you are choosing to make them that way. Her character is defined by the way she has stayed strong and resilient when life was hard. She always reminds me to take a step back and look at the greater picture of what I can learn when I am going through a hard time in life, no matter how difficult it may seem.

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Her story……….

In March 1997, Gulshan Kavarana moved to Dubai along with her husband Zeheer & her seven year old daughter, Jenai. With spare time on hand and an increasing desire to help, Gulshan discovered the Dubai Center for Special Needs. Being qualified with a degree in Applied Arts, Gulshan offered to help out in the art room. What followed thereafter was a decade beginning with unforeseen circumstances, ushering in life’s toughest challenges, alongside despair and depression. Gulshan’s second child, Zara was diagnosed with Dravet’s Syndrome.

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Zara was born at the Al Zahra Hospital, in Sharjah (U.A.E) on May 5th 1997. At four months of age and sixteen hours after being given her second dose of the DPT vaccination, Zara experienced her first seizure.  Zara’s brain had suffered a febrile convulsion which caused profound retardation. Such severe reactions to vaccination are an uncommon phenomenon amongst infants. Two months later, while on holiday Zara had a second seizure resulting in hospitalization followed by series of tests and a medical review by neurologists confirming her condition and further regression. The Kavarana’s continued to find ways and means to help Zara and give her the best possible treatment but the seizures continued leaving Zara in a vulnerable state. As persistent parents, Gulshan & Zeheer left no stone unturned but had to face the eventual and harsh reality of Zara’s regression. Through the positive efforts of therapists, Zara did learn at first to crawl and then to walk. Small, yet significant changes helped bring about a slow development in Zara’s life. With each day, Gulshan and her family faced tough challenges.  They had to learn to deal with an overload of emotions from guilt to denial, self-pity, anger until they finally came to accept Zara’s condition. Eventually coping with her emotions and overcoming her desolation, Gulshan brought about a new sense of hope, courage and determination for the Kavarana family. To this day, Zara quietly bears the repercussions of her seizures; she can walk but is unable to talk. Her brain feeds her frail little body with the basic neurological stimuli that enable her to move voluntarily but we will never know what she is ever thinking or feeling. Her involuntary and occasional smiles bring joy to many a heart. Through the last decade, Zara’s regression has been a tough load to bear for the Kavarana family, yet her condition has given them an impetus. With a strong sense of determination, Gulshan and her family have found their bliss in helping other disabled individuals and their families. Gulshan is appreciated not only for her genuine and positive attitude as a parent of a child with Special Needs; but as well for her dedication and hard work as a volunteer in supporting the cause.

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Going beyond parenting a child with special needs, Gulshan and her family have offered a listening ear and a helping hand to many more families with disabled children. Special Families Support Group (SFS) originated on December 9th, 1999, when Gulshan and a few like minded parents and individuals came together to offer support to the cause of special needs. To this day, the Kavarana family endeavor to help more than one hundred families and individuals with various disabilities, such as Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism & several other disabilities.  With the strength of over one hundred and fifty loving volunteers and the financial support of caring sponsors, SFS organizes monthly fun days, and annual summer camps. More importantly SFS provides emotional and financial support to help families cope with simple as well as complex issues of disabilities that hinder the quality of family life. SFS has welcomed all ages and nationalities with a primary focus to social acceptance and integration of individuals with special needs within the community. The aim of the group is integrating families with and without individuals with disabilities and bringing about a larger understanding in society. SFS organises outings, fashion shows, dance performances, parties and many other fun events, and encourages all to enjoy the simple pleasures of life that sometimes get taken for granted. “Here at SFS, we do ensure one thing for sure, that everyone goes home with a smile on their face, the parents go home realising that they are not alone, the volunteers go home feeling fulfilled as they have done something meaningful and the children go home feeling happy and satisfied, just being accepted for who they are. They deserve the best and that’s exactly what we give them!”

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During her visit to Mumbai, India, in the summer of 2006, Gulshan brought together a few families of children with special needs to start the Ahura Support Group. This initiative was championed by Mrs. Kumi Daroowalla, who has been one of the motivating factors. This support group helps parents cope with their dilemmas, as well organizes socio-cultural gatherings to showcase the hidden talents among children with special needs.

On October 6th, 2007, Gulshan was presented with the “Achievers Award” by the Parsi Resource Group. Co-founded by Mr. Jimmy Mistry, this group felicitated Gulshan for her contribution to and dedication in the field of special needs. On November 30th, 2008, Gulshan Kavarana received the “Guardian of the Year” award from Inspire Dubai. Supported by Time Out Dubai and the ITP Group, the Inspire Dubai initiative presents the city with the unique opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary deeds of its citizens. It recognizes the efforts of those who go beyond the call of duty to provide hope and inspiration to others. The Awards highlight the achievements of people who care about their community and are willing to walk that extra mile to help and support one another, making Dubai a better place for everyone to live in. With her strong determination to cope with parenting a child with special needs, Gulshan has simultaneously helped other families deal with several issues of disabilities. Her determination to meet challenges with a positive attitude and her desire to increase awareness for Special Needs has earned her a place amongst three winners selected for the “Guardian of the Year”.

It has been a long journey for the Kavarana’s. From facing multiple challenges as a family in 1997, they have risen above and beyond to help other families who struggle to cope with innumerable problems.  Gulshan’s undeterred drive, still finds her volunteering her time in the art room at DCSN. While constantly sourcing out avenues to aid her support group, Gulshan increases awareness about special needs and encourages other like-minded individuals, to identify with and offer support to families of disabled children. Invited by several hosts on radio shows, as well the local television channels, Gulshan relentlessly champions the cause of special needs. Jenai, with her increasing impetus in art, will soon join the University of Arts, London; in the fall this year.  Zaheer continues to provide for the family, as well holds them together with his kind words of wisdom and encouragement. As for little Zara, who now is all of twelve years old… she lives sheltered and loved by one of the most endearing and determined families I have yet, ever met.

Elizabeth Kurian–very resilient….

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Everyone responds to tragedy differently. Some give up, some curse God, and some amaze us with their resilience. Not everyone is tested. But for those who are, they turn disaster into success. Elizabeth Kurian is one such example. Whether it’s because of work, motherhood, relationships or etc., most women understand what it’s like to face multiple stressors on a day-to-day basis. When we’re stressed, we have two options: either we buckle under pressure, or we soldier on and rise above the challenges. We are only stressed when we focus on aspects of the situation we can’t control. Elizabeth is a woman who sorts out what she CAN control from what she can’t – and she’s on top of the things she can. She takes responsibility for what she contributes to any situation. She accepts things for what they are in the moment and focuses on what she can do to make them better. She is persistent in her efforts to achieve an outcome that is for the good of all.  She is resourceful and comes up with ideas that no one else would have thought of if they hadn’t devoted themselves to a solution like she did. When circumstances are hard, it seems like all you can see around you are problems and hardships.  An architect by profession, Elizabeth likes to see the bigger picture – she knows that life will always have its ups and downs.  She learns from the mistakes she made when she was less evolved. She also doesn’t wear her energy down by blaming others or blaming herself.  She shows up curious, asks questions and stays focused on the facts. She trusts herself and follows her intuition. She has realistic optimism, believing that the situation will work out for her and all involved but knowing that it will require hard work on her part. Her conviction also comes from deep faith. She stays connected to whatever source gives her a sense of purpose. She pours herself into doing for others in moments when she can’t even do for herself. She honours her feelings and allows herself to feel them, knowing they are a reflection of her heart and her humanity. Constructive actions soothe her soul.  She allows herself a good cry when necessary because she knows how to pick herself up and keep going.

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Tell us something about your life.

I am Elizabeth Kurian , an architect, married to a Professor and a mother of 2 children , living in Goa, India. Though my roots are from Kerala, my parents being Govt. Officials in Goa, have spent pretty much all my life here.

When where why and how did you begin your professional life. Tell us all about your journey
What is the secret of success

After completing my architectural education at the Goa College of Architecture in 1991, I worked in various national level firms. Later, as the Chief Associate architect with Mr. Dean D’Cruz for 5 years, I independently handled various projects throughout Goa & India and also managed the entire functioning of the office.

In 1999, after having a thorough experience in the field, I started my own practice- Stonehenge & have worked on design projects that vary from residences, institutions, hotels & resorts, renovations to interior designing. Detail in –built interiors and wrought iron work are my forte. Some of my projects have been featured in leading design magazines & also been part of the design awards. And I was featured on the CNBC – TV series of “Young Turks” in the year 2007.

WORKING STYLE: In brief, the design process begins with a detailed discussion with the client. Thus spending the most time on the initial stages of design and experimenting with different concepts, while keeping in mind the clients tastes and requirements, I try to craft out a personalized edifice each time. Amidst the integration of the unconventional style within, the reverence for the environs around, emerges as the key component in the conceptualization of the scheme. Working with a theme, and interacting with the workforce, not only keeps the enthusiasm in the whole team, but also results in spontaneous and interesting details, which is my USP.

THE FIELD: Architecture is a profession that encompasses many disciplines together- the creative thinking along with an absolute knowledge on construction materials & techniques, climate & environment, cultural contexts, marketing & management skills. Being in a field which is very male dominated, one has to be very professional to prove oneself, despite all the risks involved.

PROJECTS: Having designed over 80 projects that cater to a clientele ranging from the lower middle class to the corporates, the focus is not on size or budgets, but on delivering a “quality tailor-made project” which in turn gives immense satisfaction to all involved. There has been no conscious need to advertise oneself- the “word of mouth” has done the needful. Almost all clients have given me the freedom to design the entire project, so every project has been very a fulfilling experience. But it was “Hotel Gautam” -a 72 room “castle” style resort in Goa which was part of the A+D (Architecture + Design magazine) Awards that earned praise because of the planning, scale and the detailing. Some of my works can be viewed on my website: http://www.stonehengegoa.com

Any striking incident in your life that had a deep impact on you or changed the course of your life

Well, my life doesn’t end being just an architect, I am a mother of 2 children- a 22 year old son & a 15 year old daughter. My son was diagnosed with “autism”, at the age of 4, which affected us all & has primarily changed the way I think & deal with other human beings. I have worked relentlessly with him and in the field of disability. As a family there are a whole lot of activities that one has to sacrifice and everything has to be structured. In the initial years he went to mainstream schools with life- skill resource rooms, where the concept of inclusion was experimented for the first time in Goa. Then the focus was on vocational skills along with communication & other goals so that he would be meaningfully occupied & independent in the future. He thereby learnt a few skills like packaging, weaving, block printing, stitching & embroidery with teaching learning aids specifically designed for his capabilities. He now goes to the vocational centre for children with special needs at Lourdes Convent High School- Saligao.

And being part of a parent support group & interacting with other families with children with disabilities enables us to do things together – like setting up life-skills classrooms in regular mainstream schools, fundraising, liasoning with the other organisations & the Govt. & organizing inclusion events & awareness programmes. We wish to create a society that supports the concept of inclusion in every way- from education to employment, recreation and residential facilities.

Since I have set up an office at my residence itself, I practice during the morning half when my children are at school. Thus there is mental relief for those few hours which is very necessary for a mother. Family support & maids also are a great relief. And I involve myself in various stress-relieving activities like trekking, zumba, dancing and travelling whenever possible.

MY LIFE MANTRA has always been : Hard work, determination and always be positive & passionate in whatever you do.

MEDIA PERSONALITY…..

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Succeeding in any field that you choose is no easy feat. It’s too easy to let it knock you down. Instead of throwing in the towel when there is a problem, pick yourself back up, buckle down, and get to work. The motivational story of Diaa Nemer Al-Awaisheh proves that with a little hard work, any amount of success is possible. She is a media personality and a TV presenter in the Arab world. She strongly feels that opportunity may not knock on everyone’s door; however, what matters is how you snatch and make the best out of it. She says, “The most courageous act is to think for yourself. Aloud.  We women carry a lot on our plates and thus we are constantly thinking about our family, our friends and our co-workers, and hardly at all about ourselves. Once we start thinking about ourselves with the same intensity and commitment that we think about others, we will shine. There’s no denying that it will be the most challenging and, at times, the most soul-crushing journey that you will ever take but the rewards can be great. It’s all yours for the taking. It will lead you to new horizons, it will open your eyes to things that you were once blinded to, and it will truly enrich your life. There is no royal flower-strewn path to success. And if there is, I have not found it, for if I have accomplished anything in life it is because I have been willing to work hard. It never ceases to amaze me how much time people waste searching endlessly for magic shortcuts to entrepreneurial success and fulfillment when the only real path is staring them right in the face: real entrepreneurs who start real businesses that employ real people who provide real products and services to real customers. Yes, I know that’s hard. It’s a lot of work. What can I say, that’s life. Besides, look on the bright side: You get to do what you want and you get to do it your way. There’s just one catch. You’ve got to start somewhere. Ideas and opportunities don’t just materialize out of thin air.”

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Tell us something about yourself

Diaa  Nemer  Al Awaisheh,  born  on  23/9/1980.  I  hold  a  bachelor degree  in  economics  and  political  science  from  Mu’tah  University,  a  military university located in the south of Jordan, which  had a great impact on refining my personality.  When I was in the college at the age of 19  I started my media and TV career. It was not easy to study and work at the same time, but insistence and the passion of the media was the reason to continue in this field. I remember that in my childhood I always wore my mother’s clothes, talked like a grown-up, interviewed my family and told them that I would become TV presenter. In  television,  at  a  young  age,  I  succeeded  in  presenting  the  most  important programs,  including  the  bold  youth  program  (Ashabkom),  the  award-winning program of the year 2008 also a happy morning program which is  a Jordanian public  morning program, the news program which is sixty minutes. and happens today program which handles citizen issues in a clear dialogue with the Jordanian government and officials.  This diversity opened the door in front of me to work with important Arab channels as a news correspondent, including Nile News RTM. One of my favorite stations was the Arab Army program, which speaks about the Jordanian armed forces. I will not forget that on one occasion when I met His Majesty King Abdullah II, who expressed his admiration for the program and my performance , my joy was indescribable. In 2007, I appointed to be the director of  Radio Voice  of the Jordanian city with this I  became the youngest director of a media station in the Middle East, when I was 28 years old. In  2004,  I  published  my  first  author  entitled  Education  and  the  Challenges  of Globalization in the Arab World, here I felt joy when  I see in the eyes of my father and mother how much they are proud  of what I present to my beloved country.Jordan.

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During my work, the community role in all issues and cases  was strongly present .i was1- Member of the Arab Thought Forum, chaired by Prince Hassan Bin Talal2- Member of the Jordanian Women’s Committee, chaired by Princess Basma Bint Talal3- Member of the Jordanian Future Builders4- President of the Shobak Charity Society.My message to all the women of the world that Women are a great entity and a noble message with amazing possibilities so only look to the future and determine the target.

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“How do you get into television presenting?” For many years now, I have been asked this question over and over again. Well, here’s the truth: there is no formula! You have to be lucky, be in the right place at the right time and have some talent. It may sound odd and slightly demoralising, but that’s the nature of the beast. It’s a very strange and extremely competitive career path to pursue, even when you have your foot in the door. But there is good news! A career in television presenting is achievable and it can be yours! If you want it hard enough and your focus is not just on achieving fame, you can definitely ‘make it’.

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My story is a strange one, but I’m doing a great job and I’m absolutely loving it. The one great bit of advice that I can give you about how to become a TV presenter is this: know where you want to be, who you want to be like and what you have to offer the industry. People who just want to be ‘famous’ will be found out instantly. Finally, be prepared to work hard and make sure you watch yourself back on video. Practice on a camcorder and work on your craft. Developing a career as a TV presenter is achievable and people get into it in many ways. Know your passions and follow your dream. Then send your stuff to a talent agent or agency, book meetings with them or just simply have a chat.

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Alternatively, you could contact TV channels personally, find if they have a talent department and don’t be afraid to aim for the top. Fortune favours the brave! The only way I know to get started is by learning a marketable skill and getting to work. In my experience, that’s where the ideas, opportunities, partners, and finances always seem to come from. Sure, it also takes an enormous amount of hard work, but that just comes with the territory. You can create you own success story from scratch with determination. Regardless of your education level, the resources available to you, or the Field you choose. Believe in yourself create your own opportunities through hard work, self-belief and no small amount of creative talent. Give life your best shot always. As a media personality I present news stories on television news broadcasts. I  introduce reporters’ videotaped and live reports, analyze and select stories, and interview guests. I use my public speaking skills to accurately and concisely deliver the news to the audience. I am a person who anchosr or holds a news program together.  maintain program continuity between segments after field reporters deliver their respective stories.

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Through this interview I want to give a potent reminder that there is no unique path to success; indeed, that success is not a single thing that we can all agree on. Instead, for all these different women – both those who are interviewed at length and those whose voices are heard through selected quotations – what really matters to them is a complex multidimensional set of factors which are frequently different from those commonly ascribed to the successful in life. These factors may even shift over time, but they must always be consistent with the woman’s own belief-systems if they are to provide fulfilment. Only then can they ensure the woman herself believes in her ‘success’.  For these women it is clear that success comes from within at least as much as from any external recognition. This is an important lesson for us all, men and women, to remember.

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Having risen through the ranks I feel an obligation to contribute towards making life that bit easier for the next generations of women. By opening up dialogues about what matters to each of us, about our working culture and about what is going right and what is going wrong, I hope that everyone, male and female, will feel better able to achieve their potential and to do so without compromising their own integrity. All anchors have to keep their composure while reporting on one of the most unthinkably horrible stories of their career.That required not only focus but the ability to put personal emotions aside in order to communicate professionally. But a TV news anchor has to be able to remain calm during a time of crisis. Sometimes that crisis is a bad news story. Other times, it involves some on-air technical problem that the anchor has to work through.This may be the toughest aspect of the job that TV news anchors have to accept. Some viewers won’t like you. Female anchors will be criticized for their hair and wardrobe, or be thought of as prima donnas or as being too aggressive.Many TV news anchors will be accused of political bias for the innocent way they asked a candidate a question that was either too nice or too hard-hitting, depending on the individual viewer’s perspective. A TV news anchor has to develop a thick skin to realize that you can’t please everybody all the time. It’s a tough lesson.

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The most beautiful thing in my life today that I’m mother of three children– Fatin, Maryam and Masa. My husband Fares Al Baddad is the king of my life, my backbone, my everything. I am so thankful to God to have blessed with with a husband who has made supporting my work one of his priorities in life. He is the sunshine in my life.  He has been solidly in my corner, providing constant support and advice. Having a career in the media field is very consuming but thank to my husband, I have done it all easily.

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What is the secret of your success?

It is not immediately obvious what it means to be successful in life. The term is used generally to describe a professional success, that is, a signal achievement at work, indicated in part, but only in part, by having made a lot of money. Sometimes success means pre-eminence in politics or science or sports in a manner that does not necessarily imply financial attainment, but rather public recognition. Those who become famous in the arts or by virtue of charitable acts or acts of bravery are thought to be successful also. Others speak perhaps less conventionally of successfully raising children and grandchildren. That is not what most people mean by success, but a good case can be made for that achievement being especially important; and different societies have regarded the work of bringing up the next generation as critically important.

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Let me say what I mean by success: success is the ability of individuals to reach their own goals and achieve their own purposes. I do not mean goals such as becoming a movie star, or winning the Nobel Prize in literature or becoming the President of the United States. Or simply making more money than everybody else. By that standard virtually no one is successful. But I think it is possible for these individuals and others to find in other ways those satisfactions that are associated with those lofty achievements, namely, recognition, admiration and a sense of importance.

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There is one overriding quality of mind and personality that weighs more strongly than anything else in determining eventual success. It is character. Eventual success depends more than anything else on the ability to keep striving in the face of disappointment and rejection. And failure.

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What is your philosophy in life

My philosophy of life is that I look at the world with the eyes of a child, for if I look at the world with the eyes of a child then I can always see the world with the innocence of a child because they have the wildest imagination and it helps me to write stories. By “philosophy of life” I mean a mental framework for understanding how the world works and how you fit into the world. The philosophy of life would include things like how you decide what is “good” and “bad”, what “success” means, what your “purpose” in life is (including if you don’t think there is a purpose), whether there is a God, how we should treat each other, etc.

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The philosophy of life is not like planning a project but relates to the understanding and following life games right from the beginning. Without knowing everyone is working with certain philosophy crafted by the influences s/he has made from the childhood. It is important to know that every person is born with certain specific personal traits and for that reason sibling in a family may have very different way to look life when they grow.

 

 

 

 

 

Verma–all for women empowerment…..

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Throughout history, women have changed the world with their strength, resistance, passion, and determination to create a better future. Internationally acclaimed Fashion Designer Verma D’Mello from Goa is one such incredible woman. This article is a reminder of her accomplishments both as an empowered women who supports varied social causes and a creative world class fashion designer. She is one extraordinary woman who has pushed society to think bigger, move forward and create. She is one glowing example of ceaseless curiosity, boundless courage and world-changing ingenuity. Thanks to her success story, women and girls in Goa are able to live with fewer restraints and bigger dreams. When I met her recently on my holiday to Goa, the only advice she had for other women wanting to lean in and make a difference was to lead the way. By this she did not mean that we should outdo men in terms of success, but that we should be accomplished by taking time to “lean back” and be ourselves in order to advance. “Getting enough sleep, taking care of oneself and listening to your intuition can help women find their own voice to empower themselves and others in the workplace.”

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WOMAN ON A MISSION TO EMPOWER OTHER WOMEN……

You must be wondering why is Verma on a mission to empower other women. It is basically because she herself is an empowered woman who knows her strengths and isn’t afraid to embrace them, a woman in control of her life, aware of her capabilities, and ready to take on even biggest dreams. She is not perfect and she believes that there is a lot to learn from mistakes. She takes risks and works hard to ensure that those risks pay off. She has built her empire brick by brick, and is not afraid to toss a brick at someone who tries to tear it down. A totally determined, confident, and fearless woman, Verma belies strongly in herself. She enjoys empowering others. She is always willing to help you lift that brick that’s a little heavier than the rest. “Being an empowered woman is important because we want to keep moving forward. We want to prove that we deserve a seat at the table by earning it, not by protesting for it. In this day and age, empowered women are the future. Women who go out and get what they want are the girl bosses of the 21st century, and they’re vital to a thriving and growing nation. Being empowered is the avenue to success. You have the potential to be wildly successful in whatever you’re passionate about. All it takes is an empowered mindset and a dream.”

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“Even today, society likes to tell people, especially women, that they’re a victim. A victim of their peers, a victim of oppression, or even a victim of their circumstances. This victim mindset is damaging to self esteem and morale, as it minimizes us to a set of circumstances or opinions. Sexism from individuals will always exist. It’s impossible to prevent an individual from being sexist without disregarding the first amendment. There will always be that one man who talks down to you or belittles you. There will be the boss who doesn’t value your opinion like he should. That doesn’t mean you have to cower. Rather than protesting it, stand up for yourself. Beat out that man who looks down on you next time a promotion comes around. Start your own business and leave that boss behind. For an empowered woman, there are so many ways to rise above victimization and sexism with your head held high.”

Verma believes that each and every one of us on this earth has a sacred purpose. Verma knew her purpose and she utilized each day to pursue that purpose. As a young woman she knew that it is her birthright to have personal goals, aspirations and dreams. She knew she had the right to pursue them and did everything in her power to achieve them. She always speaks her mind—even if her views go against the beliefs and opinions of others, even if it leaves her outnumbered. She knows that her thoughts and opinions are significant. She demands to be heard. She has always enjoyed being independent and never a damsel in distress. She has not waited for anyone to make her dreams come true or to bring happiness to her. She alone is responsible for her own happiness.  In her universe, there are no restrictions because she makes her own rules. She defines her own path, and dances to the beat of her own drum. Verma moves through life with passion and zest. Her main goal: To be the truest, greatest version of herself everyday. She knows that confidence, intelligence and fierce determination are the only tools she needs to achieve anything she sets her mind to. She pursues excellence in all aspects of life and never settles for second best. She is able to envision her dreams, then has the courage to run after them. No matter the cost. She invests in her life because she knows that the biggest accomplishment she could ever achieve is to live the life of her dreams.

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Verma is fearless in all aspects of life and is fiercely unapologetic. She is proud of her history—a labyrinth of countless triumphs and failures—it has brought her to exactly where she is today. She embraces the essence of who she is: Her intuition, intelligence, kindness, and power. She doesn’t let others determine nor validate her self value. On the contrary, she has a genuine understanding that she is of exponential value. She burns bright. She is a star. “When someone decides to hurt you—whether it is a significant other, colleague, friend, or even family member—it’s OK to feel momentarily down and heartbroken. Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of cloudy days. But what’s not OK? To let that hurt and pain diminish your spirit. It is not what happens to you that matters, it’s what you do in the face of adversity and suffering that your true character is revealed.” She is not afraid to let go of anything or anyone that holds her back. Experiences and people who do not support, uplift, or inspire her are poison. They have no space in her life. She doesn’t view vulnerability or honesty as a sign of weakness. She doesn’t beat herself up for not being perfect. Instead, she embraces her flaws and accepts them as a beautiful and essential part of who she is. She recognises her divinity and strength. For her it means taking the time to nurture herself physically, spiritually and emotionally in preparation to be of service to others. Verm’s life story inspires others. She is compassionate, generous and above all, chooses love everyday. She knows that life’s greatest joy is to serve others, to be of good use for those in her community and beyond.

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WHAT DOES BEING A FAMOUS FASHION DESIGNER MEAN TO HER?

Being a fashion designer is a lot of hard work. However according to Goa’s ace fashion designer Verma D’Mello, one of the hardest aspects is finding the inspiration for your work. “Well, all that sartorial magic has to come from somewhere, right? Whether it be a painting, a film, or an abstract concept, inspiration is all around us.” And you can leave it to Verma to cash in on all this creative goodness and produce something stunning—like say, an entire ready-to-wear collection. Oh, how blessed are we to live in a world alongside such a creative genius! With talent oozing out of her fingertips (quite literally) Verma is one internationally acclaimed designer who is pushing boundaries and is notably humble. My interaction with her made me realise that she is a woman who is intelligent, successful, international, creative and influential. She is an active participant in the world around her. Verma embodies all of the qualities of a true woman of substance. She is not only a talented and successful designer , but also an amazing mother. She works hard in every aspect of her life while maintaining a balance in all, which is so inspiring. She can go from her workshop, to a meeting with the agent, to a school meeting to a fashion opening in one day without an outfit change because she has effortless style and is her own woman. There is something very inspiring about her. I think there’s a power and confidence to the severity of her fashion sense. She’s undeniably herself and is fearless with that look. She has an inner positivity, a confidence and comfort with her choice in life that comes out even in an image but also in her personality and the generosity of her presence.

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I wanted to know when beginning a collection, how does she begin the design process? And she had an instant answer. “Of course, current trends and what is coming out of Europe is influential in every collection, but you then need to build around that and translate what it means to you. Sometimes the process starts with a single print in which the collection is built around. Other times it is a time period or a movie or even a song that inspires the collection. It’s never the same but always similar in the sense that there is an evolution of ideas that creates the final product. Very rarely is the first sketch of a style the literal embodiment of the final sample. When you have your own line, you design what you like. The collection should be representative of the woman I am and the woman I’m striving to be.”

How did you get into design?

I think you’re born with the need to make things. Designing and creating is something I’ve always done. I enjoy the experience of giving a new life to a material or reviving old techniques. I’m an extremely visceral person and in many ways I put myself wholeheartedly into each design. I have been exploring more and more the importance of embracing your sexuality and not to be afraid of your daily emotions. I have been with the fashion industry for the past 14 years, I began my career freelancing in London and then choosing Goa as my  base, earned a label with my dignified clothing that speaks of the essence of woman.” Known for designing contemporary women wear, evening wear, red carpet wear and party wear, Verma claims, “Bridal is my forte,” and each of her outfits display an international taste but has an Indian soul, as deep within, I am proud of my Goan culture and wish to elevate it to the international platform. Currently working from Margao and Panjim with her two sets of teams (28 in Margao, 6 in Panjim), she recalls that it was her passion that compelled her to join fashion industry leaving her Law studies midway, this graduate in English literature completed 16 modules course in Academy of fine Arts in London and after freelancing for a year there, returned to Goa. There has been no looking back since then

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She is a  fashion designer who is using the Goan traditional Saree as her inspiration lately and has taken it in the global fashion platform. She is utilizing the delicate craftsmanship of our GOAN artisans. by supporting their immense creativity, their handwork as well as their ideas, thereby  seeking to prevent the extinction of the Goan textile tradition. “ I love the power of clothing and the transformative quality of dressing up. I always knew the power that clothing has, in that you can control how you are perceived and what you communicate… clothing is a language all of its own. I also noticed the incredible clothing that the indigenous people in Goa. The evolution I see in my work is that i have gotten gradually closer to the essence of the original GOAN style and at the same time made it increasingly appealing to a contemporary audience. We’ve managed to make these garments into sexy pieces. people today seem willing to dress a little bit differently from one another. I definitely see young people today making more effort in the way that they dress than young people did ten years ago. people are getting tired of just wearing a t-shirt and jeans every day and it’s great to see people express themselves more in what they wear. influences from outside of Goa have also find their way into my work in many ways. we are absolutely looking at what’s going on in the world of fashion all over the world an not just what is happening in Goa or just looking to GOAN tradition. the label is a mix of many influences. in fact, the people I work with see things on Everywhere and are integrating them into their own work.

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The biggest lesson that I have learned since you starting my company is your moment will arrive and you must be ready for it. you must be focused on what you are hoping to achieve and be very dedicated. I’m very happy with what I have achieved but sometimes I think I could have been more business minded earlier in my career – then again you can never know, because you know things now that you didn’t then. whatever you focus on at any given point be it your design ideas or your business give it 100% because time passes by quickly. I’ve learned that as a fashion designer you depend on many, many people to make things happen so you need to assemble a great team of people to do things well. every day is a challenge. So you need a great design team, great seamstresses, good administrators, good sales staff, people that contribute to the company not just people who are there to make up the numbers. you have to be savvy and not just think it’s only about design – to be successful you also have to know about money, public relations, management, production, real estate… study them yourself and ask people for advice on these things. I would love for workshops to evolve into a space that is a ‘total’ experience for customers. a place where you almost ‘inhale’ the brand and get a good feel for what we are trying to do with our work… full immersion! ‘the future is handmade’ – I love this phrase. it’s something that I truly believe. we can already see that people want to balance their technological, mass market lifestyles with handmade goods, analogue equipment, organic goods. sometimes the simplest things give us the most satisfaction.

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Your advice to other women….

Find role models whom you identify with. Find people whom you admire in your own communities and ask if they’ll act as your mentors. Mentors will be a key to your success because they can provide advice and knowledge based on their own trials and tribulations. I think it’s so important that women stop making comparisons amongst themselves. I’ve seen social media posts that say something along the lines of, ‘real women have curves, are skinny, have muscles, ride horses, etc…’ But we are ALL real women and we have to start appreciating ourselves exactly as we are. We all have something unique to bring to the table. Can you imagine a world in which we use our strengths to empower ourselves and our communities? When women work together, we accomplish amazing things. Once you empower people by learning how to motivate and inspire them, they will want to work with you to help you achieve your goals in everything you do. Your ability to enlist the knowledge, energy and resources of others enables you to become a multiplication sign, to leverage yourself so that you accomplish far more than the average person and in a far shorter period of time. As a woman I would like to empower others by “putting power into them,” and “bringing energy and enthusiasm out of them.” I would refrain from doing anything that disempowers them or reduces their energy and enthusiasm for what they are doing. The deepest need that each person has is for self-esteem, a sense of being important, valuable and worthwhile. Everything that you do in your interactions with others affects their self-respect in some way. You already have an excellent frame of reference to determine the things that you can do to boost the self-esteem and therefore the sense of personal power of those around you. Give them what you’d like for yourself. I think you can’t only empower the women, you have to educate the men too. I’m gradually starting to realize this impact is bigger than I ever could have dreamed. When you’re brought into this life, you’re given certain gifts, and you have to use them. It’s time to raise awareness around new initiatives women are taking to help their female counterparts achieve their goals and feel empowered. The concept of women helping other women benefits both parties, while demonstrating just how powerful a force females can be when they support one another.

Kitchen Godess and Cookbook Author

DA220949-5491-427E-8303-8C3517AFF505.jpegWe all know that the world is a difficult place to live in. Every day there are new hurdles and challenges thrown at us. On top of that, if you are a woman, you know that history hasn’t exactly been on your side. Women, in fact, are seen as ‘ahistorical figures’ i.e., located outside of history.For every story of struggles and hurdles, there are many instances of bravery and tenacity. Over the years, we have seen many women who have fought back and took it upon themselves to rewrite their story. Here is a look at Kornelia Santoro—a brave stalwart who have proved that being a woman is a boon, not a bane.

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Tell us something about your life….

“Every beginning is difficult.” This German saying is certainly true for my life. Honestly: I am not one of these lucky persons that obtain everything easily. From early on, my life was a struggle.

I grew up with 2 brothers in a household, where the father, a public servant, was the only breadwinner. Our situation was stable, but money was always scarce. We lived in a small Bavarian town close to Nuremberg called Ansbach, which seemed to me to be in the middle of nowhere.

From early on I felt the urge to leave, to explore, where real life was happening. Before I finished high school I was stuck at my parents’ home, though. As a teenager I developed eating disorders, first anorexia nervosa, then binge eating. At this time – it was the eighties – awareness about eating disorders did not exist. Luckily I have a rather resilient nature so I did not kill myself.

I was blessed with a curious spirit that made me question things and granted me the occasional epiphany. At the age of 18, I was sitting on a beach of the Côte d’Azur in France. The sun was glittering golden on the waves and I suddenly understood that fear is the enemy. At this moment I decided that I would live my life disregarding any fears. I was determined that I would not have to look one day into the mirror, wondering what might have happened if I would have had a bit more courage.

But still, I was confused. I had no idea, what I wanted to do. I was good in many things: languages, arts, mathematics – but I did not feel a passion for any profession. Luckily I met a man who analyzed my situation for me: He suggested journalism because this would confront me constantly with new things.

I thought this was a good idea. However, I did not easily find a placement as a trainee at a newspaper. I wrote about 80 applications before one newspaper even wanted to see me. They suggested an internship for one week. Before starting this, I read a book about journalism. Armed with this knowledge I wrote articles according to the directions of the book. That worked. After this week I was offered to become a trainee for two years, working at the newspaper and studying at university at the same time. After this, I would be a certified newspaper journalist.

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I did this, but my curious nature and open mind did not sit well with the established journalists in Bavaria. They called me a punk because sometimes I showed up with coloured hair and black fingernails. During a vacation I met a Greek man who fascinated me. After I became a certified journalist, I said good-bye to the newspaper and moved to Greece.

 

That was the first time I came to know real fear. During the drive to Greece in a minivan stuffed with my things I had to stop several times because of panic attacks.

For two years we lived in Greece but we did not manage to start a profitable business. I learned to speak Greek and came to know the culture, but it was hard to make a living.

So we returned to Germany – after having spent the last of my savings on a trip to India and Nepal. In Germany I started from zero. I worked as a badly paid freelance journalist until I found employment at a newly founded, private radio station in Regensburg. I wrote the news so well that I was offered a job at a newspaper soon after.

Years passed by with work as a journalist. I traveled a lot because I had a good income. I flew two times a year to places far away but something was missing in my life. At the age of 30 I decided that I wanted a child. My husband’s reaction was: ‘That is fine. I will take care of the child and you keep on working because you are good at making money.”

That was not my idea of motherhood. So I divorced him and decided, I needed a break. Sitting on the steps of a Goan villa watching the sunset I overheard two friends talking about buying an Enfield. At that moment I had another epiphany: I would buy an Enfield bullet and travel through India, figuring out how to become a mother.

I spent two years preparing for this trip and saving money. In the beginning, I was terrified by the motorbike. With a lot of effort I learned to handle it and I drove through India for two years. At the end of these two years I got together with my second husband, an Italian man this time.

It was clear from the beginning that we wanted a child. However, my first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. Two years later we succeeded and on July 5th 1999 my son Valentino was born. Becoming a mother completed me as a woman. I will be forever grateful for this experience. Honestly, if I have one regret in life it would be to discover too late what joy lies in motherhood. If I had known earlier, I might have started making children at an early age.

Never mind, I managed to raise one son and I thank God for this blessing. He grew up in Goa where we bought an old Portuguese house and renovated it. As a creative outlet, I was writing. I spent years on a novel that nobody wanted. Finally, my husband suggested writing a cookbook.

Of course I did not find a publisher easily. So I turned my first book into a website. Then Broadway Publishing House printed my manuscript. Thanks to my friend Odette Mascarenhas I participated with this book at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards – and I won! So I wrote another cookbook about cooking for allergies and finally, I managed to get HarperCollins interested into my third cookbook. All my cookbooks have won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for India, my third book Cooking for Happiness even got the title ‘Best in the World’.

Your advice to others:

Stay current – be the leader in your field and make sure you listen to the changing needs of your target market. Continue to offer something unique, fresh and exciting. Know your why – just because it’s a good business idea doesn’t mean it will be successful. Build a business around your passion and it will stand the test of time. Employ people who are passionate about what you do – I write great recipes and can talk under water, but the success of my business wouldn’t have been possible without a bunch of other people who are passionate about their role in supporting me.

Creating Dyslexia Friendly Schools….

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We need to create dyslexia friendly schools. In dyslexia friendly schools, teachers appreciate that dyslexic children learn in these different ways and that this can be beneficial to all. Dyslexia friendly schools promote good practice for teaching and learning. A feature of dyslexia friendly schools is to take the fear out of school for children with dyslexia; many of whom, if not correctly and expertly helped can feel alienated and disorientated with an increased risk of becoming problem pupils or school phobic.

 

Dyslexia friendly schools:

  • Should actively engage in making additional provision to ensure a child’s needs are met, not just in essential skills such as English but, across the curriculum.
  • Are expected to have a specialist teacher of children with dyslexia and should ensure all teachers should receive on-going training in the teaching of children with dyslexia.
  • Need to put in place screening and early detection programmes.
  • Recognise that children with dyslexia can experience significantly higher stress levels than their non-dyslexic peers and this may impact, on academic performance as well as socially and emotionally- a good parent-school partnership can significantly enhance these aspects.
  • As always there is no excuse for lowered expectations of the student or their learning.

“If a child does not learn in the way in which we teach, then we must teach him in the way in which he learns. Let dyslexia be looked at from a different angle, not as a learning disability but a different learning ability.”

I have a poem for all our stars on earth by Lauren Gibson age 9 titled:

I AM HAPPY TO BE ME!”

Everyone is different, I’m different in this way, 

I’m not very good at writing, but I know what I want to say. 

You can laugh and tease, but I don’t care, 

I’m happy being different… So there!  

So what if I can’t spell, the computer does the trick! 

I may not SEEM as bright as you, but I’m DEFINITELY NOT THICK! 

 My specialty is Drama, I warn you I can’t sing, 

everyone likes something and acting is my thing. 

 Dyslexia might be hard for you to understand, 

but all I need from others is a little helping hand!

The importance of early childhood years and early identification:

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Learning occurs very rapidly during the early childhood years. Most of this learning is through play and multi-sensory teaching methods which is non-formal. Children change from almost complete dependence to relative independence in a few short years. During this period parents teach self-help skills such as dressing, buttoning, and tying. Often they teach their children how to throw a ball and ride a bike. And many parents provide the basis for early reading, writing, and mathematics skills by reading stories, reciting the alphabet, coloring, copying letters, writing simple messages, and playing counting games. Parents engage in these activities so naturally that they do not even think of them as instruction, and yet, this training, social interaction, and stimulation are crucial for learning.

 

Some children with learning difficulties find these seemingly natural, every day skills difficult to learn, even with good stimulation. They do not profit from the experiences and guidance provided by parents, preschool teachers, and others because they have difficulty processing certain types of information. Yet children with learning difficulties are not delayed in all aspects of development. In fact, many do as well as, or better than their peers in certain areas. They have uneven patterns of development and perform below expectancy in one or more areas of learning such as listening, expressive language, pre-academic skills, nonverbal behavior, and/or perceptual motor skills. It is because of these uneven profiles and unexpected weaknesses that they are somewhat difficult to understand. Their learning and behavior is less predictable than normally achieving children, and perhaps different from children who are delayed in all areas of development. Because children with learning difficulties are unique, and because their strengths and weaknesses vary, parents often need help in understanding their difficulties. Indeed, many parents and teachers need to understand many of the typical behaviors of young children lest they view them as problems.

 

One of our primary goals is to excite children about the learning process. Parents and teachers who enjoy learning themselves can convey such an attitude to their children. Many infants and toddlers seem to be naturally curious as they look at objects, explore them, turn them, try to move them, etc. By watching their eyes and hand movements, long before they can talk, children seem to be asking–What’s this? What can I do with this? How does it taste? Can I push it, roll it, bang it? As they sit in a high chair banging with a spoon, they become aware of the sound of metal against metal, or metal against wood. When taking a bath, they learn how to splash in the water, and, if given certain toys, they may acquire the rudiments of the concept of floating and sinking. As they play with pots and pans, they learn about shapes, sizes, and the beginning of seriating, an important concept for early mathematics.

 

Parents can develop a spirit of inquiry by guiding the child’s listening and looking, by showing excitement and wonder about even simple events in the world. Some parents do this automatically. I remember seeing a mother and toddler looking intently at something on the sidewalk, and as I approached, I noticed they were studying a caterpillar. Mother was guiding the child’s looking and using words such as fuzzy, crawling slowly, etc. She, like many other parents, was fostering learning, language, and intellectual curiosity. One does not have to have fancy toys to excite children. Many children can be content with a pail, a shovel, some sand and water if we guide them to see what can be done with such objects. Take a walk around the house, look at the trees and the bushes, feel the bark of the tree, smell the flowers, look at the grass, the gravel, the cement and talk about what is hard, smooth, rough, and pretty.

 

Childhood is a time for learning. Gradually and sequentially, from the time they are toddlers through their first year of formal education, children are busily acquiring the raw materials for becoming a reader: knowledge of the alphabet, recognition of individual letters, and the ability to associate sounds with letters. Failure or delay in acquiring these skills is an early clue to a potential reading problem. Of course, no one wants to be an “alarmist” and put her child through an evaluation for trivial or transient bumps along the road to reading. If your preschool child struggles with language, particularly with rhymes and pronouncing words, and especially if there is a family history of reading problems, you should not keep your worries to yourself. You need to seek help.

 

If we elect not to evaluate a child and that child later proves to have dyslexia, we cannot give those lost years back to him. The human brain is resilient, but there is no question that early intervention and treatment bring about more positive change at a faster pace than an intervention provided to an older child. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker your child can get help, and the more likely you are to prevent secondary blows to her self-esteem. Luckily, parents can play an active role in the early identification of a reading problem. All that is required is an observant parent who knows what she is looking for and who is willing to spend time with her child listening to him speak and read.

The important thing is for parents of pre-school children not to worry excessively and to remember all children develop at different rates. You can’t reliably identify dyslexia until a child is seven. Children really need to be reading for it to be picked up. The early warning signs for pre-schoolers and primary pupils have been mentioned in the first chapter.

 

Children with dyslexia often have special gifts – gifts such as sensitivity, perseverance, tenacity, and resilience. These gifts are far more important than perfect recitation of the alphabet or copying letters. All children can make progress, but the rate and amount of improvement varies. Try to build on the child’s strengths to build his or her sense of self-respect. Help the child realize the value of people in all walks of life as you go about daily routines. There is a place for everyone.

Role of parents…..contd.

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Keeping Abreast and Updated by attending Courses and Workshops

It is important for any parent of a dyslexic child to learn as much about dyslexia as possible. No two dyslexics are alike. If your child has received a dyslexia diagnosis, you undoubtedly already know about his or her reading problems, and you probably have a good idea what dyslexia is. You know that remembering letter sounds, decoding words, reading fluently, and spelling correctly are probably struggles for your child. You may see other characteristics of dyslexia as well. Approaching the problem with a clear plan of attack is your best bet. Being dyslexic does not mean one is “dumb”. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

One of the most effective ways for parents to be updated of new learning and coping strategies is by attending Courses and Workshops. Besides getting free education, parents can master new ways of improving their children’s day to day challenges. Most of the courses demonstrate useful and innovative strategies and provide practical solutions. Parents should make it point to keep abreast of the latest developments so as to better understand and assist their children. Many parents have definitely benefitted by attending these workshops and courses.

Usefulness of Networking and Support Groups

Having spoken to many of the parents, I have realised that is beneficial for parents to join parent support groups and school support networks where possible. By joining the Parents Support Group, many parents have gained so much knowledge and useful tips. Besides sharing tips, the support group also stands as a platform for many parents to share their day to day challenges and how they cope with the situation. Not only are parents able to make new friends, they encourage each other to join many student activities, creating a long term bond.

Celebrating Your Child in every way

I met a parent who had two children with dyslexia at a workshop on motivating pupils with dyslexia. She was a dedicated parent inspite of a full-time job. She made sure that she spent special quality time with each of her children. She understood that her children’s learning needs are different and that she provided all the required learning support for them to cope with their learning difficulties. She tried to understand each child’s growing needs and the difficulties they face. She also emphasised on spending quality time with her husband and children together as a family. She admits it can be tough, but, it is all about discipline and quality time.

Like many parents, she believes in celebrating their child’s effort no matter how small they are. Even when their kids have not measured up to mark, they make it a point to celebrate the effort put in rather than the outcome. In the end, isn’t that what truly matters and counts in the end!

As a special education teacher who teaches struggling readers with different difficulties, I’m often crafting mental lists of things I wish parents knew about their struggling readers and students with learning difficulties—not out of frustration or defence, but out of an earnest desire to see increased confidence and results from my students. Most important, I am eager for the parents of my students to understand that their children can and will learn to read—that their children have strengths, not just weaknesses. I want parents to know how preparing their children to learn to deal with their difficulty can inspire confidence and enable them to look forward to a proud future where they understand their difficulty as well as their strengths, self-advocating for their unique learning style. This is my manifesto for the struggling reader.

 

Your struggling reader can do more–if you help. Struggling readers should be read to every single day. Parents can have a strong positive influence on their child’s reading. Research has shown that enjoying books with a child, for even a few minutes a day, can make a measurable difference in the acquisition of basic reading skills. Everyday activities, such as a trip to the grocery store, can be turned into enjoyable learning experiences. Find time to read aloud with your child every day. Parents play an important role in developing this skill by reading to children and by showing how important reading is in daily life. Try to make books available for your child to explore and enjoy. Teach about books. When reading aloud, let your child open the book and turn the pages. Point to the words as you read. Draw attention to repeated phrases, inviting your child to join in each time they occur.

 

Point out letters and words that you run across in daily life. Make an obvious effort to read aloud traffic signs, billboards, notices, labels on packages, maps, and phone numbers. Make outings a way to encourage reading by showing your child how printed words relate to daily living.

 

Hearing someone else read not only helps your students hear the language they speak, it also has the amazing possibility of sparking creativity and interest and a chance to work on comprehension without the battle of decoding the text. A struggling reader may only read short, short books with little interest or depth, or because, if reading is a challenge, they may not fully understand the content of the text. When you read aloud (or have a program such as an iPad app that reads books aloud; although, call it old-fashioned, a real human reading to children is better), they have the opportunity to focus on the meaning of the words. They develop background knowledge, culture, and it allows them to use their imagination.

 

Sing the alphabet song to help your children learn letters as you play with alphabet books, blocks, and magnetic letters. A-B-C, dot-to-dots and letter-play workbooks, games, and puzzles are available at most toy stores. There are also many engaging computer games designed for teaching children letters. Make sure these toys are available to your children even when you are unable to play with them. Encourage children to write their names and other important words or phrases. Help them to gradually learn how to write more and more letters. At first, most children find it easier to write uppercase letters.

 

Sing the alphabet and teach songs that emphasize rhyme and alliteration, such as Willaby Wallaby Woo and Down By the Sea. Emphasize the sounds as you sing. Play rhyming games and clap out syllables in words. Change the word order of familiar poems and challenge them to detect the error. Talk like robots, syllable by syllable. Challenge children to play with words. For example, think of words that rhyme with “bat” or begin with “m.” What would be left if you took the “p” sound out of “pat”? What would you have if you put these sounds together: “p” and “ickle”; “m” and “ilk”; and “s, a, t”. Which of these words starts with a different sound: bag, ball, candy, bike? Do boat and baby start with the same sound? Point out words that begin with the same letters as your children’s names, drawing attention to the similarities of their initial sounds. Use alphabet books, computer games, or word games (such as “I’m thinking of something that starts with b”) to engage them in alliterative and letter-sound play. When reading books that contain alliteration and rhyme, such as Dr. Seuss books, sound out rhyming words or challenge children to do so. Play word games using sounds with syllables such as: If this spells “cat”, how do you spell “hat”?

 

If your child is just beginning to read or is a very slow reader, go over the alphabet and letter sounds. Break apart short CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words (sit, hat, log, and so on), and blend these sounds together (/j/ /o/ /b/; job). If your child is a little more independent, sit with her, help her with hard words as she reads, maybe read aloud a chapter of a fun book to her every night before bed. Talk about what happened in the story, the characters, and the setting; what’s the problem in the story? Read a nonfiction book and talk about what you all learned from the text.

 

If your struggling child is older, let her be the teacher and read her books to siblings. Or, in our tech-obsessed culture, teach your child to grab a camera or recorder and record videos or audio notes of herself reading and then follow along with them, checking errors in reading.

 

Say the sound while touching each letter in a new word. For example, say “s-u-n” and then blend them to create the word. Use predictable words with common sounds and spellings, e.g. use “fun” or “sat” instead of “night” or “saw.” After your children have learned to pronounce letters and words, have them match letters and sound. Encourage your children to write, allowing them to use inventive or creative spelling. At this stage, they will often omit letters and confuse letter names with letter sounds, producing such spellings as LFNT for elephant, BN for bean, YOTR for water, and FARE for fairy. Be sure to praise children for their efforts and products. Help children to enjoy easy, readable stories as often as possible. Sit with them, take turns reading and encourage discussion. Invite them to read familiar words and progress to reading phrases, sentences, and paragraphs. At the end of each section or story, revisit words that caused trouble. Reread stories as a powerful way to reinforce learning.

 

Point out similarities among words such as will, fill, and hill or light, night, and sight. Help children to learn and review common spelling pat- terns in the words they write. Stop frequently to discuss language, content, and relevance to real life. Explore the meanings of new words, use them in other sentences, and contrast their meaning with words that have similar meanings. Make an effort to revisit new words and concepts. While reading, pause to discuss characters, problems, and events in the story Invite children to think about how problems might be solved or imagine what might happen next. Ask children to review what has happened, drawing attention to the important elements of the story.

 

Children learn about words and their meaning by talking and by reading. The larger your vocabulary, the better you function both at school and later in the workplace. This is why it is so important to read to your child. The words we use in everyday speech are really rather few. Books teach you words which will open up new worlds of knowledge and experience. Through them you can travel in time and space, explore feelings, assemble facts and most importantly, enjoy a good story.Parents are crucial in helping children to learn and store up words, both spoken and written. Talking to your children from the moment they are born, and later reading to them, gives them the best chance to become skilled in the use of words.

 

Listen to your children and respond when they talk to you. If you don’t listen to them, how can you expect them to listen to you? Enjoy books together from a very early age. Reading with mum and dad is one of the memorable experiences of childhood. When you are choosing a book, think carefully how it will be read. Make sure you have the correct level of reading material for the right occasion. Is the child going to read it to himself? Or are you going to read it together, when you can help with any harder words? And if you are reading it to him you can select something more challenging. Make reading together a regular habit. Do you have a comfortable place to read together? Look on it as a special treat for both of you. Try to find a quiet time when you won’t be disturbed. The better you can concentrate, the better your child will too. A few favourite nibbles and perhaps a drink make it all that much more fun. Have a special shelf of your child’s favourite books. It is important to let children say openly that they don’t like a book or an author. Search around till you find one they do like, and then get hold of several by the same author. Draw in grandparents, if available, or older siblings or family friends to read to your child, if you yourself have limited time. Finally talk to your children about the books you read together. Try to guess what will happen next? How will it all end? Who is their favourite character? Which is the most exciting bit? Why? Sharing your ideas is one of the best ways of developing language.

 

There are some children who do not want to read at home. Many a times when I tell a parent that their child has achieved the ability to read a certain level of books, they instantly complain that it’s not possible because the child is not reading anything at home and they find it difficult to believe that their child is acquiring reading skills. Here’s why your child does not want to read at home: when something is difficult and doesn’t come easy, you generally just flat out don’t want to do it! What makes struggling readers even more anxious about reading is the pressure they’re getting both at school and at home to learn to read. Tell your child the things you’re not great at. Admitting that you also have things you struggle with can provide support and help your struggling reader understand that people have different strengths and weaknesses. An anecdote I often share with my frustrated readers is how I have never acquired the ability to drive a car or ride a bike in spite of repeated efforts. I tell them that it makes me sad to depend on somebody else to take me around but that it has not stopped me from living a fulfilling life. Kids should understand that nobody is perfect and that we are good with certain things and weak with certain things and that we need to build from our strengths to overcome our weakness. It will help them to have good self-esteem if they acknowledge their strengths and weakness and have adequate support both at home and at school.

 

At a recent parent-teacher conference I had a parent complain in front of her child about the child’s inability to read. I asked her to look at his strength. I told her that she has strengths like drawing beautifully, good listening skills and an amazing vocabulary. It was sad to see her so consumed by her kid’s deficits in reading that she forgot what her daughter can do well. Look at the strengths of your child and celebrate them. If your child is artistic, use that talent at home as a way for your child to show understanding of a story you read aloud; draw a picture of the problem in the story, or draw the main character. Just because your child can’t physically decode the words and/or write a response to a reading comprehension question doesn’t mean you can’t push for higher oral comprehension, or neglect one of your child’s strengths. Letting your children use their strengths will boost their confidence, and it has the benefit of letting them see that you know they are excelling at something.

 

Parents need to learn to celebrate every single success of their child with a positive remark like ‘Good job’ or ‘Well done’ or just a high five. I remember one child in my class asking her mother if she could have a birthday party and the mother bluntly said, “Not with those poor grades of yours. Get a good result and we will see.” Don’t rely on report card grades to be the judge of your student’s progress. Celebrate his or her reading a singular word correctly. Meet your child on his/her reading level and celebrate the successes at that level. If your child is a beginning or practically a non-reader, celebrate decoding the word “at,” or using a picture to solve an unknown word. If your child is beginning to read more fluently, celebrate when they self-correct an error. In my daily small group reading class, I find myself giving praise constantly—and it’s because I want them to know that I notice their progress and the things they do well. If what we’re reading is challenging, a smile and a “good job” can turn the whole lesson around. When I hear parents of my kids fussing at them about grades, I immediately find myself telling the parent about a small—but wonderful—success his/her child had reading or writing that school day. Harassing the students over report card grades isn’t going to boost their confidence. Struggling readers need to know what they’re doing right, not just their mistakes.

 

Do not panic if your child reads slowly. It is okay to read slowly. Struggling readers and students with learning difficulties may read slowly. They might read faster as they grow in their reading ability or, like nearly all dyslexics, they may be a slow reader for life. If your child is reading below a mid-second grade level, don’t worry about fluency or speed. Focus on accuracy, or reading the words correctly. And if your child is diagnosed with dyslexia, don’t pressure him to read faster. Instead, give him strategies to help him remember what he read, such as writing a sentence or two or drawing a picture of what happened on each page (or in each chapter). Your kid is going to live with a learning difficulty as an adult. Teach him how to deal with it now, so he’ll be better able to navigate the world later.

 

Saying you want your child to read on-grade level will not happen overnight. I’m sorry to say it so bluntly, but you need to be honest with yourself and set realistic and achievable goals. Break the long term goals into very short term concrete goals. As a teacher who uses a reading-assessment system and levelled books, my goals for students is often their successfully moving up a single reading level. At home, you might set a goal even to just practice reading every day. For example, you might suggest that your child read a certain number of levelled, independent books in a month (levelled books are books that your child can read independently or with only a little help), or you might set a goal of reading an interesting chapter book with your child. Make a countdown and cross out each book or chapter, respectively, until you reach your goal.  What the goal really does is allow them to see that they’re capable of reaching a goal, that they can be successful. You’re giving them a chance to develop another strength.

 

Your child will not grow out of dyslexia. But that doesn’t mean your child won’t learn how to read or be a complete failure. If you teach your child how to cope and deal with his/her difficulty now, you’re doing your child an incredible favour. Teach your children to advocate for themselves. Teach them how to ask for help. Teach them how to understand their strengths and weaknesses. Teach them about resources they can go to for help and how to ensure they receive the accommodations they need for success. If you teach your children to do this at school, they’re going to go into the world feeling confident and set up for success; they’ll know how they fit in and what they need to do to keep up. And that’s worth more than being able to read 180 words per minute.

 

Helping your child with dyslexia.

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Build a positive relationship with your child’s school. Kids Feel Supported When They See Parents and Teachers Working Together to Help Them. Tell you kids where they stand academically, what their talents are, what they need help with, and the plan for helping them learn. Remember: you, the parents, will have a plan and a goal in mind! Also remember that your child’s teacher will have a plan as well. It is best for your child if you and the teacher are on the same team. You need to know what is required by the school. Ask the teacher for specific things you can do at home to address skills your child is lacking. Then, do them. You are your child’s best advocate. Keeping the lines of communication open with your school is the best way to help him in this area. If you suspect your child’s IEP is not being properly followed, try to approach the educators diplomatically. Remember, your goal is to work with the teachers in the best interest of your child.

 

Garnering a support system is one of the most important steps you can make toward helping your dyslexic child succeed in life. Your child’s core team will consist of his parents, teachers, friends and relatives but you can also find valuable support just about anywhere. A good support person is one who is patient, understanding and capable of the tasks that your child can’t do. Since reading, writing and spelling are areas of weakness for people with dyslexia, your child will need to find someone who is willing to help in this area. Swimming, singing, running, arts, music, are all alternative areas in which your child can succeed. Volunteer work is also a great way for your child to help others and feel good himself.

 

Developing spelling skills:

Another regular complain from parents is “No matter how hard we work on his spelling, he just can’t spell anything. He fails every spelling test.” Don’t let poor spelling affect your child. If your child has a learning difficulty, there is a real possibility that he may really struggle with spelling and remembering even very basic word patterns. Tell your that’s okay and he will slowly get there. Teach your child to cope. Even if your children can’t spell, they still have ideas that they need to express. Don’t let poor spelling make your child mute. Use a dictionary, spell check, or text-prediction software. Have your child start their very own personal word dictionary as a tool to use while they write. Talk to your student’s teacher. See what technology or other strategies there might be to help your child become more successful. There’s a lot out there–but you won’t find much if you’re too busy pointing out that your kid can’t spell.

 

Building Self Esteem

 

Your child remembers stories well (he thinks in pictures!), and what happens in films and videos, yet he cannot remember a short list of instructions such as “go upstairs, wash your teeth, put your pyjamas on and come back downstairs”. These are just a few samples of daily occurrences that can take their toll on a child’s self-esteem. Often these uneven abilities not only confuse your child, but also you as a parent. Children need to be successful at some things in their life to enable them to believe in themselves and to give them the confidence and boost to get on in life.

 

School work is often hard for Dyslexics as it is most often left brain sequential learning which can be very difficult for children with strengths on the right side of the brain. It is important to focus on activities outside of school where children may possess strengths that use the creative right brain activities such as, Sport, Music, Theatre, Art and of course Computers! It goes without saying that it is important to be positive with your child and to identify things that interest them and excite them so that they can learn through what they enjoy. Many excellent card games specifically designed for Dyslexics and Spld and Computer Software such as WordShark and NumberShark and Gamz on CD help children learn without them realising they are learning! Last but not least, never give up on them; remember, Dyslexics are normally gifted in other areas which later in life will normally end up being to their advantage. They have to know that you believe in them, to believe in themselves.

Try to help establish for your child a strong social standing. This is more applicable for younger students, but I believe that parents can definitely influence a young students’ social standing. Try to identify two or three potential friends that have a strong social standing, and that the child has good communication with, and be proactive in joining your child with these children. Initiate communication with these potential friends’ parents, invite these kids over, and make sure that they have a great time when they come over. Initiate fun and unusual activities that will make your child’s potential friends very eager to come over, spend time and get to know your child as the wonderful potential friend that he really is. Connecting your child with well-liked children in school, will help him network with other children, establish his social standing and lay the foundation of a secure social base.

Assist your child in identifying and demonstrating his unusual thinking. Research has demonstrated that people with dyslexia are “out of the box”, innovative, problem-solving thinkers. This may be a key differentiating characteristic for a dyslexic person, and as such should be leveraged and mastered in school. If your child is interested in unique topics, then encourage this unique knowledge, and work with him how to demonstrate/boast of this knowledge in class. For example, if your child is especially interested in aviation, and has above average knowledge on this topic; build together an activity that displays this knowledge in his class at school. Let the other kids know that your child is very knowledgeable on these “cool” subjects. When your dyslexic child is older, encourage him to take classes in areas that he can boast of his unique way of thinking. Encourage your child to take the time to assist other children that are experiencing challenges in such topics. By helping his schoolmates, he will not only feel good about himself, but he will be appreciated by his school peers.

HOW CAN PARENTS HELP THE CHILD WITH DYSLEXIA?

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All parents understand that kids have many unique learning needs. We have seen in the previous chapter the significant role of a family in the life of a child with dyslexia. In the next chapter we will hear from pupils how their parents helped them to cope with dyslexia with support from the school. While writing my chapter on how parents can effectively help their child cope with dyslexia I have incorporated the feedback I got from workshops conducted for parents of children with dyslexia. All participating parents were very much aware that each dyslexic child has different needs and at most times, it is important that parents must go that extra mile to assist their kids where possible.

One of the parent mentioned that it was very traumatizing for her to learn that her child has dyslexia. She said it was as traumatizing as learning of a family member’s sudden death. Other parents assured her that they were equally stunned by such news. Yes, receiving such a message can produce overwhelming emotions of shock, disbelief, anxiety, fear, and despair. Within that moment, research has shown that some parents cannot distinguish between the unconscious wish for an idealized normal child from an unthinkable sudden reality of who is not. Some even wonder what they did wrong for them to get a child with dyslexia and cry “why me?” Some parents fail to understand the wide gap between their desires for their child and the learning difficulty that exists and this makes it difficult for them sometimes initially to adjust to the situation. These thoughts represent an all- encompassing need to achieve inner peace.

 

Following the first full recognition of a problem comes a flood of emotions. Most often parents feel guilt and anger. They desperately want to identify “the cause.” They frequently feel guilt that they must have done something to cause the developmental problem or that someone else must be the cause. Often they vacillate between self-blame and blaming someone else. In this stage, parent’s assignment of blame is often irrational with thoughts like: “If I hadn’t worked during my pregnancy this wouldn’t have happened” or “If the doctor had induced labour rather than C-section, ¦then all would be ok.” Usually parents move beyond the stage of guild and anger after a couple of months. Focusing parents on the needs of their child and the areas where their child functions well generally helps them move into full acceptance of the problem. They are then ready for the diagnostic and remedial help needed.

 

A small percentage of parents are never able to accept the diagnosis and move beyond emotions to appropriate actions. Many of these parents believe that they are personally stigmatized by having a “less than perfect child.” These parents often behave in active or subtle ways to reject their child. Teachers may see these parents as uninvolved; the parent who reluctantly attends meetings and parent-teacher conferences or who behaves as if their child is just “lazy.” The non-accepting parent often turns outside the family for support such as through excessive work or activities, which keep them away from home. When one parent is rejecting or feels stigmatized and the other parent has accepted the diagnosis, there can be on-going relationship stress between the parents that can lead to estrangement or divorce.

 

Even when both parents fully accept the diagnosis and remedial plans, relationship stresses often continue. A common pattern is for one parent to assume the primary role of managing their dyslexic child. As this parent takes the child to therapies, arranges tutors, and goes to school meetings, the other parent often feels ignored, left out, or burdened with other family duties. Polarized roles in the family can develop easily without any intent by the parents to distance themselves from the other.

 

Most parents over time normalize their home life into providing for their dyslexic child while keeping many of the same interactions and roles they had before the diagnosis. Problems within the family may occur however, if a parent takes on an exaggerated role. Exaggerated roles can include becoming a crusader for the cause of dyslexic children (a role which may benefit all dyslexic children but be destructive to their own family) or becoming very enmeshed in daily caring for and remediating a child’s learning or reading problem. The extremes of over and under involvement are pitfalls for parents and families.

 

Parenting a child with dyslexia is quite a challenge because it means learning a whole new field, finding out about testing procedures, learning support for your child with dyslexia in the school and special software just so you can make informed decisions about your child. Many parents of young children with learning difficulties ask what they can do at home to help their youngsters. If you have noticed early warning signs of dyslexia, then it is very important to understand the importance of early childhood years and the significant role of the parent in early identification, building self-esteem, celebrating success and developing reading skills.

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