Family, Health, School

I was told I would never be able to speak, but my parents didn’t give up

By Samuel Ng , 17 March 2021

I was born with a severe hearing impairment in my left ear. But it was only when I was three years old that my parents realised I couldn’t speak. 

Usually, kids start babbling at around age two, but I was making grunting sounds. I had no words. 

My parents brought me to every doctor, speech therapist and specialist. They all came to the same conclusion: “Your son will never be able to speak. Get ready to take care of him for the rest of his life.”

My parents had to teach me themselves. They started from scratch because I couldn’t even count from one to five.

When I couldn’t reply to simple questions, they had me memorise the answers.

At times, I would give the wrong answer. For example, when people asked “what’s your name”, I would say “I’m four years old”.

I also had dyslexia. I would see letters inverted like a mirror – and inverted in all four directions.

Since I could not read or speak, it was very difficult to get accepted into a primary school. Being rejected from primary school was probably one of my lowest points in my life. 

So my mum homeschooled me. Using the Bible and a ruler, she taught me to read word by word, line by line. Because if I saw too many words at one time, they would get jumbled up in my mind.

In fact, my mum told me that she learnt how to read and write inverted letters while teaching me.

After five years of prayer and hard work, I could finally speak.

It wasn’t in full sentences, but small words day by day.

When my dad brought me to the same speech therapist who said that I would never do well, she told my father: “Mr Ng, this is not your son. The boy you brought a few years ago cannot talk. This one cannot stop talking!” 

I was finally accepted into a primary school – one year after my peers. Even then the principal felt that I wouldn’t be able to cope.

For almost a year, I went only for English classes. My mum would sit in the canteen to wait for the class to be over. Then she would bring me home and work on what the teacher taught me.

The learning curve was steep because when my teacher turned her back, I couldn’t read her lips and wouldn’t know what she said.

I also had problems with socialisation. 

Because I was still learning how to speak, I spoke slowly and didn’t get most of the instructions. The kids in primary school didn’t understand, so I was mostly isolated. 

Whenever my parents sent me for tuition classes, other parents would come together and tell the teacher to send me out otherwise they would withdraw their children from the class.

But my parents never gave up.

They would pray every day for me to be healed and speak about my condition positively. They also declared that God is good and faithful.

My dad also ingrained in me the importance of the Bible. He gave me and my sister verses to memorise. I started reciting them when I was able to speak.

One particular verse that I clung to was from Mark 11:23.

It was only in secondary school when I began to know more about God, and felt loved by Him.

By then, I had mostly overcome my dyslexia and started to socialise better. I also started to break records.

I came in second in the whole cohort and the first in history and geography.

I realised what God had done for me.

Before I studied, I would pray: “God, I’ll do my best and let You do the rest.”

At the end of Secondary 4, I was given the model student award in my cohort.

Eventually, I went on to junior college and obtained a scholarship in my second year of university while studying civil engineering.

When Samuel received a scholarship from the Building and Construction Authority, former Minister of National Development, Lawrence Wong, highlighted him in a Facebook post.

I went on to become a design engineer at a consultancy, where I give presentations to clients and coordinate projects.

I was also awarded a scholarship and recently started my PhD studies in January.

God has healed me. 

After graduating from Nanyang Technological University with a degree in civil engineering, Samuel worked as a design engineer; Samuel with his family.

These days, you wouldn’t be able to tell that I was once a kid who could not talk. I have overcome my speech disability. 

I also no longer struggle daily with dyslexia unless I’m stressed. During those moments, I have to focus in order to read the words properly.

My hearing impairment is the only disability I still have. I primarily use my right ear to hear.

If there is one thing I have learnt, it is about doing your best and letting God do the rest. One can only do so much humanly.

If it was not for my family’s support and God, I would not be the person I am today.

This is an excerpt of an article that first appeared in

Click here to join our Telegram family for more stories like Samuel’s.

From trauma to true story: The man behind short film Unbroken

“I was a living zombie – I could only eat veggies and rice”

Related articles
Tell Me More
Feeling lost in life?
This is default text for notification bar