Sunday 7 October 2018

Herpes and Dyslexia

Dyslexia Awareness Month
I was thinking this morning...... about Herpes (pronounced as 'hur-peez') and Dyslexia. It's been over 25 years since I left the university where I studied Microbiology. So you will pardon me when I had to ask Google for information about Herpes. I was reminded that Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a common virus that causes sores on your genitals and/or mouth. Herpes can be annoying and painful, but it usually doesn't lead to serious health problems. Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life and the chances are a few people you know are living with Herpes.

But why this research about Herpes? When all the news about Nigeria centered around politics and killing in Jos, I decided to go watch a movie this past weekend and settled for the American comedy 'Night School' starring Kevin Hart as Teddy Walker. In the movie, Teddy was assessed to be suffering from a number of learning disorders including dyslexia, dyscalculia and various processing issues. In shock, Teddy Walker exclaimed that he has 'Learning Herpes.' Why he decided to compare his disability with Herpes is still unclear to me, but I suspect it is because the condition will stay with him for life just like Herpes. Hmm!!!

After the movie, I couldn't help but reflect on the term 'Learning Herpes' and how we treat kids with this disability in Nigeria. Children with dyslexia have trouble reading accurately and fluently. They may also have trouble with reading comprehension, spelling and writing. Dyscalculia on the other hand means the child has difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic or numbers. Such a child in Nigeria will be called dumb and 'olodo.' If the parents are rich, they will engage seven extramural teachers to 'force' the book into his head, but if he is from a poor home, too bad. They will 'flog' the book into his head. Oh how we torture our kids because we do not understand their learning disability. God will help us.

As I dug deeper, I fished out a parallel with recent happenings. This past week was a festival of political primaries, which turned out to be nothing but a sad reflection of our democracy. Votes buying, imposition of candidates, the reign of god-fatherism and violence. When I recalled that this has been our lot since independence, the only prognosis I could come up with is that we may be suffering from 'Political Herpes' that is causing painful sores in our body polity.

Carry out further physical tests of marriages around you, with symptoms such as infidelity, domestic violence, trust-deficiency and you will diagnose 'Marital Herpes.' Send for laboratory analyses of our economy with foreign reserves dropping, bearish run of the stock market and a weak naira. The prognosis is nothing but 'Economic Herpes.'

Though these malaise are annoying and painful like Herpes, looking like it's going to kill us, I am confident that we will overcome them because the Bible says in John 11:4 'This sickness will not end in death.' But should your child be struggling with reading, spelling or numbers, do not call him names or make him the joke of the family. Assess him for learning disability and support him to overcome. As we celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Month this October, please help a child overcome the challenge of dyslexia and dyscalculia today.

Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey.

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