Friday, 28 June 2013

Dyspraxia (DCD)...Dyslexia…Dysgraphia and the benefits of Multi-Sensory Intervention by  Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

Who do we help? All learners benefit from this form of tuition.

Children and adults with dyspraxia/dyslexia/dysgraphia and dyscalculia can benefit hugely from a multi-sensory programme, conventional methods of teaching fail or fall short due to the different learning style required by those with DCD. Children can also present with language delay/apraxia of speech, often having problems making/saying sounds, syllables, and whole word recognition, often related to poor facial muscle tone.  It can also be down to praxia/motor planning difficulty where the brain has problems transmitting signals to co-ordinate the movement of lips, upper and lower jaws, speechbox and tongue, all of which are required to speak... quite often children survive on lip reading and can also benefit from signing until their speech improves.

( would you like to learn more about the 3 Dy's why not pop over to our new page and read more on the 3 Dy's @ )

Progress in many co-ordination, processing and planning delays can be made by introducing a multi-sensory learning programme and early intervention is paramount. Delays only frustrate the students and bring about a reluctance to participate in the learning process.

Most of the children/adults we work with gain back one year in all literacy areas for every 40 hours of tuition.

Children with CAS (childhood apraxia of speech) may be a late talker and may only have a few consonant and vowel sounds. They may have problems combining sounds and will simplify words by replacing difficult sounds with easier ones. The sound errors can be inconsistent. Your child may also have difficulty imitating speech, but imitated speech is clearer than spontaneous speech.

How can we help?

Our programme has been devised and backed up with over 25 years working in this specialist area.  Our resources are designed to give maximum benefit to our students on all our tutored programme, they can also benefit those who are engaged in the teaching and supervision of childen, ie. parents, classroom teachers, reading specialists, and special educators.  We aim to use effective reading programs that guarantee a higher incidence of participation, reading success and achievement for children at all reading levels. We achieve this by matching the relevant teaching style with the child as a tailored programme, including matching global/visual reading styles.  We also teach children to read through tactile and kinesthetic resources methods.  (“Kinesthetic learners prefer experience and practice using multiple perceptual modes including sight, sound, and touch” (Fleming & Mills, 1992)).

Research shows the children with CAS have more success when they receive frequent (1-3 times per week) and intensive treatment. When this is not possible due to practical reasons, parents are advised to practice daily at home. The focus of intervention for CAS is on improving the planning, sequencing, and co-ordination of muscle movements for speech production, building facial muscles is very important. Your child will benefit from multi-sensory feedback, eg. tactile "touch" cued articulation uses  visual cues (ie. watching him/herself in the mirror) as well as verbal feedback, we recommend and stock lip synch (great resource).


Dyslexics also respond well to multi-sensory methods of learning which use a visual and stimulating approach to  learning, using a hands-on approach that brings together as many senses as possible.

Help your child combat dyslexia with multi-sensory learning at home by playing a lot of hands-on and physical games, fit drawing and model-making into homework and also saying out loud the words she reads and writes. Also, when your child begins to learn letters and words have them made into flash cards with visual images, to reinforce learning. We stock a great intervention  product and its available from stock, check it out here (paste ino your browser)

or visit

Dysgraphics: they can benefit hugely by using word banks to write stories with clip art or paint, such as ‘Create a story’.

Dyscalculics: can and do benefit in the same way, by making shapes, pyramids squares and by using colourful bar and pie charts during mathematics.  Try to make numbers exciting by relating them to things such as the variation of ages at a concert/football match… don’t be static and use a variety of teaching styles to engage learners.

Overview: We can see quite clearly from the above that we need a variety of learning styles as learners do not present with a ‘one size fits all’ method of consuming information.  Take a look at your class and you will find on the days a variety of resources are used, even the student you think of as lazy and lethargic will be involved, why?... because he is stimulated… go on try it, you will enjoy teaching this way and the class will enjoy it too!
You can read our articles at
Facebook at complementary education and twitter at dyslexiadublin.

Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Is Social media hampering our literacy skills, harming our relationships whilst destroying the art of conversation? by Toby Lee, Dyslexia Dublin CETC © 2013

I for one believe it is – we as people don’t 'talk' anymore. In fact it is becoming almost tiresome for many to pick up or engage in a phone conversation and to keep the call going takes great effort from the instigator of the call.  Mobile networks are making huge amounts from texting and instant image processing... we are endangering our very own identity and become very cyber almost robotic in our ways. Sending a letter is almost non-existent, receiving birthday cards has all but disappeared. Most, including our own offspring, are happy to send a text and even that is if someone else reminds them of the occasion! I would much rather receive a letter or card from someone than an email. I am just back from holidays and even the sending of the traditional post card seems to be lost on the current generation. How do you feel?... would you rather receive a personal invitation to a party or to receive a text from a family member or friend? How far does this have to go! My sister sent me a text to say she couldn’t attend my wedding… why did we bother sending out invitations through the post with RSVP?  The personal touch is being lost and I think we will rue the day.

Like most of life’s issues, there are sides to any debate. You see families sitting down in different parts of the house on social media and quite often watching telly whilst texting or trawling the web on their laptop and not a verbal word offered or shared… the word is I am so popular or I have to keep in touch or you’re just not ‘techy’. Our family returned from holiday with little to tell as it had all been said through facebook, in fact all our holiday snaps, that before we would anxiously wait for word from the film developer who has now lost his or her job due to the techy brigade, were all sent the very second they were taken, via instagram or facebook and the dreaded iPhone.

1. There are several areas of communication that aren’t used when social networking and suffer as a result. We fail to judge reaction through the lack of non-verbal behaviours such as facial expressions, signs and gestures, facial approval or disproval (do you like my hair/dress?), and eye-contact, all of which contribute to successful communication. Networking via the internet causes these to be non-existent and, although many will agree through the face(less)book that you look nice or that is a nice garment, you will never truly know if they mean it as you cannot see expressions through the internet.

2. Sharing time with family and friends in a variety of settings gives you so much and, do you know what, we take it so much for granted and will miss it shortly when it no longer exists.  We see and learn so much through communicating with others (Central Europeans find our culture strange)… we used to sit around the dinner table and talk at length about the day, thus serving to highlight potential problems or indeed just enjoy each others company, instead now we go to different corners of the house and dine alone.

3. Spending large amounts of time alone with a computer reduces the time available to develop the skills necessary for some types of communication (gregarious)… there is also talk of this affecting dementia (on the increase). While other skills may be enhanced, the overall effect is to narrow the range of communication skills of the individual.

Back in the old days people used to spend the time to write letters to people they wanted to keep in touch with that lived too far away to visit. This meant more attention was paid to grammar and spelling, structure and meaning of the letter. If you have family that you never see then it can be a good medium, but don’t let it replace an opportunity to make that rare visit.

You can have a lot of so-called friends that you have never met on social media, but how many will be there to help you in a crisis?… how many will stop and pick up a bottle of milk if you can’t get to the shop and how many have you ever met for a coffee?... not many.

I was talking to a parent the other day and mentioned that it is now possible to get through the entire day without communicating face to face with anyone, you can prepay for petrol, self-scan at the supermarket or buy online…get a prepaid bus/travel ticket…book a cinema ticket without speaking a single word!  You see many out with partners or friends having a meal and saying absolutely nothing to each other and many when confronted with having to speak, don’t know what to say!

I see this in many students that lack conversation and the ability to construct assignments, all their news is spewed out on facebook/twitter or text, long before they arrive at school on a Monday morning.  This also affects those who are not using such media, as they are seen as old fashioned or square and the lack of conversation denies them the chance to improve/expand their literacy skill, which is so important to someone with a specific learning need.

“Engaging in too much social media activity may damage strong relationships”, a new Oxford study has warned.
Research by Dr Bernie Hogan of Oxford University tested the theory of 'media multiplexity' (the ability to communicate via several communications channels) which was first posed in 2005. The theory suggests that there is a clear link between the number of media channels used to communicate, the frequency they are used and the strength of relationship ties.

Don’t lose touch with those close to you by talking at length to invisible or false friends…we are driving ourselves into isolation… reducing our vocabulary and the ability to relate to everyday information.

I truly hope for the sake of conversation this will change… I hope our partners don’t run off into the sunset arm in arm with their laptops, 3G's and his/her hotmail friend, Toluna Vyber!!
If you would rather convince your child face to face conversation is the way forward and want to improve the comprehension of your child then check out our range of dyslexia friendly and easy to read books checkout our web at 
All our articles are for guidance and should never be taken literally, professional advice should always be sought.
You can now follow us on Twitter at dyslexiadublin and Blogger at 
Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Hints and tips for learning to ride a bike…with dyspraxia/balance co-ordination issues  (Dyslexia Dublin CETC) © 2013

Developmental dyspraxia, referred to as developmental coordination disorder here in Europe and also in the USA, is a chronic neurological disorder beginning in childhood that can affect planning of movements and co-ordination as a result of brain messages not being accurately transmitted to the body; this can have a profound effect on balance and make certain tasks extremely difficult to master. Such as:
Poor timing
Poor balance (on occasions falling over or tripping mid-step.

To prevent the all to often meltdown due to frustration at not being able to maintain the staus quo with others is seen all to often in those with dyspraxia (DCD) what I write you can find more info on dyspraxia at our new page on facebook

They will with have problems in getting parts of instruction in the correct order and therefore may have a problem in getting the next movement correct (co-ordination).
Problems with spatial awareness, or proprioception (determining the distance between themselves and other objects).
This disorder can cause an individual to be clumsy to the point of knocking things over and bumping into people accidentally (be prepared for the odd knock or bruise).
Many with dyspraxia have problems with orientation especially left and rights (take this into account when giving verbal instruction.
Many dyspraxics fail to find their dominant side and can shift from one to the other; don’t be surprised if they start off with a different foot each time.
Riding a bike calls for multi-tasking which is difficult for most and requires great short and long term memory as well as co-ordination/planning, instruction therefore has to be slow and in short sequences. We also need to be aware that most with dyspraxia won’t have great special awareness so make sure they have lots of room to manoeuvre; but don’t let that stop you or deny them the opportunity of giving it a go…most master the technique.

It often helps to start on a balance board and then a scooter…before commencing with a bike
Reduce the scrapes? bumps and bruises can be minimised if the child wears long trousers and shirts with long sleeves.
Always time you practice when you have time to dedicate (avoid distractions at all cost), make sure your child is alert and has plenty of energy.
Choose a good flat surface with few or preferably no obstacles.
Try and use a bike with good natural balance and a low centre of gravity.
A lower seat position on a lightly bigger bike affords better static balance than a higher seat on a smaller bike (the latter raises the centre of gravity and alters the point of balance)
Lower the saddle as this will allow your child's feet to be flat on the ground. There is instant safety and security this way… don’t assume that all looks rosy… anxiety/nerves will be present in most children.
Make sure there are no bells…mirrors…tassels…gears, etc. as these all cause the child to become detached from the task at hand.
Make sure there are no distractions around limit observers to yourself… most children want to look at Mum/Dad to gauge reaction…this is when they are likely to lose concentration and tumble.
Taking the pedals off at first can be an excellent idea. Start with a slow introduction… short little spurts of a metre or two, just letting the child push the bike with their feet, while their balance and confidence improves. Slowly increase the distance and constantly stop and ask them how they feel and give praise.
If you choose to help your child learn to ride initially with you holding the saddle, make sure you stand back from them and hold it firm to start with and gradually release your grip till you let go but be ready to grab hold if needs be and make sure you help them come to a stop.
Stabilisers can be raised gradually. One can be removed if they tend to lean more to one side and again hold the back of the saddle if need arises.
Keep going with the instruction as they will eventually master the technique…starting on a trampoline is a great way to improve balance.
Please note all our posts are for guidance only and using or seeking advice from a professional  is often the best way forward.
Toby Lee (Dyslexia Dublin CETC) © 2013
You can follow us on facebook at complementary education
Twitter at dyslexiadublin and blogger at

Or our websites at  or

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Day you thought your World had Ended (Handling the Diagnosis), Dyslexia Dublin CETC ©2013

The initial moments of hearing a report or diagnosis or indeed as in my case, my son’s Headmaster our hearts sink…we question why and how…you are told a multitude of reasons why… but none of this helps at this early stage.
We, at this very point, feel alone and with little support
We need to slow it all down, take five and then start to try and make sense of it all…turning to friends is ok for personal support but if they are not in your position they will be of little help.
If anything, they may suffocate you with ideas and good intent. They will also say that the information given to you was wrong as there is nothing wrong with your child…but you know that is far from the truth. You have had your suspicions for quite some time and, after all, that’s what drives us to seek advice or diagnosis. Don’t blame yourself… “You know how to parent!”. We were told several things about delivery problems, stress in pregnancy, breast feeding… none of this has been proven and certainly in my family line we have siblings and children with all manner of deliveries, some bottle fed and others breast fed and most went through near perfect pregnancies.
Once you have taken stock of the situation it is time to bring things into focus. Make a reflective diary as far back as you can for your son/daughter or self, make notes of certain things that stand out and vary from children/adults of a similar age. Talk to your school when you have your list and of course seek professional advice. 

do you like what I write...why not pay us a visit at

Have a plan in your mind but don’t let your plan frustrate you and make sure it’s workable…time is very important for intervention and time is often something we have little of. We found out when my son was five and now he has moved on and is in a much better place (thirteen and in secondary school).
You will find, or are finding, it very tough at times having a specific needs child/adult in the house and yes managing that at times takes you to your limits, but you cope and will continue to cope because love conquers everything, whilst the emotions of the moment cannot always fix the problem.
I have avoided till now the use of the word ‘special needs’ as my preference is ‘specific needs’. People will tag your child with this but that is just the way of the world… don’t take it personally as it is often meant with genuine concern.
Always look at the positives in your child even though he/she has, or is about to be diagnosed with a specific need. He/she is still your child and a person in their own right.
You will be offered lots of opinions… listen only to the ones that make sense and when you get the diagnosis you will no doubt look at it and deal with it in a different way to me or the next person and that is not a problem.
Try not to overwhelm yourself with information, go at a sensible pace.
Use social network sites, published material (books, magazines) and Google…try and make sure that when you speak to the SEN/SNA…OT… Ed. Psych, that they are happy and aware of the particular needs of your child (especially for dyspraxia).
If you want to research the diagnoses keep a structure to it. Knowledge of a subject is a very powerful tool and it will ensure that people in authority will listen to you and not talk down or try to brow beat the way they might with a person that has no background information. Also, keep emotions out of this if possible, as time with schools or Ed Psych and OT’s is precious.
Make sure you keep a good filing system as it will be invaluable at some point… keep all the information ready to hand, you never know when that all important call may come through. Keep a note of all questions for any professional visits, as not all children with specific learning needs present with the same symptoms.
It is essential that you allow yourself some space… it will allow you to think much clearer and you need to be fresh for the next phase. You will get down and your network around you will too and that is okay and it is also okay to let others know how you feel when that happens, but try not to let it dictate to the point where you might push those close away.
Let others know how they can help and remember, most offers of help are given with good intent.
Often you need support in other ways and it is important to ask as if you don’t ask how will others know?
Look at modifying the way day-to-day events happen and try and be flexible, but dependable. One thing all children/adults with specific needs cry out for is the feeling of being safe and in a stable environment.
Look around at your local resource, there could be help at hand (local health clinics etc.).
I cannot stress how important it is to include all of the children in the family unit…this will prevent them from feeling pushed out and isolated. Let them take some ownership in planning tasks aimed at helping their sibling. It’s worth remembering that others feel stress too.
You may indeed be in a second relationship and don’t know how to fit in to the new unit and one that includes a child with learning needs…this might be a first for you. A good start is to read as much as you can on the learning need and time your opportunity to talk to your new partner about your concerns and indeed, if needs be, fears.
Be careful how you introduce new potential family members and make them fully aware of the learning need…friction is one to avoid as it lasts longer than you may think.
Books on the subject (ie. My Friend Has Dyspraxia) are a great way of sitting down with the family and getting to understand what this means and how to move forward.
The one thing you must learn to do is adjust to the new situation and never make obvious changes where the child with learning needs is concerned, but be there in a supporting role. From experience, I can say we don’t want to feel different and we have qualities that are greater in certain areas than our peers. It is very important to refer to this and indeed mention to your child that we all bring different gifts to life’s party.
It is very important for your unit to remain the status quo as it probably was before the diagnosis. Nothing has changed, with the exception of this paper and it has possibly confirmed what you have always suspected…the positive is that it allows you to structure things and get the help you require. Your family unit must keep as near to normality as possible, as change often brings blame.
If it’s hard for you to get out, invite friends and family over to you…it’s often a good idea to have slightly younger children around as children with learning needs are often slightly below their chronological age in regard to maturity in some, not all, areas.
If you are struggling to handle all the paperwork (eg. DCA, etc.), enrol a friend in this task… two heads are better than one. It’s okay to enlist others and it will make them feel good… who knows they might even turn up with a packet of your favourite biscuits!
As many of you know I have dyspraxia and I can say I have lived a good life. There are things I would have changed and that is one of the things that spurs me on to help others in my work. I hope you have found this article useful and please feel free to comment…as with all my posts this is for guidance only and you should always seek the advice of professionals.
I have attached a podcast of a recent interview I gave on a disability radio show…hope you enjoy….Toby Lee Dyslexia Dublin CETC 

did you know you can friend us on FB at Dyslexia Dublin Toby Lee

you can follow us on twitter at @dyslexiadublin and facebook at complementary education you can also check our website at