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.

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I hope you found this article useful… there are many more, including one on homework, on our Blog(

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.

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



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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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 

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.
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All our posts are for advice and guidance only… always seek professional advice, Dyslexia Dublin (CETC) © 2014