"The key to reducing the struggles a child with dyslexia experiences is early identification and intervention."
In Singapore’s context where parents started sending their children for English enrichment classes around the age of 4, they should be able to decode words phonetically, transition to read with whole words and have comprehension of what they’re reading by the time they enter primary school.
However, if they are still struggling towards the end of their preschool education, then there’s more to this than meets the eyes. Think about it. If phonics was all they needed, then they should be on the road to reading, right? If not, then it warrants further investigations.
So assuming the parents then had their child tested and intervention is given. How do we evaluate whether a programme is working for the child? Firstly, set a time frame for yourself and then assess the effectiveness of a programme by considering the following:
1) in the area of phonics, evaluate the child’s ability to associate a sound to a letter and his ability to blend (any word and not just 1 or 2 syllabus words only)
2) in the area of common sight words, observe if the child can consistently recognise the sight words learnt or does he still “trip up” whenever he encounters a certain common sight word and mistake is made immediately thereafter, be it omission, substitution or reversal
3) in the area of spelling, assess if the child can consistently retain what is learnt and not forget the next day or a week later
4) to assess whether a child is truly reading and has comprehension (or is he merely giving the impression that he’s reading but is actually guessing by looking at the pictures or he has memorized the passage), take a book the child has read before, type out the passage and get him to read from the typed passage. Thereafter, get him to retell the story and then you can ask some explicit and implicit questions to see if he can answer them.
Be honest with your evaluation. Remember, dyslexia has to do with how the brain works, and does not affect intelligence. If a programme is working for the child, it is possible to close the learning gap within a reasonable period of time. In my daughter’s case, progress was rapid and she was able to read with ease 6 months after intervention.
Q: What intervention programme should I let my child go for? There are so many out there. Any criteria I can use to assess if those programmes are going to help my child?
A: Parents do get overwhelmed when it comes to deciding which intervention programme to put their child through.
Having gone through the process myself and having learnt what dyslexia truly is, not just from a pure research perspective, but also through a first person’s experience (Ron Davis himself), this is what I think.
Many intervention programmes being offered today can be generally summed up as seeking to teach a child how to learn. Sounds perfectly legit right? However, to correct dyslexia (yes, it is possible), it is important to recognise the cause of the dyslexic symptoms and to remove that cause. In another words, the starting point is not to teach a child how to learn but to remove what is preventing their ability (we all know they are smart cookies) to learn. Once the obstacle to learning is removed, then easeful learning can take place.
If a child is being taught how to learn without first removing the obstruction to learning, it will be an uphill task and the progress is slow. Time is not on their side, especially if they have already entered our Singapore education system.
Putting my daughter through the Davis programme was a game changer for her and I cannot be more thankful for that. If you are at the crossroad now, why not find out more about that programme?
From time to time, I will hold sharing sessions for parents of dyslexic children. Besides creating an opportunity for parents to meet and share their journey, I also wanted to create awareness about the intervention programme that helped my daughter correct her dyslexia and allowed her to tap into her full potential.
Many parents did not know that there are alternative intervention programmes available to help dyslexics and most have not heard about the Davis Dyslexia Correction Programme, an approach that was developed by Ron Davis, who is himself dyslexic and autistic.
Some queried if its evidence based so I thought I'll put the research here for anyone who is interested to find out more.