Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Dyslexia - The Why’s and how to spot some of the Signs’ Part One by Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

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We can all relate to our early learning and the struggle at school to grasp the English language. We all share one thing in common…it was a subject that couldn’t be skipped, we had to learn it…we need it…we would struggle to manage without it.
I was talking to someone in their fifties who struggled with the very subject and they remarked “Even now getting on a bus is a worry…I have to ask the driver as I can’t read the sign or understand the numbers that tells me where the bus is heading”.
If all our food came in a plain package with no images so many would struggle to read what the package contained…even cooking instructions would prove difficult, as would instruction manuals for all our gadgets…so much so that what many take for granted is a struggle for others in society.
If we take a look at education…most subjects involve English…even maths!
It’s unfortunate but poor reading and also poor learning skills is becoming ever greater with young people…modern technology that has been designed to make our lives easier is helping to fuel the problem…predictive texts…spell checkers…voice typing software, etc.
With some 10% of the population suffering from Dyslexia, how can we spot that our child might be dyslexic?
Some of the suggestions below could also point to dyscalculia and dysgraphia.
The most obvious sign is letter reversal and common letters are b and d…p and q.
Some children get the number 5 the wrong way round (dyscalculia).
Letters within words can be the correct letter but in the wrong order, leading to spelling errors such as ‘girl’ could become ‘gril’.
Diagraphs/blends tend to prove difficult, the sh…ch...ur…ir , etc.
Word endings are often difficult with the y very often replaced with i or e.
Monosyllabic words are often easier for the dyslexic child to relate to as they can sound the letters out.
Children often confuse right with left.
Poor or slow writing is another possible indicator (children have to constantly look up at the board to replicate the correct spelling) and this can also point to poor short term memory (dysgraphia).
Memory can also show up in a slow reader and also the lack of retention or reference to the passage of reading.
Tracking is another problem (if the teacher pauses note taking or classroom noise distracts the student). Reading rulers can help to keep your sight line/passage of text.
A lack of interest or understanding in subjects that involve reading, writing and spelling, but a flair in creative subjects can be another indicator of dyslexia…dysgraphia…dyscalculia.
Part Two on what causes dyslexia and how we can help will follow next week.
Please note all the information in our posts are taken from personal knowledge and research and may contain the work of others in our field. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013 I am happy for people to share my work...please mention the producer of this piece

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great resources available and distance
‘Why Dyslexia and not Visual Stress?’ by Toby Lee, Dyslexia Dublin © 2013

The strength of good literacy skills is built from firm foundations, early letter and sound association (phonics, phonemes)… we all remember our phonetic alphabet.  What is a phoneme?...  a phoneme is a basic unit of a language's phonology, which is combined with other phonemes to form a meaningful unit. We can change a word by simply changing the phoneme, like kill and kiss (ll), (ss).

DYSLEXIA  -  How can we tell if someone is Dyslexic?

They can have problems with constructing words, although they are generally ok with mono syllabic words.  They can also suffer with letter reversals (using the correct letters but in the wrong sequence) and logical reasoning (not being able to form pairs of letters into sounds like ‘ch’ or ‘ur’ as in ch-ur-ch or church). Short term memory is also a problem as they are not stimulated as they would be through the visual channel.

What causes Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is caused primarily by the part of our brain (brain is made up of several component parts) that decodes the written and sometimes the spoken word. Two strongly held beliefs about dyslexia are that children/adults with it are prone to seeing letters or words in a reversed format, and also that the problem is linked to intelligence. Both ideals are incorrect. The problem is actually a linguistic one, not a visual one, in dyslexia. And dyslexia in no way stems from any lack of intelligence. People with severe dyslexia can be brilliant… however due to being dyslexic we have a huge problem.

When someone writes something for us to copy or dictates words to copy, the information enters the left side of our brain via the audio or visual tract… most dyslexics would find great difficulty in processing information in this way due to poor or limited function of the left side of the brain (left lobe) that forms whole words and letter sounds.  There are three areas - the Broca’s  that works on articulation and word analyses… the Parietal/temporal that also helps to analyse words (includes sensory processing along with the cerebellum ) and the Occipital that helps to form our words. Dyslexics have an impaired Occipital and rely more on the Broca’s area when trying to structure whole words. This is not the last port of call, as we then search in our right side for a stored image of the given word.  This however shows a lack of reading fluency in the child or adult that has not had intervention. It is easy to see why so many children and adults with dyspraxia have problems with reading/spelling and they make up the greater proportion of dyslexics.

VISUAL STRESS  -  How can we tell if someone has Visual stress?

Moving closer to or away from page.
Becoming fidgety whilst reading.
Using their finger to track words.
Missing out words and dropping down to another line (eye tracking) is also a possibility here.
Rubbing or rinsing eyes and neck, gulping (drawing in air) and yawning whilst reading and blinking excessively to re-focus.
Self-confidence and associated behaviour which can be hidden.

What causes Visual stress?

 It is a condition that will contribute unaided to reading and writing problems, eye strain and possibly headaches/migraine brought on by prolonged reading. It can affect and be more noticeable in those with light sensitivity, with the appearance of patterns in text and glare effect that can cause letter to appear bunched up and can lead to letter movement. There is a low tolerance to the amount of white light/glare compared to that of a person that doesn’t have visual stress.

The Wilkins Rate of Reading Test will help test for visual stress, it’s a simple test that does not check for dyslexia (cognitive ability) or IQ/intelligence, but that of fluency of reading, speed, etc.

How is this test conducted?  The test uses simple words, familiar to children/adults. The words appear in each line of a block of text but in a random order (we with old hill, etc.) as we are not assessing the child’s comprehension skills but purely the reading speed.

Dyslexia… Help is at hand

How can we help/intervene with dyslexia?  We can get teachers to use visual stimulus to help transfer information to the Occipital area of the brain, this will also strengthen the visual memory bank. The STEPS Programme used in our centre works on these key areas with a multi-sensory approach through structured reading exercises, sight vocabulary games, a word flash session and targeted reading practice( fluency). This can make huge improvements as it stimulates the brain with variety and is also very visual.

 Visual stress… Help is at hand

As visual stress is caused by intensity of light (white), we can reduce/defuse this by using filters. For the most part this can be extremely low cost, with the use of academic resources like a Reading Ruler or coloured Overlays and, in addition, the use of coloured Work Books.
You can if you wish get specialist lenses prescribed through an optician… however many will feel a little uncomfortable with, this especially older children. An inexpensive pack of filters can help with all academic study and can be supplied for under €12 or £10.
and available at

We can see from both visual stress and dyslexia that the two are not directly connected, although through pure averages, around 2-4% of dyslexics will also present with visual stress.

There are two more in depth articles written by us on both these areas, however I felt that many confuse the two so a short comparison was called for.
For resources that help with both visit our web at

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Academic Assessments can be slightly skewed if the child/adult has a receptive…expressive problem. Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

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How can we define this…not making yourself clear in both verbal and writing.
Not understanding what others are trying to get across to you verbally or in writing.
When does this occur…usually from around the age of four and upwards, at this point we become more expressive due to our inquisitive minds, we start school around this time and far more is given and asked of by others.

One in every twenty of us will have had or will have a language disorder ranging from mild to severe.
Some children in the early days can have a language of their own and might use a form of pseudo words!
This would come to light during verbal reasoning and comprehension testing.
Most tests carried can be verbal or in written format
This could be identified during an assessment as with the Wechsler Intelligence Scale, for instance, this may show up in relatively low scores for Information, Vocabulary and Comprehension (perhaps below the average percentile). You could well be looking at a child/adult who has difficulty comprehending situations , such as in front (behind)…high (low)…left (right) this was one that caused huge embarrassment to myself on a few occasions and indeed remembering a set of instruction…shopping/cooking/directions.
Such a problem can highlight itself during conversation or indeed in the written word, this is where a participant puts part of the conversation incorrectly (I am going over to my friend’s house yesterday) or (I put the dinner plates under the table); children often have problems and would use um a lot and may even stutter when under pressure. Academically they may be under pressure writing assignments…putting down the first words are always difficult.
They may also have a more general problem with words or sentences, both understanding and speaking them.
Language disorders would be classified in a different way to delayed language like verbal dyspraxia say. In the instance of expressive/receptive disorder the child or adult can communicate but struggles in certain areas of linguistics, having some skills but not all; this can be during the early stages of development (wires crossed) poor short term/working memory could also affect this. With delayed language, the child develops speech and language in the same way as other children, but later. If you or someone you know has or is suspected of having problems with receptive-expressive language disorder, advise or take them to your GP or depending on your country to a speech and language therapist…dyslexia screening should also pick this up…this is relatively easy to turn around and intervention therapy is only short lived…I would however recommend a multi-sensory approach to this problem.
As with all our articles they are given by way of guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.
We have a website where resources can be sourced for helping with specific learning needs at

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Friday, 26 July 2013

We have just launched a new page/forum on facebook to give those with dyspraxia...dyscalculia...dyslexia and dysgraphia a voice...please feel free to pop over to the page and comment and share this with your friends...thank you so much...Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC

Sunday, 21 July 2013

‘Dyslexia… Is It On The increase?’ by  Dublin CETC © 2013
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.
There is a bottom line figure of 8-10% 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 -
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 

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Toby Lee, Dublin CETC © 2013
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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Symptoms of Dyspraxia Part Two. Dyslexia Dublin CETC 2013 © would like to point out that this information is based on both personal and others research)

Symptoms of dyspraxia Cont’d... 

Speech and language -

May talk continuously and repeat themselves (butt into conversations without realising). Some people with dyspraxia have difficulty with organising the content and sequence of their language.
Worry about missing the point…drifting into thought and then re-joining conversation and putting in a statement completely out of context.
May have unclear speech and be unable to pronounce some words.

Speech may have uncontrolled pitch, raised volume and rate and also stutter when under pressure.
It’s not unknown for slurred speech similar to someone intoxicated… especially when asked to read publicly.

Eye movements -
Visual tracking - Difficulty in following a moving object smoothly with eyes without moving head excessively. Tendency to lose the place while reading… reading rulers are again very useful and aid tracking.

Poor relocating -Cannot look quickly and effectively from one object to another. This creates problems in class trying to take information off a board (for example drawing a picture). Writing is also slow as most children retain one word and then have to look up for the next (reading slopes are very good for resolving this,or hand-outs given to the student).
Perception and perspective -
May have over sensitivity to noise.
Some have poor visual perception (visual stress).
Often will be over-sensitive to variations in light (sudden changes due to cloud…disco lights) etc..
Difficulty in distinguishing sounds from background noise… hard to listen to someone talking whilst other noise is going on... disruptive, noisy classrooms are a real problem. VHF is very good for this.
Can be tactile or negative to others (spacial). Can result in dislike of being touched and/or aversion to over-loose or tight clothing. Tactile defensiveness - can get very close to people when walking, talking etc. (you can also catch articles that you may have missed at our blog site

Lack of awareness of body position in space and spatial relationships. Can result in bumping into and tripping over things and people, dropping and spilling things.

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As previously mentioned, not all of the above will apply to all people affected by dyspraxia…but most likely quite a few will be present in most who have the condition.

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Toby Dyslexia Dublin CETC 2013 © would like to point out that this information is based on both personal and others research)

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Symptoms - Dyspraxia...Top Tip Friday from Dyslexia Dublin CETC (information used herein is from own and others research) © 2013 (part one of three)

People with dyspraxia usually have a combination (these vary from person to person) of problems, including:

Gross (large movements) and fine (small movements) motor co-ordination skills.

Poor balance - difficulty in riding a bicycle, going up and down hills (horse riding though is very good).

Poor posture and fatigue - difficulty in standing for a long time as a result of weak muscle tone. Floppy, unstable round the joints... some people with dyspraxia may have flat feet (orthotics can help).

Poor integration of the two sides of the body - difficulty with some sports involving jumping and cycling. Also hygiene (toileting, showering)... standing on one foot to dry the other?.

Poor hand-eye co-ordination - difficulty with team sports, especially those which involve catching. Also, difficulties with driving a car… left and rights… roundabouts?

Lack of rhythm when dancing, doing aerobics (yoga is good).
Clumsy gait and movement - difficulty changing direction, stopping and starting actions. In the early years they would tend to come downstairs on their bottoms until comfortable with one foot before the other. Crawl related movement lacking in later years also, ie. climbing ladders.

Exaggerated 'accessory movements' such as flapping arms when running and often head down.
Tendency to fall, trip, bump into things and people (in people’s personal space – lack of spatial awareness).
Fine motor co-ordination skills (small movements), using palms as opposed to fingers.

Lack of manual dexterity - poor at two-handed tasks, causing problems with using cutlery, cleaning, cooking, ironing, craft work, playing musical instruments.

Poor manipulative skills - difficulty with typing, handwriting and drawing. May have a poor pen grip, press too hard when writing and have difficulty when writing along a line.

Inadequate grasp - difficulty using tools and domestic implements, locks and keys.

Difficulty with dressing and grooming activities, such as putting on make up, shaving, doing hair, fastening clothes and tying shoe laces.

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Poorly established hand/foot dominance - may use either hand for different tasks at different times and indeed lead/ kick etc. with different feet at differing times.

These are just some of the signs that could possibly spell out dyspraxia, although not all apply to every child.

Multi-sensory resources like steps help...with built in spacial awareness programmes...find out more at www,

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Thursday, 11 July 2013

'Learning YOUR Way'  by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

We all have an inbuilt preference to the way we learn and this would be difficult and nigh on impossible to re-programme as it evolved genetically, so basically we learn through a variety of sensory methods…most with dyspraxia, dyslexia,dyscalculia and many other learning needs learn take information in through the right side of our brain…with partial input from the left side, the left side is very much a learning process and the right side our natural side (irrespective of whether we are left or right side dominant). My post aims to point the way to teachers and often parents  mis understanding our academic input (we are far from lethargic or indeed stupid), we make up 33% of the world’s entrepreneur’s and many celebrities  and artists too.

 There have been many studies and Kolb’s model suggests that there are four styles, there appears to only

If we look at figures for the learnt environment we can see the variation of styles -

Almost one third of learning is via haptic (nonverbal communication involving touch) and/or kinaesthetic (feedback through movement) approach to learning.

One third of learning is visual, through pictures and images.

The remaining third is learnt through our auditory channel, through sounds and words.

We can also subconsciously take information and retain it from part of all three styles above.

Do we witness all of these styles during our days at school or college?

Have you often wondered why you only get partial participation in your lessons, or as a parent you are concerned that your child is getting poor results in some subjects?  Have you considered the possibility that your child is not being taught in the style that stimulates them?  Take a look at the following preferred styles of learning -

HAPTIC learning

We would see this in subjects such as art and science.  By the nature of the subjects… touching fabrics in the art room and experiments in a lab, this allows the learner to see articles at close quarters and it allows them to learn in a very physical way.

People who learn haptically will pick things up and handle them. They will walk around the learning domain and want to physically try things out. When they are listening, they may well slump and almost seem not to be paying attention. They will take fewer notes, which will use action-oriented words. When talking, they often have deeper voices and speak more slowly.

VISUAL learners

Learning through the visual channel would be particularly useful for those with dyslexia/dyscalculia and dysgraphia.  Their main method, albeit subconsciously, would be through visualisation and this would also apply to those practical and creative learners.  Students would be tuned into the spoken word and boisterous classrooms would lead to a lack of retention through distractions. Taking information down using a combination of diagrams and text, is welcome for this style of learner.

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AUDITORY learning

Apart from reading written text off the whiteboard, this is the most commonly used of all teaching methods, including subjects such as maths and English with the students learning through listening to the teacher talking, often for prolonged periods, about the subject. Unfortunately however, the greater the knowledge the faster the information is delivered and in a more complex fashion. So, the Haptic/kinaesthetic learner really plays little part in these sessions and retains little or nothing, but for those who are auditory learners you will enjoy a good knowledgeable speaker.

If we were to analyse the figures above, we need to offer all the individual styles of learning to include all the learners in any given lesson.  Each learner will tolerate short spells of information given in a way that doesn’t include their particular style, however these should be brief .

If we don’t change each style on a continual basis, we will only serve one third of the learners at any one time… this has to have an adverse effect on results. It would be the same in an art class with the auditory learner taking in the spoken word, but not engaging when you ask them to sketch something, or home economics with having to make a cake.

Lessons should contain a variety of teaching resources and should be structured in such a way that you encompass all the styles, or rotate every 5-10 mins, to engage all of the learners.

Take a look at your retention, disciplinary and attendance figures, what do they tell you?  Have a look at school reports, what do they tell you? You can glean useful data here.  It will indicate lessons where a single or multi-faceted approach is being adopted in schools and classrooms. If schools/colleges adopt this approach there will be higher pass marks, less absenteeism and far fewer disruptions caused by students not engaging.

Multi-sensory is by far the most enjoyable way of teaching, the downside is you require greater resources and some draconian school principals are not prepared to support change.  Creating lesson plans is straightforward as the aims and objectives remain the same.

One thing worth remembering is that a child would find it impossible to change their learning style, as this is very much pre-set when we are born… however, you can change your style of teaching and you will enjoy the change and the outcomes it brings.

All our posts are intended to give guidance and we always advise that you seek the relevant professional advice.

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

is delighted to announce the First Screening in Ireland

An inspirational Documentary directed by James Redford (son of Robert Redford) providing uplifting and personal accounts of the dyslexic experience from children, experts and iconic leaders, such as Sir Richard Branson and Charles Schwab (financier). 
The film not only clears up the misconceptions about the condition,
but also paints a picture of hope for all who struggle with it.
Shining a spotlight on the latest scientific and psychological research, the film also highlights the work of Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz, co-founders and    co-directors of the Yale Center of Dyslexia and Creativity to illuminate            the hidden origins and implications of dyslexia. 
Proving that dyslexia is a neurological issue and not a character flaw, ‘The Big Picture’ beautifully illustrates that while the condition is an obstacle, it also carries some unique advantages, and ultimately can be overcome.


DATE:    Sunday, 1st September, 2013
TIME:   3.30pm
VENUE:   IMC Cinema, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
TICKETS:   €8.50 (available from

For further info contact: Toby Lee, Dyslexia Dublin (CETC) – (01)2748978 / 087 1144311

Friday, 5 July 2013

Why we use and recommend ‘STEPS’

Why we use and recommend ‘STEPS’ by Toby lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013
I have worked in the area of teaching and supporting those with Specific Learning Needs for over twenty five years and have helped many students who struggle with literacy.  During this time I have used various resources to reinforce learning in this area.
"We are proud to be distributors of this excellent intervention product"

So, why do I use and recommend ‘Steps’?   It is a multi-sensory research-based literacy software program.  It covers all areas of literacy and includes letter reversals and even special awareness elements and promotes knowledge through learning. It is suitable for all school students and adults irrespective of age, learners of all ages from primary years through to adult.
The software is well structured, and affords a cumulative approach to literacy, which covers and develops the all elements of literacy, including vocabulary and sentence building (comprehension).
This programme is designed to support and strengthen classroom learning and can be used alongside normal teaching practices. It can be used in a school resource room and it is very easy to produce lesson structure/plans for a variety of academic levels within the same resource room.  This allows the resource teacher to move amongst the students and offer help where needed and it has printable reports as well as an inbuilt screening test to give a start point for intervention and also measure progress during the year.  The system can be used with headphones and allows for other activities such as reading, to take place in the same room. This is a very well thought out product with it’s main aim being to bring learners up to speed in all literacy areas. It’s currently being used in numerous schools and homes to great success.
The Home version has the same content as the School/Tutor version and can be used to support your child’s study or it can be used as an intervention tool for those who may be dyslexic. It also has great printable resources for those who maybe dysgraphic, (we also offer distance learning with this product).
Many dyslexics have problems with letter reversals and understanding left and right, this programme has a section that can work through this in a highly successful manner.
What ingredients make a good valuable software programme?
‘Steps’ is a highly structured, multi-sensory literacy approach, which is based on sound educational principles
Every activity is research-based (including the games!)
All activities are cumulative and build all the skills and knowledge needed for literacy
Automatic revision is provided
As mentioned, ‘Steps’ is not age-specific
‘Steps’ caters for learners from 5 years of age to adult
Starting points are based on literacy level, not age
‘Steps’ is the only literacy program which is completely customisable
You can build your own wordlists, to reinforce schoolwork or workplace needs
Build complete courses to support your school’s curriculum areas
‘Steps’ will assess your literacy level and start you at the right point on the courses

You can also ‘dip into’ the program in any way that suits you and it can be structured around time available
‘Steps’ provides a complete range of supporting resources (printable work sheets and flash cards)
Specialist workbook-based literacy courses directly reinforced by ‘Steps’ (school and distance learning)
Extensive range of game/activity resources for school or home use
It also has great activities for building short and long term memory

We have great feedback on our training and our resources, including this product and are proud to be a distributor, contact us for further details.
One important point to mention… you are not on your own, we are there to support you no matter what package you choose and this is backed with over twenty five years of experience.
All our posts are for guidance and professional advice should always be sought… Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Moving on up… “Transition from Senior School to College/University”

Moving on up… “Transition from Senior School to College/University” by Toby Lee, Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

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Have you experienced a transition from your normal routine?... changing job or moving home perhaps?  This change can affect your structure and stability and can also be very stressful for many.  Multiply this and that is how a child with additional/specific learning needs feels every time he or she has to face even the smallest change.
The stress and anxiety doesn’t just stop with the student either … the parents will worry for the child/young adult and themselves about the early days in the new environment, knowing full well this has already been a problem with less challenging changes like moving desks, teachers and classes in the past and now we are talking a whole new environment in an adult world, where most of the direction has to come from the student.
All change is challenging and comes at a price, so transition needs to be gentle.  Why more schools don’t allow students to go to the next level for tasters (visit the college for a couple of days to allow students sample courses before deciding which to enrol for) is beyond me… this is achieved by few and yet a wide range of tasters and courses are offered by so many third level colleges… certainly in the UK and something that would be worth looking into at any college you’re considering.
Flexibility is king in accommodating the transition process when a child/young adult presents with SPLD.  There are guidelines for schools and colleges to follow, but many parents will be unaware of this at the point it’s required.  It’s vital to maintain communication with tutors and/or special needs department, both prior to and after transition to make sure everyone is aware of the individual’s needs.  Senior schools should communicate with both parent and college/universities to compile the information necessary to be able to accommodate the child’s needs (IEP).  Parents need to be made aware of points reductions where statements can back up a specific learning need, such as in Ireland there is the DARE scheme…this allows for a reduction in entry points required and many colleges subscribe to this.
Guidelines in the UK:
“To comply with the terms of the Equality Act, students with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties should not be penalised for poor spelling, grammar or sentence structure.
Students registered for dyslexia/spld support are given blue cards to attach to their work to alert the marker to their dyslexia/spld so that appropriate concessions can be made.
For further information about marking the work of dyslexic/spld students, please see:
For modules where academic standards would be compromised by applying dyslexia/spld marking concessions, exemption may be requested. This is normally likely to apply only to modules specifically testing use of language – for example foreign language modules.”  Quote from Oxford Brookes University.

Guidelines in Ireland:
DARE is a College and University Admissions Scheme (Disability Access Route to Education) that offers places on reduced points to school leavers with disabilities, apply early.

Who is DARE for?
Dare is for school leavers (Under 23yrs as at 1 January 2013) who have a disability and who may not be able to meet the points for their preferred course, due to the impact of their disability.
Apply Early: apply to the CAO at

Discuss the history of your child/young adult with the college/university to make sure you are all singing off the same hymn sheet… reasonable accommodation should be afforded in certain instances (students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia), such as :

 Voice Recorder.
 Writer present - to be able to sit their exam away from the main exam room (less distraction).
 Exemption from spelling and grammatical components in language subjects (waiver).

The key to reduced stress lies in preparation… I will always remember the old saying “fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Be pro-active and less problems will occur… transition is, as it says, a period of smoothness from one thing to another.  This should happen very early on in the final year/sixth class and below I have made some suggestions that can be used by both parent/child and school.

Transition without the Stress – Hints to help from Second Level School to college/university:

Get the College to demonstrate an understanding of your child’s condition.

Talk with the students on a one to one basis about the different structure and the increased formality they might face at third level.

Introduce a mentor from the present first year to ease in the new student… this will grow the network for the incoming students.  Avoid older students as they could draw the incoming students out of their comfort zone.

Try to get the College to offer lockers that are easy accessible and away from the hustle as young adults with learning needs can become nervous in crowds and all fingers and thumbs.

Most will realise that they will have a variety of teachers, possibly one or more per subject… it’s important that their year tutor informs the others of your child’s needs.

Parents/carers should teach their children/students how to write out and also read prepared timetables and it helps to colour code and replicate with text books…e.g. 1st lecture on Monday is yellow so put a yellow sticker on the relevant book and the timetable…they will have far more free self-directed study periods at third level and need guidance to discipline themselves with this strange routine.

Students need to know about acronyms… for example, Exam bodies like Edexcel and RSA …these will be used far more in third level.
Make sure you avail of every opportunity to visit the new place of education… it’s worth driving past there occasionally, especially at busy times.  Let them know about shortened lesson times and moving to different classrooms for each lesson (orientation is so important).  Also, they need to know meals will be at different times, depending on their timetable… is there a cafĂ© or will they take food?  Maybe show them the college website and they can check out the gallery of photos. Take them along to as many open days as you can and talk to course tutors, etc.

Make sure your child decides on whether they want their college/friends to know they have learning needs… not all children are comfortable with this and the college cannot tell others as you are protected under data protection. I have found from experience that there is great support from those that know, at this higher level of education.

You should be in possession of a valid statement in order to show the new college/resource department for the provision of resource hours, laptops, etc.  Most have really great facilities in their learning resource rooms and can help with essay/assignments, etc.

Make sure they are aware of toileting, etc… I recently spoke to my son’s teacher about his transition from primary school last year and asked if they understood about his dyspraxia and the answer was ‘yes’.  However, in the next sentence they mentioned that he was spotted going to the toilet less than 20 mins after the start of the first class of the day and surely he knew he wanted to go (inferring he should have gone before lessons started)… so did they fully understand dyspraxia?... no is the answer.  Also, they might well have quiet rooms if your child gets stressed or make arrangements for time out if your child feels threatened by an activity.

Parents need to be prepared for colleges to call them if meltdowns happen… it might be wise for you to take time off work during the first week at least so you can collect them from their new environment, have a coffee and let them talk about their early experiences. It’s also advisable in case you are called by the college.

 Keep an eye out for bullying (change of mood, disturbed sleep, confused and reluctance to get going, wanting to change courses after a few weeks  and maybe even a  return to bed wetting…  these can all be  indicators).  Find out who they spend breaks with… listen out for names and check to see that they are in the same year, as quite often older boys will use them to do things they shouldn’t be doing, like leaving the college to go to the shop or start trouble on their behalf.  Watch out for people trying to influence smoking/drinking or drug taking.
Try to be all positive and avoid pressure in relation to performance until they are settled.

Get to meet their new friends and encourage them to visit... this will help them gel and stay in the loop, thus preventing isolation.
Make sure you attend parent evenings and get a direct line to your child’s course tutor and make sure they have all the relevant information in course files. Get dates from them for exams and project deadlines and make sure you chase them about accommodation for exams ahead of time to avoid upsets.
I will say, third level are far more pro-active than first or second level in this regard, as they are funded on outcomes in most cases and not student numbers.
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All our articles are for information only and guidance… professional advice should always be sought. Toby Lee, Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013