Dyslexia is said to afflict at least one in 10 people—or over 700 million children and adults worldwide—but because it occurs on a spectrum like many conditions, the signs aren’t easily discernible, even to educators. It’s therefore useful for parents to acquire some awareness about this condition, as early intervention is essential to helping a dyslexic child blossom in the academic environment and beyond.
Based on global figures, it’s estimated that 23,000 preschool, primary and secondary school students in Singapore have dyslexia severe enough to warrant intervention. Increasing numbers of affected students are enrolling in a literacy programme run by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS), and the programme helps them improve their reading, comprehension, and writing skills.
Apart from therapeutic instruction, the DAS advocates for dyslexics through public education, and one misconception they hope to dispel is the perception of dyslexia as a disease. It is, in fact, a learning difference that affects the brain’s ability to translate information received from the eyes or ears into understandable language—it is not caused by vision or hearing problems, or by mental retardation, brain damage, or a lack of intelligence. People with dyslexia spend a much longer time on decoding language, but given the chance to compensate for this learning difference, they can begin to read accurately.
The following video sheds more light on what it’s like to learn with dyslexia, as does this website, which simulates the visual experience of reading while dyslexic:
If your primary school-going child is struggling with reading and comprehension, you can refer to the DAS’s learning difficulties checklist to assess his or her progress before you decide on your next move. These examples of dyslexic children’s written work may also help you to ascertain if you should have your child seen by a learning specialist.
Although the child spells “sharks” correctly in the beginning, he misspells the word as “skarks” for the rest of the written exercise.
The above composition is the product of an imaginative mind, but one beset by spelling difficulties.
If you should decide to have your child screened at the DAS or a similar organisation, the referral process would involve follow-up sessions with psychologists from either the DAS, the Ministry of Education, or a private practitioner. After which, the child will be placed in an appropriate setting to receive the learning support that he or she needs. More information is available at the DAS website.
The written work examples are from the book “Dyslexia” by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, and they are reproduced with permission.