What it was, was dyslexia. It made reading a slow, difficult process for Mr Cheah, but that did not stop him from devouring an average of one book a week, at one point.
Now 21, he is pursuing an accountancy degree at the Nanyang Technological University and working part-time at accountancy firm KPMG. For his determination to overcome the odds, Mr Cheah was one of two youths recognised with a Young Achiever's Award by the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS).
Mr Cheah credited and thanked the teachers at DAS for being "there at my lowest point in life".
Shenlynn Lim, 20, also was diagnosed with dyslexia early on. She was then a shy girl with low self-esteem. "I struggled with my school work and did not score well in exams. My confidence took a huge beating whenever the class ranking was announced," she said.
Now chatty and confident, Ms Lim was awarded the Lien Foundation scholarship while doing a diploma in Child Psychology and Early Education at Ngee Ann Polytechnic. She has decided to working full time with DAS upon graduation.
"I hope that my humble achievement today will serve to inspire other dyslexic children. As long as you are willing to try and err, nothing is impossible," she said.