Expert help for dyslexic children

YOUR child is bright, articulate and sociable. But put a book in front of her and ask her to read, she'll will freeze. Spelling is a nightmare for her. She has all the opportunities to learn but somehow, she isn't. In all other aspects, she's perfectly normal. Like her teachers, you wonder whether she's just being plain lazy and naughty. 

Sounds familiar? But before you wield a cane or scold her for the umpteenth time, you might want to check whether your child has dyslexia. That means a specific learning difficulty affecting his or her ability to deal with text and often words as well. 

Dyslexia is not a disease but its causes are still not fully understood and therefore cannot be cured. However, through special help and learning programmes and a supportive environment, a dyslexic child can overcome many of the problems associated with reading and writing. But early detection and remedial measures are vital in helping a dyslexic child. 

If you suspect is your child is dyslexic, you may be interested to know that a specialist from Macquarie University's Special Education Centre (Musec) in Sydney, Australia, will be in Kuala Lumpur next month to conduct a pilot clinic to test children for dyslexia and offer a home-based remedial programme under Musec's literacy intervention programme, called Making Up Lost Time in Literacy (Multilit). 

According to K.K. Tan, chief executive officer of Kuala Lumpur-based Juken Consultancy Sdn Bhd, which has a strategic partnership with Musec, Multilit consists of several courses covering three main areas: word attack skills (phonics), sight word recognition (words read as whole units or automatically), and reading natural language texts or “real books” using simple tutoring strategies which parents can use at home with the child. 

Tan says the specialist, Simmone Pogorzelski, who will be conducting the clinic, which is being organised by Juken, is the senior clinician in the Multilit Clinic operating at Musec. 

She will be in Kuala Lumpur on July 7 to assess and recommend individual programmes for children who are experiencing difficulties acquiring reading and related skills in English.  

Pogorzelski selects, trains, supervises and monitors the performance of the Multilit Clinic teaching staff. In addition, she is responsible for monitoring the performance of all Multilit students and is the educational consultant to the Schoolwise Programme in Ashfield, Sydney. 

Pogorzelski has extensive knowledge and experience of applied behaviour analytic interventions and has worked extensively with autistic children as a behavioural and educational therapist.  

She recently completed her Master of Special Education in the area of phonological processing deficits in low-progress readers at Macquarie University Special Education Centre.  

In 2001, she was the winner of the Lee Mills Teacher Training Award of the Australian Association of Special Education (AASE-NSW Chapter).  

Musec enjoys an international reputation for the quality of its research and its excellence in postgraduate teaching in the area of Special Education.  

Established in 1975, the Special Education Centre was one of the very first research centres to be initiated at Macquarie University.  

The centre is also home to an Early Intervention Network for families with babies and young children with developmental delay, and professionals and support agencies working in this area.  

For over 25 years, Musec has been at the forefront in researching and developing data-based instructional and behaviour management procedures for students with disabilities and special needs.  

Tan explains that every child who is accepted for the pilot clinic will be assessed by Pogorzelski in a private session. She will then explain her analysis of the child's literacy weakness to the parents in a separate session. Finally, she will recommend a 10-week remedial programme for the child and train parents on how to use the programme. 

Tan adds that because personalised attention is given to every child and the parents, places at the pilot clinic are limited and will be given on a first-come-first-served basis. 

Parents who would like to sign up for the clinic can register at Juken's website or call 03-2093 6988 for further information. 

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