Growing up with a learning difficulty without understanding why sets learners at a very disadvantaged place. If a child is not given proper intervention and attention, the child most likely gets left behind. More often than not, they get labelled and criticised for their learning difficulty. For Emily, she felt like she was different from everyone else. She took a longer time than her classmates to digest new topics. And she lived under the label that she was not good enough.
During her primary school years as a dyslexic child, while she was not diagnosed yet, she did not excel academically and could not understand why. She would fail almost all of her English spelling tests and would get reprimanded by her teacher for her low scores. They did not understand her learning difficulty. Despite that, her teachers continued to motivate her to work hard. In order to work harder, Emily would go for extra classes but she still did not do well and that made her demoralised. She would go home crying and thinking about how her parents would react once they see her results.
Thankfully, her parents were supportive and understood her learning difficulty. They told her, “Mei Mei, you are very special. Mommy and Daddy love you very much. Just do your best and don’t give up!”. Emily kept those words of encouragement close to her heart and never gave up. She completed her PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination) with a score of 160 and entered the Normal Academic stream in Secondary School. In her first year at Secondary School, she got diagnosed with dyslexia at the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS). She got enrolled in DAS classes to get proper intervention and help in overcoming this learning difficulty. Emily shared that her DAS teachers would come up with creative and fun ways to introduce new concepts and coping strategies which helped her and motivated her to work harder. Soon after, she got promoted to the Express stream and completed her GCE O-Level.
She decided to take up Nursing as her choice of study which was something she is most passionate about at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. To Emily, Nursing is not just a profession to care for those in need but a fulfiling way of giving back to society by helping those in need. She scored a Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.8 and was placed on the Director’s list for being one of the top students in her cohort. In 2018, she received an Edusave Certificate of Academic Achievement award and an Edusave Good Progress award in 2018. Emily did not let dyslexia get in the way but it taught her to push a little harder and continuously worked hard to achieve the goals she has set her mind to.
At the DAS 16th Student Graduation and Awards Ceremony, Emily won the Young Achievers’ Award. And as she was delivering her speech, she said,
“Dyslexia, to me, is not a pigeonhole where there are limitations and constraints. It creates opportunities and possibilities as we learn differently. We have extraordinary brains that process information differently from an average person. We should not hold back our efforts and ideas.”
Her greatest takeaway throughout this journey was that we are all braver than we believe, stronger than we seem, and smarter than we think. She encourages dyslexic learners to never assume that they cannot achieve but make the effort to redefine their limits.
Emily’s article was published in FACETS Vol.3 2018, to read the full article click here