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Help for Dyslexia and Autism in Bangkok

Autism & Dyslexia in kids

Finding the perfect school can be difficult enough but trying to find a school when you have a child with Dyslexia or Autism can be a challenging task. You will need a school that both supports your child and has appropriate assessment services. It’s also important to establish if they have specialist support for your child who may be struggling with areas of literacy and numeracy. Many children worldwide go un-diagnosed and therefore struggle through their learning years, which has a profound impact on their social, emotional and academic development.

BKK Kids now have a dedicated category for learning support on the main website as well as section dedicated to these resources inside the guide. Many of these highly recommended places can assist further.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is defined as a learning disorder and can be a hidden disability for most kids. It is characterized by difficulty in reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words. It may be the cause of problems with reading comprehension, slow vocabulary growth, trouble with spelling and poor reading fluency – symptoms and severity vary, depending on the person.

There’s no single test that can diagnose dyslexia and a good solid assessment will consider many factors.

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What it is Not….

Dyslexia is not the result of poor instruction, nor is it an indication of a person’s intelligence. Dyslexic children simply do not learn the same way as non-dyslexic children; they require multi-sensory teaching methods that are not always offered in conventional classrooms. With the proper support, almost all people with dyslexia can become good readers and writers, reaching their full academic potential. There are many Facts vs Fiction when it comes to Dyslexia and much research has been conducted into neuroscience-based interventions like the Fast ForWord® programs which have shown to result in neurophysiologic repair, increasing activation of frontal and temporal-parietal regions in the left hemisphere of the brain. These types of interventions are especially effective for children with dyslexia and have lasting effects. BrainFit Studio Bangkok run the FastForWord programmes and offer support for children with Dyslexia here in Bangkok.

How Many People Have it?

There is no data on the number of people with dyslexia in Thailand; for reference, however, it affects over 10 percent of the school-aged population in the United States. If you suspect that your child may be suffering from dyslexia, you can get a formal assessment from an educational psychologist. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the quicker (and easier) it is for a child can get help.

Where Can I Seek More Information & Get Help?

Dyslexia Thailand runs an Orton Gillingham Programme at St Andrews 71 (STA), part of the Nord Anglia Education group of premium international schools, as of August 2017. This unique programme (which was originally based at Berkeley International School in Bangna) is the only one of its kind within a mainstream school in Asia, supporting learning across the primary and secondary levels. It was started by an expat mother whose 8-year daughter was falling dramatically behind in international school, and subsequently diagnosed with dyslexia in 2013.

After finding there were inadequate resources in Thailand, and spent seven months in the US and UK, where her daughter received help from dedicated dyslexia programmes, including Orton Gillingham. Determined to bring her child home to Bangkok, she began a local Orton Gillingham programme as a more permanent solution to her daughter’s education. Today, the thriving programme helps a number of dyslexic learners in Bangkok.

What is Orton Gillingham?

It is a learning approach that is language-based, multi-sensory, structured, cognitive and sequential. It is also flexible and tailored to each child’s pace and progress.

The essential curricular content and instructional practices that characterise the Orton Gillingham approach are derived from two sources: a body of knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 70 years; and scientific evidence about how persons learn to read and write, why many have difficulty in doing so, how having dyslexia makes achieving literacy skills more difficult, and the instructional practices that are ideal for teaching such persons.

What is involved in the Orton Gillingham Programme?

Each student is provided with an intensive, structured environment that builds skills in reading, writing and spelling, as a daily supplement to their regular school curriculum. Two trained Orton Gillingham fellows mentor the programme, offering one-on-one support to each student. Another component of the programme is to foster each child’s confidence and self-esteem, reinforcing that dyslexia is a learning difference, not a learning difficulty.

What Is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder. When making a diagnosis of autism in children, doctors look for problems in the following 2 main areas:

  • Social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Repetitive behaviors, no behavioral flexibility, nervous system disorder

Autism involves a variety of developmental delays. The signs may be obvious or subtle. In some cases, autism cannot be diagnosed in the first visit, and for an effective evaluation, the signs and symptoms must be monitored frequently at several locations, such as schools and nurseries. Signs of the disorder can be difficult to identify or diagnose. It requires extensive experience for doctors to be able to diagnose and treat children with autism effectively.

Upon hearing that their child has been diagnosed with autism, some parents enter a state of denial and refuse to accept the diagnosis at first. Sometimes they will even tell others that their child has just been diagnosed as a late talker by the doctor because they are afraid that their child will be rejected by the school as most people believe that autism is a very serious condition. However, due to ongoing efforts to increase autism awareness, some parents understand the signs and have their children diagnosed during the early stages of autism. Early diagnosis and accurate treatment improve the results significantly, leading to near-normal development in the long term.

Some families with autistic children do not believe that their children have any problems and they leave their children untreated. Some families become depressed and disappointed with their children. They do not have their children trained appropriately and stimulated for development. The autistic children lose the chance to have normal development and come back to be treated when they have grown up, which makes it more difficult for them to be trained appropriately and have their development stimulated. When autism is left untreated into its late stages, some parents have to quit their jobs to look after their children.

A child’s brain develops rapidly during the first five years of life. If autistic children are treated early, they will have a chance of normal development, and their oral communication skills and social interactions will be improved with no repetitive behavioral disorders. Some children with autism go on to earn a degree and work in the same way as their non-autistic peers.

With thanks to Dr. Nattawat Ngamsamut, M.D., Paediatric – Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Samitivej International Children’s Hospital – Srinakarin Campus

Where To Get Help for Kids With Autism

Trying to find help overseas for kids with an autism spectrum disorder can be incredibly difficult and worldwide there are thousands of autism organizations offering information, resources and services. While you should always consult a physician if you are concerned your child may have autism, you may also have an organization in your country that could provide additional support. Autism speaks offers help and support for many parents in different communities and can offer assistance in finding someone in your country and connect you with other families to offer support in similar situations.

Locally here in Bangkok there are many learning support centers and schools who offer support for both children and parents.

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