Thursday, 26 January 2017

Who has Dyslexia by Dyslexia Dublin © 2017


Some of the world’s greatest past and present inventors and Entrepreneurs  were born dyslexic.
The World needs all the creative people it can get, dyslexics have allowed the World to evolve.
Just look at Steve Jobs, if he was born academic we probably wouldn’t have the apple computer.
Tomas Edison, sent home from school with the word stupid pinned to (the inventor of the electric light) his jacket, think of us as stupid and you would be so wrong.
Many dyslexics have a creative   f lair and end up in that vocational area. Dyslexics have a rare gift, they think holistically in a very three dimensional way.
Dyslexics are usually great problem solvers.
Industry actively seeks dyslexics to work on problem-solving and product development.

I have worked with some real clever students over the year’s .Take a look at Sean, he knows so much about history both local and global and can chat for hours with accurate detail.

But when it comes to him reading about the subject he has great difficulty. How does he know so much, he has great auditory and visual skill?
Sean finds reading tough, he like many replace words and often try to guess other words. He will often guess wrong.
He hates to read out aloud in class, however he is okay with shared reading in a one to one situation.
Reading takes much longer for Sean than others in his class.
Sean’s retention rates are far lower than they should be. Spelling really is the key to being able to read, many schools have strayed from word families and the use of phonics as tools to help those with dyslexia.
Dyslexics have great long term memories and poor short term memories. Sight words don’t hit the mark for dyslexics.
When Sean writes he has to look up at the board several times to spell multi-syllabic words. This hampers his retention. He ends up remembering parts of words and struggles to remember sentences.



Learning to read is so different to learning to speak

Many clever people around the World struggle to read, Jamie Oliver the World renowned Chef has just read his first book.
Specialist have long understood that many struggle to read. We learn how to speak from a young age, from those around us. Learning to read requires a completely different skill set.
I am surprised how many schools teach only the one alphabet when in fact there are two when it comes to sounding out letter sounds within words.


Reading uses a far greater range of skills when compared to speech. It has to connect letter and form sound patterns. Reading or sounding out letters and words really helps.
One of the things we do with Sean and all our students is to work on sounds.
This helps improve reading and at the same time increases retention rates as we are using, speech, hearing and sight. This is co-ordinated by your brain. We also encourage tracking with the fingers as this adds another dimension.
I also have dyslexia and went through school having no idea why I struggled. I went on to qualify as a teacher and still have dyslexia and always will but I now know I can deal with it.
There is so much light at the end of the tunnel for you and your children.
You just have to look at so many others that have gone before and made great strides.

I would ask teachers to recognise that all students are different and for a very good reason.

This information is for guidance purposes only



All our articles are for information only and guidance…professional advice should always be sought. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

Monday, 23 January 2017

Top Tip…Fine Motor Skills  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

The co-ordination of the skeletal, muscular and neurological body functions combines to perform fine motor skills. Fine motor control is the ability to make small, precise movements, such as picking up a tiny object with your thumb and index finger. There are several things you can do to improve fine motor skill…working with a soft ball…making sure you get your child to squeeze the ball, stretching the fingers and pull the ball in by using mainly the finger tips…rolling up a tea towel is also good for this.
Marbles is a great game for improving fine motor skill and children love to play it. Set up a marbles game and play it for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. To shoot marbles, set up a small box on its side either on a table, on a carpet or on the floor. Hold a marble between the tip of your index finger and thumb; shoot it towards the box, trying to get it inside. Start close to the box and as co-ordination improves move the box further away, which will also continue to develop more accuracy. You can also use the index finger to flick the marble if preferred.

Try using your non-dominant hand It helps improve co-ordination. This also helps those with dyslexia.
Another exercise to strengthen the fingers and improve fine motor is to get an elastic band and thread it around the fingers and try to spread the fingers as wide as you can and return to normal position. Repeat this (a few minutes at each end of the day) every
day.

This information is for guidance purposes only


All our articles are for information only and guidance…professional advice should always be sought. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

Friday, 20 January 2017

Moving on up… “Transition from Primary/Junior (8th to 9th grade) to Senior School” by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017



Transition from any structure and stability can be very stressful for so many, just imagine how you feel about changing your hairdresser/barber or Doctor and Dentist, the emotions that come with starting a new job… multiply this and that is how a child with additional learning needs feels every time he or she has to face change.

The stress and anxiety doesn’t just stop with the student… the parents will worry for the child and themselves about the early days in the new environment, knowing full well this has already been a problem with changing desks, teachers and classes in the past and now we are talking a whole new school.

All change is risky and comes at a price, so transition needs to be gentle… why schools don’t allow new student intakes to go to the next level for tasters is beyond me… this is achieved in many third level colleges.

Flexibility is king in accommodating the transition process when a child presents with SPLD.  There are guidelines for schools to follow, but many parents will be unaware of this at the point it’s required and lack of communication should be avoided at all times, prior and after transition to make sure we are all aware of the individual’s needs.  Senior schools should communicate with both parent and Junior School to find out and be able to accommodate the child’s needs (IEP).

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Discuss the history of your child with the school 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 :

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Reader.

Voice Recorder.

Laptop/computer.

Writer present - to be able to sit their exam away from the main exam room.

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 inform First and Second Level Schools

Get the school 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 second 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 school to give lockers that are easy accessible and away from the hustle as children with learning needs can become nervous in crowds and all fingers and thumbs.

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

Work with your child in the summer recess with new subject areas such as business studies, Science/Biology, CSPE and Home Economics, this will help reduce anxiety.


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 school books…e.g. maths on Monday is yellow so put a yellow sticker on the maths book and the timetable.

Start in junior school to write more complex and varied timetables… identify presentation of projects and variations like school trips, etc… get the SNA to help take down homework.

Students need to know about acronyms…subjects like CSPE shortened from Civic, Social and Political Education.

Make sure you avail of every opportunity to visit the new school… it’s worth driving past there occasionally, especially at busy time.  Let them know about shortened lesson times and moving to different classrooms for each lesson (orientation is so important), school meals…is there a café or will they take food?… homework clubs… maybe show them the school website and they can check out the gallery of photos.

Make sure your child decides on whether they want their new class friends to know they have learning needs… not all children are comfortable with this and the school cannot tell others as you are protected under data protection.

You should be in possession of a valid statement in order to show the new school for the provision of resource hours, laptops, 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.

Parents need to be prepared for schools 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 meet them from school and also in case you are called by the school.

 Keep an eye out for bullying (change of mood, disturbed sleep, return to bed wetting are all 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 school to go to the shop or hit a child on their behalf.
Try to be all positive and avoid pressure in relation to performance until they are settled.

Invite their new friends around as soon as you can and let them join a few of the school extra curriculum activities… this will keep them in the loop with others in their class (prevent isolation).

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All our articles are for information only and guidance…professional advice should always be sought. Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Moving on up… “Transition from Senior School to College/University” by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

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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 www.cao.ie

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 :

Reader.
 Voice Recorder.
 Laptop/computer.
 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 café 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.  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2017

Friday, 6 January 2017

‘Exam season…Shared Anxiety between Parent and Child/Adult’ by  Dyslexia Dublin  © 2017


We start in earnest with the up coming mock exams and with positive and negative feelings dependant on a students academic ability.

End of spring and start of summer heralds the arrival of  those dreaded words, ‘Exam time’… most students who are  taking exams see far less of the sounds of summer as they are still seeing less day light hours than the students who don’t have exams to take.  You might be tempted to leave your study and drift outside to catch the rays, but think again… you get very few chances to get a good grade. The secret is to try and get stuck in so you can have some time to relax, instead of playing catch-up, by putting it off till tomorrow and all of a sudden tomorrow arrives the day before the exam!  It will soon be past and you will have a long vacation ahead.
How can we structure our study and avoid meltdowns?
1.       You must be relaxed and in a positive frame of mind to make the best of your revision/study.

2.       Make sure you look after your body by eating a good balanced diet (plenty of oily fish is good for the brain).

3.       Plenty of sleep is so important for retention… a tired brain is a less active brain!

4.       Structure your study into subject areas and concentrate more on your weaker subjects.

5.       Make sure you set the tempo of your study programme… the right room temperature, the right     light (preferably natural light) and the correct noise level.

6.       Stay hydrated (two litres of water per day) as this can cause lack of concentration.

7.       Make sure your study is relevant, have access to past papers as well as well managed course notes (indexed) and colour code your study notes.

8.       Make sure you are well aware of your exam timetable, the marking scheme will give you an idea of the amount of points to be awarded  per question, and this will give you an idea of how much to write, relative to the points awarded.

9.       Confidence is an attribute and over confidence can be obstructive to sound revision.

10.   Comprehension is key in most exams… the person marking your paper could be the other side of the country so bear that in mind and make it clear what is being said…make sure you have covered all points asked in the question.

11.   On exam day, make sure you are relaxed and read through the paper before you begin to answer any questions… you will be more relaxed and positive and will make far fewer mistakes.  Divide the questions by points value and time so you don’t spend too long on a given question.

12.   Don’t revise on the day of your exam unless this works for you… cramming can cause confusion in many.
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13.   Don’t dwell on a poor result, look forward to the next one… invariably you will have done better than you think.
Try to read books on subjects that interest you, record your work, watch documentaries/films on subject areas... You Tube is good for science/biology, history, literacy and geography.  I read, then rough write my prep and then type it onto the laptop and by then it usually goes in.
Stay close to your family and open up with your thoughts…so many of us have been there and they really do mean well…they will embrace and support you good or bad.

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

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

How does Dyspraxia and Dyslexia affect us In relationships? by Dyslexia Dublin © 2017

A strong, healthy relationship can be one of the best and most important supports you will ever experience in your life.  A good, strong relationship improves all aspects of your life, it helps strengthen and maintain a healthy existence, it settles and improves your mind and it can also help you maintain and develop connections with others.  However, if the relationship isn't working, it can also be a tremendous drain and strain.  Relationships are for the long haul and you should reap what you sow.
As has been mentioned in previous articles, we are made up of left, right and those with left and right brains… this is important to understand as communication between like-minded people is, for the most part simple, straightforward and often without problem.  However, communications between a left brain dominant and a right brained dominant can have its fair share of moments… equal left/ right brained should find communicating with others less problematic.
Dyspraxia and dyslexia can affect us in many of our relationship’s, families… friends, school peers and also loving relationships.  One of the key elements that can cause mood swings and distancing is so often the fear of being let down or letting others down, through poor judgement or negative criticism (often rings bells from the past), doing or saying the wrong thing at the wrong time (this is mainly down to lack of confidence).  We can also miss the point due to our slow processing speed, which leads to incorrectly picking up the wrong signals and we can also appear shy.  I had a huge problem with dancing due to co-ordination… this was a real inhibitor, as those that could dance always got the girls.  We also tend to be very trusting; we don’t always see the worst in others until it’s too far down the road and, coupled to this, we tend to fall in love very quickly.
I think this is down to the draw of being loved, attention and the initial lack of criticism; the wheels can very quickly fall of when the relationship settles down and our partners tire of our ways and then start to pull us up with regularity due the many things we struggle to do correctly.  This is hard and often brings us back to all the criticism we have had to face from so many throughout our lives.
It’s so important to get through conflict.  Some couples talk things out quietly, while others may raise their voices and passionately disagree.  The key in a strong relationship, though, is not to be fearful of conflict.  You need to be safe to express things that bother you without fear of retaliation, and be able to resolve conflict without humiliation, degradation or insisting on being right and this can be difficult with those of us who have dyspraxia.  We by nature have excellent memories, we don’t tend to let things bother us in the early stages and we store things, often quoting letter and verse at the person we are upset or arguing with.
Honest, direct communication is the mainstay of any relationship.  When both people feel comfortable expressing their needs, fears and desires, trust and close bonds are maintained and indeed strengthened.  Non-verbal cues, ie. body language like eye contact, leaning forward or away, or touching someone’s arm, are critical to communication and again this is an area that doesn't come as natural to a dyspraxic as it does to those who don’t suffer from the syndrome.
Touch has long been accepted as a fundamental part of human existence; however this can be a problem for those of us that have tactile processing issues.  Studies on infants have shown the importance of regular, loving touch and holding has a long lasting benefit to early brain development. These benefits do not end in childhood. Life without physical contact with others is a lonely life indeed.

This article seems to have an adult flavour to it, however I would like to point out that some of these points would be relevant to our children too.
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