DLD Day 2021

DLD stands for Developmental Language Disorder, an internationally recognised, common but unfamiliar childhood condition that many people have never heard of…

4 things to know about DLD

1. Difficulties in the use and understanding of spoken language in the absence of an obvious cause 

(click me!)

2. Affects all languages used

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3. Emerges in early childhood and persists into adulthood

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4. Interferes with academic and social interaction in day to day life

What helps someone with DLD be their best? Many helping hands provide the best chance of success in life

Speech and Language

Having a conversation with someone with DLD ? The best three things you could do…

Tip 1. Give more time (to understand you, and prepare their own replies)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tip 2. Use visuals (Handphone pictures; Gestures)

Tip 3. Use simpler language 

(click me!)

Speech therapy helps children with DLD !

Literacy 

Are you a teacher or parent looking to support someone with DLD? Here are a few ideas…

Teacher Tip 1: Hear how some teachers simplify language and break down instructions and teaching for students with DLD (click me!)

Teacher Tip 2: Teachers share some visual cues teachers can integrate in classroom learning (click me!)

Parent Tip 1: Watch how this parent uses early language strategies and communication techniques to support their child’s language growth

 (click me!)

Parent’s support: Hear how a parent gathers support from her child’s immediate environment and practices self-advocacy

 (click me!)

Mental Health

What does DLD have to do with Mental Health? Hear their stories and access local resources…

1. Hear from a teenager with DLD about depression:

 (click me!)

2. Singaporean resource on addressing depression and anxiety

https://www.healthhub.sg/live-healthy/1296/how-to-identify-and-deal-with-depression

3. Hear about behaviours from parents of a DLD child

 (click me!)

4. Singaporean resource on better behaviours

https://tinyurl.com/encouraginggoodbehaviour

5. Watch why those with DLD should remain vigilant about mental health

 (click me!)

6. Singaporean ongoing research on better mental health for DLD

https://twitter.com/ShaunKYGoh/status/1448946208781705221?s=20

Speak to your doctor

We asked a local paediatrician some questions and this is what she said..

 

Q1) What happens when parents concerned about their child’s language come to see you?

Development:

I would ask about your child’s development – as a baby, and beyond that to include birth, medical and family history

Language:

I would explore how well your child understands and expresses – do they use gestures/other methods to make their wants known. Are they better at communicating in the language used at home.

Examination:

I would carry out a physical examination and may do a hearing test, to see if there are medical conditions related to language.

 

Q2) When should you be concerned about your child’s language development?

3-6 Months:

Not responding to sound – child does not turn towards a sound

12 Months:

No babbling, no imitation, limited use of gestures

18 Months:

No first words 

24 Months:

Difficulty following simple instructions/directions, inconsistent response to “no”

 

What can you do if you are concerned?

Teachers

Your child’s teacher may give information on how he/she is in class, such as responding to questions, interacts and plays with classmates, and how he/she does so.

Doctor/Paediatrician

Your doctor may do a developmental screen for your child and speak with you about options for further referrals if indicated. Referral to a Speech Language Therapist may be appropriate for assessment of language concerns.

List of Speech Therapy Services

Public subsidised speech-language therapy services in Singapore

https://salts.org.sg/public-services/

Find an SLT

https://salts.org.sg/advanced-slt-search/

DLD Singapore edition

Follow a Singaporean account of living with Developmental Language Disorder – from preschool, through primary and secondary schools, JC, NS, university and now as a successful working young adult.

Hi everyone, and welcome to my experience of DLD : Singapore edition!

Pre-school

To get a simple sense of how drastic DLD is, I only spoke my first word, not sentence, at the age of 5.

During my early childhood days, things seemed pretty normal and joyous to me. I had the most caring parents in the world, and my fun crazy brother entertaining me endlessly. They loved me unconditionally. But in the back of their mind, they must have been feeling, well, not so normal and joyous I guess.
During my first five years of life I couldn’t even say a single word. Mama wanted to employ a helper to help out with house chores as we moved to a bigger house. However, she was afraid that a helper’s way of speaking could affect my speech in future. It also came to a point where Papa became so frustrated trying to understand what I wanted. That’s when my parents decided to seek professional help for my condition. So, when I was in K1, they brought me to a Speech Language Therapist, also known as a SLT.

According to my parents, I started my sessions with my SLT very slowly. She guided me through listening activities  and picture descriptions. All I could do at the start was say one word at a time. I couldn’t speak fluid complete sentences. It must have been hard for her to coach me. (I know this because I too have taught people with similar conditions as mine, which I’ll tell you about later.) I was too young to remember much, but I had a great joy learning with my SLT. When she decided to leave the hospital to work privately, she referred me to a new therapist. However, with my awesome powers of constant gibberish nagging, my parents finally gave in and I was back with her. I guess it was her patience and dedication that got me to like her very calming and soothing approach to our sessions.

Kindergarten and primary school were tough experiences, both socially and academically.

While in kindergarten, I was shy and very dependent on others . I was poor at listening and understanding in class, not knowing what was going on most of the time. Whenever assignments came, I was always the last one to finish, and I always needed help to finish. Otherwise, I had a pleasant time with my friends anyway. I enjoyed kindergarten overall.

I happily graduated from kindergarten. But my problems persisted into primary school.

DLD in Primary School 1

As I entered Primary School, I had great difficulty with languages. Creating sentences for English tests were almost impossible for me, especially for comprehension tests where a summary was needed. I was slow to read and understand, and that took a lot of time off, resulting in incomplete work most of the time. This went the same for maths and science as well. Though they may have numbers which I love to work with, I still had to READ the questions.

And don’t even get me started on Chinese. I failed Chinese miserably every time. At one point or several, I even handed in a blank paper to my examiner! Unlike English, the Chinese language has many characters to learn. To add, sentence structuring between English and Chinese was vastly different. So, when I had to transit from English to Chinese and back again while learning, it was a huge barrier for me. Thankfully, my brother helped me tremendously in other subjects. He was a great teacher, and the help he offered gave me a big breathing space in learning.

Socially, I thought I was speaking okay with my classmates. But as years passed by, I started to have trouble bonding with my classmates. I think it was the fast pace of the primary school I was in, that made me fall back behind my peers. That could have led to my irritable behaviour, and thus difficulty in mixing socially.

In Primary 4 especially, my Form teacher was the worst teacher I could possibly have had. Like how my Papa described it back then, my Form Teacher thought it was a good idea to instil fear in all of us to learn better. How wrong he was. I was so scared that he would beat me with a ruler every time I got an answer wrong. It came to the point I didn’t even want to go to school. My SLT wrote a letter stating the special support I needed to learn instead of the fearful arrangement I was in. My Papa wrote a letter of complaint to the Vice Principal, and my Mummy even went to great lengths to get petitions from other parents to fix the situation. However, our messages did not fully get across, and the beatings continued. Nasty people are just here to stay unfortunately.

In the end, I decided to call it quits with the first primary school and I spent Primary 5 and 6 in a less depressing school. The new environment was a breath of fresh air. It was a healthy atmosphere to learn in, with caring teachers and awesome friends!

 

DLD and Mother Tongue Exemption

However, my Chinese was still under performing. Even with Chinese tuition to try and at least improve my Chinese, it was going nowhere.

In the end, my parents decided to seek approval from a psychologist to drop Chinese for me altogether. Together with my SLT’s help of re-assessing my language competencies, the psychologist furnished a report of my continued struggle with DLD, strongly recommending that I should be exempted from Chinese Examinations to concentrate on other subjects better. Thankfully, the request went through.

It was a huge sigh of relief. Learning just one language (English), my focus in studies has greatly increased. My confidence grew, and I started to work harder for my grades with less frustration and thus with less distractions.

Paying It Forward

 

While in the new Primary School, I decided to participate in a ‘read and teach’ program at school. Here, I helped my lower primary classmates to read aloud passages from any story book. It was a humbling experience for me, especially for one student I taught. She had the same difficulties as me when I too was in lower primary. She cried most of the time when she failed to read certain lines repeatedly. And me being the teacher, I finally realized the frustration my classmates and teachers must have gone through with me when I was in the previous primary school. So instead of rushing through without getting any results, patience was the only key in teaching my young apprentice. She needed a slower pace of learning, just as I needed too. The result? She became much happier when learning. Though it wasn’t perfect in the end, she improved tremendously in her reading. There were less pauses, and she began speaking more confidently. I was very proud of her achievements.

PSLE English – Pass !

Time flew, and PSLE was approaching. The prelims were tough, (as they should be, I guess, to scare us into working harder). But my hard work paid off. My PSLE results came in, and I  had gotten an A and B grade for my math and science subjects! More importantly, I passed my English! It was very unexpected, and I knew from that point in time, with appropriate assistance and hard work, it can pay off.

So I went on to Secondary School, and yes, there were more subjects to learn. That included History and Literature, possibly my most hated subjects given my language disorder. I continued to stay as positive as I could anyway.

I was playing badminton as an ECA in primary school. I loved it so much that I wanted to join the badminton club again in secondary school. But my parents found it too time consuming for my studies. So, I tried drama club instead. It was less time consuming, but still quite demanding. I can’t remember why I’ve decided to join drama club, but it helped built my confidence socially. Being a shy guy, I never thought I would go up stage with my friends and perform. Surprisingly, I did! I practiced a lot before the grand finale, but that took a lot of time off my studies. I struggled significantly in Sec 1. So, after the first year in drama, I switched to be a librarian instead. I wished I could cease doing an ECA, but it was mandatory to do at least one.

 

Adapting to learning

At this stage, my focus started to falter. I started to have mood swings during my studies. One moment I could be very energetic in learning. The next, I would just lose interest to work hard. That was when my brother stepped in. If I remembered correctly, he was already in university. Challenging as it already was, he still managed to help me with significant problems in the Math and Sciences. He also had this innate ability to sense when I was in an energetic state to learn. When he sensed it, he would immediately drop everything he was doing, even from his university studies, and fully concentrate on me. He knew when I was in that state, I could absorb the most material in my learning. Even so, I got so excited sometimes that I get ahead of myself. But with my brother’s incredible patience, he could assess and readjust the learning experience for me. Indeed, I was very fortunate to have him as my 24/7 ‘tuition’ teacher! I guess it’s in his nature to teach people. Besides, he is now training colleagues and clients on how to use complex Genomic Sequencing Machines- so yeah, beat that!

 

I started to concentrate better again, and my results showed significant improvement. In Sec 3, I didn’t have to take History and Literature anymore. That gave me an even bigger boost. Last but not least, the friends I had in class were incredible. It took some time for me to warm up with them, but eventually we had a great time learning and having fun with each other. It was the first time that I could feel comfortable being my true quirky self in a social environment, and I truly appreciated it.

Getting extra time for O-level exams

However, my English and Combined Humanities were still weak: my language disorder was still a big issue. Comprehension passages were longer to read, and compositions longer to write. So my parents, together with my SLT’s referral, brought me to a psychologist for an update assessment of my language skills to get time extensions for those subjects during examinations. Thankfully, the request was successful. With time pressure on the back burner, I had better focus for studying passages and preparing fluid sentences in writing. My English and Combined Humanities were still not showing improvements, until the secondary 4 prelims came. People always say the prelims are the hardest. That is why it came to me as a huge surprise that I got the best grades in English and Combined Humanities. And as a cherry on the top, I came out top in class!

Afterwards, I took my O-levels. Though I wouldn’t know my results until the late first quarter of the next year, my prelim results were enough to put me at one of the top 5 JCs at the beginning of next year. It was certainly a great achievement for me. Seizing the opportunity, I went ahead and tried out one of the top 5 JCs. 

I went in with high hopes, thinking that I could try fresh new challenges in a pool of talented people. However, it wasn’t to be. As my experience with my first primary school, the pace was still too quick for me. . A big drag down was General Paper, even though I was still given extra time for it. where the level of reading and writing was way beyond me.

After I got my O-level results, which were less impressive than my prelims but still fantastic, I decided to go to a lower ranking JC where the pace was slower. It was a realistic decision which I had to make, and again, it paid off.

I depended less on my brother for help as the topics became more specialised, but the teachers over there were really helpful. My geography teacher in particular was very kind and patient. Whenever I had any issues with my write ups, he’d always be there to arrange a meeting to discuss how to resolve pain points. Because of those meet ups, I actually topped the whole school in that subject during the prelims! 

 

 

JC – GP

 

I also had a tuition teacher for my General Paper. I did not enjoy it at all. I often got Fs for my GP examinations even though I was still given extra time. I needed a grade E to pass. It was very frustrating, especially when a pass in GP was mandatory to get into a local university. At that time workplaces did not accept A-level certs when going for interviews. If I failed, I would have NOTHING!

 

I often hit roadblocks when understanding complex comprehension passages. And I always had to come up with newer and fresher sentence structures when creating compositions. I often grumbled to Mama that all the tuition was useless. This time, she did not give in to my complaints. Then once she said, “Your General Paper is already so bad, even with extra help. What happens if you stop going for these classes?” I still complained, but eventually I realised her point. It will be much worse if I do not go for these classes! So, tough love pushed me on. Though there wasn’t any significant improvement, at least I was maintaining around the passing grade.

JC- Project Work ,ECA leadership experience

 

On a brighter note, Project Work in JC was compulsory. For this, we had to form groups of 5 and work towards generating ideas on how to encourage communal bonding in communities around Singapore. It was a one year project. Taking up leadership roles was a great experience to go through. However, taking such roles in ECAs were time consuming enough to distract me from my studies (I took up Photography as my ECA anyway, which I’ll talk more about later). Since Project Work would count towards our grades, I saw this as a great opportunity to take up the leadership role, killing two birds with one stone. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. It made me weigh the pros and cons through each step of the project. I also learned how to cooperate constructively with my team members, offering salient ideas and honest opinions. I couldn’t have done it without my teammates as well. We worked incredibly well together without any fuss, as we took each other’s opinions seriously, good or bad. Project Work is graded individually unfortunately, so we were hoping for a grade A for all of us. We did very well in our report as well as our oral presentation. Though in the end it wasn’t the grade we have hoped for, we were all still excited. Because ALL of us got Bs! No less, no more from each other. This showed that each one of us contributed equally to the project, which in my opinion is a commendable effort. I was really proud of my team.

 

With project work completed in the first year, and the leadership experience I got from it, I took up a leadership role as Students Affairs Leader for the Photography Club in the second year. Here, I learned to plan activities and provided lessons to newcomers. It was a fun experience. I was initially offered the President’s role, but I had to decline as the role would eat up a lot of my study time. The Students Affairs Leader had less responsibilities, but it still carries significant importance. Without planning activities or lessons, there would be no photography club! So, I thought it was a better fit for me in the end. After some coaxing and explanation to my members, they agreed with my choice eventually. It was a difficult decision for me, but I think it was for the best interest of the club in the long run. Not being able to fully commit to the President’s role would just drag the club’s reputation down, and nobody would want that to happen.

 

 

A-level results – with a pass in GP !

A-levels was upon us. I continued to work hard for my grades. I continued to do well for my math and sciences. General Paper was still a great worry for me, hovering dangerously over both sides of the letter E. But I persisted, continuously maintaining it and not crashing completely out. A-levels came and went. I received my results in front of my Form teacher. I knew I would do well for my math and sciences. I was only concerned about my General Paper grade. Turns out, I landed straight onto letter E , A PASS in General Paper!

It was the greatest relief in my life, because now I was eligible to get into a local university!

And so, I continued my studies in one of the top local universities. But before that, as all Singaporean boys have to go through, National Service came into my life. Two years of it.

Every newcomer to Army National Service must go through Basic Military Training (BMT). From all walks of life, everyone is given equal regimental treatment. No shortcuts. Life is tough, physically and emotionally.

In war, speed is key in winning the battle. But when instructions were given to us by our commanders, I couldn’t catch up most of the time as they spoke rapidly. I stumbled a few times following instructions from the commanders. Soon enough, my commanders thought I was incompetent and lazy. It was quite demoralising.

In addition, I had to stay at camp without being allowed to go back home every week. So, there was very little emotional support from my parents. Physically, I was quite weak as well. As if screwing up on tasks was not bad enough, I often dragged my bunk mates behind while training. As the saying goes, all for one, one for all. I felt guilty at times when they had to wait for me to finish a route march together for example. However, as days went by, I realised that everyone else had their own set of weaknesses. As the training got tougher, more people started to succumb to the pressure, whether physically or emotionally. Then, one important virtue started to emerge from us: camaraderie. After spending so much time training, eating and sleeping together, an unbreakable bond was formed. Training became so tough that almost everyone was suffering. However, no matter who was falling behind, our natural instincts kicked in to help one another to finish the job. There were others in more dire situations than me, and it was only right that I helped my fellow bunkmates as well. Whatever weaknesses we portrayed, we cast aside our differences and helped one another. Eventually, it came to the extent that my issue of taking instructions from commanders became non-existent to my bunkmates. Also, to my surprise, my commanders saw another side of me. They finally realised that I wasn’t the incompetent and lazy boy they thought I was. Rather, they realised that I am just slow at catching up on things. In a Singlish term that is very popular in National Service, I am what I’m called: a “Blur Sotong”. It was fun poking, but I’ll take it.

After three months, we finally graduated from BMT. We had a lot of fun toughing it out. Unfortunately, we had to go our separate ways as we were being segregated to different units across Singapore.

Infantry Regiment : reality check

I got transferred to an Infantry Regiment Unit. When I first got in, it was a complete culture shock! Most of my bunkmates came from very different backgrounds. Given my language disorder, I was concerned as to how I would mix with them. After some encouragement and guidance from my family, I took it upon myself to be… myself. I took the situation calmly and treated my new bunkmates just like anybody else. During the first week, they were surprisingly very welcoming to my arrival in camp. Weeks passed, and intensive training began all over again. It only took a few weeks before I started to form strong bonds with them. In fact, I enjoyed their company when it came to training. Most of them took training in a positive spirit, cracking tons of jokes endlessly to make training less strenuous. Off training, we often talked about our own life experiences outside National Service. I shared my experience with DLD, so that they could better understand why I would fumble at times when listening to instructions. Then, when they shared their stories, I was brought back down to Earth.

Back in secondary school, there were times where bullies would approach me and threaten me. They were punished eventually as they continued bullying others. But I always wondered, why would people do such things to others? There is no gain from doing all of this. The answer came from the stories my bunkmates at my Unit shared. They weren’t brought up the same way I was. While I had a loving family, some of my bunkmates had parents who couldn’t make ends meet, and even parents who wouldn’t even care for them. That is not an environment any child would wish to be in, and the worst thing is they have no choice but to be stuck with it. They were basically alone and had to fend for themselves. While some have managed to overcome such adversity, others are not so lucky. So, when the bullies threatened me when I was in secondary school, I believe they were not doing for the fun of it. Rather, it’s because they just needed to let out their swell of deep-seated emotions. This was the most important life lesson I have learnt. Some days I just take for granted how lucky I am to be where I am at right now, while others struggle to make it day by day. The bunkmates who I had the privilege to bond with were in fact very mentally strong people. I cannot imagine how tough it is to overcome challenges in personal life and yet carry out National Service at the same time. For that, I have great respect for these tough guys.

In short, National Service changed my entire perspective in life. The issue of my language disorder was way, way back in my mind during those two years. In fact, it didn’t matter if my impairment affected my day-to-day activities. Everyone accepted the way each of us were, and we carried on our duty to the nation diligently together. All for one, one for all.

After National Service came University. Since I was so good at maths, I decided to take up Statistics and Applied Probability. It was a good major to take as almost, if not all companies would need statisticians to study numbers to improve their business. Due to my GP E grade , I had to take a simple English Proficiency Test during the first Semester . It was a very useful assessment as it taught me some of the most common mistakes when writing concise sentences, and how certain verbs can be used effectively to drive the message clearly across. After the test, there were no more long passages to read and no more long compositions to write! I could finally fully concentrate on my major.

However, at university level, the level of talent was not just local, but global. Competition for good grades was fierce. I was aiming for at least a Second Upper Class Honours Degree. To get to that level, my Cumulative Average Point (CAP), calculated based on the grades I got from modules, needed to be 4.00 or above. However, again, the pace was intense. Absorbing 4-5 modules worth of content in a short span of less than six months per semester was not easy for me. During examinations, there were some papers where I could finish in time, and others no. I was getting good grades for my modules, but my CAP was just out of reach of getting Second Upper Class Honours.

I did not seek help to get extra time for my examinations during the first two years. Regretfully, it was only into the third year that I realised I was able to receive special consideration, thus extra time, for the papers I took. And so, after many years since Junior College, I got back in touch with my SLT from primary school days. t I think I was a little nervous asking her for help even at the university level. When I finally told her that I was now in university studying and needed help, she was stunned. I was taken slightly aback. But when she spoke, she was stunned not because I still needed help. She was stunned because I was able to get a place at a local university! I knew then that from the extreme delight in her voice over the phone, it was affirmation that our speech therapy sessions, together with her continuous follow ups during my school days, was all worth it. So, we discussed how we could arrange a report to allow me extra time for the third year. As she had done so selflessly over my Primary, Secondary and Junior College days, she referred me to a psychologist to get me assessed for the report. The report was furnished, and once again, I got the extra time I needed.

It did help me tremendously for the papers, given the increased difficulty of third year papers. Unfortunately, my dream run had finally come to an end. My third year grades were again good, but I could not achieve a CAP of 4.00. It was worth a shot anyway. I was still very happy about my progress in University, given the competition. As a fourth year was optional in order to get an Honours degree, I decided that it was no point continuing on. It would much better to spend the fourth year to get a job immediately, get the working life experience early, and progress my career from there.

Speaking of jobs, I had my first job during one of my university summer breaks. Feeling scared, I was encouraged by my family to try out a temporary job. I managed to snag one as a general enquiries personnel in a tele-communications company.

On the first day of the job, I thought it would go smoothly, by just explaining any queries to incoming customers. Little did I know that most customers I encountered only conversed in… Chinese! Soon enough, the fear of my language barrier kicked in again.

In just a few days, my manager asked me, ‘Did you learn Chinese?’ I couldn’t remember exactly, but I think my answer to them was a little coy, not explaining the full context of my problem. At that point, I was completely overwhelmed emotionally. I went back home and quickly told my family about me not being able to cope with the Chinese speaking customers. They said that it was completely fine to be honest with my manager and tell her about my condition and suggest to them that I would leave if I do not meet her requirements. They were completely okay with it if my manager decided to fire me. To them, HONESTY was more important than LYING. I nodded in agreement silently, feeling a little relieved, but a little guilty at the same time.

The next day came, and the moment of truth arrived. Before starting my shift, I approached my manager and explained my condition openly, that my Chinese wasn’t strong because of my language deficiency. At that point, I think I was trying to hold back tears, fully expecting an angry response from my manager. ‘This is it’, my mind said.

Instead, my manager gave a small chuckle, and said to me something that I would have never expected. She said, ‘It is okay, this is a good experience for you! Try to learn as you work. If you have any Chinese words that you have trouble with, ask any of our colleagues and they are there to help you.’

That was the most heart-warming response I could ever receive. My fear immediately disappeared. My tears eventually gave way, not from disappointment, but with renewed hope.

With my confidence gained, I followed my manager’s advice. I tried to converse in Chinese whenever needed. For every new Chinese word I could not comprehend, I noted it down on a notepad, asked my colleague what it means, and practiced saying it. Day by day, I learned, and eventually, those words became very common to me. Most of the queries were anything tele-communications related, and to my surprise, there wasn’t a lot of tele-communication words to learn! So eventually, my dictionary of Chinese tele-communication related words was almost full! Several days later, it became almost second nature to me. I have gotten used to the patterns of common queries and instantly came up with a solution. I was actually getting into the groove of things and started loving it!

Sadly, summer break was coming to an end, so I had to leave the temp job. When I approached my manager to end my contract, she asked me ‘So soon? Could you maybe work with us and do your studies at the same time?’ I was pleasantly surprised by her question, she actually wanted me to stay a little while longer! This was affirmation that despite my weaknesses, showing perseverance and dedication through adversity can take you to places you didn’t even think you could reach; impressing your boss!

Unfortunately, I need full focus on my studies, so I had to leave. I gave them a farewell card, thanking them for the great help and the best experience they have given me. They even gave me a small little present in return! But after I left, the most heart-warming thing was when one of my colleagues showed me a picture of my farewell card being displayed in their office. This goes to show that when you surround yourself with such positive people, no matter how bad your circumstances are, positive things will come to you eventually.

After my university days, getting my first REAL job wasn’t a walk in the park.

I believed I’ve tried for many interviews for six months. Of course, the first interview was a big mess. It’s one thing to get tips online and prepare, but it’s another to do it face to face. I stuttered on a few questions, and sometimes I even went blank. I learned from the mistakes and sought help from my parents and friends on what I can improve. As I went for more interviews, I got better each time, giving better answers that the employers wanted to hear. However, I was not able to get a permanent job as my first job. It could be because I did not have the real world experience that most employers were seeking for. As such, I ended up seeking a contract job at a bank through a recruitment agency. It was a good start. I learnt the in and outs of corporate life. I was a compliance officer at the bank, where I learnt new skills from common software which my colleagues used.

Sometimes at work however, I struggled to get my message across during meetings and conversations. I still often stuttered on my words. Then, my brother gave me a small but highly effective tip for communication: whenever I had trouble trying to say a sentence, instead of ‘Ah’-ing and ‘Eh’-ing a lot, I would calm my mind down, and form the sentences in my head. Then I asked my brother, ‘Wouldn’t it be weird if the person on the other end had to wait in awkward silence while I formed sentences in my mind?’ His answer was a simple ‘no’. I was a bit sceptical, but I tried anyway. So, every time the person asked me a question, I stood in silence and thought. Then, almost naturally, I used simple body language while I thought of my sentences. Sometimes, just a pinch to the chin would acknowledge to the person that I am thinking seriously before answering. It was a fantastic strategy of forming my sentences! I do not stutter anymore when I spoke as my sentences were already well prepared in my head.

As my contract was about to end, I went looking for permanent jobs once again. This time, with the skills I’d gained, I was able to showcase them, and with confidence. Finally, I got a permanent job at another bank, doing analysis work on debt collection data. It wasn’t easy being in the new company as the turnover rate was very high. But it gave me the opportunity to explore ways of making processes more efficient. That was where I got into programming language and fell in love with it.

‘But I thought languages were your greatest weakness?’ You might ask. But this is a different kind of language. Unlike the English language where sentence structuring can have myriad forms, programming language is completely black and white. You are mostly using the SAME small set of language structures, or tools in short, to get what you want. This is the best kind of language for me, as it gives me greater focus on the other tasks at hand. And even if I get errors in my coding, an error log is displayed, showing the parts of my code that cause the error so that I can easily fix them. With lots of practice, I can avoid more common errors, resulting in better time management of daily reporting. As the departments processes were too manual, I took a lot of time understanding the tools that the program has to offer. I even sacrificed my weekends to understand the root causes of the issue and find the right tools to resolve them. My efforts paid off. I was very happy when I managed to cut down a process from four days to one!

I left the banking industry eventually, and with the programming skills I’d honed, I joined a pharmaceutical company to do computational statistics. I was very lucky to have a great team and supervisor in the department, and together with the immense experience from my previous company, I was able to excel quickly by automating a lot of processes! This really shows that if you put your heart and soul into the work you like doing with great colleagues, it can propel you beyond your wildest dreams. Just keep fighting to find that gem and never give up. Unfortunately, the company had to shut down the whole statistics department in Singapore due to restructuring issues. Fortunately, my supervisor went above and beyond by referring me to an institution where I can contribute my efforts further.

 

Next Job

So, I am now a database manager at an established graduate school. There, I have improved efficiencies on countless processes in data validation and reporting. Therefore, our team has more time doing the crucial analysis work. My love for programming is so strong, that I am also working on a street polling app called ‘Pollz’ during my spare time. It is essentially an offline app where surveyors create, take and export street polling results on the fly.

In addition I’m also challenging myself further by taking up studies in cybersecurity.

And there you have it. My life story so far.

  • I owe my SLT a great debt of gratitude for her inspiring efforts in getting me to where I am right now. Never in my life would I be where I am right now without her.
  • To my friends who came into my life: I would like to give a big thank you for your help and understanding about my condition. My journey could not have been smoother with you guys.
  • Last but not least, my family members, for their undying love and dedication in bringing me up with so much care all those years.

My advice to others on the same path

To my younger ones going through the same experiences as I had, you are not alone.

  • Just work hard and do your best in everything you do.
  • Don’t be afraid about what your peers think about you. In fact, explain to them the condition you’re facing. That way, your peers will understand and approach you better.
  • Don’t be afraid to share your frustrations with your parents, friends, teachers and therapists as well. There is nothing embarrassing about sharing your anxieties
  • They are here to help, and such help will make you grow into a better person.
  • Always look out for opportunities too and grab them.
  • Yes, there will be failures along the way. But as Yoda once said, ‘The greatest teacher failure is’.
  • Learn from your failures, and you’ll be surprised where those experiences can bring you.
  • Last and most important of all, be yourself.

Visit https://instagram.com/understandld to understand DLD better!

Useful sites

https://www.radld.org

https://ican.org.uk/

https://www.afasic.org.uk

https://www.rcslt.org/speech-and-language-therapy/clinical-information/developmental-language-disorder/ 

https://thedldproject.com/

Now what?

This website was last updated on 16/10/2021 for DLD day 2021 by SALTS,  speech therapists, researchers and Singapore-based speech therapy students. We hope it serves as a starting point for your journey with DLD.

Please do not hesitate to:

(1) contact us at: dldsgday@gmail.com to start a conversation about DLD in Singapore

(2) visit RADLD to learn about DLD across the world