Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dis - Lek - See - Uh

Dyslexia [noun] Pronunciation: /dɪsˈlɛksɪə/ [dis – lek – see – uh]

A general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence. 

- Oxford English Dictionaries

Let me first introduce the nature of my post – if you haven’t guessed already, it is about Dyslexia. Call it a follow-up to my previous blog post ‘Are we a dyslexic nation or is it an excuse that we hide behind?’. In this post I want to consider what it really means to be dyslexic.

Firstly, I want to point out that I have been tested for Dyslexia – I have the really long report explaining the areas in which I struggle most and advice on how I can combat the niggles that in the past have been more than challenging. Consider the irony…

Educational Psychologist + potentially dyslexic individual = a really long and wordy report for the newly tested dyslexic person to read.

I found that rather amusing – it didn’t jump up and slap me in the face straight away, although this could be because I was busy concentrating on reading the whole report several times before processing any of the information in it.

So if you read my previous post, you will have understood that for me, being dyslexic has not held me back in the slightest. Yes, I feel that if I had have known earlier on in my education that I would have found my school days easier, but when I think about how hard I worked to achieve what I did, it makes me proud. I survived first school, middle school, high school and college through sheer hard work, knowing something wasn’t quite right but I was still determined to prove to myself that I could do it. I often wonder if some of my teachers thought I was a lazy pupil – regardless, it doesn’t matter now that I have come out the other side unscathed.

That is my account, but for some children (and indeed adults) this isn’t the case. For some, they feel that their difficulty to comprehend through reading and writing has held them back – arguably made them feel inadequate. This genuinely makes me sad because I feel that I managed to achieve a great deal against these odds, but for others it can be such a rocky road. In some cases it has lead to discrimination in and outside of the classroom.

The problem

Dyslexia is mapped on such a broad spectrum – but once it is understood where an individual’s difficulties lie, life can become much easier. For example, it takes me twice as long to read black text on white background as someone who can read perfectly well, but for every area that I find challenging, there is an area that I excel in. To combat my problem with reading I use what I believe is called Apple Green acetate over the paper, or if I am working on my computer I may change the background of the page to speed up my reading. Dyslexia cannot be characterised to one specific area and no two individuals are affected in the same way. Sometimes this is where confusion begins.

I truly believe that the support available to children with Dyslexia in schools is much better now than it ever has been. Teachers are now more aware of the ‘tell-tale’ signs and how to help children overcome their learning difficulties – but more needs to be done. In order to teach children with learning difficulties effectively, the teacher first and foremost needs to understand the conditions and capabilities before bombarding individuals with more overwhelming (and sometimes patronising) ‘ways to combat’ said problems.

The statistics

According to the Dyslexia Action website, 1 in 5 school leavers struggle to read and write, 1 in 10 people have Dyslexia and 1 in 5 children are excluded from the classroom due to reading difficulties. 

The solution

In my opinion, there is no one solution to help those with Dyslexia – there are many. The Government could start by making it essential for teachers in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) to be taught about learning difficulties and ways in which they could help children to push down their metaphorical learning barriers. Not only will this be a great help to the children who have already established learning difficulties, but it will also be easier for teachers to identify signs of those who have not been previously screened for Dyslexia or other associated learning difficulties.

With the appropriate teacher training, the quality of education that is offered to every student will arguably be more valuable to those who had previously struggled. With a better understanding of learning difficulties help can invariably be put in place to ensure that every child gets a chance to achieve.

Every child has the right to be taught in a balanced and fair environment where opportunity is available to everyone. Teachers work hard to provide quality education, they inspire the children that they teach on a daily basis – but how do they get through to the children who have come to believe that they aren’t capable of achieving?

I believe that with introducing compulsory teacher training in Special Educational Needs (SEN) during ITT it will help to raise standards of not only the lives and education of the children, but also improve the levels of literacy in schools. 

On another note, please vote on my poll (to the left of the blog post) about whether or not you think that dyslexic individuals should be allowed to teach. My aim is to create a blog post that provokes open comments about this topic. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog.

Over and out. Weez.

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