Dyslexia Awareness Week: The end to all myths!

Myth: Dyslexia affects four times more boys than girls.

Fact: Although more boys are assessed than girls, research shows that dyslexia affects just as many girls as boys.

So why are more boys sent for testing than girls? It’s often because of their behaviour.

Boys traditionally are more likely to ‘act out’ their frustration when they can’t do classroom assignments or homework. They’d rather be seen to be ‘bad’ than ‘stupid’. ‘Acting out’ behaviour draws attention and teachers begin the assessment process.

Often, when girls can’t do the work, they tend to get quiet, try to become invisible and / or use their friends to support them. So traditionally, they don’t get noticed as early.

Myth: Every child who struggles with reading is a learner with dyslexia.

Fact: Dyslexia is not the only reason a child will struggle with reading. Children may lack experience in early language development for many reasons; they may have emotional issues that prevent them from availing themselves of appropriate learning opportunities; they may have or have had hearing or sight loss that impacts on the acquisition of literacy. They may have other significant difficulties which causes delay in literacy development.

Dyslexia will affect more than just literacy. Associated difficulties can be: auditory and / or visual processing of language based information, phonological awareness, oral language skills, reading fluency, working memory, sequencing, number skills, organisational ability and motor skills and co-ordination.

The more warning signs children and young people have, the more confident you can be that dyslexia may be the cause of their academic struggles. It is by considering children’s responses to the changes we make to meet their learning needs that we know whether they are learners with dyslexia or not, and to what extent dyslexia affects learning.  

Myth: Children with dyslexia are just lazy. If only they tried harder…

I’m not even going to bother with this one!

Dyslexia Awareness Week: Notes from a conference

Dyslexia Scotland has links to presentations from their September conference which are well worth examining. They range from the local to the international stage.

Local approaches:

Jennifer Drysdale – a friend and former colleague – discusses her Workshop for Literacy: a Contextual Approach for successful learning which deploys early identification of core skills development and contextual assessment to enable young learners to read. She uses contexts created around ‘real‘books to create successful learning experiences.

Pam Macdonald talks about a Paired Reading and Phonics programme whose aims are to give basic literacy skills so pupils can become independent in classes; to involve pupils in their own learning and encourage them to be active, analytical learners and to actively involve parents and guardians.

Shirley Illman describes a transition to High School programme.

A presentation from the CALL Centre gives advice on making text accessible. An accessible resource is defined as one that can be used effectively and with ease by a wide range of pupils. The resource can be adapted with the minimum of work for pupils who have a range of additional support needs. Accessible resources could refer to almost anything used in class or at home to support learning.

National approaches:

Dr Laura-Anne Currie links Education for Learners with Dyslexia to How Good is our School and Curriculum for Excellence.

Dr Margaret Crombie talks about the wonderful Assessing Dyslexia resource : ‘Assessment is integral to learning, teaching and the curriculum’. She makes strong links with the HMIE document and CfE too.

International perspective:

Dr Gavin Reid’s presentation focuses on ‘The Decade Ahead; Recent reports and current research’.  He starts with Scotland, and then discusses approaches in the U.S.A., Ireland, England and Wales, New Zealand, Canada and the Czech Republic. All of this is embedded in current theory.

The keynote speaker, Rob Long, talks about behavioural issues connected to learning difficulties.

A very useful set of presentations.

Dyslexia Awareness Week: more about East Lothian

Dyslexia Friendly Schools are

• able to identify and respond to the ‘unexpected difficulties’ that a dyslexic learner may encounter

• proactive: the delay between identification and response is kept to a minimum

• empowering schools because they recognise the importance of emotional intelligence.

Several schools in East Lothian have made the DFS Pledge. Why doesn’t your school join them? Contact Hilery Williams for more information.