One in five children suffers from dyslexia and other forms of learning difficulties. How can this problem be corrected? Can it be cured?
BY SYED ZAID
LEARNING difficulties are one of the hidden handicaps the public should be wary of. Dyslexia, is a form of neurological deficiency that involve difficulties in reading, writing, spelling and counting.
This is due to problems identifying speech sounds and the decoding of word and letters association as the difficulties affect the areas of the brain that process language.
Says the coordinator of Brilliant Dyslexia Shah Alam, Teacher Tijah Bol: “Children with learning difficulties are assets to the country. It is proven that children with learning difficulties are of average and high intelligent individuals once their hidden abilities are guided and flourished.”
A day in Brilliant Dyslexia Shah Alam
To understand more about learning with difficulties, I went to the Brilliant Dyslexia School in Shah Alam. The day started with a physical activity to help kick start the brain. I saw a group of my “classmates”, dribbling a basketball around an arranged set of cones with a hula hoop. The exercise is designed to train their coordination and understanding.
Once everyone had their turn, the class proceeded into a classroom. In there, there was an alphabetical chart hanging on the back of the door. As the class monitor, Amir changed the date on the whiteboard, class was in session. I was seated next to Adam where he began his exercise of determining a three-letter word.
“We teach three main subjects here,” said Tijah. “The subjects are English, Bahasa Malaysia and Mathematics. We’re not like the normal schools. With the different levels they are at right now, it’s impossible to teach the whole classroom and expect everyone to understand. The lessons here are tailored individually,” she continued.
She told me the story of Amir, who had problems focusing in school.
“During examinations, he would be singing or hiding under the table. It turns out that Amir has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). That is why he was slower than his classmates.
“Dyslexia is usually caused by other learning disabilities so it’s not a surprise when a dyslexic student is autistic or diagnosed with ADHD,” Tijah explained while checking Amir’s homework.
The Fitzroy method from Australia
The alphabet is a sound code. The Fitzroy method focuses on learning the sound that the letter makes – phonic alphabet. They system is effective for dyslexia patients as the system teaches the sound that the letter makes, giving them audio cues to assist them in decoding the string of letters. It is proven that the method can help the children learn many words very quickly.
The Readers methodically build up the skills and knowledge if written English in carefully graded steps. Each step is made to help the children remember a whole new set of words. The Fitzroy Readers and Word Skills is a set of story books and written activities with phonic hints to help the children learn step by step.
Emotional, social, cognition, physical and communication development are often affected by dyslexia.
“These children are unable to understand social cues, emotional empathy and appropriate reaction. Because of this, Dyslexic children are often low in self-confidence and motivation or will seek recognition by becoming the class clown. However, these children are able to learn by visuals granting them good artistic talents,” Tijah explained to me.
While taking care of children with learning difficulties can be overwhelming, it is a job worth doing according to Tijah.
“Children with learning difficulties are not stupid. In fact, most of them have average or high intelligence level.
“Study shows the disorder is more prevalent in boys compared to girls. The saying ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘girls mature faster than boys’ should be obsolete.”— The Health
Children with learning difficulties are assets to the country. It is proven that children with learning difficulties are of average and high intelligent individuals once their hidden abilities are guided and flourished.”
(The names used in this article are not real names for privacy reasons)