“Spoke only at 9, read and wrote only at 12…Ahbi has come a long way”
A final-year student at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) studying Graphic Design and a former Special Olympics athlete, Ahbi Ramesh's journey to where she is today is a powerful story of hope and self-motivation. Diagnosed with dyslexia late in her childhood, Ahbi struggled throughout her early years and grew up fearful and shy. Many presumed she was deaf as she was non-verbal. Often ridiculed and compared to her peers, Ahbi yearned to participate in normal activities but felt neglected.
From home school to special needs school to vocational school
Ahbi's mother, determined to support her firstborn, took her to several doctors where she underwent a series of tests until one practitioner correctly identified her condition as dyslexia. Subsequently, after several years of homeschooling, Ahbi enrolled at Grace Orchard, a special education school, where she finally spoke at the age of 9 and became fluent in reading and writing at the age of 12.
Then on to mainstream schools
Gaining acceptance to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) was a significant milestone for Ahbi. She felt that she had finally moved from being treated as a special needs student to being seen as a normal one. Contrary to the misnomer that ITE stood for “It’s The End," Ahbi successfully progressed on to NAFA where she aims to graduate with a Diploma in Graphic Design. Invited back to Grace Orchard for an alumnus award, her teachers were very pleasantly surprised by the dramatic change in her demeanour and delighted that she exuded much confidence. She spoke to current students and it “blew their minds” that a homeschooled special needs child could transition beyond vocational schooling to pursue a specialist programme at a reputed arts college.
Ahbi desires to find a job after graduation to support her family. But, she also aspires to pursue a part-time degree to continue developing her knowledge and skills. To those with dyslexia, Ahbi says, "Don't let fear push you down.” Ahbi is an inspirational example of how far self-motivation, hard work and courage can take you. A firm believer in the power of hope and unwavering resolution, she strongly encourages others to stay brave and determined to achieve their goals, no matter how out of reach they may initially seem.
DISCOVER HER ACHIEVEMENTS HER CONDITION
Title: Astor, Anytime & Anywhere Beyond Space
2021 final term project
The design depicts that each journey leads us on endless and exciting travels in an ever changing world with stars that we can reach out to in order to achieve our goals.
Title: The Faraway
Book cover design for Y2 project
The Faraway tells the story of how an introvert can use a time of solitude to connect with his feelings and stretch his imagination beyond limits.
Title: Fun, Active, Refresh (FAR)
App design for Y2 project
As we endure the lockdowns with Covid-19, we are encouraged to draw up our wish lists and pursue our hobbies and interests so that we have Fun, are Active and will be Refreshed.
Dyslexia is a type of specific learning difficulty identifiable as a developmental difficulty of language learning and cognition. It is not a problem with intelligence although the difficulty can mask a person's intelligence. It is not a problem with vision although it is sometimes described as "word blindness" and dyslexics also say that they see words and letters running around. Dyslexics struggle with reading and comprehension as well as spelling and writing. Challenges can be life long but there are diagnostic tools for early detection and intervention strategies that can compensate for the difficulty.
The following are some common symptoms associated with dyslexia but different people are affected to varying degrees and people with these symptoms may be facing other difficulties too.
- May talk later than children of similar age, slow to recall words or add new words to vocabulary
- May have difficulty telling or re-telling a story in the correct sequence
- May be slow to learn the connection between letters and sounds
- May have difficulty decoding words in isolation (reading single words in isolation)
- Makes consistent reading and spelling errors including:
- - Letter reversals – d for b, e.g., dog for bog
- - Word reversals – tip for pit
- - Inversions – m and w, u and n
- - Transpositions – felt and left
- - Substitutions – house and home
- May transpose number sequences and confuse arithmetic signs (+ - x / =)
- May face difficulty telling time
- May develop fine motor skills at slower pace than other children
- May be unable to follow multi-step directions or routines
- May have difficulty with personal organization
Dyslexia is a disorder present at birth. It cannot be prevented or cured and without proper diagnosis and instruction, it can lead to frustration, poor performance in school and low self-esteem.Treatment
Early diagnosis is important to identify areas to work on so that children with dyslexia can learn strategies and skills to cope and perform better in school.
Children with dyslexia can learn in mainstream schools but in different ways than children without the condition. An individualized education plan can be structured to help dyslexics with their specific problems.
A variety of visual, aural and tactile tools can be used that are fun and effective in providing learning strategies for dyslexics.
Assistive educational technology has provided tools to boost learning by young and adult dyslexics as well as track their progress.
Joining a parent support group can help parents stay in contact with parents whose children face similar learning disabilities. Such support groups can provide useful information and emotional support.Useful links
- What is Dyslexia - Dyslexia Association of Singapore https://www.das.org.sg
- Dyslexia in Children - Understood.org https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/dyslexia/understanding-dyslexia
- The Complete Guide to Finding Help for Dyslexia in Singapore (2019) https://swordsandstationery.com/stationery/help-for-dyslexia-singapore