Wednesday, 31 December 2014

“Should we truly forget those who have spurned us for another’s ear or think and consider them in this the coming year?…maybe their friendship has chilled like the cold nights of winter and shunned as many plus me…shall we reflect just this once and show the hand of friendship and toast to all acquaintance past and present, for the sake of times gone by?” (inspired by Robbie Burns and Auld Lang Syne) Happy New Year my friends! Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin 2014 ©

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

What Do We Know About Brain Processing Speed?  ©Dyslexia Dublin, 2014

Brain processing speed is a deficit common in many of us… it can be comorbid in dyslexics, dyspraxics, dyscalculics, dysgraphics, ADD and those with ADHD.

But if we reverse polarity and base testing/academia on the creative or visual usage of the brain such as art, drama, and technology You get would see very different results.

Most of us with slow text or auditory processing skill sets come out very high in the above order, and those linear left brained will be found lacking.

You find that when a person is out of his or her comfort zone you need to give greater clarity (over learning) to your requirements in the learning process.

As previously mentioned where the academic student is doing  non-core art or when the creative student is doing core studies.

Are you ever given, or have you given, several instructions to someone… Maybe your child or partner?
Have wondered why they have carried out part of the instructions, or maybe none of it?  Maybe you have been given a verbal instruction, like a phone number or directions to a venue and had to ask again?

How are you at remembering names? Not great… why is that!
Most of the children and adults we work with are extremely bright and have high IQ’s, but present with a learning support issue.

Processing speed is not presented as a key issue in many cases… the child with dyspraxia, for instance, might not get resource hours, as this tends to be given to those with dyslexia in the main.

Have you ever been told by your child’s teacher that they are always the last to finish an exercise? Perhaps you have taken a look at their course books and found gaps (take a look, it will tell you a lot!).

Does their writing deteriorate towards the end of their work?  We could be looking at an indication of them rushing to keep up with their peers.

Those with slow processing speed were, in the past, classed as stupid or lazy children.
Quite often being judged, as many are, on core subjects, whereas the opposite was true in the non-core subjects… why?
Children and adults with slow processing speed have gifts that others don’t have, like creating something from nothing.  They need to rehearse things a few times and then they fly.
As parents, have you ever wondered why your child (or pupil, if you’re a teacher) performs really well in school drama production, and yet they underachieve in subjects such as Maths or English?
With someone who has slow processing, rehearsing a play or over-learning is just what they need… how many times do they rehearse… 3-4, -5-6 times?  How many times are they shown a Maths equation or a piece of poetry… Once maybe twice?
There is part of the problem.
Have you noticed your child dragging their heels with homework or putting their books together for school?

Maybe you have asked them to do something whilst they watched television, and you felt like they were ignoring you?  You haven’t got their attention… try standing in front of the telly, and they will listen.
Have you ever sent them shopping and they come back without some of the items?  Visual  stimuli are great in helping them to get this right.  Make flash cards… For shopping, flash cards of items are easy to do… download pictures of lemons, eggs, milk, etc.
For school, lay out their books on the table and place a tag with the day of the week alongside the books they need, take a photo and print it.
Take a picture of them with their uniform on, for dressing.  
We can also introduce this with many other routines like brushing hair, teeth, etc.
I suggest to many parents to introduce colour coded weekly calendar of their timetable and this improves processing and reduces problems with forgetting books, etc.
A good way of getting the right books for the right day...Place their school books down on the table in day order...Mon...Tues and type the day in say 48 font (comic sans) and cut it out, place it on their books and get them to take a photo on their phone or yours.
Try and talk to your child’s teacher, and maybe they will give them the homework on paper or early in the lesson, as the end of a class or day becomes hurried and noisy.

I have seen a variety of approaches that can be eased with the use of technology.
Supporting areas such as these (some indirectly); in my last post there was an internal internet that the students could log onto; most teachers like myself used to log the homework and course work.
Indeed  if a student was off sick they could work at home or catch up later.
We as parents/carers and teachers need to look very carefully at our children and identify this and if we feel there is a problem get it diagnosed!
Governments and those at the top of the Education Departments need to be aware of all those that present with processing disorders, and include this where necessary; when it comes to giving extra time in exams and resourcing during term time.

We support so many students with dyslexia, often with improvement  end up over the bar, (might I say the bar is set too high in the first instance); students may still have slow processing speed.
So often we see this not being taken into account, likewise with many dyspraxics who get little or no resource.

Can you remember being back at school and the teacher writing down copious notes on the board and at a fair pace?  She or he had no problem with flow…why?
Well, for one, not many teachers would have slow processing speed, and they would have also written that many times before.
New teachers tend to go much slower as this is new to them too and they would write slower, thus the pupils with slow processing speed would have a greater chance of keeping up.

I would urge teachers to make a cross reference with a student who is struggling in the written subjects and excels in the kinaesthetic areas such as Home Economics, Woodwork or Drama.

Maybe the Home Economics teacher wonders why the child is great in practical (stimuli and repetition) and poor in the written/theory side of the subject (lack of stimuli and repetition).
Have you ever looked at your child’s Report and wondered why the Art teacher says great things and the English teacher appears concerned, or maybe writes in a negative way?
Homework will improve when it's based on what the child has done during the day.  Use a sand timer (say 15 minute stints) and allow them to have a very small break between subjects.

I think schools should move to giving fewer subjects each evening, but more of the same.  We will not only reduce the weight of the school bag, but also reduce the risk of forgetting a long list of homework and would also improve retention.

Short term memory work can make a big difference and making all of the subjects kinaesthetically based will help.

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 offering helpful advice. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014

We have a great products to help with auditory processing and for improving short term memory and much more at our online store.
http://dyslexiadublin.mygostore.co.uk/awesome-auditory-activities.html


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I hope you found this article useful… there are many more, including one on homework, on our Blog(www.dyslexiadublin.blogspot.ie)

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Fear and the Fearless… (Finding the middle ground) by Dyslexia Dublin © 2014



We have to look at accrued and non-accrued experiences to understand why we have fear or lack of fear.
Part of our brain stores fear or lack (riding our luck) this area is known as the episodic memory. O had several experiences as a young child, and some of these are firmly parked there.
During my early years, I was bitten by a small dog at the age of 5-6 years old and that keeps me at more than arm's length until I know I can trust that particular animal.
I can remember going to this friend's house, they had German Shepherds (Alsatians); the father seemed to take delight in watching these dogs pin me into a shell in the corner.
I had another harrowing experience; being thrown in a swimming pool as a child and being rescued by a young girl, to this day I am not comfortable with water (not helped by me being dyspraxic). I have to be in touch of the side or shallow water that enables me to stand.
We can also have a fear of separation and loneliness, equally we can have a fear of being around people.
Certain levels of fear have to exist to keep us safe; however this cannot be so inhibiting that it precludes us having a life, we need to find that balance.
This balance becomes so much harder with those like me who have a learning need, we usually fall into one side or the other…fear or fearless.
 We start learning the minute we are born, when a child starts to fall its arms go out due to reflex action, quite often in children especially those with a learning need like dyspraxia would not have this reflex. It has to be taught. Early years is a good time to introduce friends and this can help overcome fear…but can also create fear, keep an eye on those they are playing with and make sure they complement what you would like for yourself and your child.
Children are vulnerable…they often don't see the signs warning them of imminent danger.
Introduce protective wear early so one there is no stigma, and you don't have to raise the fear levels by explaining why you want them to wear shin pads, cycle helmets or skull caps (rugby).
We need to socialise early too, get our children use to people and noise…much of the fear of going swimming is the noise created by the acoustics of the swimming pool, take them on quite days until they enjoy the water and then introduce noise.
Try not to ignore your child's actions, they could well be seeking the attention if the reaction is negative.
You need to get good at vocal-tone, we are no different to any other species that relies heavily on sound to interpret approval or disapproval.
To understand your child you need on occasions to go back to being a child, walk there walk and talk there talk, you will be surprised how different their world looks from down there.
Inquisitive does not always equal bold (behaviour) it is more often than not curiosity and exploration of their rapidly unfolding world.

Let's look at the memory areas that have an effect on fear, there are regions that work in tandem with others, like Symantec (memory) we know we were born in a certain place but from that age its taught and not learnt through experience.
It's our episodic that becomes our inbuilt sat-nav so we can, for example, find our way around places our episodic memory builds day on day and stores events both good and bad.
We need to be very mindful of this in creating fear where needed. Our reaction or lack of (inaction) can help leave a bad experience with a good feeling or a good experience with a bad feeling.
Let me give you an example! A friend of mine was busy chatting, and his daughter wanted to show us a new tune she had learnt, his reaction was to tell her to shut that horrible noise up.
This event could then transfer to fear; thus preventing her from performing anything in the future, unless the situation is quickly reversed and confidence built.
We need to take a long look at this in all our children’s lives as it is key to applying the fear or removing fear in all circumstances.
Apart from as mentioned certain innate reactions at birth fear or lack of fear is controlled by us as parents and teachers. Children arrive into this world for the most part Tabula Rasa (a blank canvas).
We must also point out that if your child is like me and so many others their processing speed could be or is so much slower, this takes far more repetition to create or remove fear!
You need to counter the negative effects of learnt behaviours. We can be achieved by slowly taking the child or person on a journey!
We might need to do this several times to allow the good or bad experience for this to reverse.
Let us take our possible fear of water or perhaps flying, you have to saturate yourself in good experiences. Let's say you are worried about going on a ferry; you would be mad to make the journey in the stormy season and the same with flying.
If your child experiences safety and danger, they will quickly learn to apply this in the correct context…but remember as in my other articles over learning is a must to overcome the slow processing speed.
We adjust our body to variations of temperature etc., so why do we not consider adjusting our minds to danger or the lack of danger.
Finally, it is possible to clear your mind of anything, it’s a time and opportunity thing.

Nb
We should consider this as an area of huge proportion, and I would recommend those with concerns seeking the correct professional advice.

Our articles are for guidance purpose only and are put together by our extensive team. We always suggest engaging the work of a professional in all circumstances.


Dyslexia Dublin © 2014

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Guest post by U-fit PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND AUTISM

PHYSICAL EXERCISE AND AUTISM

Physical exercise benefits any child, but it has particular benefits for children on the autism spectrum who experience problems with communication abilities, social skills, and behavior. This can show in problems with:
• Fine motor skills
• Sensory integration issues
• Poor attention span
• Poor coordination
• Visual tracking of moving objects
• Slow reaction times.

Despite its many benefits, exercise is often overlooked by parents due to their own inactive lifestyle or being too busy. But when physical exercise is cheap, safe, and healthy, it should be one of the first interventions for a child on the autism spectrum. Motivating your child may be difficult at first, and you may need to shape the exercise around an interest they have. Once it forms part of the child's routine, motivation is usually no longer a problem.

Team sports would have to be carefully considered due to complexities of team work and communication that may overwhelm a child on the autism spectrum. However, with the right timing this can be part of your child's education and development of social skills.

Ideally you should incorporate time into your lifestyle to exercise with your child. Below are some useful kinds ofexercise for different issues arising from Autism Spectrum Disorders.

PROPRIOCEPTIVE SYSTEM
The Proprioceptive System helps children (and adults) to locate their bodies in space. Autistic children often have have poor proprioception and will need help to develop their coordination. Therapy may include playing with weights, bouncing on a trampoline or a large ball, skipping or pushing heavy objects.

VESTIBULAR SYSTEM
The Vestibular System is located in our inner ear. It responds to movement and gravity and is therefore involved with our sense of balance, coordination and eye movements. Therapy can include hanging upside down, rocking chairs, swings, spinning, rolling, somersaulting, cartwheels and dancing. All these activities involve the head moving in different ways that stimulate the vestibular system. Be careful to observe the child carefully to be sure the movement is not over stimulating.

Back and forth movement appears less stimulating than side-to-side movement. The most stimulating movement tends to be rotational (spinning) and should be used carefully. Ideally activities will provide a variety of these movements. A rocking motion will usually calm a child while vigorous motions like spinning will stimulate them. Merry-go-rounds, being tossed on to cushions or jumping trampolines can be real favorites with some children. Experimenting and careful introduction of each activity is the way to go.

LEARNING NEW SKILLS INVOLVING MOVEMENT
Skills such as tying shoe laces or riding a bike can be difficult as they involve sequences of movements. Therapy to help in this area may use swimming, mazes, obstacle courses, constructional toys and building blocks.

DIFFICULTY WITH USING BOTH SIDES OF THE BODY TOGETHER
Crawling, hopscotch, skipping, playing musical instruments, playing catch and bouncing balls with both hands are some of the many activities that can help with bilateral integration.

HAND AND EYE COORDINATION
Activities may include hitting with a bat, popping bubbles, throwing and catching balls, beanbags and balloons.

WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
Recreational sports may be a healthy and enjoyable activity, affording opportunities to generalize skills learned in therapy or school programs. However, their effects have not been evaluated in scientific studies with strong experimental designs.

Antecedent exercise, in which an individual exercises on a regular schedule, may reduce aggression or repetitive behaviors for some individuals with Autisim spectrum disorders Some studies suggest that simply placing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in settings with typical peers, without any other intervention, may increase their social interactions  and reduce their repetitive behaviors , but other studies have not shown these effects . Thus, additional research is needed on whether simply placing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in settings with typical peers is effective.

However, there is strong evidence from multiple studies that placing children with Autism Spectrum Disorder in settings with typically developing peers who have been taught to serve as tutors or models is effective in increasing social interactions 

Recommendations
Recreational sports may have health benefits, may be an enjoyable leisure activity for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and, in some cases, may help prevent problem behavior such as aggression. Sports also may afford opportunities for socialization, particularly if peers who have been taught to serve as tutors or models are available during the activity

All our articles are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.
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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

‘Homework…The best way to make it Happen’ by  Dyslexia Dublin © 2014

Imagine you have been sat all day in class and bombarded with lots of new things to learn, and then it’s time to go home and start to study all over again and then factor in your child with a learning need… not easy.
Get the teacher if possible to give your child their  homework well before the class finishes, the best time is first thing in the morning as part of class…maybe the teacher will give a brief synopsis of the work required.
Homework should be part text and part visual, to stimulate the learners into doing it.
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Write homework requirements on a slip of paper for the individual to stick into their planner or, better still, have a colour coded homework notebook. If they have a SNA/Teacher, ask them to write this out with your child.
As parents, I would advise you to get the phone numbers of several parents and you can each do a ring around if one or other forgets the homework notebook, or you can’t understand what is required… this is also a good idea if your child is out sick so as not to fall behind.
Some colleges use Ethernet and this is great for putting up homework lists… hopefully schools will eventually start to use this technology.
It is so important for all family members to have agreed homework rules… get your children to draw up a list with you.  Make sure all children are doing their homework at the same time… unless they are seniors. Disconnecting the router is a good idea as they will go onto the internet and play (if they are doing homework with a laptop). Agree who will help with the homework to reduce politics and conflict (mum or dad).  Get this all right and the chore of home study will be easier for sure.
Be organised and keep to a routine, how will your children conform if you show little interest yourself?  Use a different approach to helping… use prompts and be ahead of their homework… telling them you don’t know the answers will make them feel that they can survive without achieving.
Reinforce the positive points… “Wow! 19 out of 25 in your spellings!... well done!.   Maybe If we take a look at them you might get 25, wouldn’t that be great!!!”  rather than “19 out of 25… which 6 did you get wrong?” which is very negative. Positive remarks are great, for example – “I was reading your homework last week, it was tough but you stuck at it… well done!”. We should mask constructive criticism in a ratio of 1 negative for every four positives in that sequence.: ending on a high.   We should also,  expect days when they are under the weather, they might have had PE and are genuinely exhausted (teachers might consider this point and give homework passes (dyspraxic children tire quickly).
Parents should ensure that homework is completed before any other distractions get in the way… make sure they have water to drink as they would have at school, dehydration causes fatigue.  Let your child relax after they finish their homework and remember, homework is more important than extra-curricular activities. If one of your children flies through homework start them later, they all need to finish at the same time to avoid conflict.
Get your children to do the subjects they find harder first, as they will be more focused.
Make sure the individual (son/daughter) knows the system for handing in homework.
It is far better if the schools can frontload the homework, as we all know by nature children tire as the week progresses.
If you want to see instant results get them to read all their homework out aloud and if they are teens they can do it in their room...we can see an instant improvement when we do this, why, we have just engaged two more of our senses and believe this really hits the spot.
For teachers and form tutors, prompt individuals to hand in homework as part of a regular routine and treat the reading/marking of homework and also feedback on the homework, as important as class work, as students put in so much effort into doing their homework.
Some teachers get the children to check each other’s homework and mark accordingly.  This can lead to inaccuracies and possibly even falling out, if mistakes are made with the marking (are they old enough to accept this responsibility?).
Help the individual to set up a timetable to show when homework should be handed in.0 

If you have a child with slow processing speed in your class (dyslexia,dyspraxia,dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder) consider giving them homework that repeats what they studied that day and not fresh untutored work, the little they lose against the others is a far better approach as over learning is know to help improve retention.
Work with parents to set up a system at home so the individual can plan ahead, particularly for project work.
Before giving a detention for missing homework, try to find out why homework hasn’t been completed.
Parent Teacher Meetings - maybe include a Homework Workshop, where individuals can raise concerns or issues they're having around homework and schools could give guidance and helpful tips.
One more thing… find out if your child is following the curriculum…this will help you gauge if they are doing foundation or ordinary level and the direction they are heading in for their state exams.  This will give you an opportunity to purchase additional resources, in line with the curriculum, ie. past exam papers, etc.
we have helpful homework resources at www.dyslexiadublin.ie
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All our posts are for advice and guidance only… always seek professional advice, Dyslexia Dublin (CETC) © 2014

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Inclusive Learning part two (Inclusive Learning) by Dyslexia Dublin  © 2014
We need to really take a long look at the way we formulate strategies for early reading skills… we cannot put the cart before the horse any longer.  In the early platforms of learning we put teachers under huge pressure with big class sizes and this stretches them to the limit.  Why can’t we reshape the provision and increase resources at this early stage?



If children are going to learn to master these early skills, this is paramount.  More attention can be applied to important areas like speaking and listening skills, which is such a critical part of early literacy skills.
Children need to develop and improve fine motor skills if they are to even hold a pencil or pen correctly; many with dyspraxia struggle as it is to write long sentences.  I can remember seeing children in my own classes, both Junior and Senior shaking their hands back into life and again looked upon as being simply disruptive.  Even in my early days of teaching I used to witness this, albeit in a more discreet manner than in the days when I was taught.
Looking at what makes those with dyslexia and dyspraxia struggle with language is the huge variation in the sounds within words.  Many are fine with ‘Cat…Sat…Rat’, however the introduction of multi-syllabic words such as ‘Church…Nurse…Enjoy’ really need time to explain. Some are strong believers in teaching whole words and that is fair enough; however, we need to look at the sheer bank of words that we expect people to learn and indeed words they will have to learn when there is no one around to explain that word or the way it’s constructed.
Children and adults with a learning need have many ways in which they subconsciously circum-navigate the learning process.  The brain is an extremely effective power house in all of us and well capable of learning new things; in fact much of what I learnt was through teaching myself in the manner which I could understand.  One thing I mention over and over again is the need for at least 35% of the population to overlearn.  Why?... well it’s not just dyslexics that have problems within the learning environment, there are many with slow processing like those with dyslexia and those with short concentration spans such as those with ADD and ADHD.
Does overlearning cause frustration?   No… we need to introduce a variety of stimuli to get across the required subject material.  Given the resource and the class size, this will be such a buzz for teachers and an all-round win win with fully engaged students.
Indeed, many educational and neurological researchers recognise that the biggest problem for those adults and children with dyslexia is not so much their condition, but recognition of conditions within education and indeed on into employment.  The current education system is so dependent on the ability to memorise both facts and figures and the need to meet certain milestones at young ages in order to meet standards in the curriculum and this leads them to lose confidence, self-belief and the willingness to keep on trying with in the school setting.
Another thing I have mentioned is making parents an equal tutor, not an extra tutor and this can be achieved by linking homework directly to the work done in the day… certainly in the early years. We can also look at keeping the subjects for homework separate on different days, so children don’t get confused with subjects crossing over and this is known to improve retention. So many parents tell me that their children score highly in the Friday spelling test only to forget the spellings the following week as they rehearse for the next Fridaytest. This can be seen from poor test scores in set tests and end of years SATS, STen, Drumcondra, etc.
If we look at all those brilliant builders, architects, painters, chefs, musicians and actors that all have some type of learning need, ask yourself the question… how did they manage that?  How were Mozart and Leonardo Da Vinci well beyond their years in creativity?  They taught their selves through overlearning and, without realising it, their brain adapted to a different way of processing than that of the normal linear route.
Why can’t we reduce class sizes down to say 10-12… half the size they are and when the children have built these valuable skills, then we can then introduce them to larger sizes.  We will very quickly start to see quality wins over quantity and, in the long run, have a much less disruptive classroom, brighter students and a more effectively employed workforce… not to mention less disaffected, more connected and less vulnerable adults.
It is well researched and statistics back up the fact that many of those disaffected end up on the wrong side of the law… this cost as well as that of non-taxpayers will far outweigh the cost of increasing resource to early years.  We need people with long term vision to see this and move it forward.


All our articles are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.
For a quality and extensive range of resources check out our online shop at www.dyslexiadublin.ie

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Thursday, 6 November 2014

Let’s look at Inclusive Classrooms…what does that mean?  Part one by Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014




The definition might suggest many things. Let’s take a look - Including or covering all the services, facilities, or items normally expected or required.

The definition of inclusive education is… ‘Inclusive education is a process whereby the school systems, strategic plans and policies, adapt and change to include teaching strategies for a wider more diverse range of children’.
Equality and diversity that encompasses all and is not rigid, it can move with the times.


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Students are those with a physical disability or specific learning need and would be better placed in main stream education and we could say all students in education would benefit from an inclusive learning environment...
Making an Inclusive Classroom effective  and areas that breed successful integration:


• Allow all Students the opportunity to be active, not passive, learners. Interaction can be aided by skilful teaching… if a nervous student gives part of an answer, help them to expand or maybe add some suggestions and make sure the answer is acknowledged… either verbal recognition or on the whiteboard.

• All students should be encouraged to make choices as often as practical/possible. A good teacher will allow students some time to flounder, as some of the most powerful learning stems from taking risks and learning from mistakes.

• Feedback from parents is as important, as not all students will tell you how they feel about their learning experience.
• Trust is a big one… go slowly as you move towards the inclusive teaching practice and allow students to feel comfortable about the new style of learning. Discipline is still required to hold this together.
•Students with disabilities must be free to learn at their own pace and resource for note taking and readers for exams needs to be in place. Make sure you have a comprehensive course folder (this is so important for supply teachers coming in).
•All students need to taste success… lesson plans and learning objectives need to be very relevant and attainable with targets that are measurable.
Front load courses where possible, as students become jaded towards the end of the terms and academic year.
Facilitator first, Teacher second:
The role needs to reflect an interested partner that is in the room to inspire and encourage learning to take place. This is achieved by structuring lessons that flow freely and are full of interaction between students and facilitator/ teacher, keeping the class manageable and on course and in line with the syllabus by accurate and relevant questioning. Encourage by giving a slightly incomplete answer to a scenario and getting the students to add to or give alternative answers.

Always take into account learning styles that will cover all learners in the group and if not in one lesson, some rotation to stimulate all learners. Use the board freely and take a back seat on occasions and allow students to present their findings… start to use micro groups to research pieces of work and then pull this altogether and give an evaluation of the task. Use brain dumps and let them go for break after they have written on the board or answered a question. This acts as a little treat and stimulates responses from all in the group.

If resources are tight maybe you could get some help from a panel of parents/parents association to make this more achievable.
How would I recognise an Inclusive Classroom?
The room would include lots of visual resources and have an active/positive feel to it. Furniture in micro groups or horse shoe to make the students feel part of the group… lots of large and small group activities built into the lesson plan.
Observation of a range of exercises that will encompass all lesson styles with students actively involved… role play is a great way to stimulate learning.
Interactive whiteboard with suitable software and a teacher that occasionally sits back and lets the students take turns to direct class.
The students are all informed of the session/lesson aims.
Sessions are well planned to keep students engaged… allows the learners at all levels to gain knowledge from the session.
Class rules are a great idea if agreed at the start of the year/term… let them feel part of the decision making process:
1) Acceptable noise level
2) Time keeping
3) Use of toilets and hygiene
4) Tidying classroom and work areas
5) Temperatures (this will vary from child to child) - try to strike a happy medium.
6) Anti-Bullying
7) Mentor for new students
8) Buddy system for someone who misses a lesson
It is important that learning is constantly checked… random sampling of homework should take place on a regular basis… brain dumps (encourage students to answer questions based on lesson content at the end of lesson). The whiteboard can be used for this.
Keep an eye on quality during the early days of transition and don’t give up… It WILL work!

All our articles are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.
For a quality and extensive range of resources check out our online shop at www.dyslexiadublin.ie


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Friday, 24 October 2014

Part Three of ‘Dyslexia - The Why’s and how to spot some of the Signs’  by  Dyslexia Dublin  © 2015


Problems with accuracy and recognition of the written word, decoding of words (phonetics), reading comprehension and slow growth of vocabulary come in a variation of forms of Dyslexia and Dysphonesia (problems with blending pairs... see below).

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Spelling and Visual memory weaknesses prevent a child from having a strong memory of what many common words look like. Using multi-sensory materials and techniques is the most effective help. With spelling, 96% of the English words are regular. A Dyslexic’s spelling word list should be very limited and the use of computers for spelling word practice and tests is encouraged.  Spelling words forwards and backwards is a big help for long-term memory of spelling words.  Please do not tell a Dyslexic to use the dictionary to find the spelling of a word as they will have trouble locating it, which may cause frustration.

There are many ways in which our children with dyslexia/dysphonesia can be helped. One way is to teach them how to break words into different sounds. Then how to write the different sounds and create and build new words. This helps with both reading and writing. As previously mentioned, children with dyslexia have poor processing power due to signals sent from one part of the brain to the other through various neural pathways are often misaligned. In order to improve/re map those areas a multi-sensory teaching method is favoured…as this works through 4 senses (touch, sight, speech and hearing) and uses the left side in tandem with the right, which means the information is far more likely to be retained.

Dysphonesia is a very important area to work on as previously mentioned…children with dyslexia and/or dysphonesia very quickly improve their single syllable words (dog…cat…rug) with the use of phonics. Mono syllabic words are slightly more challenging…we can improve this area by breaking down the words into syllables like SUM-MER…WIN-DOW, etc. We also need to introduce work on blends which is equally important. What are blends?…blends are pairs of letters that become a single sound like sh and ch and depending on where they are placed, as this could have a slight variation of sound. We are looking at a language that has a Germanic and Latin platform on to which the English was framed...known to be one if not the hardest languages to master.

With children going into second level schools it is also worth considering Italian or Spanish as a preferred language choice, if a 2ndlanguage choice is mandatory.  As previously mentioned, they appear to have a lower rate of dyslexia which could be due in part to fewer variations of the way a word sounds in relation to how the word is written down (reading and spelling). “The average language has about 50,000 words in its vocabulary compared to English which has 1 million. French is second with a quarter million words" - Lloyd Lofthouse. 

Visual stress can also be a problem with around 20% of the world’s population suffering with this…however don’t be tricked into believing that this can cure dyslexia. Visual stress aids can certainly help with visual tracking and give words greater clarity, which can give improved reading levels for some students presenting with visual stress, but it is not a cure. I have posted an article on this condition previously.

Hand writing is often slow in sufferers due to poor word recognition and retention…often students will look up at the board twice to write down one word. It’s also important to strengthen memory and this will improve writing skill along with tuition in this area (dysgraphia).

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Friday, 10 October 2014

‘Dyslexia - (part two) The Why’s and how to spot some of the Signs’ Part Two by  Dyslexia Dublin © 2014

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It is still very much exploratory times on the origins of dyslexia. What we do know is it affects far more boys than girls and seems more common in English speakers and those that speak languages with multiple rules/variations in sounds and spellings, such as German and Irish for example. Languages where the spoken word is close to the written word seem to fair better, such as Italian and Spanish.

There are also suggestions that it can be passed on from family member to family member, genetically. However, it will not descend in a uniform pattern…if one or both parents suffer with dyslexia it could miss most of the next generation. There are many such cases, where one child or more in a family has dyslexia, but some brothers/sisters do not. There are also families, where one child has dyslexia and parents do not, pointing to the fact that dyslexia can also skip a generation.

Dyslexia can also be brought on in later life due to stroke or other forms of brain trauma… overcoming this is a very slow process, unlike dyslexia from birth.

There are many commonly held beliefs, as with all things…Dyslexia has nothing to do with a low IQ or that we read letters in a different way to others…there is little wrong with a dyslexic child’s eyesight in comparison to a non-dyslexic child.

We need to head in the direction of linguistics and why our spelling performance doesn’t always reflect that of our reading ability… are we reading exactly what is in the books or are we adlibbing, replacing words with words that are stored in our brain? We need to take a holistic approach so we can begin to understand the problems faced by the dyslexic child and apply the preferred teaching/learning style, if we truly want to move this forward!

Language/speech is an art most have little problem with…we start forming our early words long before we start to read, write or spell and have a fair vocabulary by the time we do, so why do some find it difficult to read or spell? Our early venture into the spoken word is often through pronouncing whole words like mama and dada…we don’t use phonemes (words segmented into letters or blends of letters ch…sh, etc.) at this early stage. This is related to the ability to process in a phonological manner. However, it is widely believed that people with dyslexia find this much harder than those without dyslexia (Dysphonesia – problems with letter sounds and blends).

We certainly know from our own training centre that children retain more words through the photo image side of the brain and also through the phonetic /phoneme channel with far greater accuracy than the words they read or indeed write.

Next time in our final part we will look at ways of improving the lives of those with dyslexia.

NB. This information is from personal research, research of our team and also partly sourced through the work of others and is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia…we do not make any suggestions in our posts.  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014

Thursday, 2 October 2014

`Dyslexia - (part one )The Why’s and how to spot some of the Signs’  by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014




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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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Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Are We Losing The Art of Conversation (literacy deficit disorder) by Dyslexia Dublin, © 2014



The decline of human interaction has led to a huge number of teenagers and young adults going into higher levels of education with a low standard of punctuation, grammar and comprehension… in many cases struggling to build even a short report or story.  The backbone of story writing comes from the gathering of information both from creativity and also by absorbing the word of others.  There is a distinct possibility this may lead to a fall off in creative writing in the near future with less books being written.

It is incredible how far we have come since the Stone Age… we had no form of speech (grunting at best) or the ability to read or indeed write and now we are reverting at a pace!  There is an increase in speech delay and speech related problems (increases in the need for speech and language resources) and also growing numbers of people with short term memory loss, … why?  We need to ask why.

With the birth of modern media, face to face conversation has fallen way down the scale as a way of getting information from one party to another.

We have the internet and a wide use of mobile phones, made possible by a reduction in cost and improved technology.  This leads to conversations being made bit part… texts tend to have character limits, less chatting by phone, through to communication by short messages (140 Twitter/Facebook) we even see things like #this and #that.

I can appreciate the benefits of this fast moving, portable means of communicating with others and to some degree am guilty of same.  And it should be said that this has increased spontaneous conversation that possibly never happened in times gone…people with learning needs suffer more than most as they already have problems with conversation and short term  memory.

Many, including myself, could be classed as living in the past, but strong evidence backs the fact that conversation face to face or over dinner creates the opportunity for many to increase their word bank… something still seen in many cultures including mainland Europe.

I asked someone the other day to pen a short story and they said they couldn’t think of anything to say… when asked had they read a book, picked up a newspaper or listened to the news recently the reply was “No, why?”.  So much has disappeared over the last decade… we can now programme our TV boxes to record individual shows based on its perceived thoughts regarding our prior programme choices (scary thought!) and even skip through the news and ads… we are also witnessing the decline of the daily newspapers.

I know there are benefits for having mobile comms… certainly it has huge positives for the business world.  On a personal level, we can have chats and be in touch while on the move, on breaks at work and, even whist doing things like cooking, etc… the downside of this can lead to the person at the other end feeling like they are playing second fiddle and not having your full attention, which in some cases can lead to feelings of inadequacy.  Friends sit over coffee and text away… how does this make the others feel (less important) or when you stop chatting to answer a call or send a text.
Why have we stopped writing letters, even on holidays I can remember my parents writing postcards, few do now…if you tell your loyal followers you are abroad they are less likely to contact you due to roaming costs.
It is also worth noting how more often than not these conversations are rushed.

I wonder with contact so readily available, will there come a point in time where society runs out of things to say to each other, but continues to constantly make calls simply because of availability?

We have also reached the point where we see society becoming more hurtful and it is now accepted by many to end relationships and many other things (like missing a day’s work, or resigning from your job) by text/email rather than doing it face to face… we can also do this on impulse and maybe even regret our actions.  Many of our top Universities are highlighting this as a serious issue… we are even seeing predictive text entering written reports and assignments.

What of the older generation and those with specific learning needs who depend on conversation to feel wanted and part of society?  For many it’s an easy way to expand our vocabulary and improve general knowledge.

 It is such a shame that this is looked upon as almost amusing and there are those that deliberately kill conversations which improve our ability to do many other things.

We can order fast food online and even our daily groceries… we can walk into a bank and out again without a spoken word and walk into many stores without any human interaction.  Even in Mc Donald’s you can pay by touch screen and just collect when your order number pops up.  I noticed recently in Japan the introduction of robots to work in hospitals with in-built stereo typical chat lines.  Where will this all end?  Well, it’s up to us to get back the art of conversation and the place to start is with the young… sitting around the table to have dinner was a tradition and a great opportunity for parents to see problems on the horizon.  What happens in most households is dinner being eaten in front rooms and bedrooms as they all head off to chat on their comms!

There are some who try to build in social ground rules whilst out for coffee or a meal with groups of friends, who are just fed up waiting for their friends to finish texting to carry on with their chat, but they are the minority and to some degree fighting a losing battle.  At least in America there is a trend for people dining out in restaurants to put their phones in the centre of the table and first one to use theirs, pays for the meal!
The art of conversation lies in our hands, why can’t we turn back the clock and have those dinner time chats…coffee with friends, try it for a month and look at the difference. Many who suffer with depression could also have less chance to hide the fact in open conversation (body language), its much easier to carry it off through texts or emails.

*Comms = phones, ipads, tablets. check out these resources and more at  http://dyslexiadublin.mygostore.co.uk/story-starter-cubes.html

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 CETC © 2014

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Saturday, 20 September 2014

Praxis makes perfect? (Understanding thought processes and physical reaction)  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014

Praxis is the ability to organise a thought/action from the brain into a pre-planned movement. In order for someone to demonstrate the appropriate movement/command, the brain extracts and uses information from all of our memory and sensory processing areas ie. touch,  auditory, smell, vision, taste plus vestibular balance/inner ear  (proprioceptive/muscle receptors) to start and finish a given task… an example is right hand knowing what the left hand is doing.  Taking this into useful terms, apraxia and dyspraxia expresses the lack of maturity in the areas required  to fully plan some coordination of movement or speech…this does not mean that we cannot carry out all processes…indeed some with DCD/Apraxia are very good at sport but lack maturity in other areas.
Before we talk about Praxis further let’s look at how we send signals from our brain to our body (movement planning and activation of those movements) -
Cognitive …what does that mean?
It is the mental/thought process of knowing, including aspects such as awareness, perception, reasoning, and judgment…everything we do for every second of our lives involves our brain in some way, shape or form…even whilst asleep (dreaming…moving, etc.)!
Sensory memory is the first tier of memory. Sensory memory retains the briefest image of a sensory stimulus…one effect of brain training is to strengthen this part of our memory…look at an object that is new to you and then close your eyes…then open them.  After the object has gone, can you still remember or visualise that object?  Rather like turning off the bedroom light and planning your journey to the bed without tripping over the bed or your shoes, we manage it sometimes but not always.
A baby learns this from around 8-10 months of age.  Up to this point it believes everything that goes out of its immediate visual range has gone forever.  This is due to lack of maturation of the short episodic and indeed long term memory.
We use this as a means to also determine body actions/movement…without signals from the brain to our body we would only move due to nerve or spasm  reactions (to coin the phrase ‘running around like a headless chicken’) having no control over movement.
Psychomotor - relating to the origination of movement in one or more (single or multi-task) conscious mental activities.  It is the transition from the thought to the planning and doing of actions, be it big or small physical activity. Psychomotor learnt skill stored in the motor cortex is portrayed by  us through physical skills such as movement, coordination, manipulation, dexterity, grace, strength, speed… actions which demonstrate the fine motor skills, such as use of precision instruments or tools, or actions which evidence gross motor skills, such as the use of the body in dance, musical or athletic performance.
We feel cold and a signal is sent from the skin surface to the brain, we then react by shivering…a part of our clothing irritates and the brain moves us to try and create a resistance to that irritation though scratching the area affected…most of these would be deemed primal reactions.
Visual motor integration is about taking all this into consideration in order to move forward with a given task and we can do this with all children and adults, but on occasions we must adapt the way we attack the learning process… this means linking coordinated visual perception skills together with gross-motor movement and fine-motor movement in a way that becomes as simple as possible in the early stages of learning new tasks, until sufficient levels of proficiency are reached… for both practical and academic outcomes to be fulfilled.
Praxis for the most part comes from learning and development (maturation) although as mentioned some would be primal (genetic).  We use several processes to complete the most basic of tasks. Some of the tasks in early infants are learnt through monkey see monkey do and others through stimulus and natural development.
These would range from the sitting up phase of a baby around 6-8 months, to coordinating limb movements to enable the child to crawl and then to stand and eventually walk…much of this progression is down to curiosity and the need to survive….keeping warm to eating and drinking.
 However we have far more complex tasks along the way and we can’t do everything by ourselves. On occasion we have to coordinate with others… this could be using one’s thoughts and another’s physical skill to complete a task.
Fine motor tasks are often harder for someone with Dyspraxia or DCD… like learning to ride a bike involves multi-tasking or tying your shoes for the first time is a very complex task and one which many take for granted.
 We don’t perceive all these components separately.  For example, as you watch a child/adult complete a task, such as tie his/her shoe laces, we don’t break it down into different actions, even though in the case of dyspraxia we should (over-learning is vital).  Also, balancing maybe to put on a sock or wash their feet.  However, when a child has apraxia, these tasks have to be broken down into singular components and then practised and built in order for the child to complete the whole task.
If you take a sequence like dressing, which becomes second nature to many, this would be an extremely complex task to someone with dyspraxia or apraxia.
In order to achieve this, as with other activities, they could benefit from visual instruction in the early days until the skill becomes second nature…pictures or even post-it notes are very handy.
Tying shoe laces is a task made easier by practising with the shoes on their lap at first, break the task down to single actions and then let them repeat it until it’s achieved with ease…my son achieved this after two hours and is now delighted to be able to wear any shoes he so chooses.  Being honest he did better than I…when I was young I remember sitting with a very tolerant girl in our village (who wasn’t aware I was dyspraxic) nearly the whole day and I finally mastered the skill!
The focus of many dyspraxics is more often than not is singular…multi-tasking is quite difficult, if you overload them with several things to accomplish be prepared for them to get this wrong or complete only part of your request and always remember rarely is this done deliberately.
“Be patient and praxis will eventually make perfect”. For those whose children bum shuffle, show them how to crawl, the increases in co-ordination are invaluable. it is so important due to slow processing ability to give long periods for practice that you would to their peers, remember demonstrate a task several times and show them piecemeal (over learning wins every-time).

Nb.The information is the work of our team and will occasionally contain the words of others…all our information is provided on a guidance basis and we always recommend that you seek professional advice. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2014

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Friday, 12 September 2014

What Do We Know About Brain Processing Speed?  ©Dyslexia Dublin, 2014
Brain processing speed deficit is so common in many of us… it can be comorbid in dyslexics, dyspraxics, dyscalculics, dysgraphics, ADD and those with ADHD.
Are you ever given, or have you given, several instructions to someone… maybe your child or partner and wonder why they have carried out part of the instructions, or none at all?  Maybe you have been given a verbal instruction, like a phone number or directions to a venue and had to ask again? How are you at remembering names? Not great… why is that!
Most of the children and adults we work with are extremely bright and have high IQ’s, but present with a learning support issue.  Processing speed is not presented as a key issue in many cases… the child with dyspraxia for instance might not get resource hours, as this tends to be given to those with dyslexia in the main.
You might have been told by your child’s teacher that they are always the last to finish an exercise or maybe you have taken a look at their course books and find gaps (take a look, it will tell you a lot!).  Does their writing deteriorate towards the end of their work?  This is an indication of them rushing to keep up with their peers.
Those with slow processing speed were, in the past, classed as stupid or lazy children.  This would be judged, as many are, on core subjects, whereas the opposite was true in the non-core subjects… why?
Children and adults with slow processing speed have gifts that others don’t have, like creating something from nothing.  They need to rehearse things a few times and then they fly.
As a parent, have you ever wondered why your child (or pupil, if you’re a teacher) performs really well in the school drama production and yet they underachieve in say Maths or English? With someone who have slow processing, rehearsing a play or over-learning is just what they need… how many times do they rehearse… 3-4,-5-6 times?  How many times are they shown a Maths equation or a piece of poetry… once maybe twice?  There is part of the problem.
Maybe you have noticed your child dragging their heels with homework or putting their books together for school.  Maybe you have asked them to do something whilst they watched television and you felt like they were ignoring you?  You haven’t got their attention… try standing in front of the telly and they will listen. 
Have you ever sent them shopping and they come back without some of the items?  Visual  stimuli is great in helping them to get this right.  Make flash cards… for shopping, flash cards of items are easy to do… download pictures of lemons, eggs, milk, etc.
For school, lay out their books on the table and place a tag with the day of the week alongside the books they need, take a photo and print it.
Take a picture of them with their uniform on, for dressing.  This can also be done for many other things like brushing hair, teeth, etc.
I get parents to use a colour coded weekly calendar of their timetable and this improves processing and reduces problems with forgetting books, etc.
Try and talk to your child’s teacher and maybe they will give them the homework on paper or early in the lesson, as the end of a class or day becomes hurried and noisy.
During my many years as a teacher I have seen a variety of approaches in ideas and later in the use of technology to support areas such as this (some indirectly); in my last post we had an internal internet that the students could log onto where most teachers like myself used to log the homework and course work… a great idea and if they were off sick they could work at home or catch up later.
We as parents/carers and teachers need to look very carefully at our children and identify this and if we feel there is a problem get it diagnosed! Governments and those at the top of the Education Departments also need to be aware to include this where necessary, when it comes to giving extra time in exams and also resourcing during term time.  We work with so many students that are just over the bar as dyslexic learners, due to improvements… and might I add the bar is set too high in the first instance, but yet the child might still have slow processing speed and this is not taken into account.
Can you remember being back at school and the teacher writing down copious notes on the board and at a fair pace?  She or he had no problem with flow…why?  Well, for one, not many teachers would have slow processing speed and they would have also written that many times before.  New teachers tend to go much slower, as this is new to them too and they would write slower, thus the pupils with slow processing speed would have a greater chance of keeping up.
I would urge teachers to make a cross reference with a student who is struggling in the written subjects and excels in the kinaesthetic areas such as Home Economics, Woodwork or Drama.  Maybe the Home Economics teacher wonders why the child is great in practical (stimuli and repetition) and poor in the written/theory side of the subject (lack of stimuli and repetition).
Have you ever looked at your child’s Report and wondered why the Art teacher says great things and the English teacher appears concerned, or maybe writes in a negative way?
Homework can be improved if it’s based on what the child has done during the day.  Use a sand timer (say 15 minute stints) and allow them to have a very small break between subjects.  I think schools should move to giving less subjects each evening, but more of the same.  This will not only reduce the weight of the school bag, but also reduce the risk of forgetting a long list of homework and would also improve retention.
Short term memory work can make a big difference and making all of the subjects kinaesthetically based too.


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 CETC © 2014

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