9 signs that a child has dyslexia

Photo by Brandi Redd on Unsplash

Dyslexic kids benefit greatly from early intervention. Early detection by parents or school teachers is key. Studies have shown that when a child is given intervention at a younger age, progress is much faster than at a later age. If your child has one or two of the following signs, it does not mean that they have dyslexia. But having several of the signs listed in this article means that you should most probably get an assessment done for your child.

1. Does better at explaining things verbally than in writing

Most of my students are perfectly capable of narrating what happened earlier that day in school, or in recounting their most recent vacation experience. They provide lots of details and make a good storyteller. When I get them to write down what they had just said a minute ago, they stare at the blank paper, unable to write down what they had just described.

2. Failing in school

As children with dyslexia might be unable to read without explicit instruction, they often go through primary school failing test after test because of their inability to read and understand the questions.

Some have even progressed all the way to Primary 4 and beyond because in Singapore, students are simply promoted even if they fail their exams. They usually copy their classmate’s homework to avoid being punished.

These kids would be in for a rude shock come PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) where they might fail, causing them to have to be retained a year in Primary 6.

3. Forgetful (low executive functioning)

Students with dyslexia are often the ones who forget to show their parents the consent forms needed for school excursions, and would also usually forget to hand in their homework.

When questioned, they say that they had genuinely forgotten, and no amount of punishment would help. This is not done on purpose, but occurs because they have low executive functioning skill, causing them to have short-term memory.

4. Reverses letter sequence such as “felt” for “left”

Teachers of dyslexic kids will be highly cognizant of this fact. In any written work, essays or otherwise, words of every sort will be misspelled. The letter sequence reversal is one of the most commonly seen mistakes that these students make. If this keeps occurring even after correction has been done several times, it’s a cause for concern.

5. Avoids reading aloud

As children with dyslexia face trouble reading, they would usually not embarrass themselves by reading passages aloud. At home, they may stare silently into books or homework, and flip the pages accordingly, but when questioned on the content, would be unable to provide any answer.

Some mask this by giving excuses when told to read aloud.

6. Has trouble with word problems for Mathematics

I have noticed that for students with dyslexia, they usually do better in the questions that are straightforward and only require them to do basic arithmetic, such as addition or subtraction. When the same numbers are placed in a lengthy word problem, they would usually leave the question blank. Alternatively, they would provide random calculations, so as not to be scolded for leaving the question blank.

7. Has poor recall of facts

This varies from child to child, but sometimes information-heavy subjects, such as History and Geography, are anathema to them because they find it frustrating to commit the hundreds of facts to memory.

8. Spells the same word differently in a single piece of writing

A word like “disguise” can be spelt “disgiuse”, “desguise”, “digusie” and so on, all in a single essay. This is very common in dyslexic kids and reveals the inability to remember how words are spelt.

9. Word reversals such as “pit” for “tip”

Finally, word reversals that persist are a tell-tale sign of dyslexia. Mistaking “god” for “dog”, “nip” for “pin” whether on paper or in speech are common errors that are frequently made.

I hope these 9 signs have proven useful. However, this does not replace a proper assessment and a child can only be diagnosed to have dyslexia by a qualified educational psychologist.

If you suspect your child has dyslexia, please do not hesitate to engage a clinical psychologist to assist you.

If you’ve already got a diagnosis, you can always engage our services as we provide educational therapy by qualified personnel, dedicated to helping your child achieve their best.

Email us at the.alternative.edu@gmail.com or call us at 8749 2441, or fill up our Contact page for more information.

Early intervention for dyslexia (Why it’s important)


I remember feeling amazed at the progress of my two P4 students early on in my teaching career. They arrived in my classroom not able to spell simple 3-letter words such as “pin” or “top” even at the age of 10. However, with a mere three terms of intervention, were able to spell 5-letter words confidently and were even able to construct simple sentences.

This stood out in contrast to a very hard working Sec 4 student I taught, who no matter how she tried, could never seem to grasp the concepts which came so naturally to the P4 students. And there was limited progress even as I tried to help her to the very best of my abilities.

It was only after reading some research about it that I understood why this was the case. Emilio Ferrer, a UC Davis Professor noted in his paper that:

“If the persistent achievement gap between dyslexic and typical readers is to be narrowed, even closed, reading interventions must be implemented early, when children are still developing the basic foundation for reading acquisition.”

I realise that this was because neuroplasticity is most apparent at a younger age and the child’s brain is able to change and reorganise itself to accommodate the techniques taught to them, which is also a point noted by psychologist Moshe Shtuhl.

Here at The Alternative Education, we offer early intervention for your child from Primary 1 and beyond.

Email us at the.alternative.edu@gmail.com or text us at 8749 2441 to find out more about our services.

5 Great Tips to Help a Dyslexic Kid

Here are 5 tips I’ve rounded up to help your dyslexic child learn better.

1. Easy-to-read Font

Open Dyslexic is a new open source font created to help increase readability for users with dyslexia. You can download it and try printing worksheets for your child. Older students may be used to traditional fonts, so it is advised you use this with discretion. It is free and can be used with both Mac, Windows, and for phones, tablets, and computers.



2. Text to speech Reader

You can drag and drop files into Natural Readers web application and immediately listen to the text. It can be converted to audio files you can download so that you can listen to it anywhere. It also offers 57 different voices and works with a variety of file formats (PDF, Word, TXT, RTF, EPUP).



3. Request for Extra Time in School Exams

Now known as “access arrangements”, you can request for extra time for examinations for your child via the form teacher. However, this has to be carefully considered. Some kids might feel like they are “different” from the rest or might be made fun of by his/her classmates as they either stay back after the exam ends or are placed in a different room. However, this can be very useful if your child reads very slowly.


4. Online dyslexia test

Do you suspect your child has dyslexia but are not willing to pay $1,000 for as assessment just yet? You can try this free online assessment tool that uses made-up words to test the phonological awareness of your child.


Basically, the word flashes on the screen, and your child reads the word. You then click on the button to read the word for you and then click “Correct” if it matches what your child read, and “Incorrect” if it doesn’t.

This is much better than the other assessment tools I found online that uses parents’ observations of their child’s ability as that is more subjective.

5. Online Phoneme Game

Phoneme Pop is a great online game that also has a mobile friendly version to help young children who are unfamiliar with their phonemes to practice it in a non-threatening environment.


That’s the end of the 5 good tips to help a dyslexic kid. If you’d like to engage a tutor for your dyslexic kid, do email us at the.alternative.edu@gmail.com or text/Whatsapp us at 8749 2441 for more details. You can also find out more about us here.

Dyslexia in Singapore (A basic guide)

1.What is it?

Dyslexia is a neurological deficit in the brain which makes it hard for a person to read and spell accurately.

In Singapore, the effect is compounded because of the education system in our country. There is a large emphasis on being able to read (wordy textbooks, complex problem sums in the Maths exam paper) and write (compositions, synthesis, editing, comprehension in the English exams and an emphasis on correctly spelled written answers in the Science exams).

Those with dyslexia will often be less able to catch up with their peers unless they seek intervention.

2. What to do?

Receiving help through specialised remediation works. Trained Educational Therapists at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) or at The Alternative Education have proven to help those weak in reading and spelling.

Undergoing training in the Orton-Gillingham method developed specially for children suffering from dyslexia, the results have proven to work. This is why, supported by the Ministry of Education (MOE), the DAS has expanded rapidly in the past 20 years, having 10 centres across the country.

At The Alternative Education, we are able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your child and tailor-made activities, educational games and worksheets for them to make reading and writing a fun and enjoyable experience.

In addition, we cater to any learning style that your child prefers, be it visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or a blend of any of these.

Unlike the DAS with a class size of 4 students to a single teacher, our one-to-one approach helps the student focus and receive the attention he/she needs.

Our approach has proven to work, as evidenced in the Testimonials

3. Benefits of early intervention

When picked up early at the lower primary levels or at kindergarten, intervention has proven to be more successful and effective.

This is because at a younger age, the child is beginning to learn letter-sound associations and using them to spell. After this knowledge has been crystallised, it is harder for older kids to change the way they read and spell.

4. Mother Tongue Exemption

The MOE has clamped down on Mother Tongue Exemptions for reasons known only to them. As such, many dyslexic kids who have been failing Chinese/Malay/Tamil are not granted the exemption. Worried parents are concerned that it might affect their PSLE T-score.

If the kids have been failing their Mother Tongue for years, parents are advised to allow their children to take Foundation Chinese/Malay/Tamil. This is because in the Foundation course, the emphasis is less on reading and writing and more on speaking and listening. This will make it slightly easier for them in light of MOE’s decision.

If you’d like to find out more about Dyslexia and Chinese, you can click on the link here.

5. Where to go?

DAS offers their services once or twice weekly in the afternoons and evenings. They provide 10%, 25%, 50% and up to 100% bursary for families with limited income.

However, their class size at 4 students per class means that your child will be unable to receive the specialised attention he/she needs.

We offer one-to-one sessions at a premium cost because we believe in the quality of our services. If you would like to find out more, please SMS or Whatsapp us at 8749 2441 or email us at the.alternative.edu@gmail.com

6. Who are we?

We are a group of Senior Educational Therapists formerly from the Dyslexia Association of Singapore and have years of experience helping children with dyslexia. In addition, we also see students with ADHD and also those on the ASD spectrum.

7. Contact us

For more information, you can contact us through:

SMS/Whatsapp: 8749 2441

Email: the.alternative.edu@gmail.com

Chinese for Dyslexics (A basic guide)


For students with dyslexia, learning Chinese can be a struggle. There are several areas one can have difficulty with and they are namely:

  • Having the wrong association of words
  • Having poor retention of learning
  • Having a poor understanding of radical positions
  • Getting confused with visually similar words
  • Adding or omitting strokes in Chinese characters
  • Inverting words or parts of a Chinese character

Strategies in Supporting Learners

Using multi-sensory methods of teaching have proven to work well with dyslexic students. Writing on sand or moulding Chinese characters in clay can help a student retain the information better.

In addition, to help with word recognition, explaining how words are formed using Semantic Radical Cards the Dyslexia Association of Singapore has developed can also help.

Finally, getting students to form pictorial associations with individual Chinese characters also help retain the shape of each word better. Below are 2 examples of how this can be used:


Of course, there are many more ways one can help a student with dyslexia learn Chinese more efficiently and effectively. The methods mentioned above are but a fraction of a multitude of ways a trained Chinese tutor in helping students with dyslexia can help.

If you are interested in hiring an experienced MOE and DAS-trained Chinese Educational Therapist for your child, please text us at 8749 2441 or email us at the.alternative.edu@gmail.com for more information.