Article 5:

Dyslexia Awareness -A Life Long Career and Campaign

By Louise Engels | October 17th, 2020

October is a month when there are many raising awareness for various reasons. Light it Red is happening in Australia and some other countries including England.

If you are in England you can be excused for not knowing, and not noticing, as there has been extraordinarily little media attention, if at all.

Did you see the WriteOffs on Channel 4 presented by Sandi Toksvig in September 2020? If you did not, then I can recommend you search and watch.

Did you listen to Toby Withers documentary on Cast Iron for BBC World? Again, to be recommended searching and listening.

Do you assume that all primary school teachers in the UK are trained in identifying and teaching Dyslexic Children?

Driver Youth Trust has produced four excellent reports:

Fish in a Tree: Why are we failing Children with Dyslexia?
Through the Looking Glass: Is Universal provision what it seems?
Joining the Dots: Have recent reforms worked for those with SEND?
Hide and Seek: Where are all the specialists?
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty/Difference/Disability and is recorded annually in data submitted to inform Government statistics.

Our own county Leicestershire, has around 2,000 children identified but where exactly is the provision for these children? How many have a place in a mainstream school, and it is not Dyslexia Friendly? How many parents pay for extra tuition without checking whether the tutors are qualified? This is not just a local problem.

Too many children are being failed by education. Children with so much potential and so many strengths are being left to focus on their weaknesses, which has such an impact on their emotional well being, which affects so many other areas of their lives. They are missing the opportunity to learn in a supportive, dyslexic friendly environment that allows their weaker areas of learning to be supported, building on their strengths.

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These footprints were the idea of a child I worked with to illustrate the strengths that dyslexics can have. Knowing which strengths each child has, and using these strengths is a key to learning and teaching.

Far too often it is the perceived weaknesses that are highlighted by teachers and these are very numerous. Checking the strengths first and giving the child the cardboard foot for each strength that they have enables the child to move forward.

These are the main perceived weaknesses. These are the circles that parents and children keep going round instead of being able to move forward.

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When tutoring I only allow the child to choose a maximum of three perceived weaknesses to work on, moving forward by using their strengths.

This also helps with being able to find ways of putting a long-term memory footpath in place. Working memory or short-term memory is something that seems to be common to many dyslexics. This enables them to have some control over what they are learning.

Dyslexia was recognised over a hundred years ago. Many parents remember their school years as not being the best. Maybe less was understood about dyslexia when the previous generations were at school. But this is 2020. Why are so how many children still having to go through experiences that really could be avoided? What a difference it would make to all children, including the dyslexic children if teachers were trained to teach them in the ways they learn, and if the resources and technologies of today were made available for each and every child.

See also :

Arran Smith SEND Group

Operation Diversity

Jackie Hewitt-Main at Cascade

Written in Collaboration with Sue Whiting – Former Leicestershire Primary School Teacher, SENCO and life long Dyslexia Campaigner and Champion.