About Dyslexic Learners
This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week, and since it is a cause that is very close to Karen’s heart, we have chosen to create a blog post this week which should give parents a bit more information about precisely what dyslexia is, how to tackle it and where to go for more help.
Karen is already a member of Dyslexia Scotland, as well as being on the committee for the Aberdeen branch, and she is currently training to become a dyslexia and dyscalculia assessor. If you have any questions or need help, please do contact her – she will be able to help you navigate the waters of supporting a child with a learning difference.
What is dyslexia?
The official (British Dyslexia Association) definition of dyslexia is as follows:
“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.”
In slightly (!) simpler language, this means that dyslexia is an information processing disorder, which mainly affects reading and writing skills. Dyslexic people may also have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear, which can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills. Dyslexia can also impact on other areas such as organisational skills.
How is it diagnosed?
In most cases, dyslexia screening is done through school. In general, when teachers and parents see enough signs and symptoms to give them a suspicion that something isn’t quite right, the school will, with the agreement of the child’s parents or carers, contact the local authority to arrange a dyslexia assessment by a qualified professional.
If parents wish to arrange a dyslexia assessment without the school's help, this can be done privately, and the best place to find an assessor is via one of the large organisations such as The British Dyslexia Association, or Dyslexia Scotland.
If you are worried that your child might be dyslexic and are wondering how to find out more, there is a great page here from The British Dyslexia Association which contains checklists of symptoms for various age ranges. It is a good starting point and an excellent conversation starter with your child’s school.
As always, Karen is a great person to talk to about any of this – she will know of good assessors in your area (and is about to become one herself). You can count on her for well-considered and up to date advice.
Supporting a dyslexic child at home
If you already have a diagnosis, and a report that goes with it, then you will have a super starting point for supporting your child at home with tips and tricks that are specific to them and their version of dyslexia – because if there’s one thing we do know about this learning difference, it’s that it can present in many different ways!
There is also a lot of support to be found online. We’ve already mentioned Dyslexia Scotland and The British Dyslexia Association, but plenty of other websites exist which have loads of ideas for supporting your dyslexic child’s learning at home.
Overall, being an emotional support is going to be the first and best job a parent can do. Your child is likely to feel stress and overwhelm at school and in their day-to-day life – they will wonder why they can’t do some things as (seemingly) easily as others. You are there to remind them that although there are some tasks which are more challenging for them than most, in other ways they have a superpower which a lot of other people don’t! Help them to remember that comparing themselves to peers and siblings is not a constructive way to view themselves and encourage them to focus on their strengths.
In terms of schoolwork, there are plenty of strategies you can help them to develop in areas that they find more challenging. Encouraging them to develop a routine will help them with organisation, and spelling strategies may help them with those words they just can’t retain. Nessy is a great website that is widely used in schools and has some fantastic advice for parents as well as educators!
If you need help with any part of the journey that is dyslexia, please do get in touch with Karen here at My Primary Tutor. From the initial stages to finding an assessor and supporting at home, she can help you to develop a strategy that works best for your child and for you.
If you feel that private tuition could be part of the setup which supports your dyslexic child, she can make sure you get set up with one of our supportive and fully trained tutors – we have some 1:1 spots available as well as group sessions!