Give students with ADHD and dyslexia the chance to grow before it's too late

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 August, 2011, 12:00am


'Why am I always so slow? Just 15 minutes left and I have only just started. Great, I have another unfinished assessment. My grades are definitely going to sink after this.'

This familiar scenario never fails to occur every time I am given a literature assessment in class. No matter how well prepared I am, I always take an unusually long time to complete my work. I have extreme difficulties reading the text without messing up the order of the words. It is not as if English is a huge problem for me. I have become familiar and comfortable with it as my primary language since I transferred to an international school in second grade.

Over the years, it became clear to me that I had a problem. From time to time, I would find myself unable to focus or have any capability to process my thoughts. My teachers just thought I was lacking concentration.

Luckily before things got even worse, I was given a chance to go to a boarding school.

The turning point came in my first year, when my history teacher asked me to stay after class. He told me, with complete honesty, that my paper was 'a piece of crap' and that I should stop being so distracted in class. He was convinced that I didn't care at all, but after he saw how confused I was at his anger, he told me to go see the education counsellor.

After a couple of sessions with the counsellor, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. And this summer I was also diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Although these learning disabilities are common in the United States, they are mostly unheard of in Hong Kong.

I can see how I have grown as a student with proper guidance and support. My self-confidence has begun to reappear. Wanting the same for those who are ignorant of their disadvantage, I am planning an awareness campaign of such disorders throughout local high schools. I hope to use my personal experience to arouse public interest and prompt the government to improve public services in this area.

The local public health-care system lacks support for people like me. At present, the waiting time for an examination is at least one year and then patients spend another three years on the waiting list before proper treatment is offered. As a result, poor people never receive timely assistance that could make a huge difference to their lives.

Adrian Cheng, The Peak