13-Year-Old Singaporean Boy Overcomes Dyslexia Through Sports

Shreya Jagdish

As a young toddler, Elgin dreaded bedtime stories.

He loved t0 listen to them, but when asked to read, he would vehemently say no.

His mum, Mdm Ng did not think much about his adverse reaction.

“I thought maybe all kids are like that, maybe they prefer to enjoy the story than reading it for themselves,” Mdm Ng said. 

It was not until Elgin joined kindergarten that she finally found out that he had dyslexia – a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).

Early diagnosis 

overcome dyslexia

Image source: iStock

Elgin’s diagnosis happened when his kindergarten teacher asked him to write the number 1966 and Elgin ended up writing 6691 instead.

This to her was a clear sign of dyslexia as dyslexic kids often have trouble identifying numbers and their shapes. (Within this umbrella of dyslexia is also another condition called dyscalculia which is different from dyslexia and is often known as math dyslexia.) 

But thanks to the kindergarten teacher’s discovery, Mdm Ng and her husband immediately tried way to help out Elgin as he entered primary school.

“When he was diagnosed of course we did a lot of research to see how we can help him but we were not alone because the [primary] school and DAS (Dyslexia Association of Singapore) also supported us in many ways.”

Mdm Ng notes that his early diagnosis of dyslexia helped Elgin a lot in overcoming dyslexia. 

However, she points out that the road to his success was not easy for either of them.

Academic difficulties 

Initially, Elgin faced a lot of problems academically, especially with spelling tests.

“A typical spelling test for a kid normally takes a day but for him, it takes a week to prepare for the spelling test.”

Besides that, Mdm Ng and her husband observed that Elgin had a very short attention span and could only sit still for a few minutes.

This made it difficult for him to study as he would keep getting distracted. 

Maths was also another area of concern.

Mdm Ng explained that more than the numbers, it was reading problem sums that confused Elgin. 

“Sometimes the problem sum for P6 is very overwhelming after a while you’re reading it for really long. So we said divide and conquer,” she said.

Sports key to self-confidence

 

Image source: DAS

As a result of being exposed to sports from a young age, Elgin developed a deep interest in it.

In primary school, he even represented his school for soccer in the interschool competitions.

His sports repertoire also includes squash, which sees him representing his secondary school and taekwondo, where he is currently taking the junior black belt class. 

Elgin’s father Mr Ng strongly supports his son’s interest in sports and notes that it has helped him regain his confidence. 

“I think most importantly sports helps him with self-esteem tremendously because I may not do well in my academics but I can do well in sports, that energy has channelled.”

Overcome dyslexia in PSLE 

Last year for PSLE, Elgin secured 2As for Chinese and English – subjects that he struggled in. 

His parents said he while he was not expecting those results he was extremely heartened to see the fruits of his labour. 

They also said a big part of his academic success was due to the Dyslexia Association of Singapore where Elgin received extra help to cope with school. 

But while his hard work definitely paid off, it was sports that really bolstered his self-confidence and esteem.  

“Sports helps him in a way that all the negative emotions you can actually channel and vent it out in sports so I think its a balance.”

Today Elgin has overcome dyslexia to join the express stream in secondary school. He has even developed a love for reading. 

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