Monday, 21 April 2014

Why Does Telling The Time Fly Past Me? by Dyslexia Toby © 2014

Why do some of us find it difficult to tell the time? The big problem with the analogue clock is we work in two directions… away from the vertical and back to the vertical. This is very much the same as reading a compass; in fact many will stand facing north to make sense of the compass. This is also very similar to map reading… many will turn the map facing in the direction which they are headed.
Why is this such a problem for many? Mirroring is so often the problem… in fact laying a clock in front of the learner is sometimes easier than getting them to look at it vertically as it hangs on the wall.
Dyscalculia very much comes into play and with its difficulty in grasping numeric and general comprehension of mathematics, including understanding numbers… this is a problem that gets in the way of telling the time. In order to have any success in learning to tell the time, a child needs to be able to count up to 30. There are also the reversing processes (minutes past and to) which are used in telling the time. It also requires the processing of movement and often the differing words (after or past, before or to) can hinder the student as they may also have dyslexia.

You might find that starting with a toy clock, or forgetting the past and to the hour at the start and work on minutes from the hour, like thirty five minutes past twelve rather than twenty five to one, is a good introduction.
Dyscalculia can occur in around 5% of the population and this is far reaching and would affect many with a high IQ range. For some, this can cause problems with time, measurement and mirroring. Some say that around 1-2% of those with dyscalculia can have ADHD… this could cause problems with the need to focus whilst learning. Therefore, it is important that teaching the time is done in smaller, bite-sized chunks rather than trying to teach the whole concept in one go. As always, remember to allow at least 4 times longer for children with specific learning needs to grasp the concept… ie. overlearning. In a family where only one child has a learning need, it is particularly important not to benchmark them against their siblings when learning something new, ie. riding a bike, tying shoelaces, telling the time, etc. It’s worth noting that many of us have one or more learning difficulties (co-morbid), and this along with processing speed can slow progress in learning complex tasks.
We are pleased to announce that we are the distributors of the very latest clocks that can make learning the time much easier. In 3 simple steps your child will easily learn to tell the time on an analogue clock
Digital time is much easier to grasp, however there won’t always be a digital clock around.
Time telling and being aware of time is an important part of organisational skills, which we all need to master.
We have great resources for thse with dyscalculia, why not check out our online store…we ship to any country.

Our posts are for guidance purposes only and professional advice should also be sought.


Thursday, 17 April 2014

Top  Anger Management (part three) - Inside the mind of the angered and angry child
Dyslexia Toby© 2014

What happens when a meltdown occurs (understanding helps reduce severity in the long term)is very important and the key is to reduce its longevity…it can be over in seconds or could take hours, depending on how it’s handled. One method is to try and be neutral in your emotional approach. Unstable reactions to an individual’s behaviour cause the situation to become more volatile. Emotion may give you feelings of being in free fall (lacking control). This will undoubtedly affect and may even frighten your child, this again could lead to a flight or fight situation leading to a point of no return
This may also lead to a permanent belief that your child has the upper hand and may encourage regular conflict as direct connection, albeit strained communication, is made between child and parent/carer.
Save the emotion for times when you want to reinforce positive behaviour, and then pour it on. When dealing with negative behaviour, try to stay unemotional and matter-of-fact. Quite often energy is found and it’s not unlike fuelling a fire. You are far better stifling the conflict by not reacting and you may well find the temper tantrum will simmer far quicker than you being verbally reactive…save that for promoting good behaviour.
Try to be more proactive, and less reactive. The best way to handle bad behaviour (and now I might be guilty of stating the obvious) is not to let the opportunity to arise in the first instance and moreso with children with specific educational needs, as their understanding of good and bad behaviour is far different than that of a fully able child. Looking at bad behaviour and then reflecting on the problems that led up to the event is a very worthwhile opportunity to prevent a repeat occurrence.
I often use a reflective diary during tuition with students/parents who come to me…get them to reflect on their day…good and bad (don’t worry about the information being legible). It’s very important to allow your child to communicate and at the same time allowing him/her to download information and switch off and relax/sleep easier at night.
One other thing you could do is use a colour coded week planner to identify the things your child likes to do and things they don’t like to do…encourage positivity by using their favourite colour for the things they least like to do and their least favourite colour for the things they like to do (reverse psychology)…image with specific educational needs children is everything.
Try keeping a reflective diary yourself and log down all of the immediate activities that led up to the meltdown. This will allow you to plan for the future and at least remove some of the events that lead to your child getting confused, then frustrated and then angry…things can then start to become a lot more fun and reduce stress levels in all quarters and there will a be a far more positive feel/bond between you and your child which will improve their social skills too.
Remember listen to every statement your child makes, as you might be agreeing to something that you will come to regret and promise nothing unless you intend to deliver on your promises. Time is another big thing…allow more time and try not to be late as again this can cause meltdowns.
Try to limit change…painting bedrooms , changing room layouts, etc…even changing the car should be gradual as children with specific educational needs enjoy stability and, believe me, they notice far more than you give them credit for…even seating arrangements whilst eating at home or even dining out are so very important to stop your child from feeling isolated or indeed the opposite... suffocated.
Please remember this information was based on parental experience…teaching and researching the work of others and should only be used as a guide.
I hope you have enjoyed reading these 3 posts on Anger Management and we look forward to posting more items on Specific Learning Needs.
Toby Lee Dyslexia  © Follow us on facebook at dyslexia dublin

Monday, 14 April 2014

Anger Management continued part two gaining an insight into the frustrated mind
By Dyslexia Toby © 2014

Weak Cognitive Connections: Children with Processing disorders and other specific cognitive impairments ADHD Asperger’s/Autism may not understand events in the same way others do or indeed the way they tend to react to commands and some portrayed moments are quite different to their able peers. We who have an immediate responsibility and indeed onlookers need to determine to gain strong understanding of the child or adults thought process before and during any (melt down) uncomfortable event. Many less able might not even show outward signs of distress and this needs to be closely monitored but may still leave them with an inward feeling of discomfort. Quite often the situation leads the child to believe it is a fight or flight situation…this is the opposite of where we appear to be most of the time (Parasympathetic) certainly in the main with able children/adults …in most cases children do not sense they are moving into the Sympathetic nervous state…we adults always see this first and its often the way we react that can infuse or defuse the situation.
Children and some Adults might mirror your reaction taken from a previous outburst (monkey see monkey do)used in a previous/similar situation…they don’t always understand how they should respond at their own age range and in turn can be colourful and graphical and use swear words they don’t fully understand and they will struggle to understand an Adult reaction and comment on their behaviour (if met with an adult response from a child…don’t react by giving an adult response)?.

Talking through anything needs to be specific, but put over in a very simple way; quite often a graphical approach will be the way forward as it is very often difficult for the child to understand the spoken word (flashcards are good) also emotions cards. We need to filter what images and words are within the auditory or visual reach of our children as most things are taken quite literally. If they witness a plane crash in the paper or on the news they might be reluctant to go on holidays if a plane is part of the travel arrangements.

Students with learning needs might be able to well require a different type of approach/supports to maybe their able siblings; this will largely depend on the individual’s level of maturity. Many students are able to process discipline, while others have specific deficits in this area. Some will take what you say to the letter even if you are only trying to get your point across with some degree of exaggeration.
Be careful when giving traumatic news to children with learning needs and also explain events they might witness (car accident etc.) in away appertain to the child’s age or level of maturity as this might be a degree below their chronological age...

Many children have difficulties with their level of social prowess, and may need far greater instruction anger management…levels of tolerance to movement, noise etc. will vary hugely and good communication is paramount as in all cases of managing anger and tolerance of things that are initially out of the control of the individual concerned. It is so important to take the approach as Rome was not built in a day and all this will take considerably longer…also be careful when looking back to the way you where parented as communications amongst many things has changes so much.

Our posts are for guidance purposes only and professional advice should also be sought .

Monday, 7 April 2014

Anger Management and specific leaning needs by  Dyslexia Toby  Part one 2014 ©

It is quite difficult for those who are fully abled to react to change, so how can we expect our children with known learning difficulties be the ...same as us?… we can’t is the short answer.
They struggle, as we are aware, to deal with or learn most everyday tasks.
So what causes the anxiety that quickly becomes frustration and, if not tempered, a meltdown?
Our children are constantly watching us, even though we rarely realise this is happening…it’s almost a subconscious act…so possible issues that may cause initial anxiety are:
Economically related (changes in routine due to tightening of funds) different supermarket…reducing happy time out…Mc Donalds, Cinema, etc.
You could be pre-occupied with issues – money, bills, separation, loss, for example.
Changing the car…and even the different colour of new purchase.
Changes to routine… eg. bed time or getting up early due to changes in logistics.
Change of environment…eg. bedroom…furniture being moved…places at dinner table…changing colour schemes…lighting colour…room fresheners…perfume…tooth brush. Yes, even a tooth brush can change moods.
Hairdresser…swimming pool…holiday destination.
Changes at school…new teachers…new classroom and new lesson content or subjects.
Children pick up far more than we realise and react to far more too…they can have a variation of triggers that can tip the scales, like aggressive sounding words, images stored from a previous incident (rather like deja vu), sounds, weather (icy, slippery), that can signal raised levels of anxiety or a rapid change to their feelings of being safe and feeling secure. These can be completely individual and not all of the above will have the same outcome/effect on each child. They will harbour some of these from past events and personal experience and they can also be associated with traumatic events in the past. Also, seeing fear in adults can make them link back through stored feelings and images (not unlike a nightmare in our sub conscious).
Children tend to present us with advanced warning of their unease in regard to these trigger events, warning signals that adults should realise are a precursor to understanding the child might be struggling or finding something very hard to come to terms with. These cues may include facial expressions or nervous tics (mild self-harm) pinching flesh, changes in speech patterns (incoherent or alterations in volume), hot when you are cold…sweating, feeling ill (stomach aches), becoming quiet or withdrawn (introvert…staying in one room), complaining or getting irritable, exhibiting lack of interest in going places, fear avoidance tactics, ie. negative responses when they were normally acceptable (shopping…swimming…Cinema). I recently witnessed a child being very uncomfortable with the noise of the ice crunching machine in a coffee shop…did the parent/carer spot the unease of the child....?
All of our posts are based on personal…family and research sourced in many places…and is for reading and guidance purposes. Part two to follow soon!

You can also friend with us at dylexia dublin and follow on twitter at dyslexiadublin

Friday, 4 April 2014

‘When Is The Right Time To Tell Your Child They Have A Specific Learning Need?’ by  DyslexiaToby © 2014
Is there ever going to be a right time?  Well, you will always blame yourself for telling your child or indeed not as the case may be.  I can say from my own experience I would have loved to have known that I had a learning need, but back in the fifties and sixties there was no such diagnosis.  With dyspraxia, however, the first mention in the medical journals was as far back as 1962, although there was little heed paid to this and many other learning needs.  I spent my early life being very confused and angry at my lack of academic and sporting ability, I was constantly measured against my more able siblings and called many horrible things, including a word I despise to this day (‘spa’ or ‘spastic’).  I am far happier now that I had a reason for the problems I continually came across in the early years and it was out of my control and was deemed to be the way I would go on through life from birth.
Genetics sets the seed with most specific learning needs and this is the case for so many others… I am not alone!
You may have had a diagnosis, or be in the very early stages of wondering why your child is behaving or learning differently to others and you may be starting to suspect something is not quite right.  They may well be slow at hitting milestones and you may have also spotted the early signs of a specific learning difficulty.  I will say at this point, having dyspraxia myself and also for children with dyspraxia, I wouldn’t despair, as we go on to achieve great things and, if shown the right way, excel both physically and academically… we are great social animals too!
 What about those that are just late starters?  Many children find a variation in both physical and visual stimuli.  Some like to watch you, or programmes, also some watch and listen to conversations… these are usually the early readers.  Some like to construct and by this I mean those who show a preference to play with toys and build things… these are for the most part late/later readers.  As mentioned, it’s what pushes our buttons that drives us from the start.
You can never be too early to encourage both forms of stimuli and your engagement in this process will lead to your child joining in.
It is so important to work with the school or college on this, the more eyes the better.  You need to keep a very close eye on their academic work… teachers are being forced to teach ever larger class sizes than ever before and don’t always get chance to check every piece of homework and quite often the students will cross mark each other’s work… this can result in them falling behind.  Don’t forget the square of over teaching - those with a learning need may require a more graphical description of what has to be learnt compared to a child who has no SPLD… quite often 2-3 or 4 times longer.
Make sure you keep your concerns written down with times and dates… this comes in really handy to monitor progress, take to open days, parents evenings and IEP meetings (individual education plan). Never discard this information as you can use it when your child steps up in that, or a new, school… not all teachers inform each other of someone leaving their class to move to another, even though you might take this for granted.
Always check school reports and note discrepancies from teacher to teacher and subject to subject… the problem more often than not is in the core and language subjects.  Be positive, proactive and constructive with your child’s school/teacher, aggression often meets aggression… suggestions and inducing suggestions from others tends to yield positive results.
If you have no diagnosis, ask the school or college as they have funds for this, although I will say they are extremely limited and have to be used wisely.
Try and benchmark progress and always leave a meeting with a date for the next review, this leaves nothing to chance which is important because, as we all know, the years flow quickly by.
Keep your child informed, they often resent going to resource when they are older, especially boys.  Try and keep their confidence high by talking about their great efforts in other areas.
Kinesthetic learning is so often the way forward and it’s important to work at the point where the wheels fell of rather that at the coal face.  By the time the school and maybe your concerns are heard, the child will be at least eighteen months behind… so imagine putting a second class student into fourth class, how would they feel?  That is the way your child feels every day.
Look for tell-tale signs like stammer/stutters, keeping themselves isolated during school and maybe they have no interest in inviting friends over, they avoid the competitive aspects of school (sports, etc.).  Maybe they have moved up a year and the new teacher gets them to read aloud to the class and this is bothering them, the dreaded Friday spelling test or other tests like the STEN, SATS or Drumcondra… maybe you can reflect after reading this and remember episodes of reluctance or faking a day off and see a common link.
Above all, support from all moves this forward and if you haven’t told your child about your worries, there is a good chance school friends or even a teacher might have… not always directly, but your child will read between the lines.
If you have a diagnosis and a statement you are entitled to an IEP, ask your SENCO/SNA or the principal and if you haven’t had one, drive it forward… I have written articles on the IEP which you can read either on Facebook or on my blog (
Some may try to convince you that you should be under a recognised group/umbrella group, either independent or recognised by the government, to obtain resource… this is not the case, all you need is a statement.  Whilst some will be happy to kick the problem down the road, many will go the extra mile… I know several schools that support struggling learners through extra resource and they don’t have a statement.
When you are doing homework, start as soon as they are home from school and make sure they drink plenty of water, hydration is a key to focus and, whilst on the subject, check that they can drink fresh water whilst in class too.  Frontload all study and taper down towards the end of the session, leave plenty of time to relax and help the processing… remember the rule of four!
 It’s worth focussing on the positive sides of your child in or out of school… this alone will move them forward and they will find their plateau.  You as a parent will get your reward from seeing that happy child you always knew you had!  They are not lazy, clumsy or stupid… we just process in a very different way and we all get there in the end!  We just need to reinforce this constantly as low self-esteem and confidence is a peril we would rather avoid.
Have a read of another article of mine related to this subject –
The Why’s and How’s of the IEP:
 NB. This information is from our personal experience and research of our extensive team and also partly sourced through the work of others. It is purely for improving the understanding of dyslexia and other specific learning needs and to offer help and advice only. Dyslexia Toby © 2014 
Contact us at or through twitter dyslexiadublin