Thursday, 23 November 2017

‘Dyslexia… Is It On The increase?’ by  Dublin CETC © 2017


Let’s bust the myth… most children and adults who struggle with the written subjects at school have a valid reason for doing so.  In general they have a very high IQ and many subconsciously teach themselves through studying, others in conversation or listening to conversation.  I have witnessed this over the long number of years working with both children and adults. Most will pick up a book and astound the listener as they start to read away… baffled as to why they are struggling at school, etc.  Why is this so?... well, most would have a good long term memory and would store many words in their image file (attached to images), you might occasionally hear a random word thrown out, but we adapt to ad-libbing quite well.  I say ‘we’, as I have gone through the same hoops myself, being born dyspraxic and dyslexic.

We now offer online support www.facebook.com/Online-Dyslexia-Support-1811247802448782/

There is a bottom line figure of 8-10% (this is on the increase) of children in most countries with some form of learning disability, involving poor comprehension in certain academic studies… for the most part listening, speaking, reading, writing, or mathematical. However, there is a far greater problem looming on the horizon… LDD (literacy deficit disorder)… and for many, it has already arrived.  For those with dyslexia and those who have a real problem coming to terms with and understanding problems with the English language... a figure of around 18-20% would be nearer the truth.
So where is the problem?  If you find your child reading a book, maybe from school, sit beside them and follow the story and, with some children, you will very quickly see them substituting words and quite frequently.  It’s not a pointer to the fact that they cannot read the word they have replaced, it’s the brain working in rapid fire to give fluency to reading.  You will notice when they come to words they cannot spell, that they slow or stop and try to build that strange word (often a word that has not been stored with an image).  Dyslexia is the most known form of learning difficulty, although we know of many more that exist.  Dyscalculia is one… it involves working/processing numbers and dysgraphia… taking the information from a source (whiteboard/hand-outs, etc.) and writing it down or storing it in the long term memory.
Speech is also connected here and many dyslexics could well have been late hitting certain milestones… this will cause a problem in reading fluency and the ability to build strange/unfamiliar words.
We use a variety of methods to help those struggling with one of the 3D’s to overcome the problems. Intervention is based on building skills using whatever teaching method works best for each individual.
 To help children with dyslexia, focus on teaching the child those words that can be segmented into smaller units of sound and that these sounds are linked with specific letter patterns. In addition, children with dyslexia require practice in reading stories, both to allow them to apply their newly acquired decoding skills to reading words in context and to experience reading for meaning and enjoyment.
Nowadays, we have also lost a complete tier of learning… do you remember sitting down to dinner as a family, watching a few channels on the TV, leading people to discuss the content or even turn the TV off and play a game…Charades…Give us a Clue, etc. These were also great opportunities for parents to see the academic ability of their children first hand. Now instead, we wait for the Report or the school to call us and quite often it’s way too late.
There is a chain of thought that would also focus on poor and delayed speech as a result of the above and that is also hampered by the solitary playing of video games.  Think about it… conversation is not as strong and is no longer widely used by many of us due to our way of life, we can go an entire day by using pay at pump for fuel, shopping online or self-checkout and even dive through fast food restaurants.
Most children/adults give all their latest news to others via social media… Facebook or texting… again not a word spoken!  Our friends in mainland Europe and many developing countries don’t quite suffer in the same way, as they very much use this form of media as an add on/supplement and not a replacement, or in many developing countries they simply don’t have or cannot afford the technology!
 All this results in a variety of issues and we see many more with delayed speech than ever before.  How can we gauge how much is being read with a kindle?… it was fairly easy to judge a worn book with bent pages and you could also observe the pages being turned (reluctant readers). 
These things can all lead to a lack of fluency in not just reading, but spelling and speech are all affected.  Self-confidence very quickly follows also stuttering and stammering comes as a direct result of poor literacy and communication skills… memory can also be poor as a result! Add these to someone with dyslexia and what chance do they stand! It takes far longer to pull the word from memory and build it before giving a response and the ‘em’ comes in handy to fill the temporary void in the conversation.
Slow readers, writers and communicators are constantly giving off warning signs.  How many are not picked up in school?  As parents or teachers, we need to take heed of these tell-tale signals before it’s too late and we have not just a reluctant reader, but a very reluctant pupil and much more coming down the track.
Why not make a big difference to your child/students and use our multi-sensory teaching resources?  Step up with ‘Steps’ and gain those lost years and self-confidence.   Check it out at -https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steps-for-dyslexiadysgraphiadyscalculia-improving-academic-study/509977782389910?ref=hl
With dyslexics, it is well known that there are inherent weaknesses in areas of the brain required to understand (comprehension) and build words (phonology), both of which are needed in order to be effective in all areas of literacy. For them (and also those with literacy deficits), this problem can be sorted effectively and the earlier you start the better… intervention in all areas of literacy, including communication, is vital… building words and vocabulary along with solid comprehension through a multi-sensory process.  These are the areas we work on, giving excellent results, with our students in all our literacy and numeracy intervention programmes and the same can apply to the remaining  academic subjects 

why not pop over to our new page and read more on the 3 Dy's @ https://www.facebook.com/DyspraxiaGlobalDyslexiaDyscalculiaForumForAll
All our posts are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.  Why not friend us on Facebook or Twitter @ Dyslexia Dublin and follow our Blog at  www.dyslexiadublin.blogspot.ie.
Toby Lee, Dublin CETC © 2017
Visit us at our website  www.dublin-cetc.com

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

How is Confidence and Self Esteem affected by Dyspraxia, (DCD), Dyslexia and other specific learning needs by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017 

Confidence and achievement is everything… we can all do our own personal SWAT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats)… just take a look what you are good at, what do you struggle with? Can you do everything you need to do?

We now offer online support for dyslexia/dyspraxia in academic studies.
 www.facebook.com/Online-Dyslexia-Support-1811247802448782/
How easy is it to lose your confidence… imagine yourself down a hole and every time you stick your head out, someone hits it with a stick or shouts at you.  How many would still continue to pop their head up?
Many with dyspraxia have days, weeks, months and years like this and children with dyspraxia dealing with learning needs, maturity and skill building have these problems to face.
Dyspraxics generally have reduced ability when it comes to co-ordinated skills (gross and fine motor) such as sport and dance and this in itself multiplies the time required to carry out a given task that can be mastered by others in the shortest (one or two attempts) period of time.  Quite often we, as parents, fail to recognise this as a problem and fall short in time/tolerance required to help our children develop the required skill or skill sets.  Our parent's may considered spending the same amount of time teaching us how to ride our bike, as they would with siblings (brother sister), whereas in fact we often  require up to four times longer to grasp that particular concept.  It’s important for parents not to tire and make sure to give their children this extra time and remember… praxis makes perfect! It would be similar for those with dyslexia as we utilize areas of the brain that process all learnt material (instruction) our processing speed is known to be much slower, hence the required prolonged lessons and practice.
How does this impact on our child’s confidence and low self-esteem?
How do we go about assessing this lack of belief?
How do we address this area and encourage self-belief?
How can we make them feel good about themselves without feeling patronised?

Gross and Fine Motor Skills, Motor Planning and Organisation of Movement.
For a start we need to give due importance to the area of gross/fine/motor/organisation by taking time to work on these areas. This is a real issue and affects self confidence in most of our daily lives as a dyspraxic and also for those with SPD and hyper mobility.
DCD can confuse many, from Ed Psych’s, friends, teachers and even close family members, all can appear fine for the short time we are in others company and this can be a problem in itself.   Quite often we seem just like those without DCD when we are sitting or are relatively stationary… however, the very second we  have to carry out a task we fall apart… for example, walking with a cup and we drop it, or walk into someone.
We are all aware that DCD (dyspraxia) is a motor, planning and co-ordination disorder.
The disorder can range from mild to severe.  It runs in families and can be co-morbid, which often means many will have elements of hyper mobility, dyslexia, dysgraphia (writing/comprehension), dyscalculia (maths) sensory processing, social communications disorder (DSM5).  Most will have poor memory and memory recall.  Others may present with mild dyspraxia and no other traits.
Presentation of DCD is so variable in its spectrum and has a very wide range of limitation/delay in co-ordination, planning and motor skill.  It can range from very moderate to severe… some would be good at sport and others would struggle, the same would be the case for academia.
The child could be fine in the early stages with limited concern shown by the parent, especially if they happen to be the first born so there is no benchmark set and familiar milestones hit by an older sibling, ie. walking, talking, eating, kicking and catching a ball.
We can also see problems with speech and language... quite often we witness a delay in speech which can so often slow the introduction to reading/spelling and indeed writing, into the early years of school.
Dyspraxia (DCD) affects around 1 in 8 school-age children and likewise adults, around the world.  There is a variation to this, so I am going with an average figure.  We also know that it affects far more boys than girls… statistics show around 80% are boys, although in my personal opinion, I feel the gap may well be closer in reality.  The reason I feel this to be the case is that boys tend to show frustration and meltdown whereas girls tend to internalise and just get on with it, which can result in more boys being diagnosed. 
So what do we do to keep confidence and self-belief high?
Firstly I want to say don’t give praise where it is not due… it must be genuine.
Take everything that has to be learnt very slowly and then praise, praise, praise!
During the early days put them in a baby walker, as this helps develop leg movement (gross motor skill).
Spend time helping them to crawl and walk by letting them mimic you.
When they start to feed themselves encourage this but give them easy things to eat (nice bright carrot stick)… pieces of apple will help with fine motor skill… feed them every other piece to reduce frustration.
Make lots of funny faces to encourage smiling and always use a cup and then a straw to drink through, as this will help facial muscle tone and early speech.
Try and get them to improve core muscles by getting them on their tummies and looking up… this will strengthen their back and shoulders.  This will also help posture when they start sitting more frequently.
When they are ready to play, roll a ball to them… this will help eye hand co-ordination.
All of the former is important. Make sure you check out their dominant side too… how do they move? Is it left hand or right first (crawling)? Which leg leads, if already walking? It is so important to figure out their dominant side to make writing etc. easier later on… many pick up the pencil in both hands and often use their non-dominant side to write with (less control)!
We also find placing things in order or stacking difficult, due to the planning/processing side of the condition.
With the singular focus that we have as a result of being dyspraxic, we struggle with multi co-ordination on a variety of fronts, like climbing stairs, running, hopping, and jumping, co-ordinating limbs to dress (shirts, trousers, socks, etc.)
We can also have difficulty chewing solid food, due to hyper-sensitive gag reflex (tough meat and fibrous fruit like pears and fish too) and sensory processing problems.
There is a high incidence of ambidexterity in dyxpraxics and this could be down to planning/processing at an early stage (dyspraxic children often pick the pen up with the nearest hand and proceed to write or draw… this could then become ingrained). This often leads to indifferent writing techniques and poor writing skill.  Let your child know you make mistakes also...none of us are perfect, laugh at your mistakes by all means bur don't laugh at theirs.
This all leads to problems performing daily activities and many of our personal routines like getting dressed.
Due to required repetition, a far greater time is required to master new skills and skill sets (tying shoelaces, fastening buttons, zips, etc).
Tripping and falling due to lack of concentration and poor balance, even standing still and the occasional wobble, can all make us look very clumsy.
We tend to have a far slower rate of maturity due to most of the above and this can lead to voluntary and involuntary isolation.  If we are on our own we feel less pressured to perform and no one witnesses our mistakes.  However I must express this is not a good thing. As a result, we tend to hand around or play with children much younger than us.
I have written many articles on anger and frustration and this all goes alongside dyspraxia. It’s no surprise we beat ourselves up over the slightest mistake and also as a result of being constantly pulled up and criticised by our peers/family members.
We have a very singular focus and this in turn causes poor concentration and listening skills… we also find it hard to follow verbal and written instruction, it is much easier to watch and learn or follow pictograms.
In adulthood this can often be the case with D.I.Y… we would prefer to follow the picture on the box than read the instructions inside (right brained).
It can cause problems with learning to drive (see article on Learning to Drive with Specific Learning Needs by Toby Lee).
Anger and frustration.
If you suspect any of the symptoms of dyspraxia, I would recommend you seeing an OT or Ed. Psych.  II would stress it is important to get a good assessor, as one that doesn’t know dyspraxia could miss some of the signs or might not apply the correct conditions to show that your child has dyspraxia.
You could also find during the assessment your child might have dyslexia/dysgraphia or dyscalculia…these are co-morbid conditions that can also shadow dyspraxia…ADD…ADHD and ASD.
It is so important to be prepared before you see anyone for a diagnosis… observe your child and draw up a list of issues, make a note of milestones like walking/talking, etc.
 Motor problems of children with DCD persist at least into adolescence, although it weakens as we come to terms with routine and we no longer need to be competitive, like running around the school yard or taking part in sport.  Friend with us on facebook or follow us at twitter @ dyslexiadublin



All our articles are written to give guidance only and we would suggest that all of our readers seek the required professional guidance Check out our new look website at www.dublin-cetc.com

Thursday, 15 June 2017

The Why’s and How’s of the IEP (Individual Education Plan)and the benefits to individuals in the learning environment (revised)  by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017




Just received your child's IEP or would like to know more ( have an assessment, then you should be informed about your entitlements).

Specific Needs Education is the education of students with special needs in a way that addresses the students' individual differences and needs. This process involves the individually planned scheme of work with an agreed level of help…sometimes intense help… to achieve a learning objective, such as learning the alphabet for example. This will also give an outline of the resources required to achieve an outcome equal or close to their peers (see the article on Accommodation for further details).
This will include the provision of in-class support (SNA) and one to one (resource teacher), requiring extra resource hours.
There is a range of learning needs and not all children in a class would have been through a diagnosis. The school, however, should be able to identify such students and should offer as much support as they possibly can. Parents must also be informed of this, which is key to helping move their individual child forward.
In most countries, inclusive education is in place; schools and teachers are changing the way in which they teach, to accommodate all students and allowing far more children with specific learning needs to be taught in the mainstream school.
Integration is less likely to cause stigma amongst the students as they are submerged in this modern learning environment. Inclusive education, with adequate resources and qualified knowledgeable staff, can offer almost everything to everyone in regard to education.
Specific learning needs students can be identified early in the learning process…observation of work and participation in group and solo activities can be monitored, along with performance in both testing and homework. These would all help to identify individuals that are struggling to understand the information being presented.
IEP (Individual Education Plan)
A learning programme should be agreed between teachers and this should also involve parents and the support staff within the school. This will vary from country to country and will be unique to the student that has been identified with a learning need. The IEP will set out the support and resources required to help the individual and will also document the resource hours and in-class provision (scribe…reader, etc.) required to help the student cope with the mainstream class.
As schools become more familiar with the range of individual needs, they will resource accordingly. This will require changes in the way they accommodate all within the group and this could be down to gaining physical access to classrooms (old schools) with the use of lifts to upper levels, to the introduction of computers for children who cannot write because of a physical disability. They must also take account of the child’s needs outside of the classroom during break times, to include access to the playground, toilets and eating facilities.
In the case of a child on the Autism Spectrum, it might be necessary to school them in a smaller group or classroom. This can also be the same with children who have SPD if they are tactile or not tactile, they might struggle to concentrate and would need to be positioned accordingly. This would also be the same for children with auditory processing problems and also those who may have visual stress.
Modifying the Lesson to include the IEP.
Students workload can be reduced and be more specific…for instance, handwriting can be in print rather than cursive to help students keep up with lessons that are dictated.
Project work can be assisted by giving the student a textbook and also an audio or DVD to watch, such as Michael Morpurgo’s ‘War Horse’, for example.
Reduced homework is given on a more consistent basis, with maybe one subject per night instead of several subjects…this also means there is less to forget and fewer books for the student to carry home.
Students should be given access to certain resources during testing, like the use of a calculator or have a bank of words to aid comprehension. Extra time for tests can also be agreed during the construction of the IEP.
ECM (every child matters) is an integral part of every school and classroom or should be. The Teacher is responsible for ensuring the safety of all children in their care and take appropriate advice/action to maintain the safety of all.


If your child is starting a new school make sure the provision is there before you register them.


NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others.  It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice in related areas.   Dyslexia Dublin  © 2017

Resources can be seen at our online shop and more information is available at www.dyslexis-dublin.com

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Time Management and associated problems for dyslexics and dyspraxics by Dyslexia dublin© 2017




We suffer poor time management more so than any others…Why?

1) We have very poor short term memory.

2) Secondly, we have organisational issues.

3) Thirdly, some having planning and processing issues.

We can’t ever blame ourselves for any of the above as we are born with a very active right side of the brain (creative), whereas Time management is very much a function of the left linear brain.

However, many get frustrated by our time-keeping and therefore it has to be worked at and improved for the sake of everyone.

You need to sit down and take stock and plan ahead.  My time keeping was terrible as a child, however now it has swung the other way.

I leave myself twice as much time as most to get going and I always arrive at functions/meetings early.  T this day I still set all my clocks five to ten minutes fast.


Ideas:
-      One helpful tool is a colour coded diary for school and social time.
-      Buy a sand timer for home, use it for studying and fun time, we notice
          movement much easier than we would a watch or clock.
-      If you have a smart phone, use the alarm and calendar so you get both a
          visual and audio reminder. 
-      Post-it Notes on your door (to write messages and reminders).  I still hang things on the door that I need to take with me.
-      Use your smart phone to take images of books required for school, etc.
-      A notice-board on the wall can also be useful.

As we have already mentioned, time management is linked to our ability to organise and we don’t have that.

Your preparation should start on a Sunday before the new school week begins.

Do it whilst you are fresh and alert, don’t leave it till Monday morning when you are still half asleep.
You could even find that you sleep better, as you have already organised and sorted all the things that are on your mind to do the next day.

If you are like me and forget so many other things that keep our lives functioning (shopping, sports, social outings, etc.), put all those other troubling things onto post it notes, etc.

Even do a road map, a very good way of learning how to organise… put on your day or week A to Z.

You must also schedule free time and breaks. Is worthwhile during routines like homework…maybe 10 mins every hour, but be disciplined and don’t stretch the free time!

Don’t play video games before you go to bed.  Take an hour or so to do something less complex to help you sleep.

Schedule study time so you can get ahead.  Try to work at some point over the holidays and at weekends to give you space in the week.

A To-Do list is also a very good way of getting and thinking ahead.
Being untidy is also a sign of poor organisational skills… it's far harder to find things and quickly in an untidy and cluttered space, so include that on your list.

Always put your keys and/or phones in the same place every time and do it the second you get in.

You will very quickly do all this subconsciously, trust me you will… I did.

It means you only have to visit the one place then, and yes…they are there.

Men tend to be worse than women when it comes to time management, as they tend to have greater lists and tend not to write things down.

Poor time management actually robs you of more time through living in chaos, always chasing your tail.

Most importantly, poor organisation causes increased stress and anxiety.

Time management resources available at www.dyslexiadublin.ie like us on facebook or follow us on twitter @ dyslexia dublin 

All our articles are written to give guidance only and we would suggest that all of our readers seek the required professional guidance Check out our new look website at www.dublin-cetc.com




Friday, 19 May 2017

How Can We Help Our Children To Read?   Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017





There is a huge imbalance in those that read, those that struggle, those that don’t and those that wished they could, why.

If you want to retain information then it is essential to read and write. The retention rates of just audio or using a laptop to type are 25%. Reading out allowed and writing down information raise that to 85%!

See it, say it, hear it, write it, retain it.

Is it possible to stimulate reading in those who don’t or can’t read?
In my early years, I was often left to read alone. Like many I  then had to face the daunting challenge of being asked to read out aloud in the classroom and yes I can hear you all say been there, done that, wearing the tee-shirt.
You can liken this frightening experience to a visit to the dentist, school nurse or getting your haircut.
Leading to a negative effect on my wish to read and the belief in my ability to read.
We can have raised anxiety leading to panic attacks. This can be caused by a sudden onset of stimulation and over stimulation.
We can equate this to many functions within our lives.
So how do we go about changing this, we want everyone to have the chance to feel good about reading and the many benefits it brings in enriching our lives.
We know from modern research conducted into literacy problems at the Yale Research Centre By Bennit and Sally Shawitz
Recent research carried out by Dr John hutton and his team from the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre.
They conducted tests on the benefits of early reading and improvement in cognitive development
This was found to be positive results by the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS)   in many areas including
reading skill development, verbal development, and image development, giving children a far greater cognitive advantage earlier in life.
The research by John Hutton breaks new ground and shows that reading from around three+ gives the child a greater chance of developing and improving vital skill sets that will benefit them at all points in future life. Improvements in the area of the brain that governs semantic (language and logic) reasoning.
Shared reading can be shown to build the imagination and get beyond the words in the book and stimulating that desire to read more.
By reading alongside our children, we can remove the fear of reading to others that may come in later life.
We can see when our children have a problem with reading or comprehending the words they are reading.
If we read age appropriate books, it can also help those parents that struggle with reading and scared by the very same process. This can also help with those children that have speech problems.
Dyslexics tend to replace around 15 to 20% of the words they read, shared reading picks this up and allows the problem to be addressed!
Shared reading keeps the child engaged and reading out aloud also improves retention skills as you are introducing both speech and hearing into the process.
Breathing patterns can also be honed while reading, and this improves the correct use of punctuation in story writing.
I know many parents have busy schedules and little time, but this is so important when developing early reading skills.
There are also huge benefits to the bonding process between parent and child.
This could so often apply to those who are learning another language besides their native tongue.
The survey of Dr John Hutton had positive outcomes and if we follow research such as this reading will become a trend and all of us will be the long term beneficiaries.
We all want nothing more than to encourage our children to read, this will strengthen their both their life skills and academic ability, and that can only end up benefiting us all..

NB. This information is from personal experience and research and also partly sourced through the work of others.  It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and to offer helpful advice.   Dyslexia Dublin  © 2017

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

How is Confidence and Self Esteem affected by Dyspraxia, (DCD), Dyslexia and other specific learning needs by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

Confidence and achievement is everything… we can all do our own personal SWAT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats)… just take a look what you are good at, what do you struggle with? Can you do everything you need to do?
How easy is it to lose your confidence… imagine yourself down a hole and every time you stick your head out, someone hits it with a stick or shouts at you.  How many would still continue to pop their head up?
Many with dyspraxia have days, weeks, months and years like this and children with dyspraxia dealing with learning needs, maturity and skill building have these problems to face.
Dyspraxics generally have reduced ability when it comes to coordinated skills (gross and fine motor) such as sport and dance and this in itself multiplies the time required to carry out a given task that can be mastered by others in the shortest (one or two attempts) period of time.  Quite often we, as parents, fail to recognise this as a problem and fall short in time/tolerance required to help our children develop the required skill or skill sets.  Our parent's may consider spending the same amount of time teaching us how to ride our bike, as they would with siblings (brother sister), whereas in fact we often require up to four times longer to grasp that particular concept.  It’s important for parents not to tire and make sure to give their children this extra time and remember… praxis makes perfect! It would be similar for those with dyslexia as we utilize areas of the brain that process all learnt material (instruction) our processing speed is known to be much slower, hence the required prolonged lessons and practice.
How does this impact on our child’s confidence and low self-esteem?
How do we go about assessing this lack of belief?
How do we address this area and encourage self-belief?
How can we make them feel good about themselves without feeling patronised?

Gross and Fine Motor Skills, Motor Planning, and Organisation of Movement.
For a start, we need to give due importance to the area of gross/fine/motor/organisation by taking the time to work on these areas. This is a real issue and affects self-confidence in most of our daily lives as a dyspraxic and also for those with SPD and hypermobility.
DCD can confuse many, from Ed Psych’s, friends, teachers and even close family members, all can appear fine for the short time we are in others company and this can be a problem in itself.   Quite often we seem just like those without DCD when we are sitting or are relatively stationary… however, the very second we have to carry out a task we fall apart… for example, walking with a cup and we drop it, or walk into someone.
We are all aware that DCD (dyspraxia) is a motor, planning and co-ordination disorder.
The disorder can range from mild to severe.  It runs in families and can be co-morbid, which often means many will have elements of hypermobility, dyslexia, dysgraphia (writing/comprehension), dyscalculia (maths) sensory processing, social communications disorder (DSM5).  Most will have poor memory and memory recall.  Others may present with mild dyspraxia and no other traits.
Presentation of DCD is so variable in its spectrum and has a very wide range of limitation/delay in co-ordination, planning and motor skill.  It can range from very moderate to severe… some would be good at sport and others would struggle, the same would be the case for academia.
The child could be fine in the early stages with limited concern shown by the parent, especially if they happen to be the first born so there is no benchmark set and familiar milestones hit by an older sibling, ie. walking, talking, eating, kicking and catching a ball.
We can also see problems with speech and language... quite often we witness a delay in speech which can so often slow the introduction to reading/spelling and indeed writing, into the early years of school.
Dyspraxia (DCD) affects around 1 in 8 school-age children and likewise adults, around the world.  There is a variation to this, so I am going with an average figure.  We also know that it affects far more boys than girls… statistics show around 80% are boys, although, in my personal opinion, I feel the gap may well be closer in reality.  The reason I feel this to be the case is that boys tend to show frustration and meltdown whereas girls tend to internalise and just get on with it, which can result in more boys being diagnosed. 
So what do we do to keep confidence and self-belief high?
Firstly I want to say don’t give praise where it is not due… it must be genuine.
Take everything that has to be learnt very slowly and then praise, praise, praise!
During the early days put them in a baby walker, as this helps develop leg movement (gross motor skill).
Spend time helping them to crawl and walk by letting them mimic you.
When they start to feed themselves encourage this but give them easy things to eat (nice bright carrot stick)… pieces of apple will help with fine motor skill… feed them every other piece to reduce frustration.
Make lots of funny faces to encourage smiling and always use a cup and then a straw to drink through, as this will help facial muscle tone and early speech.
Try and get them to improve core muscles by getting them on their tummies and looking up… this will strengthen their back and shoulders.  This will also help posture when they start sitting more frequently.
When they are ready to play, roll a ball to them… this will help eye hand co-ordination.
All of the former is important. Make sure you check out their dominant side too… how do they move? Is it left hand or right first (crawling)? Which leg leads, if already walking? It is so important to figure out their dominant side to make writing etc. easier later on… many pick up the pencil in both hands and often use their non-dominant side to write with (less control)!
We also find placing things in order or stacking difficult, due to the planning/processing side of the condition.
With the singular focus that we have as a result of being dyspraxic, we struggle with multi co-ordination on a variety of fronts, like climbing stairs, running, hopping, and jumping, co-ordinating limbs to dress (shirts, trousers, socks, etc.)
We can also have difficulty chewing solid food, due to hyper-sensitive gag reflex (tough meat and fibrous fruit like pears and fish too) and sensory processing problems.
There is a high incidence of ambidexterity in dyxpraxics and this could be down to planning/processing at an early stage (dyspraxic children often pick the pen up with the nearest hand and proceed to write or draw… this could then become ingrained). This often leads to indifferent writing techniques and poor writing skill.  Let your child know you make mistakes also...none of us are perfect, laugh at your mistakes by all means but don't laugh at theirs.
This all leads to problems performing daily activities and many of our personal routines like getting dressed.
Due to required repetition, a far greater time is required to master new skills and skill sets (tying shoelaces, fastening buttons, zips, etc).
Tripping and falling due to lack of concentration and poor balance, even standing still and the occasional wobble, can all make us look very clumsy.
We tend to have a far slower rate of maturity due to most of the above and this can lead to voluntary and involuntary isolation.  If we are on our own we feel less pressured to perform and no one witnesses our mistakes.  However I must express this is not a good thing. As a result, we tend to hand around or play with children much younger than us.
I have written many articles on anger and frustration and this all goes alongside dyspraxia. It’s no surprise we beat ourselves up over the slightest mistake and also as a result of being constantly pulled up and criticised by our peers/family members.
We have a very singular focus and this in turn causes poor concentration and listening skills… we also find it hard to follow verbal and written instruction, it is much easier to watch and learn or follow pictograms.
In adulthood this can often be the case with D.I.Y… we would prefer to follow the picture on the box than read the instructions inside (right brained).
It can cause problems with learning to drive (see article on Learning to Drive with Specific Learning Needs by Toby Lee).
Anger and frustration.
If you suspect any of the symptoms of dyspraxia, I would recommend you see an OT or Ed. Psych.  II would stress it is important to get a good assessor, as one that doesn’t know dyspraxia could miss some of the signs or might not apply the correct conditions to show that your child has dyspraxia.
You could also find during the assessment your child might have dyslexia/dysgraphia or dyscalculia…these are co-morbid conditions that can also shadow dyspraxia…ADD…ADHD and ASD.
It is so important to be prepared before you see anyone for a diagnosis… observe your child and draw up a list of issues, make a note of milestones like walking/talking, etc.
 Motor problems of children with DCD persist at least into adolescence, although it weakens as we come to terms with routine and we no longer need to be competitive, like running around the school yard or taking part in sport.  Friend with us on facebook or follow us on twitter @ dyslexiadublin



All our articles are written to give guidance only and we would suggest that all of our readers seek the required professional guidance Check out our new look website at www.dublin-cetc.com

Saturday, 29 April 2017

‘When Is The Right Time To Tell Your Child They Have A Specific Learning Need?’ by  Dyslexia Dublin © 2017
Is there ever going to be a right time?  Well, you will always blame yourself for telling your child or indeed not as the case may be.  I can say from my own experience I would have loved to have known that I had a learning need, but back in the fifties and sixties, there was no such diagnosis.  With dyspraxia, however, the first mention in the medical journals was as far back as 1962, although there was little heed paid to this and many other learning needs.  I spent my early life being very confused and angry at my lack of academic and sporting ability, I was constantly measured against my more able siblings and called many horrible things, including a word I despise to this day (‘spa’ or ‘spastic’).  I am far happier now that I had a reason for the problems I continually came across in the early years and it was out of my control and was deemed to be the way I would go on through life from birth.
Genetics sets the seed with most specific learning needs and this is the case for so many others… I am not alone!
You may have had a diagnosis, or be in the very early stages of wondering why your child is behaving or learning differently to others and you may be starting to suspect something is not quite right.  They may well be slow at hitting milestones and you may have also spotted the early signs of a specific learning difficulty.  I will say at this point, having dyspraxia myself and also for children with dyspraxia, I wouldn’t despair, as we go on to achieve great things and, if shown the right way, excel both physically and academically… we are great social animals too!
 What about those that are just late starters?  Many children find a variation in both physical and visual stimuli.  Some like to watch you, or programmes, also some watch and listen to conversations… these are usually the early readers.  Some like to construct and by this I mean those who show a preference to play with toys and build things… these are for the most part late/later readers.  As mentioned, it’s what pushes our buttons that drive us from the start.
You can never be too early to encourage both forms of stimuli and your engagement in this process will lead to your child joining in.
It is so important to work with the school or college on this, the more eyes the better.  You need to keep a very close eye on their academic work… teachers are being forced to teach ever larger class sizes than ever before and don’t always get the chance to check every piece of homework and quite often the students will cross mark each other’s work… this can result in them falling behind.  Don’t forget the square of over teaching - those with a learning need may require a more graphical description of what has to be learnt compared to a child who has no SPLD… quite often 2-3 or 4 times longer.
Make sure you keep your concerns written down with times and dates… this comes in really handy to monitor progress, take to open days, parents evenings and IEP meetings (individual education plan). Never discard this information as you can use it when your child steps up in that, or a new, school… not all teachers inform each other of someone leaving their class to move to another, even though you might take this for granted.
Always check school reports and note discrepancies from teacher to teacher and subject to subject… the problem more often than not is in the core and language subjects.  Be positive, proactive and constructive with your child’s school/teacher, aggression often meets aggression… suggestions and inducing suggestions from others tends to yield positive results.
If you have no diagnosis, ask the school or college as they have funds for this, although I will say they are extremely limited and have to be used wisely.
Try and benchmark progress and always leave a meeting with a date for the next review, this leaves nothing to chance which is important because, as we all know, the years flow quickly by.
Keep your child informed, they often resent going to resource when they are older, especially boys.  Try and keep their confidence high by talking about their great efforts in other areas.
Kinesthetic learning is so often the way forward and it’s important to work at the point where the wheels fell off rather that at the coal face.  By the time the school and maybe your concerns are heard, the child will be at least eighteen months behind… so imagine putting a second class student into fourth class, how would they feel?  That is the way your child feels every day.
Look for tell-tale signs like stammer/stutters, keeping themselves isolated during school and maybe they have no interest in inviting friends over, they avoid the competitive aspects of school (sports, etc.).  Maybe they have moved up a year and the new teacher gets them to read aloud to the class and this is bothering them, the dreaded Friday spelling test or other tests like the STEN, SATS or Drumcondra… maybe you can reflect after reading this and remember episodes of reluctance or faking a day off and see a common link.
Above all, support from all moves this forward and if you haven’t told your child about your worries, there is a good chance school friends or even a teacher might have… not always directly, but your child will read between the lines.
If you have a diagnosis and a statement you are entitled to an IEP, ask your SENCO/SNA or the principal and if you haven’t had one, drive it forward… I have written articles on the IEP which you can read either on Facebook or on my blog (www.dyslexiadublin.blogspot.ie).
Some may try to convince you that you should be under a recognised group/umbrella group, either independent or recognised by the government, to obtain resource… this is not the case, all you need is a statement.  Whilst some will be happy to kick the problem down the road, many will go the extra mile… I know several schools that support struggling learners through extra resource and they don’t have a statement.
When you are doing homework, start as soon as they are home from school and make sure they drink plenty of water, hydration is a key to focus and, whilst on the subject, check that they can drink fresh water whilst in class too.  Front load all study and taper down towards the end of the session, leave plenty of time to relax and help the processing… remember the rule of four!
 It’s worth focussing on the positive sides of your child in or out of school… this alone will move them forward and they will find their plateau.  You as a parent will get your reward from seeing that happy child you always knew you had!  They are not lazy, clumsy or stupid… we just process in a very different way and we all get there in the end!  We just need to reinforce this constantly as low self-esteem and confidence is a peril we would rather avoid.
Have a read of another article of mine related to this subject –
The Why’s and How’s of the IEP:
 NB. This information is from our personal experience and research of our extensive team and also partly sourced through the work of others. It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and other specific learning needs and to offer help and advice only. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017
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