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Understanding Dyslexia : Expert Advice


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Following on from our recent DAS expert articles which have; helped us to debunk some popular myths surrounding dyslexia, helped to spot the key signs in early detection of dyslexia and other topics, the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) are once again lending us their experts and offering valuable advice.

This month, DAS will share tips and strategies that can assist parents who are keen to support their child, help us understand how technology can help with dyslexia as well as sharing more interesting facts that prove understanding dyslexia is key to helping our child.  In fact, this expert advice from DAS is also good information if you are an educator working with children with dyslexia.

BM : Does dyslexia affect performance in other academic subjects, other than the English language?

Dyslexia is a difficulty that affects a person’s ability to process sound. It therefore, does affect the learning of other languages like Malay and Tamil, and a person with dyslexia will still encounter similar difficulties faced in the learning of the English language in areas of reading and writing. As most other academic subjects are taught in the English language and would require a person with dyslexia to come to terms with its own unique vocabulary and learn them, they may face difficulties in learning these subjects as well. It is with that understanding that DAS has developed programmes such as the Chinese, Maths and English Exam Skills to help equip students with dyslexia with the necessary skills and strategies to enable them to succeed in school.

BM : Could DAS share some practical tips/strategies that parents can use to support their child at home.

June Siew, Head of DAS Academy & Director, Postgraduate Programme

The English language contains both regular and irregular words. About 85% of the words are regular and are spelt in a predictable way while 15% of the words are irregular and do not conform to the conventional language rules. To master reading, a child needs to have decoding skills to tackle regular words (e.g. pot, cake, rabbit) and a reliable sight memory for irregular words (e.g. you, one, the).

You can help your child to develop decoding skills by heightening his or her sensitivity to letters and letter sounds through the following fun activities:

  • Letter search: Hide the letters around the room. Get the child to search for the letters, one at a time, and tell you the name and sound of the letter. Then, get the child to rearrange the letters to spell a word.
  • Letter sounds: Get your child to choose items you are buying at the grocery store by giving a hint such as “Get the drink that starts with the “Y” sound (e.g. Yakult).

You can help your child to develop a reliable sight memory for irregular words through the following activities:

  • Get your child to clap and say the letter names of the word, one letter to one clap
  • Teach an irregular word through a familiar tune e.g. “B-I-N-G-O…Bingo was his name ‘O’
  • Use mnemonics e.g. come = come on my elephant
  • Get your child to find a small word within a big word e.g. believe – do not believe in a lie

Above all, consistently read to and with your child. Read to your child to provide a model of good reading with accuracy and prosody he or she can emulate. Consistently read with your child to allow him or her the chance to practise reading aloud. This simple activity, which can be done anywhere and anytime, has shown to be one of the most powerful ways to improve reading.

BM : Does dyslexia co-occur with other difficulties?

Dyslexia is known as a specific learning difficulty (SpLD) because it affects a specific aspect of learning. For dyslexia, the most visible aspect of learning that is affects is literacy. However, other than a weakness in literacy, people with dyslexia often have weaknesses in areas of speed of processing, short-term working memory, sequencing and organisation. These weaknesses have also been associated with the other SpLDs, such as dyspraxia, dyscalculia, attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As SpLDs share the same underlying weaknesses, there is a tendency for them to co-occur with each other. To illustrate, an inherent weakness in short-term working memory could show up in literacy, as dyslexia, and in math, as dyscalculia.

BM : How can technology can help the person with dyslexia?

One cannot underestimate the importance technology plays in this day and age. Technology’s greatest contribution to education is that when it’s used effectively, it has the potential to level the playing field for everyone. When this is applied to a person with dyslexia, the benefits are manifold.

For instance, there are text-to-speech software programmes for those who struggle with reading and speech-to-text software for those who are unable to write. Spelling and grammar checkers, online dictionaries and reference sources have made searching for information, editing and producing work much more efficient for those who have difficulties using traditional means. There are also software programmes that addresses other needs such as time management, organisational and note taking skills, thus enabling persons with dyslexia to overcome their difficulties, and often, without feeling their effects.


Additionally, technology enables individuals with dyslexia to become independent learners and to have the autonomy to decide the means that they would like to be supported, leading to self- directed learning. Studies on the effects of technology use are consistent in reporting that it is highly successful at stimulating and maintaining interest, motivating and offering a more social learning experience, creating a positive influence on their self-esteem.


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DAS Academy Ltd (a subsidiary of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore) is organising a conference for all – parents, teachers and practitioners – working with children with specific learning difficulties and special educational needs.

The Conference will cover aspects of behavioural, literacy and social emotional support, intervention and assessment for children with special needs.  Plenary Session Topics include; Self-Esteem and Dyslexia, The lens you use to view dyslexia and why it matters and Learning disabilities : From operating definition to operational application.


UnITE SpLD 2015 – Connecting Minds and Redefining Possibilities – Uniting Ideas in Teaching Excellence will be held on Friday, 26th June 2015 at 9am to 5.30pm on location at the HDB Hub Auditorium.

For more information about DAS Academy Ltd, please click HERE

Sign up before 1 June 2015 to enjoy S$20 discount early bird rate S$178 (u.p.S$198)


THANK YOU : We would like to thank the experts from the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS)

June Siew Hui Li
June Siew, Head of DAS Academy & Director, Postgraduate Programme


Nor Ashraf Samsudin, Director of Specialised Educational Services
Nor Ashraf Samsudin, Director of Specialised Educational Services
Geetha Shantha Ram, Director of MOE-aided DAS Literacy Programme & Staff Professional Development
Geetha Shantha Ram, Director of MOE-aided DAS Literacy Programme & Staff Professional Development




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