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'Cure' for children diagnosed with Dyslexia
Published on: Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The author of a book titled "Shut Down Kids" claimed he had actually found a "cure" for children diagnosed with Dyslexia, a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling.

Luqman Michel said these children actually "shut down" or disengage from learning to read because they had been taught the phonemes or sounds of alphabets wrongly.

He said he has been teaching children, many of whom were certified as Dyslexic, on a one on one basis for the past 14 years, and has observed them and also interviewed them over the years even after they had left his tuition.

"Since 2004 until now, I have taught more than 60 such children and I confidently saw that all these children were instructional casualties," he told Daily Express in an interview.

He believed that the national average of about 30 per cent of children who leave school unable to read in English are mostly what he termed as "shut down kids".

"These children are intelligent and most of them have no problem reading in Malay and Hanyu Pinyin, which is Mandarin written using the 26 alphabets in the English language. However, they cannot read in English because of confusion as a result of wrong teaching by well-meaning teachers who do not know how to teach the sounds of the alphabets," he said.

The main reason for children being unable to read is said to be "phonological awareness deficit", he said, adding this simply means that children are unable to learn to read because they are unable to hear the sounds of spoken words.

"If this is true, how then do we explain the fact that all my students could read in Malay and those who went to Chinese schools could also read in Hanyu Pinyin, but were all unable to read in English?


As such, "phonological awareness deficit" cannot be the cause of children being unable to read in English...so why can some kids read in Malay and Hanyu Pinyin but not in English?" he argued.

He said these children cannot read in English because they are confused. Therefore, they shut down or disengage from learning to read in English.

No amount of encouragement can get these children to read unless their confusion is cleared.

Dr David Kilpatrick had said in his book "Equipped for Reading Success" that "... in a large study by scientists from the State University of New York at Albany, researchers were able to reduce the number of children who require ongoing remediation from the national average of 30 per cent down to about 20pc.

Another study by researchers at Florida State University showed how the most severe reading disabled students could reach grade level – and stay there – using a surprisingly brief intervention programme. These examples question the inevitability of widespread reading failure.

"The questions to ask are, why did the above children require remediation in the first place? How were they brought to grade level with a brief intervention programmes? Why is it that the number of children leaving school as illiterates is still high despite so much technological advancement?

"The answer to the questions above is that about 30 per cent of kids shut down from learning to read when they are confused due to the wrong teaching of alphabet sounds," he said.


Luqman's book "Shut Down Kids" explains in details why kids shut down from learning to read. The book includes corroborative evidence to support my findings and is found on Amazon and other online bookstores.

"Psychologists, doctors and teachers should stop classifying any and every kid who cannot read as Dyslexic.

"These doctors, psychologists and teachers want to label things they do not understand because it can take on an identity that they are not responsible for. If a child is struggling with reading, and has not made growth despite age/grade/listening comprehension ability, it seems logical to these doctors/psychologists/teachers/clinicians, etc., to blame that struggle on something," he said.

He said teachers think the problem must be with the student, because teachers cannot see the reason for children being unable to read, they blame it on something no one can see – the brain – something must be wrong with their brains. It couldn't possibly be the teachers.

"Many parents who come to me use the word Dyslexic because that is what teachers have told them because they don't know what else to call them," he said.

Luqman said the Education Department should look at how teachers are teaching phonics in kindergartens and schools, because if phonics were taught correctly a majority of kids who would otherwise leave school as illiterates would end up reading well.

"We need to stop searching for a label as an excuse and start teaching the way it should. I am not disputing that many children may have symptoms as described for dyslexia on the Internet but I do know that this term is overused," he continued.


He said a month ago he saw a "BabyTV" programme on Astro that will cause kids to disengage from learning. I wrote to the CEO of Astro early this week and received an email from someone in the middle management.

"However, the email said that they have passed on my complaint to the producers of the programme and that the producers will contact me directly. The way Astro is teaching phonics in the "BabyTV" programme is by the way also how many of our schools teach phonics," he said.

According to Luqman, he had also met and brought matter up to the State Deputy Education Minister with the hope something positive can be done about it.

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