Matthew Martin Foo
“How others related to me, helped me to cope much better”
Matthew Foo (20 years) is a 2nd year student at Lasalle College of the Arts working towards a Diploma in Animation. He was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was 10 and until then, he could not figure out why reading and spelling were major challenges to him. His attempts at composition were equally frustrating as he could not organise his thoughts, let alone put them on paper. He coped better with learning support from the Dyslexic Association of Singapore and extra support in school. But it was people close to him, and others who supported his journey, who made a key diference to how he coped with his disability.
Matthew comes from a single parent family. He credits his mum to have done a good job playing both the role as mother and father. Without mum, “the family would have crumbled”. Until he was diagnosed with dyslexia, he had faced significant challenges coping with his studies and with attentiveness. What he valued most was that his mum quit her job to dedicate time and attention to help him with his school work. It was also mum who was there for him at a brief time he turned delinquent as a teenager. He attributed the difficult spell to feelings and events around him that led to unnecessary exchanges of harsh words at home. That led to him withdrawing from his mum and younger brothers, self-isolation to indulge in gaming, binge eating as well as skipping school for two critical weeks before the final term exams. Fortunately, he came round quickly and realised the hurt that he had caused his family especially his mum who remained understanding and loving to him.
Matthew is also thankful to his primary school teachers who helped him cope with his disability. He recalled with fondness the teacher who supervised students exempted from Chinese. Instead of being drilled on his other subjects, the teacher adopted a fun approach with the students, adopting games and riddles, complete with prizes as incentives in order to spur them on. Matthew is appreciative of such inspiring teachers who made learning enjoyable.
As a person with dyslexia, his visual strengths were relatively strong and he could relate better to images than words. So he liked gaming. At ITE after his N-levels, Matthew hung out with friends whose common interest was in gaming. They would entertain each other by devising their own competitions yet giving each other pointers on how to do better. He described them as “friends who are your age, who would also be your teachers”. These were also friends who would watch each others’ backs. They have remained good friends.
Matthew is convinced that how people relate to him does matter. They helped him to cope much better with the struggles of his dyslexic condition and brought him awareness of how he should relate to others with disabilities.
DISCOVER HIS ACHIEVEMENTS HIS CONDITION
Leaves floating around a pond while the water gives a peaceful, mesmerising feel
In a dreamland where a wandering girl looks upon the horizon as she admires the scenes of the clouds and the mountains
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