JASSMIN PETER chats with ANABERTA OEHLERS-JAEN on why learning difficulties can affect more than just school work, the importance of early detection and the contribution DAS International is making in this space.


TF: Tell us more about DAS International?

AOJ: Psychologists at DAS International have extensive experience in assessing people with behavioural, developmental and psychological issues which lead to learning differences. We assess for specific learning differences – dyslexia and dyspraxia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia, attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, psychological and behavioural concerns, childhood development issues, autism spectrum disorders, non-verbal difficulties and auditory and sensory issues. So far we’ve been working with five to 18-year-olds but will soon start coaching preschoolers with speech and language difficulties.

TF: How do you contribute to DAS?

AOJ: As Head of the School I oversee
the overall development and running of the company. Our main aim is to bring specialist services both locally and regionally, to clients who have learning difficulties, so I need to constantly stay abreast of what’s happening in this industry. As a Senior Educational Therapist, I relate to parents and understand their area of concern. I have a broad area of understanding as I’ve taught students from preschool age up to 17 years old.

TF: What’s your focus and approach to each child?

AOJ: We offer individualised specialist tuition and tailor-made classes based on the profile of the child derived from specialist assessments, as well as consultation with parents and educators. Our classes are skills-focused and include literacy, numeracy, oracy and writing skills, speech and language support, occupational therapy, individual curriculum support, study skills and exam preparation and behaviour and social support. We also send parents regular progress reports on their child.


TF: What sets DAS International apart from the rest?

AOJ: We never hard sell our services. We provide parents who are interested in our services with enough information and we advise on what’s best for their child. We then leave it up to them to make an informed decision. At DAS, we always put the child first when it comes to recommendations. We also screen for more than just dyslexia and address all learning difficulties plus social, emotional and behavioural difficulties, developmental disorders and childhood disorders.


TF: What should parents do once they suspect their child has a learning dif´Čüculty?

AOJ: Seeking help early is critical so your child doesn’t experience frustration and failure at school. Early intervention strategies also promote self-confidence and awareness, and ensure a child with learning differences struggles less and spends less time lagging behind their peers in class.


TF: What are some of the common mistakes parents make when they realise their child has a learning difficulty?

AOJ: Prior to identifying their child has a learning difference parents feel the child is lazy or not working hard enough and will be critical of their academic output. They might also compare the child to his or her siblings which can impact the child’s self-esteem. Once parents realise their child has a learning difference they might overwork them with too many therapy sessions in an attempt to help them “catch up” with their peers. This means long and exhausting hours of support and therapist appointments which can have detrimental effects on their self-esteem also. Parents need to be mindful of their child’s needs and their need for downtime as well.


TF: Most challenging and rewarding part of your job?

AOJ: The most challenging part of my job is striking the right balance between teaching and administration. I love to teach and be directly involved in the development of a child’s education, but being at a management level also means I spend a lot of time coordinating the needs of parents, students and tutors to ensure everyone is satisfied. The most rewarding part of my job is to see parents happy and satisfied with our service and knowing we have given them the peace of mind that their child is in the right place.


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