Prevention is where intervention begins before children have experienced a prolonged period of failure in acquiring literacy skills. Remediation is where intervention occurs after children have experienced difficulties in literacy learning for many years.
Prevention is of course preferred as it is usually more successful than remedial teaching. International studies have shown that if children with dyslexia can be identified before they are seven years old and given effective teaching, they can improve to the point where there is little disadvantage as compared to their peers. For children of 11 years and over it takes 4 times as much teaching to produce the same amount of progress as would have been achieved at age seven.
A collaborative study between DAS (Main Literacy Programme) and Temasek Polytechnic which will soon be presented at the upcoming UnITE SpLD Conference (20-22 June 2018) echoes the above. The study monitored 82 students 7 to 9 yrs old who received intervention over a period of 6 to 12 months. Students who joined DAS MLP between ages 7.5 to 8.5 years old performed better in terms of Reading Task scores and Word Reading Time compared to those in the oldest age group (8.5 – 9). Students who joined DAS MLP early (including the DAS SES Preschool Programme) and had already received 6 to 12 months intervention at ages 7.5 to 8.5 years also performed better than those who just joined DAS MLP at this age range and with no prior intervention, although all groups showed progress.
Once again, this is a call to teachers and parents not to wait for a child to fail but to initiate identification and intervention early!
Lee Siang is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. He regularly notes down his thoughts on the DAS Blog.