Local study shows dyslexic children at higher risk of developing social-emotional problems

Studies have shown that children with dyslexia experience high levels of panic and depression.
Studies have shown that children with dyslexia experience high levels of panic and depression. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Children with dyslexia are more likely to encounter a range of social and emotional difficulties such as feelings of anxiety, depression and low self-esteem.

This is according to findings shared on Tuesday (June 20) from a study by the University College London that was conducted on pupils from Singapore.

Children with dyslexia often have difficulty reading, writing and spelling. The condition often occurs alongside other learning disabilities such as attention deficit disorder.

It is estimated that one to two primary and secondary school students could be dyslexic in a class of 40 students.

Dr Vivien Yang and Dr Sandra Dunsmuir, who are psychologists, conducted the study and had gathered the responses from 99 Primary 3 pupils with dyslexia across 13 primary schools here.

The study, which was completed in 2011, also found that dyslexic children experienced higher levels of panic and signs of depression compared to their peers.

Parents and teachers of children with dyslexia noted that children with dyslexia are more likely to experience higher levels of emotional distress, conduct problems and hyperactivity issues as well.

Mrs Haslindah Mohamed, 45, a mother of a Primary 3 boy who has dyslexia, identified with the findings.

"When my son was younger, he isolated himself a bit, due to his difficulty in talking and understanding others," the administrative assistant said.

In dealing with such emotional difficulties, Dr Yang said that parents and teachers should focus on creating positive relationships and a conducive climate for the child, both at home and at school.

"It is important to ensure that your child knows that dyslexia is not something to be ashamed of and that he or she is not alone," she added.

The results of the study were presented on Tuesday at the annual Uniting Ideas In Teaching Excellence: Specific Learning Differences 2017 conference, which was organised by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore.

Held at the Toa Payoh HDB Hub Convention Centre, the three-day long conference started on Monday will host more than 400 practitioners, parents and caregivers of children with special learning needs.

A panel of 44 international and local professionals was also invited to share new research and best industry practices in supporting children who are challenged with special learning needs.