As a parent, it can be overwhelming to learn that your child has dyslexia.
"How can my child cope in school?"
"What can I do to help my child?"
"Will my child ever be normal?"
"Can dyslexia be cured?"
These questions and more will inevitably pop up, and yes, it will seem frustrating at first. You will likely not know much about dyslexia. Chances are, you will worry about your child's ability to cope in school.
All these fears and concerns are perfectly rational. They are entirely understandable.
However, know this: neither you nor your child is alone in this journey. Your child can improve over time, and your child is most definitely normal.
With that in mind, here is a list of avenues that you can seek out to help your child.
1) The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS)
The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) offers a range of services for students with dyslexia and language-related impairments. These include psychological assessments, educational therapy, and speech therapy, as well as classes for exam skills, Chinese language, math, and even speech and drama arts. Additionally, the Ministry of Education subsidises many of the DAS's services, making them very affordable.
2) Your child's school
Many primary schools now have Learning Support (LS) and School-based Dyslexia Remediation (SDR) programmes that train students in sight word recognition and basic phonemic awareness. These programmes are typically conducted by allied educators and learning support specialists. You can also request for a psychological assessment with an MOE-based psychologist through the school itself. To find out more, consider speaking to your child's form teacher (when it's convenient for both of you).
3) Parent Support Groups
Parent-Support Groups (PSGs) are a great way to learn about dyslexia and how it can impact our children. They provide an avenue for mutual support, and for sharing personal experiences and resources.
Here is a list of the most notable PSGs in Singapore:
- Learning Differences Support Group Singapore: A local peer-to-peer support group for parents of kids with specific learning differences (SpLD), as well as older students with SpLD.
- Dyslexia Support Group Singapore: Started by Christina Tan, a parent of a child with dyslexia. Since starting up the group in 2017, Christina has been actively helping out other parents of dyslexic children, offering advice and guidance.
- DAS Parent-Support Group (Facebook): The official Parent-Support Group of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore.
- KiasuParents: While not exactly a PSG, KiasuParents has a sub-forum dedicated to discussing special needs, with a dedicated thread for dyslexia.
Remember, neither you nor your child is alone in this journey. There are communities out there that can help and guide you.
4) Books on dyslexia
There are many books out there that discuss dyslexia, and sometimes it can be hard to decide which to get. If you need ideas, have a look at these two book lists by the University of Michigan and Homeschooling With Dyslexia.
Need something more specific? From those two lists, The Dyslexic Advantage and The Fluent Reader often come highly recommended. The Dyslexic Advantage is well-known for providing fresh, scientific angles to look at dyslexia. The Fluent Reader provides solid strategies to help your child with his/her reading.
Outside of the lists, I would also highly recommend The Gift of Dyslexia and The Gift of Learning. Written by Ron Davis (creator of the Davis Dyslexia method), both are good reads and offer an interesting take on the dyslexia spectrum, as well as other learning difficulties such as ADHD and ASD.
5) Educational and assistive technology
Thanks to educational technology, kids with dyslexia can be taught in ways that are fun, engaging, and effective. Nessy is one of the most popular companies that develops apps for such a purpose. These apps range from games that help dyslexics to learn the basics of phonics, to touch typing games, to professional development training modules.
One caveat of Nessy's apps is that they're quite expensive. If price is an issue, or if you're just looking for a supplementary app, there are mobile games that can provide basic remediation for dyslexia. Some strong recommendations include:
Games aside, you can also support your child's learning through the use of assistive technology. Noodle.com has a great list of apps, including readers and note-taking software, to help your child with his/her schoolwork.
While I'm sure many of you would turn to Google, YouTube also has a lot of wonderful videos that shed light on dyslexia's different facets. One of my favourite videos is this:
Produced by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore, this video should resonate strongly with many parents of dyslexic children. In fact, you'll find many more of such inspirational and informative videos on YouTube, including TEDx Talks and interviews with famous dyslexics like Jamie Oliver.
7) Swords & Stationery
One of them... is Swords & Stationery.
What the Swords & Stationery programme does
I started Swords & Stationery to help students do well academically while finding joy in learning the subject. It's an effective and appealing approach that combines academics, games and digital presentations. It's also very flexible, covering all subjects and topics that are English-based.
Reading comprehension? Check.
Narrative writing? Check.
Expository writing? Synthesis & Transformation? Grammar Cloze? History?
Check, check, check and check (AND we cover other Humanities subjects too, like Social Studies).
Through S&S, most of my students have overcome dyslexia's challenges. Today, many of them are doing really well in school. Some are even self-motivated to read and write on their own!
Supporting parents and caregivers
I also believe in helping parents to support their children at home. Whether or not your child is a student of S&S, you'll get access to helpful tips, strategies and resources on dyslexia. In fact, many resources were created and uploaded at the request of parents. Some of our more popular resources include:
A large spectrum of affordable services
Finally, we've also partnered up with Trinity Consultancy & Practice, The Gifted Lab and freelance special needs tutors to provide the best and widest range of services, from psychological assessments to occupational therapy, at the most affordable rates.
Speaking of affordable, did I also mention consultation is free? As in, it costs next to nothing to drop us a message and ask for advice?
So, if you'd like to find out more about Swords & Stationery's services...
Drop us a text message with no obligations, and we'll get back to you within 3 working days. The journey isn't easy, but you don't have to take it alone.
What else you need to know about getting help for a child with dyslexia
- To get exam accommodations (such as extra time) for your child, you'll need a valid psychological report. However, psychological reports are only valid for three years.
- If your child is in primary school, you can directly arrange for a psychological assessment at KKH or NUH. For teenagers, you can arrange for a psychological assessment at The Gifted Lab, the Dyslexia Association of Singapore or James Cook University.
- Getting specialist help is important. At the same time, you can still support your child at home by doing activities like paired reading.
- Playing word-based board games like Codenames is also a great way to fuel your kids' minds while bonding as a family.
- Know that dyslexia is neither a disease nor mental retardation. Be patient with your child, even when they make mistakes. Remediation takes time.
Ending off with a few short stories
If you're still unfamiliar with dyslexia, or unsure as to how it can affect your child in the long run, allow me to share a few short stories to help you alleviate these worries:
I had a student back in 2014 (whom I'm still teaching today). She could not read two-syllable words like 'revamp' and 'elect', or she would simply take a long time to do so. In fact, there was a lot of reluctance to read.
Today at Secondary 2, she can read tough phrases like 'a strong subscriber of religious doctrines' and 'morality and ethics are not independent of each other'. Seriously, I'm not making this up—this was from our reading text which I'd come up with a month ago.
Also, back in 2014, I had another student who was in the Normal Academic stream. She had struggled with dyslexia for most of her life, and had not done as well as she'd hoped for her PSLE. She was an ambitious young lady, however, and had her sights set on doing the best she could. When she sat for her O Levels in 2015, not only did she qualify for some of the best JCs, but she also did better than most of her peers without dyslexia.
The moral of the two stories here? With hard work, perseverance, remediation, and support from friends and families, your child can most certainly overcome the challenges of dyslexia.
That's what this guide is for. Help is everywhere. You and your child are not alone on this journey.
Was anything missed out in this article? Do you have a strong recommendation that you'd like to add? Let us know in the Comments section below, and don't forget to follow Swords & Stationery, the world's first game-based specialist tuition programme, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest learning tips, strategies and discussions.