Singapore study to look at dyslexic yet gifted pre-schoolers

The Dyslexia Association of Singapore launched a study on twice-exceptional children during its pre-school seminar on March 17, 2021. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Global statistics show that about 10 per cent of the population has dyslexia of varying degrees. It is estimated that about 2,700 pre-schoolers in Singapore require support for dyslexia-related challenges every year.

Pre-school educators usually narrow their focus to coaching children with dyslexia in reading and writing skills, and tend to overlook other areas in which these students may be gifted, say educational therapists of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS).

Also known as twice-exceptional (2e) students, they may begin to develop low self-esteem despite being acutely aware of their significant abilities in areas that remain ungroomed.

To ensure their talents do not go unnoticed, DAS launched a study on 2e children during its annual pre-school seminar on Wednesday (March 17).

Ms Geetha Shantha Ram, director of Specific Learning Differences Assessment Services at DAS, says the study aims to understand the perspectives of pre-school educators on intervention for 2e learners.

This will require identifying 2e learners and providing appropriate programmes to effectively support them.

"With smaller class sizes and use of learning through play, the pre-school environment may allow for identification and intervention practices that could aid the students, parents and future teachers," said Ms Geetha, who heads the 2e study.

She added that while there have been a few local studies in the area of 2e children, the findings have been limited, especially within the pre-school population.

DAS is reaching out to teachers from various types of pre-schools, including government-aided and private ones.

Teachers they have interviewed so far feel they are insufficiently trained to support gifted students with learning differences in their classrooms.

Ms Geetha noted the need to address these issues to better support 2e pre-schoolers.

The 2e study is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

Ms Geetha said that focusing on 2e learners' talents while addressing their learning needs provides them with the opportunity to excel in some areas and gives them a chance to be challenged in ways that can help them achieve greater things.

Findings from this study will be relevant to other early-years educators, educator mentors, curriculum developers, school leaders and policymakers.

"As current formal training for pre-school educators does not specifically address areas of giftedness and dual exceptionalities, findings derived from the study could prompt further evaluation of current professional development frameworks," said Ms Geetha.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.