"I just learnt how to be comfortable being myself"
"Can you slow down on your black" is a question that Rakshana has often been asked as a 2nd year LASALLE College of the Arts student majoring in Art. She readily admits to a bent towards dark colours and subjects in her works, which she attributed to her state of emotion growing up, but the articulation has actually helped her to escape from the feeling that she has been trapped in a box.
Struggles growing up with Dyslexia
There were bright spots. She was referred to the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) and on being diagnosed with dyslexia, a more tactile and visual approach to learning helped her to struggle less. But support from teachers in school was lacking as they were not trained to help her with the same strategies so there was a lack of continuity. Moreover, the sessions could not be sustained as they were costly. Fortunately, Rakshana's mother played a pivotal role in helping her to cope. A senior educational guidance officer supporting children in special needs, she understood and empathised with Rakshana and showered her with unconditional love, encouragement and attention. She would take her to the DAS sessions, interface with her school teachers and was also instrumental in eventually encouraging Rakshana to consider a programme in art to develop her interest and potential in this area. With her mum's support, she was determined to focus on doing well for the "N" levels. Things also took a turn when she was at ITE where she took a course in floristry that she suited her well. She also had nurturing teachers whom she felt really cared for her and were patient in teaching her the craft. With new self-confidence, she finally made good friends whose loyalty she valued.
In her struggle to deal with dyslexia, Rakshana had to learn to be more independent and just grow up a lot faster to know what, where and how to get what she wanted and in doing so earn respect from others. Through observation of people whom she admired and looked up to, she tried to model after them. Her elder sisters were very smart students, articulate talkers and good planners and through watching them, she learnt how to be more confident in speech and conduct. Over time, she has resolved to accept the condition instead of feeling sorry for herself, is unafraid to acknowledge that she is dyslexic and no longer feels embarrassed to discuss it. In Rakshana's own words, "I just learnt how to be comfortable being myself".
Use of art and creativity to help others
Rakshana's struggle with dyslexia has made her more compassionate towards others. She hopes to use art as a form of therapy among elderly folks, listening to their stories through their art. She is also considering teaching art to special needs students. Acknowledging that teaching the special needs would be challenging, given her own experience, she hopes to devise creative and fun approaches to help them overcome their fears and hidden handicap. Bravo Rakshana! You have come a long way and we hope that your efforts will brighten the lives of others and add colour to yours!
DISCOVER HER ACHIEVEMENTS HER CONDITION
White Charcoal, white pen and pastel charcoal
Chinese Ink Painting
Still Life Art
Oil on canvas
Still Life Art
Oil on canvas
Anatomy of human figure
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