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In my capacity as a clinician, I often encounter parents grappling with the decision of whether to seek an assessment for dyslexia on behalf of their child. Many of these parents have harbored suspicions that their child’s learning is not progressing as expected, yet they frequently hesitate to take the crucial step of seeking help. Occasionally, well-meaning friends or relatives discourage them, expressing concerns about labeling the child or assuming it’s just a passing phase that the child will naturally outgrow.

Why is it essential to detect learning difficulties like dyslexia early, and how can this early detection positively impact a child’s confidence?

In Singapore, dyslexia is rather prevalent, with as many as 10% of the population affected, as reported by the Ministry of Education. Astonishingly, numerous children navigate their way through the educational system without ever receiving a dyslexia diagnosis. Regrettably, their learning challenges are sometimes misattributed to laziness or a tendency to become easily distracted.

Although children with dyslexia can attend mainstream schools, they require additional support to overcome their unique hurdles. Without this assistance, children with dyslexia may wrestle with low self-esteem and heightened anxiety.

I cannot emphasize enough the significance of early assessment for dyslexia in children. Numerous research studies have thoroughly documented the long-lasting consequences of delayed diagnosis of learning difficulties. These consequences encompass low self-esteem, diminished self-confidence, depression, self-harm tendencies, learned helplessness, and heightened anxiety. These are well-established effects experienced by children who either did not receive a timely diagnosis or lacked access to the appropriate interventions.

Childhood and adolescence are periods of substantial growth and development. These are the formative years during which children accumulate experiences that mould their interests, personality, self-esteem, and how they perceive themselves in relation to others. If a child encounters substantial difficulties in fulfilling their role as a student, these “failing experiences” can significantly influence their self-perception and their interactions with the world.

Will my child ever be completely cured? What does the future hold for them? Will they be able to secure employment and support themselves and their families?

Learning disorders like dyslexia have no cure, but it is clear that children with such disorders can learn effective strategies to compensate for their difficulties. These strategies may involve using mnemonic devices, breaking tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and consistent practice in reading and writing.

Assessing your child for dyslexia and providing appropriate intervention can significantly narrow the learning gap between your child and their peers. Delaying the diagnosis may allow this gap to widen, potentially causing your child to fall further behind, increasing their stress levels, and possibly leading to a long-term disinterest in learning.

Why aren’t more children diagnosed at an earlier age?

I often hear from parents who express concerns about the possibility of burdening their child with a lifelong label and fear that a diagnosis might limit their future opportunities, including employability. Many Asian parents choose to enroll their children in various enrichment activities such as piano lessons, gymnastics, ballet, swimming, coding, speech and drama. Given this, why not consider dyslexia-specific interventions as a form of enrichment as well? After all, neglecting to address dyslexia or postponing its treatment can have severe consequences on a child’s mental well-being and self-esteem in the long run. Shouldn’t this serve as motivation to invest in your child’s future by providing them with the best possible support?