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Inclusion Services

Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia?

'Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention' (Rose Report 2009).

How Dyslexia affects Learning

Dyslexia is a term that is used to describe pupils who usually have a difficulty with reading, writing and/or spelling. Usually the pupil is at least average intelligence and in some case can be well above. It is useful to look at dyslexia as being a learning difference rather than a learning difficulty. This is because many learners with dyslexia are able to make significant progress academically and excel in higher education too if the opportunities are present for them to use their own particular learning preferences.

Usually they are visual and experiential learners and find learning though listening and reading lengthy texts quite demanding.

The key to progress is to ensure that learning materials are presented in a multi-sensory way that is using all senses particularly the visual and the hands-on. In this way, learners will be able to use their strengths and this is important if they are going to be able to develop independent and successful strategies.

Children with dyslexia can also have other characteristics in addition to difficulties with literacy. They may have difficulties with processing speed, short-term and long-term memory and sequencing and ordering information. They may also have difficulties with structuring and organizing written work.

Often they may not display their full abilities in written tests and if they get the opportunity to do some of it orally they usually score higher grades.

Dyslexia: Some key points

  • Dyslexia can be seen within a continuum from mild to severe.
  • It is important to identify and recognise the strengths shown by children with dyslexia and to attempt to incorporate these strengths into a teaching programme.
  • The degree, and the impact of dyslexia on the child can vary according to the nature of the task and the nature of the learning context.
  • Early identification is important for effective intervention.
  • Children with dyslexia can show different characteristics and therefore their needs should be addressed on an individual basis.
  • Although the principal difficulties associated with dyslexia relate to literacy (reading, writing and spelling), children with dyslexia can also show other difficulties relating to memory, co-ordination and organisation.
  • Knowledge on how children learn, and how to make learning more effective through, for example, study skills, can be extremely beneficial for children with dyslexia.
  • It is important also to consider the curriculum, differentiation and learning styles as these can help children with dyslexia understand the task more clearly and undertake learning more effectively.
  • The impact of dyslexia can be minimised with effective teaching intervention and adaptations to tasks, through differentiation in the curriculum and accommodations in the workplace.
  • The dyslexic person may have many strengths and these strengths may be used to compensate for his/her difficulties.
  • It is important to recognise the need to boost the self-esteem of children with dyslexia as it is too easy for them to become discouraged and lose interest in learning.

Dyslexia In the Home

Signs of Dyslexia

  • Poor listening skills – appears to not hear verbal requests
  • Messy bedroom
  • Disorganised school bag
  • Tired
  • Not sure what they have to do for homework
  • Younger children – trouble getting dressed (not knowing what to do first)

How to help your child

  • Task chart / ‘to do’ list on wall
  • Pack bag the night before school
  • Encourage child to put things back in their place to avoid ‘losing’ things e.g. P.E. kit
  • Regular bed times / lights out rule
  • Younger children – lay clothes out right way round and in correct order for dressing to help with sequencing
  • Older children – check homework diary everyday
  • Home should be a place your child can relax. Don’t let homework time become stressful – put yourself in their position and try to be as patient as possible
  • Don’t get anxious yourself – your child will pick up on this
  • Speak to class teacher or Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo) if you feel your child is struggling in class or with homework
  • Always give plenty of praise and tell your child you know how hard they are working
  • Play to their strengths with learning e.g. if they prefer to look at pictures, use computers or DVDs for learning – if they like to listen, use audio books
  • It is very important to build self-esteem and develop confidence – find your child’s strengths and encourage them in activities they enjoy / are good at (e.g. sport, art, music, horse riding, swimming etc.)

Dyslexia can affect other areas

  • Phonological processing – the ability to identify and say individual sounds in words. They may jumble sounds in words e.g. saying ‘hostipal’ for hospital or ‘pasgetti’ for spaghetti
  • Sequencing – knowing what order to do things in. They may confuse months of the year, days of week or have difficulty with today, tomorrow, yesterday
  • Working memory – being able to ‘hold on’ to information e.g. when doing sums in their head
  • Ability to name familiar items quickly e.g. numbers, letters, objects – they may have word finding difficulties or mix up words e.g. say window for door
  • Processing speed (their speed of working/thinking)

A Dyslexic child in school

  • Forgetful, disorganised, muddles times and dates
  • Attention – appears not to listen / daydreams
  • Difficulty following instructions, copying from the board
  • Using ‘work avoidance’ strategies – clowning around
  • Tiredness, due to the amount of concentration and effort needed in school
  • Low self-esteem – may feel they are not as good as their friends at school work
  • Messy handwriting
  • Remembers something one day, but may have forgotten it the next!

Self-Esteem

  • Home should be a place your child can relax. Don’t let homework time become stressful – put yourself in their position and try to be as patient as possible
  • Don’t get anxious yourself – your child will pick up on this
  • Speak to class teacher or Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo) if you feel your child is struggling in class or with homework
  • Always give plenty of praise and tell your child you know how hard they are working
  • Play to their strengths with learning e.g. If they prefer to look at pictures, use computers or DVDs for learning – if they like to listen, use audio books
  • It is very important to build self-esteem and develop confidence – find your child’s strengths and encourage them in activities they enjoy / are good at (e.g. sport, art, music, horse riding, swimming etc.)

Making Reading Positive

  • Be a positive reading role model
  • Read to your child – discuss the story and characters afterwards
  • Share reading – read the difficult words together
  • Join a library – try a good selection of different books in subjects that interest your child
  • Use audio books when ‘on the go’ e.g. in the car
  • Play word games e.g. matching pairs, memory games and sequencing activities (e.g. cooking dinner, getting ready for bed, “what do we need to do first?”, “What comes next?”)

How Dyslexia affects school work

  • Difficulty with ‘getting started’ (organising thoughts and ideas)
  • Trouble interpreting writing or maths symbols
  • Difficulties with remembering information
  • Delay with performing tasks, output of information (can affect handwriting speed, speaking)
  • Children with SpLD process information differently – it is to do with the way the brain is wired. These differences are not linked to intelligence
  • Difficulty taking in information properly (written or verbal)
  • Processing information – delay between hearing something and understanding or responding to it
  • It may take longer for a child with SpLD to think of an answer to a question, but given the time they can often come up with a very good answer

Dyslexia - Strengths

  • Often very creative and original thinkers
  • Holistic thinkers – can see the bigger picture, can really understand how things work
  • Excellent problem solvers – as they are frequently having to find ways around any difficulties they may have
  • Creative abilities e.g. art, music, design
  • Often good with new technology – so make use of this!

Help with writing

Young children – make it fun and multi-sensory!

  • Sand tray, chalk board, chunky crayons or white board and marker pens
  • Make Playdough letters and words
  • Practise activities that use fine motor skills e.g. bead threading, peg boards, cutting and sticking etc.

Helping older children - it can still be multi-sensory!

  • Help your child to get ideas down on paper:
  • Bullet points – they can build on these to make them into sentences and paragraphs
  • Timeline – to help with putting ideas into the right order
  • Write ideas on Post-It notes – great for ‘hands-on’ learners and these can be ‘moved around’ to organise ideas
  • Mobile phone – record ideas verbally and write or type up afterwards
  • Assistive technology e.g. ‘read aloud’ or mind mapping software to help with researching information and generating writing
  • Mind maps are a great way of generating ideas and organising information in a visual way
  • These can then be used to organise and structure writing and organise assignment work or projects
  • They can also be created on the computer

Transition Support

Dyslexia: Parent Transition Support

Dyslexia Stories

 

Dyslexia Resources for parents/carers

 

Dysguise Dr Gavin Reid – Free Downloads British Dyslexia Association BBC Skillwise Doorway Online
Doorway Online Funbrain Learning Factory Mindtool Reading Rockets Working With Dyscalculia
The Trouble With Maths Learning Works Crossbow Education The Dyslexia Shop Dyslexia Scotland
Red Rose School
Oakhill School
Scoilnet Skool.ie Kids Spell
First School Years  Superkids Play Kids Games Skills Workshop Free Phonics Worksheets
Dyslexia Centre Nessy Learning Programme TEFL Games Jan Brett Primary School Resources
SEN Teacher
RHL School
Discovery Channel Windows to the Universe
Gutenberg
 Open Office  Power Typing  Learn 2 Type Sense Lang  BBC Typing

 

Dyslexia FAQs

I think my child is not making enough progress with their reading and writing in school - what should I do?

Try not to show your child that you are anxious about their progress as they will pick up on this. Make an appointment to discuss your concerns either with your child’s class teacher, or with the Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo). The ALNCo should be able to tell you exactly how your child is progressing. If you feel that your child’s reading book or spelling list is too difficult for them, you can speak to the class teacher about school providing differentiated homework for your child.

I think my child might be dyslexic. Do I have to pay for my child to have a formal diagnosis of dyslexia in order to get support in school?

No. There are tools available to schools for screening for dyslexia and other Specific Learning Differences (SpLDs), so that schools can identify children who may need additional help and put support in place as soon as possible. Most Pembrokeshire schools take part in the Early Identification and Intervention Program. This involves children in Nursery provision in Pembrokeshire being screened for speech and language or social communication difficulties. Intervention is put in place for those children who present with difficulties, in the form of the Hands on Communication activities program.

Children in the Foundation Phase in Pembrokeshire are initially screened for signs of dyslexia at the pre-literacy stage using the Dyslexia Early Screening Test (DEST). Children who are found to be ‘at risk’ of dyslexia take part in the Hands on Literacy intervention program and are then regularly re-tested in order to monitor their progress.

Children who have been identified by school as having dyslexic difficulties should then receive intervention or support according to their level of need. For example this support might take the form of an intervention program for spelling or reading, dyslexia friendly classroom strategies, alternative methods of assessment, differentiation of work according to ability, or the use of assistive technology in the classroom.

I’m not sure if my child has any support in place in school – how can I find out?

If you are unsure what support has been put in place for your child, you should ask to speak to the school’s Additional Learning Needs Coordinator (ALNCo), who should be able to supply you with this information, as well as answer any questions you may have about your child’s progress. Support for your child could take various forms such as: differentiated activities, dyslexia friendly classroom strategies, small group intervention / paired activities, literacy or numeracy programmes, use of IT, or concessions for exams and tests

If my child has dyslexic difficulties, does that mean they need coloured overlays or tinted glasses for reading?

No, not necessarily. Evidence shows that visual difficulties are found across the whole range of reading abilities and not surprisingly, particularly in those with weakest reading ability. If your child is experiencing any difficulties with words ‘moving’ on the page when they read, appears to have difficulty reading black print on white paper, or has difficulty tracking when reading (losing their place or skipping lines), then it is advisable to book them an appointment with an Optometrist, who can diagnose visual difficulties. An eye health assessment by a qualified professional is first priority when people experience any visual discomfort and/or disturbance.

An Optometrist can carry out a full test to diagnose the nature of the problem and whether it relates to visual sensory / visual perception (visual disturbances or discomfort), refractory (causing eye strain, squinting, blurred vision), or an ocular-motor difficulty relating to how the eye muscles are working together (which might cause blurring, words ‘moving’, or tracking difficulties).

Many symptoms labelled as ‘visual stress’ are often actually caused by refractive or ocular-motor problems.

  • People who have dyslexia have the same chance of having visual difficulties as those without dyslexia
  • Dyslexia is a language and literacy related learning difficulty, not a difficulty with vision
  • Vision problems do not cause dyslexia, but they may also be present

How can I make sure that all my child’s teachers are aware of my child’s learning needs?

Ask the school Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo) about writing a Pupil Profile for your child, which will provide information for the teachers about your child’s strengths, areas of difficulty and how they learn best. This can be especially important in secondary school, where your child will have several different teachers.

Does my child need to have a formal diagnosis of dyslexia in order to get support in their exams?

No. If your child has been identified by school as having any additional needs, then the school’s Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator (ALNCo) will arrange for your child to be assessed for exam access arrangements by an assessor who has been approved by the Head of school. Any exam access arrangements put in place for your child must reflect their normal way of working in school e.g. if your child requires extra time, or a laptop, a reader or a prompt for example. If you have concerns regarding this, please contact your school’s ALNCo and arrange a meeting.

 

 

ID: 7809, revised 14/10/2021