I struggled a lot when I was young as I did not know how to read and write English and Chinese properly even though my mother had placed me in a childcare centre since I was 20 months old.
When I started my Primary School education at Yumin Primary School, I would score either zero or single digits for all my tests and exams. My mother saw that my twin brother and I were struggling with our language skills in both Chinese and English. She compared our progress to other children and was worried. Hence, she consulted a doctor who then gave both of us a referral letter for her to bring us to the Child’s Guidance Clinic for an assessment. Both of us were diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD and one of the clinic staff recommended us to DAS, an organisation that helped us with our needs. My mum contacted DAS and was told that we will be placed on their wait list. We were incredibly lucky to receive a call just few months later and after being assessed by DAS, we were both accepted by Bedok Learning Centre. This was where we started our 10 years journey with DAS.
My 10 years in DAS was fun and enjoyable when I met others with dyslexia and learned skills to cope with my study issues. When I was in primary school, I struggled to read and write properly. It was after I joined the DAS programme that I learned skills which taught me how to correctly pronounce words. I also learned skills to read and spell, such as using phonics and morphology: For example, I learned how to cut up a word with multiple syllables for pronunciation and spelling I also picked up writing and comprehension skills.
The programme also encouraged me to do more reading and to read more difficult books to help me increase my knowledge and vocabulary. At first, it was exceedingly difficult for me get into the habit of reading, so my mum and aunties started to borrow comics and books with lots of colour pictures for me to start with. Gradually, I took an interest in reading fictional books such as Percy Jackson & the Olympians series and so on.
When it comes to the English language, my progression had been slow but steady. Over the years, I went from someone who was not able to read or write properly to passing my PSLE, N-Level, O-level and even Polytechnic. Now, I have been offered a place with SUTD to pursue my university studies after I have completed my NS.
My time in Singapore Polytechnic was when my academic study improved rapidly as I found learning in Polytechnic easier for me compared to my time in primary and secondary school. The course, I chose was more technical and hands-on. The reason is because this is the field of studies I am more inclined towards. As time went by, I flourished academically from there. On the other hand, during my secondary and primary school days , my studies concentrated mainly on the written aspect and geared towards the traditional classroom rote learning and written exams which were challenging for me. Along with my dyslexia and ADHD, learning did not become easier. It was extremely hard for me to focus.
However, Math and Science were my best subjects, which made me look forward to school. In Polytechnic, however, there were more lab work and projects where we used more technical jargons, of which gradually I became more familiar with over time.
In contrast, the education at Polytechnic involved Math and Physics. These were subjects which were what I have been good at, thus helping me to excel. I also learned how to utilize my strengths and weakness which in turn helped me decide on engineering as a future career choice.
With the hard work and the support of my parents and teachers like Ms Karen at DAS, I continued to outdo myself. I been receiving the Edusave bursary award from Secondary 2 till I was in Year 2 poly. I was also awarded the Director’s honour roll for my 3 consecutive years in polytechnic. In addition, I was awarded the SMRT prize for Poly year 1, SKF Asia Pacific Prize for Poly year 2, being 1st place in my study cohort and finally graduated with a Diploma with Merit (GPA of 3.773). I was also awarded the SMRT Gold Medal and the LTA book prize. Finally, I was also the recipient of the DAS Young Achiever Award 2020.
My parting advice to all current DAS student and parents:
Do not give up, even when you constantly face challenges ahead. You must always believe in yourself and in your children and that one day, they will achieve what they wish to do in life and reach their aspirations. Most importantly, never give up on yourself or each other.
Watch Wei Rui’s Graduation Acceptance speech for his Young Achiever Award here: