Number of dyslexia cases probably higher than reported

We refer to the report (Singapore to address inequality during pre-school years: K. Shanmugam; April 20).

The Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) welcomes this government initiative.

Inequality is also present among young children who may be at risk of learning differences, including dyslexia.

The first six years of life are extremely important for speech and language development.

Children with dyslexia would benefit greatly from early intervention as they typically experience a delay in this aspect of development.

To level the playing field, specialist intervention is needed to enable them to pick up the necessary literacy skills.

Without this foundation, many children would struggle in school.

In its intervention programme every year, DAS sees about 300 pre-school students, who are screened to be at risk of dyslexia.

Using the strategies taught in DAS as a coping mechanism, many students are able to make great strides in their literacy abilities, with most displaying improvements in their reading and spelling.

About 67 per cent of these students are eventually diagnosed to have dyslexia at the end of Kindergarten 2.

We would then recommend that they continue with our literacy intervention at our learning centres.

DAS is similarly concerned about children from low-income families who may not be able to access our programmes. To overcome this, the organisation offers financial assistance that is means tested.

However, upon deeper engagement with our stakeholders and partners, we realise that there are more students out there with the same problem.

International statistics suggests that 10 per cent of the population is likely to have dyslexia, with 4 per cent severe enough to warrant intervention.

This means that the 300 pre-schoolers we are seeing would represent just the tip of the iceberg.

We are delighted to see the Government extending greater support to develop the pre-school sector.

Nor Ashraf Samsudin

Director, Specialised Educational Services,

Dyslexia Association of Singapore