Dyslexia Scotland Conference: Inclusion

I was initially disappointed that the keynote speaker for the conference on Sept 8th, Al Galaburda, was unable to come at the last moment. His pioneering brain research helped us understand an enormous amount about the differences between the structure of dyslexic and non-dyslexic brains. However, Alex Richardson from Oxford, who stood in for him, put a (slightly) more practical emphasis on the somewhat impenetrable presentation he had sent. I still only understood a small proportion of the talk on ‘Dyslexia in the Genomic Era’ though.

But what did make absolute sense was the connection Dr Richardson made between diet and intelligence: ‘They are what we feed them’. I’m certain that everyone at the conference will recall with startling clarity her short film. Two rats were placed in a pool with a small block above the water on which was some food. The first swam directly to the block and ate the food – it took less than 5 seconds I’d guess. After about 30 seconds (felt like a lifetime to the viewers) the second was finally retrieved from the water. It had flailed randomly around, swimming to and fro frantically, becoming more and more exhausted. Both had identical genes, identical experience, identical environment – except for one thing: the first rat had had fish oils in its diet. It really was the most extraordinary insight into the effect a good diet has on learning. I went out immediately and bought vast quantities of Cod Liver Oil!

The rest of the day was enlightening too. Pamela Deponio showed parts of the Dyslexia at transition pack – due to be sent to schools very soon – a very useful DVD and website providing support in the crucial P7/S1 period. My talk went without any technical glitches – much to my surprise – and I even kept to time!

 A good conference – if you’re interested in reading more about it or in going next September keep a look out on the Dyslexia Scotland website

Publication: Books For All: Accessible Curriculum Materials For Pupils with Additional Support Needs

The Scottish Executive has published a report relating to accessible curriculum materials for pupils with additional support needs
The Books for All project investigated the need for and availability of learning resources in accessible forms for pupils in Scotland who have print disabilities
The project found that availability of books and other resources in Braille, Large Print and audio formats, for the relatively small number of blind and partially-sighted pupils, while not complete, was good, in comparison to the availability of accessible books for the much larger number of pupils with physical disabilities, specific learning difficulties, learning difficulties, or hearing impairment. These pupils may require, for example, adapted printed materials, digital versions that can be accessed by switch or read out by a computer, audio recordings, or signed multimedia resources.

Dyslexia at Transition

This website is being developed as a result of the Dyslexia at Transition DVD
which was launched by Sir Jackie Stewart on May 30th 2007 in Edinburgh.
Every school in Scotland will receive a copy of the DVD and a series of Road shows
is currently being arranged for session 07/08 to introduce authorities to the DVD
and offer teachers some ‘hands on’ experience of the disc and its potential.

Dyslexia and ICT Support Pack for Primary Schools

This pack has been designed to give advice and to assist Support for Learning staff in primary schools
in dealing with the issue of Dyslexia and the use of ICT.
Included in the pack are some tools available to use with the dyslexic learner and
help on how to use applications, which are already installed on computers within schools. 
The packs will be distributed to primary schools during September.