What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a recognised learning difficulty that effects reading and spelling. A person with this condition will generally have difficulty in processing word sounds and have a poor short-term verbal memory. Current thinking is that it is caused by genetic differences that effect the left hemisphere of the brain.

How many people are dyslexic?

Around 10% of the population is thought to be dyslexic to some degree. Research by Hull University on behalf of the learning difficulties charity Xtraordinary People published today estimates that around two million school children are thought to have the condition. Dyslexia tends to run in families and is a lifelong condition.

The British Dyslexia Association(BDA) lists six difficulties which dyslexic people may experience.

They are: hesitancy with reading; misreading; difficulty with sequencing; poor organisational and time management skills; difficulty with organising thoughts clearly; and erratic spelling.

However it also highlights what dyslexic people are good at: they can be innovative thinkers, excellent “trouble shooters” and intuitive at problem solving. Lateral thinking comes naturally and they are creative.

What can I do if I think my child may be dyslexic?

The support and recognition that individual schools give to dyslexia varies. Arrange a meeting with your child’s class teacher and the school’s special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO). The SEN code of practice (2002) requires schools to provide appropriate support so that all children can have an inclusive education. The BDA has a guide for parents.

The school should create an individual education plan for your child which should detail the extra support your child is receiving. If you are unhappy with the level of support or the plan you can apply to your local education authority for an assessment by an educational psychologist. You can use the report as evidence to support your child’s educational plan.

What is the government doing to help dyslexic children?

Last December the Department for Children, Schools and Families and dyslexic charities launched a £3 million pilot study in 10 local authorities to test the support that dyslexic children receive. Half of the children involved in the pilot will receive additional one-to-one “reading recovery” support while the others will receive one-to-one tuition from specialist dyslexia teachers. The results of the study will help determine the shape of national services for children with dyslexia in schools.

How can teachers help?

The charity Dyslexia Action says teachers should use “multi-sensory” methods when teaching children with dyslexia which would include “looking, listening, saying and doing”. It recommends that students should have regular revision and “over learn” until they automatically apply what they have learned to their reading and writing.

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