Dyslexia in Thailand was founded by Dominique Perry, whose 8 year old daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia.
This is Dominques' story:
My youngest daughter was experiencing learning difficulties at school. I was given many explanations for her difficulties from a number of teachers and schools even friends and family members. But they were reasons I couldn’t accept. You may have been given similar causes, such as:
She is struggling because she is bilingual
She is just a slow learner
Her brother / father / aunt / uncle / husband was the same at school
They have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (there is a strong link between ADHD and dyslexia)
I will always remember May 14, 2013. This is the day my life changed and sent me on an educational mission. My 8 year old daughter had been assessed by a professional educational psychologist and was diagnosed with dyslexia. I spent 4 hours reviewing the results with the assessor, and discussing what options where available to us in Bangkok. To my shock there is not a single, wholly dedicated dyslexic programme, at any school in Bangkok. So on the one hand; I was relieved that we finally had a name/a reason for my daughter’s difficulties. However, we had zero options to deal with the diagnosis. What was I going to do?
I was given the option of having my daughter pulled out of normal classes for an hour each day, for 1-1 tutoring, or have a teacher sit next to her during normal classes. Neither was an option because Learning Support Teachers and ESL teachers are not qualified in teaching dyslexia. Dyslexic children do not learn the same way as non dyslexic children; they require multi sensory teaching methods. So either option would not have been of any benefit to my daughter. I was concerned that her confidence would be shattered in front of the other children for having a teacher’s aide during class or being removed from mainstream classes for tutoring sessions and still not being able to keep up in English and other core subjects.
So I spent every waking hour for the next four days researching everything I could about dyslexia. There is a world of research on educating children with dyslexia and many institutes and schools around the world that specialise in programmes for children of all ages. In my search, I eventually stumbled across Kildonan School in the US. The US is leading the world with dyslexic teaching, and Kildonan is one of the top dyslexic schools in the world. I was ecstatic to find out that the school has a summer camp, Camp Dunnabeck and the timing worked out perfectly for us – I couldn’t believe my luck. As I looked into it further I found that they use the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching which incorporates a multisensory approach and is widely recognised as the number one method of teaching dyslexia.
Camp Dunnabeck is a 6 week programme, run during the summer, which incorporates all the usual fun summer camp activities plus 1-1 Orton-Gillingham tutoring every day and Cogmed, a computer-based program for working memory, if required. I immediately filled in all the forms and after a Skype meeting with the Director and my daughter, was lucky enough to be offered a place a few days later. Since Camp Dunnabeck wasn’t to start for another three weeks, I was determined to put my daughter on the right track as soon as possible so I searched for a dyslexic school in the UK and found one in my home town, Bristol.
Belgrave School in Bristol also uses a multisensory approach to learning and works closely with the Bristol Dyslexia Center, who developed the NessyLearning Programme. I immediately flew to the UK to visit the school and see if I could enroll my daughter into the school for 3 weeks - the school agreed! 20 hours later I was on another flight – my destination this time was New York, to Camp Dunnabeck. I visited the school, found an apartment to rent and I was on my way back to Bangkok. Putting my daughter into a three week programme in England and a six week summer camp programme in the US might not be a traditional educational model; I knew that I was doing the right thing for her. After months of minimal progress at her school in Thailand, I couldn’t afford to wait any longer to restart her education.
Over the nine week summer holiday period in a dedicated dyslexic programme (three in the UK & six in the USA), my daughter’s reading age progressed by two years. Even my daughter’s personality changed – she’s confident, happy and now a very relaxed child; not the frustrated child with low self esteem that had left Bangkok in June. She loved the summer camp and the school. It has made such a huge positive impact to her especially when she was able to meet up with other dyslexic children, who have struggled like her. It is truly amazing to see the progress a child can make when taught in a method that suits them and is aware of their learning difficulties.
During our time at Camp Dunnabeck, I met three expat families from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea. We had numerous conversations and all felt frustrated at the lack of dyslexic learning programmes in Asia which is astonishing since there are estimates that 20% of the population is dyslexic. It was from these conversations and more than 6 months in the US and UK dedicated programmes, that I came up with the idea of setting up a dyslexia school and website here in Thailand.
Dyslexia doesn’t need to hold your child back if you give the child the right opportunities. Once equipped with the right tools, a dyslexic child can even go back to the mainstream education system and be extremely successful. The key is early intervention.