Dyslexia Awareness Week: Myths about Dyslexia

See you on the other side by Annalisa Shepherd

Next week is Dyslexia Awareness Week and I shall be posting something here every day.

First, here is a list of myths about dyslexia. I’ll make sure each one is debunked before the end of the week!

Myth 1: Dyslexia does not exist.

Myth 2: Dyslexia is a “catch all” term.

Myth 3: Intelligence and ability to read are related. So if someone doesn’t read well, they can’t be very bright. Equally, very able children cannot be dyslexic.

Myth 4: People with dyslexia cannot read.

Myth 5: People with dyslexia see things backwards.

Myth 6: Dyslexia is rare.

Myth 7: Dyslexia is a medical diagnosis.

Myth 8: Children outgrow dyslexia.

Myth 9: Dyslexia affects four times more boys than girls.

Myth 10: Any child who reverses letters or numbers has dyslexia.

Myth 11: Every child who struggles with reading is a learner with dyslexia.

Myth 12: Children with dyslexia are just lazy. If only they tried harder…


Thanks to Annalisa Shepherd for the picture.

Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit launched

New guidelines for identifying children with dyslexia were launched by former racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart on Tuesday. The online “tool kit” , available since January but now open to all, has been created for every teacher: we are all responsible for literacy regardless of our subject or sector. The resource supports the Curriculum for Excellence’s emphasis on literacy and numeracy across learning.

 The Assessing Dyslexia Toolkit for Teachers aims to help teachers and early years workers identify literacy difficulties and dyslexia among pupils. A key target is to spot problems as early as possible so children can be given support and are not disadvantaged educationally.

A key aim of the new guide is highlighting to all class teachers that they are in the best position to identify early indicators of dyslexia and other learning difficulties. It identifies problems teachers should look out for at various stages in a child’s education from pre-school to late primary, right up to senior secondary and college.

Dr Margaret Crombie, who led the team of experts behind the creation of the project from Glasgow Caledonian, Strathclyde and Edinburgh universities, said: “We now have a resource that all teachers can use to help them work through the process of assessment of literacy difficulties.”

It’s superb: check it out.

Free Explorer Bookpack for four-year-olds in East Lothian Council nursery provision

Every four-year-old in an East Lothian Nursery setting will be receiving an Explorer Bookpack filled with goodies to encourage a love of reading.

Adam Ingram MSP, Minister for Children and Early Years, launched the Explorer Backpack at a special event at North Berwick Community Centre, East Lothian on Wednesday 3 February 2010.

East Lothian Council and the Scottish Book Trust have created a free Explorer Backpack filled with goodies for four-year-old children to help them to move from nursery to primary with skills and confidence.  The packs are designed to encourage a love of reading in the children who receive them, and offer parents and carers lots of tips and advice about encouraging their children to read and learn at home. This is the first scheme of its kind anywhere in Scotland.

Dyslexia Support Service yearly report 2008/09

There have been some mis-understandings amongst parents about the provision for learners with dyslexia within the region this session so I have listed the work I have carried out over the past academic year as the Outreach Teacher in the Dyslexia Support Service. I have:

  • Attended Staged Assessment and Intervention meetings (20 schools, 40 children).
  • Contributed to assessment of and planned for learners who may have dyslexic difficulties (15 schools, 58 children).
  • Delivered formal in-service training for teachers on Dyslexia Awareness; Mind Mapping; Dyslexia and ICT; ‘How we learn to read’ to all secondary schools.
  • Developed planning and organisational skills using Mind Mapping software (4 schools with groups in P6 and P7, whole P6 class).
  • Developed spelling strategies (1 school with P7 pupils)
  • Developed note taking skills (1 school with P5 pupils)
  • Developed visual and auditory sequential memory (4 schools with S1 individual, P5 and P6 groups).
  • Developed writing in Environmental Studies in 4 schools using Clicker 5 with in P3, P5 and P6 (small groups).
  • Exam preparation and revision techniques (1 school with group of S5 pupils).
  • Met with parents in addition to formal SAI meetings (10 schools, 25 parents).
  • Taught Speed Reading courses (2 schools with individuals and small groups in P7).
  • Supported students in accessing the Science and Modern Studies curricula through technology (2 schools with 5 S2/3 pupils).
  • Supported an S1 pupil in identifying strategies used by teachers that help her to learn and using this information to re-write the entry in the school handbook that is distributed at the start of every session.
  • Supported transition from primary to secondary school (2 schools).
  • Trained class teachers to use Clicker 5 (1 school staff).
  • Attended the launch of the HMIE document, Education for Learners with Dyslexia and disseminated its findings.
  • Set up a Glow Group about the service and continued personal development as a Glow Mentor.
  • Supported the Senior Management Team and Support for learning department in a large primary school in deciding on a vision for future planning using Person Centred Planning techniques.
  • Piloted the Dyslexia Friendly Schools Pledge (5 primary schools).

Reading has become a fun activity by Elizabeth Buie


TESS reports that North Lanarkshire’s literacy strategy is continuing to make significant gains for all pupils, but particularly the least able, an evaluation published last week has shown.

‘A group reading assessment of P3 children showed that those who had been taught by the “active literacy” methodology were significantly ahead of those taught using more traditional methods, thus maintaining the progress observed in the first phase of the programme.

In the P3 control group, 52 per cent of pupils were performing above the expected average age level while 13 per cent of the below average group had a reading age of only around six years. By comparison, in the active literacy group, 72 per cent exceeded the expected average reading level and of the 28 per cent below average, only 2 per cent had a reading age of around six years…’

Relationships and Participation with Pupils and Parents

I listened to Charles Leadbeater at the Scottish Learning Festival and was excited by his notions of :”Learning with rather than teaching to pupils ;the learner as participant not an empty vessel; and community being crucial to the learning process”

I reflected on my work with a P.1 pupil who had cognitive difficulties. Her barriers to learning were compounded by social and emotional deprivation and her family had difficulty in providing an environment to offset some of the disadvantages she was born with.

Unfortunately working and learning with parents is time consuming and costly. Leadbeater says that we may have exhausted other avenues for further development in education except in “Personalisation and collaboration.” A redistribution of resourcing and flexibility of provision might reach pupils currently missed.

TESS (3/10/08), reporting on several speakers at the Learning Festival says the emphasis needs to be on “Relationships”.

Martin Rouse called on schools to focus on “relationships,respect and recognition”  while Professor Teese said that Scotland should be strengthening relationships within its schools.


Asking four-year-olds to write ‘does more harm than good’


Applies to England only. The Times reports that according to a literacy expert teaching four-year-olds to write is about as useful as teaching a dog to walk on its hind legs,  as figures showed that one in seven preschool children struggle to write their own name.

The annual assessments of children’s progress during their first year in school found that more than one fifth had problems stringing a coherent written sentence together when they entered their reception year. Nearly a quarter failed to reach the expected levels of emotional development for their age. The findings follow concerns that some of the Government’s early years goals are unrealistic and risk setting back their development.

Sue Palmer, an independent literacy consultant and author of the book Toxic Childhood, said that many under-5s were simply too young to achieve the literacy goals set out for them.

Start children reading early and they’ll keep turning the page


Caroline McLeod, Bookstart national development manager for Scotland, says Bookstart can help to tackle falling literacy levels.

With Scotland currently occupying 26th place on The International Reading League table, and frequent reports in the press about the country’s falling literacy levels, it is becoming increasingly clear that the main answer to the problem is pre-school intervention.

It has been proven by Bookstart, a UK-wide programme administrated by the national independent charity Booktrust, funded by the Scottish Government and supported by more than 25 children’s publishers, that babies and toddlers who are exposed to books on a regular basis are further ahead in reading, writing, numeracy and listening skills when they reach school.

This is because the first three years are crucial in providing the foundations for learning throughout our lives. This is when we learn to talk and it is during this time that our brains develop at a tremendous rate.

Bookstart In Scotland Day gives the gift of free books to all children at around eight weeks, 18 months and three years, along with guidance materials for parents and carers’

Dads ‘don’t read bedtime stories’

The BBC reports that less than half of fathers regularly read bedtime stories to their children, research has suggested.

Some 42% of fathers said they were bedtime story readers, compared with 76% of mothers, a poll of 2,207 adults for the National Year of Reading found.

But 60% of fathers blamed long hours and stress. Television was children’s most common pre-sleep activity. Children’s Secretary Ed Balls said reading opened doors to everything. Boys are consistently outperformed by girls when it comes to reading. Last year 87% of girls reached the required standard of reading at the end of primary school, compared with 81% of boys.

Dyslexia link to school failures


The BBC reports that many schoolchildren could be failing reading and writing tests because they are unaware they are dyslexic, new government-funded research suggests. A study by Hull University academics of 1,300 children said dyslexia was a major cause of failure.

Over half of those who did not achieve expected levels in SATS tests displayed all the signs of being dyslexic. The research has led to calls for more specially-trained teachers in schools as well as better diagnosis.

The Guardian also runs the story:

2m children have dyslexic-type reading difficulty, study claims http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2265283,00.html

The Guardian reports that according to a research study schools are not identifying children at risk, says the research, which reveals that 2 million children have dyslexic-type learning difficulties, more than has previously been thought but in line with research in the US. Only 76,000 children have been recorded as having a learning difficulty and dyslexia groups said it showed that too few pupils are getting specialist teaching.

The research, based on screening 1,341 pupils and funded by the Department for Children, Schools and Families, suggests that 20% are at risk of a learning difficulty including dyslexia. It found that 55% of pupils who are failing Sats are at risk of dyslexia or learning difficulties.

From The Guardian’s article:

Separate research by the National Union of Teachers last year revealed that the majority of state schoolteachers lack confidence to identify and teach dyslexic pupils.

Fewer than one in 14 said they would be “very confident” in identifying a child with dyslexia.

 Comment from the Dyslexia Support Service in East Lothian: I’d be curious to hear whether class teaching colleagues in our authority identify with this research from England. And if so, what can we do about it?