Dyslexic but not Deterred

Published by: The Star
Written by: Rowena Chua

WRITING emails is part and parcel of one’s professional life. It is simple and straightforward but it takes Taylor’s University School of Education head Dr Logendra Stanley Ponniah (pic) twice or thrice the duration needed by his colleagues to do so.

His process involves tools like a spell checker, a speech-to-text application and a text-to-speech reader.

The reason for the hassle is that he has dyslexia, a condition that he has had to live with for 51 years.

Growing up, Logendra struggled with spelling, reading and writing so much so that he was always “the last boy in the last class” in his exam performance, he told StarEdu.

Thinking that he was simply not applying himself, his parents and teachers gave him a hard time.

“I got a lot of scolding and punishment. I was asked to be more hardworking and to do spelling every day, ” he recalled, adding that there was a lack of understanding of dyslexia as a problem among students in the late 80s to 90s.

“The common notion when you misspell a word is that you are lazy to memorise. Spelling is not something you learn. It’s an audio-visual connection. Being a dyslexic, that part of the brain is not well connected, ” he said.

Secondary school with its “very text-centric” exams posed a bigger challenge for Logendra.

“If you spell a word, for example hydrogen, wrongly, your answer is considered wrong from the teacher’s perspective, even though you know the answer. That’s the style of marking, ” he lamented.

It was only when he was studying in the United States in the early 90s – he failed his SPM so he couldn’t gain admission to a public university in Malaysia – that the riddle of his learning difficulty was solved.

One of Logendra’s lecturers recognised the possibility that he may be dyslexic and suggested that he go for a diagnostic assessment. Click here to read the rest of the story.

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