Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Are you left or right side dominant? By Dyslexia Toby 2019©

I wonder how many have stopped to think where our dominant side is. We carry out actions involving our dominant side subconsciously.
We know that this has little or nothing to do with left and right brained learners/thinkers.
Our brains are separate, in two parts, within the skull, the two hemispheres are connected (corpus callosum) by pathways.
Many use one-half of the brain far more than the other, and certainly when carrying out certain tasks, Language skills are left brain techniques.
Many believe that side dominance causes us to learn differently, many years ago I was told that left-handed be people were less likely to have strokes. I am afraid to say there is little to back up either of these theories.
This dominance is okay providing we use that side for most activities.
There are activities that utilise both sides, like tying shoes or buttoning shirts. These require a huge degree of dexterity.
The two activities mentioned are extremely difficult for children with specific learning needs like dyspraxia
The half that is used is sometimes tied to which hand they prefer to use. If someone likes to use their right hand when doing an activity, like drawing or throwing a ball.
Checking left, and right dominance in those with learning needs especially those with dyspraxia is crucial.
Many children with planning and co-ordination problems can end up using the wrong hand or leg, this can lead to problems as the muscle tone is far greater on our dominant side.
You can see the grip is very crab-like and awkward.
If this is the case the writing will be of poor quality and they will complain of tired hands or hand cramps.
Have you noticed how high jumpers, long jumpers, and hurdlers take off, starting off and the stride pattern is so important and allows for them to arrive on the right side?
Measuring muscle diameter can point to this being true.

How can we check for handedness:
We can check the leg we use to step off into our stride pattern.
What is the leading leg while climbing the stairs?
You can try by using your trailing leg and seeing how strange it feels.
The arm we grasp things with or carry a bag.
Where do we carry our bags?
You can improve co-ordination skill sets by making sure you or your child are using the correct side, left or right.
You may have noticed from an early stage that your child struggled with colouring, etc. and this can also be an indicator that is well following up.
Even riding a bike can be problematic if the child is starting off with their weaker leg.
I would like to mention that for any child with a dominance problem or balance, planning or co-ordination issues would benefit from increasing activities with both sides.
Exercises that can promote balance:
Brushing your teeth.
Brushing hair.
Stepping off on your non-dominant side.
Activities that get you or your child to cross over their centre line.
We have also written a piece on left-right brain dominance that can be found on this blog site.

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All our articles are for information only and guidance… professional advice should always be sought.  Dyslexia Toby © 2019
Why Don’t You Listen To Me? (Auditory Processing) by Dyslexia Toby © 2019

Listening relates so closely to most of what we achieve in school and in our daily lives.
Let’s take a look at Auditory Processing and the causation.

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Auditory processing disorder (APD) is common amongst children and also goes into adulthood. It affects around 5-6% of the world’s population, myself included, and is also known as Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD).  We have real problems when it comes to picking up verbal instruction, we simply don’t hear quite the same as others who don’t have auditory processing issues.  Why… and a very important why?  Our brains and ears function in a slightly miscued way and at a far slower connection rate.  This can have a huge effect on the way we speak, we quite often have to slow speech down to avoid mistakes.
This is so important… the connection between the individual and their instructor/teacher needs clarity and, if there is a cross infection with other noises, the signal becomes confused or even lost, and the reaction/response is often the wrong one.  This is more prevalent today than ever before as modern class environments are more open with micro learning groups.  Some teaching styles and resources can work very much against those with auditory processing, eg. teaching as a facilitator… using mainly student input which may well involve various voices and demonstrations/role play, lots going on within the classroom.  It seems such a shame in many ways, but the old school layout and delivery was very much favourable to good linguistics… a single voice in a quiet classroom, with the exception of the teacher talking whilst writing on the board.  However, at that time we didn’t understand specific learning needs, now we do... or should do!  Very often the work is projected onto the whiteboard which allows the teacher to face the class, but the background noise minimises the pluses here.
Have you ever been in a cafĂ© or restaurant and struggled to listen to your friends/family?  Do you look up if someone drops something, or they turn on the ice/smoothie machine, or maybe driving in the car and the children are talking or playing loud music and you make a mistake or go the wrong way?  Have you ever wondered why some children and adults don’t enjoy swimming?  It’s not always the water that puts them off… swimming pools amplify sound to unbelievable levels.  My own daughter used to hate going to motor racing circuits and bonfire nights use to be a real problem too.  We often never realise how noise pollution affects some of us, although I will say the majority of us don’t even notice competing sounds and can just keep zoned into the person talking, or focus on what they are doing.

How do we assess for auditory processing problems?

This can be quite easy for both parents, teachers and indeed self-diagnosis in an adult.
Most who parent or work with children will notice how they can appear to switch off/zone out whilst doing certain activities, like at home watching television or deep into a game, they simply don’t hear you telling them dinner is ready or to turn the TV down.  You are competing with other sounds and they don’t hear you… this is often the case with missed instruction in the classroom too.
If we go into a quiet room, like a library, for instance, we can listen to sounds without any problem… why?  Because they are clear and unhindered.  If you have ever been for a hearing test, you might have wondered why you walked through so many doors and into a sound-proof room?  It’s because they have to ensure there are no competing sounds or noise pollution.
Some children and adults can have an over-sensitivity to noise, however, there will also be those that have an auditory problem.  This needs clarification if it’s suspected that treatment can be given and any problems are addressed before they fall too far behind ie. speech delay or studies.
We can go through childhood into adulthood and this might not be picked up due to lack of awareness, or maybe it’s not severe enough to cause concern.  However mild, moderate or severe, it should all be looked into to avoid any problems.
One of my children would have problems with competing sounds as mentioned earlier and maybe you can already see similarities… shout them for dinner and, if they are listening to music or watching TV, they won’t hear you.  Trust me, this is not with intent, they just can’t hear you… stand in front of the TV and they will hear you fine.
So, do you notice any of the following…
Do they have volume control problems, ie. they raise their voice for no reason?
Do they dislike noisy places like swimming pools, cafes, etc?
Are noisy environments upsetting to your child?
Do they look around when there is a sudden increase in competing noises?

Have you noticed a variation with them in different settings?... like at home with maybe just you and them with no competing noises they can completely focus, whereas if there's two or three children doing homework together and you’re making dinner or whatever, they can’t focus.
If the environment is noisy, is their accuracy with tasks or commands affected?
Remember that this can be comorbid with other SPLD’S like dyslexia and dyscalculia, add, ADHD and can lead people to believe that they have other problems when it can just simply be auditory processing.  Lack of understanding/clarity of what they’re hearing can cause students to appear hyper and disruptive and while I must say this is not one size fits all, it is well worth exploring… especially if you see a change in your child.
Maybe they have a problem academically that is caused by their inability to zone into the teacher?  Maybe their class is noisy at times?  You can often find noise levels increase in more non-kinesthetic subjects like English and Maths, as some children are less stimulated and distracted and this can raise noise levels to the point where your child cannot focus.  We need really good listening and processing skills in the early phases of learning English, as there is such a small variation in sounds between certain letters and letter formations.  We can also look at confusion with homework… what happens when the teacher wraps up or the children know the school day is coming to an end?  Ever wondered why they forget books or misunderstood what was required for homework?  This is often laid at the door of poor organisational skillsets… however, a simple fix is to set the homework earlier in the day, as when it is coming near to home time the class in general is winding down and getting reading to go home.  Better still, give them one or two subjects per night for homework, less books to carry too! 
Maybe your school is proactive and are prepared to offer FM (the student wears headphones  linked to the teacher which allows them to hear only the teacher’s voice) or take steps to reduce competing noises.  You can also work on this at home when tasks require a high level of accuracy.  Help them to speak with good tone variation, try talking into the mirror with them, record their voice and play it back… this helps pitch.  Try not to use high level vocabulary, make it fit their academic age range, we often talk to our children these days as if they are adults, this never happened years ago.  Also, keep an eye on the type of programmes they are watching on the television.
We tend to slow our speech down when talking to non-English speakers and this is also a good idea for talking to people with APD, but not to the point where the person feels that we are mocking them, there has to be a good balance.  School environment can account for some issues… teachers can make sure those who they feel may have APD can be seated nearer the front of the class and preferably away from the noisy elements.  Let your child share ownership of this, especially if they are of an age where they can see the negative effect it has on their progress both in and out of school.

How do we find out if our child, or indeed an adult, has APD?  You can monitor activities and mood swings during events… like the school disco, a visit to the circus or swimming for example.  If we feel concerned, then we can see our GP and maybe get an auditory test by an audiologist.  We must wait until sufficient maturation has taken place to give a fair and conclusive assessment, from age 7 years up… this would be from first class in Ireland, junior school in the UK, the equivalent would be third grade in America.
Processing Information

We are slower auditory processors than most others… we take far more time to devour information and we often need to be told a few times or read text (out loud) several times.  We can even take things the wrong way and miss punch lines in jokes or be the butt of a joke without realising it.  There are several ways information can be interpreted and we often only figure one angle, this can lead to people belittling us and bullying can also result.
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 Toby © 2019

Is It OCD (Dyspraxia, Dyslexia) by  Dyslexia Toby © 2019

Many Dyslexics have a compulsion with time, efficiency and structure, are they all suffering OCD.
Probably not, short term memory deficiency often found in dyslexia and dyspraxia cause huge problems with short term memory.
Our processing needs to be repetitively poked with instruction if we are to get things right, such as shopping or information given off the cuff.
How do we give off the same traits as someone with OCD!
What is OCD!
Obsessive compulsive disorder is a neurological disorder and is often plagued by self-doubt and intrusive thought process.
This can lead to anxiety and in worse case depression.
The repetition can be brought about by self-doubt and lack of awareness.
The list of noticeable compulsions is lengthy:
Excessive hand washing and general hygiene (fear of contamination)
Obsessive hoarding
Constantly preoccupied
The need for symmetry (even numbers)
Nervous behaviour
Obsessively enquiring about going to and coming from places
Checking and re-checking doors are locked, lights and sockets are switched off.
Checking bag or pockets for keys, purse or wallet.
Many with dyspraxia and dyslexia can be incorrectly labelled OCD
We each give off certain OCD traits due to the need to correct a short term memory deficiency (coping strategy).
If we don’t have structure and routine we forget so many things such as:
School Books, clothing, car keys, phones, people's names, etc
We tend by nature to be easily distracted, and this can affect us in regards to skipping our routine.
We need to make lists for various things.
Children often correct work that is okay, they always wear out their rubber long before a pen!
Dyslexics and dyspraxics are not time aware and will constantly ask the time (sand timers can help).
If someone gives an idea and its logical, it sticks.
We also very much are monkey see monkey do, we can pick up repetitive habits this way too.
People with processing issues such as those with dyslexia and dyspraxia can be brought out of any of the above, time and practice is required.
It’s also important for parents to avoid the chance of many of the above happening and this once aware be picked up before they become habit forming.

All our posts are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought.  
 Dublin Toby © 2019

Relating Learning To Known (prior achievement) & Given Situations by  Dyslexia Toby © 2019

We often try to learn in the style of others (not our learning style). Meaning we focus on the unknown rather than the known areas within in a subject.
I have written extensively on brain types as many regular visitors to my blog will testify.
Well, here we go again, most like me who are dyslexic, dyscalculic, dysgraphic or dyspraxia will know that we learn better when we relate the subject required to a real time event.
We have an excellent long-term memory and poor short term, most events/happenings are stored in our long-term memory.
Would it not therefore make sense to utilise this strength!
Most like me tend to do better as a returning learner than we do during our initial education, why.
We have had more events, more happenings, and yes we have increased our long-term memory bank, this allows us to relate our learning to our real life events.
We are far from suggesting that all students studying for the first time should skip education or press pause till they reach mid to late twenties.

But it does mean that teachers/educators and parents should look at this and try to devise methods that allow the student to work in a kinaesthetic way. Relating things such as mathematics, and language, the very way we would in technology classes. When I want to see an improvement in my language skill, I take a trip abroad. Eat with the locals, and try to live as they do.
When I am shopping, I use that language in my head to prompt purchases. I am living the lesson and guess what it works.

I so often heard my teachers mention that I was lazy and stupid, yet I could take anything apart and fix it without manuals.
Much to the amazement of others.
Can you teach a football player, chef, mechanic; to play football, cook, or repair cars from a classroom, the answer is a simple no.
Education and its direction for teaching are much more simplistic than the chicken or the egg.
If industry came before education, why wasn't education based on industry!
Experiential learning (learn by doing/experience) is just that, we glean much from what we do in practical, hands-on ways,  opposed to the academic study that is taught in a linear way.  Certainly core subjects;  described in simple terms as the process of acquiring information through the study of a given subject (maths, English) without the necessity for direct hands on experience. We know that both methods aim at instilling knowledge with the students as individuals; however one size doesn’t fit all.
Those that have a strong left hemisphere are more likely to gain from linear structured tuition and the right hemisphere from more creative, practical demonstrations.

David Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model (ELM)

Jacobson and Ruddy, working on developing Kolb's four-stage Experiential Learning Model and Pfeiffer and Jones's with their five stage Experiential Learning Cycle. Taking these theoretical frameworks and created a simple, practical questioning model for educators to use in promoting real life and critical reflection within experiential learning and development.
•    Did you notice...?
•    Why did that happen?
•    Does that happen in life?
•    Why does that happen?
•    How can you use that?
These questions are put forward by the educator after a given experience, and gradually lead the group towards a critical evaluation. Using reflection on the given experience, and an understanding of how they can apply the learning to their life (lateral thinking expanded).
I recently watched far from a madding crowd the other day and being a visual factual learner I took more from the production.
Thomas Hardy worked the plot and created the various twists and turns…indeed, I am more likely to read a book if it’s an autobiography than I would fiction.
We, often quoted as being three-dimensional learners and we thrive on adding value to our life through learning and teaching us through a linear program doesn’t press the right buttons.

Turn your child's homework into a practical experience and yes that can be done in all subjects including Maths.
Cut up boxes to calculate area, or fill a measuring jug. Use foot tapping for tables, add and subtract.
Get them to help you cook and turn that into maths.
Cutting a slab of butter is division and subtraction.
Oven temperature plays a part and timings (lapsed time).
best of all it's non-confrontational

If you can do it and make it stick then so should teachers/educators.

Questions on Far From The Madding Crowd welcomed.4

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 Toby  © 2019
Developmental Delays and Missing Milestones (DCD, Dyslexia, ADHD and SPD) by Dyslexia Toby © 2019

We often wonder about development in our children, like when should they sit, crawl, walk and talk.
We know from being around people we are all different in so many respects, but in the main areas like sitting, crawling, walking etc. we are pretty predictable.  So why do some of us appear to be later at hitting these nonetheless important milestones?  

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There are four milestones that we are concerned with in early child development and they are - Motor Development both fine and gross (movement of limbs and core), Cognitive (thinking), Communication (speech development and basic understanding of needs) and Social and Emotional (engaging with others).  It’s worth mentioning that there are parameters in normal development and we should only get concerned if we get well past these dates (walking between 10 and 18 months).  Now let’s take a closer look…
We know in the case of DCD (developmental co-ordination disorder) that due to the nature of the syndrome, we are likely to fall short on many of our aforementioned milestones.
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One answer could be we quite possibly try to bite off more than we are able to chew.  One of the most unfortunate things is memory and if we all stop for a minute… how far can you remember back to?  Was it five or six? maybe not as far back as that.  Few of us can go back to the point where we should have hit certain milestones… it would be great if we could. We would be able to explain to our peers why we find these complex hurdles so problematic.
I once heard that if it takes someone without a learning need x time to learn a new skill then multiply that by 4 for someone with a learning need… so did it takes us a few months to figure out how to crawl?  Then it would take up to 8 months longer for someone say with DCD to learn to crawl.  I bum shuffled and never crawled.
Back to what I started to say earlier… maybe there is a possibility that we find crawling very complex and would have fared better if we had the ability then to break it down to arm movements and then followed by the leg movement. I know this was the case when I learnt to swim… I just couldn’t get the whole front crawl thing in one go and to this day I only do the breast stroke as I find the whole leg-arm and breathing thing in the front crawl far too much to take on.
This planning can also apply to social interaction and conversational fluency in such things as Asperger’s (DSM5) and Dyslexia. These can be further inhibited by destructive criticism and low self-esteem which causes us to withdraw from the vary areas that would aid our development.
Much of our learnt behaviour comes from listening to others through our visual or auditory channel, however those with DCD learn far more from watching and it’s important the person showing the tasks understands the need to slow the process down and make it repetitive for a successful outcome.
DCD and Dyslexia are things that never leave us but we can minimise their impact with time and the right help.
You may have heard me mention in previous articles that both Dyslexics and Dyspraxics have great imagination and superb long term memories, this all helps to build up our required skill sets.  Quite often we would fall short on our immediate memory and memory recall; this is due to lack of understanding in presented tasks and also through lack of stimulation. We like to use imaginative play like that in Lego, puzzles, things that are colourful, creative and can fuel our imagination.
You don’t have to look far for someone else with dyspraxia or dyslexia, as it affects between 6 and 10% of the population.
We can also have delayed speech due to poor facial muscle tone and the co-ordination required to produce early words, again time spent working with us on a one-to-one basis reaps great results (speech and language therapy).  We benefit from over learning these early routines; practice.
We generally show early signs of inactivity and later appear to be very clumsy, hence the early title for dyspraxia of clumsy child syndrome.
There also appears a link between dyslexia and dyspraxia to justify thoughts of some, but not all, that both have an impairment/deficit in the cerebellar area of the brain, which controls much of our motor skill including posture, limb movement and eye hand co-ordination and this can affect phonological processing (vagueness of new and unfamiliar words)  and hand writing. This can also lead to frustration and would lead many to believe that this could include ADHD.
The cerebellar is the main controller in planning and motor control but not the initiator, this occurs in other areas of the brain.  The cerebellar does the fine tuning making our actions smoother and more deliberate.  This is a good pointer towards dyspraxics like myself being clumsy on occasions… I can overcome this, as can many like me, by slowing things down, practicing and concentrating when carrying out tasks.  We can also include balance etc., as the receptors in the body suddenly recognise rapid changes in limb movements, such as coming downstairs carrying something (constant weight changes), signals to the brain and the cerebellar makes the required change rapidly… in dyspraxics this has to be adjusted as we go and is far from automatic.
We can also count SPD in on this, we rely on receptors to calculate high, medium and low tolerance, especially where temperature is concerned.  We can all relate to being in a room where one of us is too hot, one too cold and another quite happy with the temperature… maybe you have never associated this with sensory processing disorder.
The cerebellar also plays an important role in improving co-ordination.  An example would be catching a ball… each time we try to catch, this important area of the brain would try to make adjustments, along with the eye and hand, until the technique is mastered.
The cerebellar is virtually the last area of our brain to mature and can go some way to explaining why many feel that DCD ebbs with age!
There is growing evidence to point to the importance of early intervention whilst the cerebellar and other areas are developing (plasticity), as opposed to later in life when the corrective actions take far longer to implant (requirement to over learn).
Thankfully, there is plenty of information on all the above and great resources available to help improve skill sets.
All our articles are aimed at giving guidance and we always advice that you seek the relevant professional advice. Dyslexia Toby ©2019

Who has Dyslexia by Dyslexia Toby © 2019

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 Toby © 2019
Why is anxiety affecting our youngsters by Dyslexia Toby © 2019

I was driving into the office this morning, they had a teacher on the radio who uses mindfulness in his school. I was very keen to listen to their thoughts on anxiety and the need to use mindfulness as a tool.
Just before that the newsreader mentioned the Doomsday clock and how it has moved closer to midnight, the point at which we measure the destruction of the Earth.

Could these two things although different have a connection, I’m sure they do.
There is not one of us that have not had an anxious time in our life, it helps that it’s not in isolation but a common feeling shared by many. We have so many highs and lows in life and all have moments of pure stress
This feeling occurs due to chemical releases when our patterns change from positive to negative situations. Fear and worry affect Children too.
Why are we now noticing this more and more? Children have far greater access to adulthood, far more than I ever had.

Our parents ushered words like seen and not heard. Was that a good thing?
I think it was to some degree, most children now have adult heads on very young shoulders. Children listen to social media far more than we ever did.
When Donald Trump got elected we had a week of children coming into the centre and all the talk was Trump and what will happen to us all.
We talk to other adults and don’t realise that every word is being mentally taken in.
Just like today with the mention of Armageddon on a show timed when children were on the way to school. I could just hear the questions being thrown at parents as to what was that about.
We should protect our children and their fragile minds, let them be children first and adults when the time arises.
If your child experiences a sudden change in attitude, they might become withdrawn and show a sudden loss of confidence. Get some early advice from your GP. Talk to others on support groups there are many sharing these same concerns.

What are the common causes of anxiety?
There are many factors. I suggest that all parents keep a close eye. Meal and bedtimes are a great opportunity to notice changes.

Changes to reliable patterns
We often worry about life’s events and in this modern day those worries are shared, years ago our parents would harness many of these events. Now the child is aware of the global downturn and lack of funds that provide for the niceties in life
Years ago there was a stock answer, it’s not your business or concern.
A sudden loss in the family can be a cause for worry/anxiety in both children and adults. They often lose out on the support as the adults are dealing with arrangements. Even the loss of  a family pet can cause anxiety as the safe secure balance of life has changed.
Moving to a new school requires a settling in process and support needs to be there for this.
Additional workload
Many parents are forced to work and often long hours due to the high cost of housing.
If you look at our neighbours around the globe who have a lower housing cost and less pressure there are more choices available. Part-time working is often not an option over here. Children benefit hugely in other countries as a result of one parent staying at home or working part-time, this leads to lower stress levels in general.
Children attend many after-school clubs, like hockey, hurling/camogie, horse riding, dance the list is endless. Many children then have to come home and set into homework. We often see that after-school activities are driven by peer pressure.
Children are quite happy to partake, however, they have to carry the extra load. This can also encroach on family time as it also creeps into the weekends, Gone are the days where you see families walking around the local park or bowling.
Problems within the school gates.
Does your child show a reluctance when it comes to school? The cause for this could be wide. It doesn’t just have to be a child with a learning need such as dyslexia or dyspraxia. It can be down to class dynamics or even school
Additionally, some children who are having difficulty when taking tests or performing in front of a class for presentations or reports will manifest these difficulties into fears and anxieties about school, as well as other life situations.

Greater global awareness
So many students come to us carrying the issues and troubles of the world on their small shoulders.
We are so aware of the increase in unrest on our doorstep and around the world.
We are living in very different times and need to harbour these things from our children. We had little awareness of such issues as our parents stopped us from watching such programs or asking questions in relation to issues.
I can remember how uneasy the situation was in 1963-64 with the nuclear standoff. My parents never mentioned it until years later but you knew something was wrong. But that minimised the worry and stress. Now the children hear it letter and verse.
I would have had to look up the word stress in a dictionary when I was growing up.
Social media has a big part to play and the same goes for video games producers. Parents can turn the tide on this.
Social Media
Many children are suffering as a result of social media. This was something we didn’t have to deal with. The pressure is on to be the smartest, coolest and best-looking person on the planet. Most of this is down to the pressures of social media. You go into a coffee shop and all the kids are taking selfies…why?
Some children have an ability to cope with this and shake of the stuff that they don’t like. There are many who don’t and it gradually grinds them down and leaves them in a shell.
Shared or Learnt Anxiety
I grew up with a fear of water and dogs. Even though I can now swim and have owned dogs I am still very cautious. This gets passed on to your children and is natural as they can sense your apprehension.

This can be the same with schools, dentists, flying etc.

All our posts are for guidance only and professional advice should always be sought. 
Dublin Toby © 2019

‘Random and Wrong Words Come Out’ by Dyslexia Toby © 2019

When penning this post, I couldn’t help thinking about the advert for the Random sweets… ’turn right at the trumpet and left at the jelly bean’… well it’s not quite as bad as all that!
Many actors did this deliberately and were gifted in this area including the late Ronnie Barker (Open All Hours) however, this apart, it’s quite an unnerving and completely non-deliberate act, that haunts many of us from time to time. 
I often say during my presentations on dyspraxia and dyslexia, that if I drag or slur my speech it’s not due to me suffering from the “afluence of incohol!” … it gets a laugh and settles me.
 The causes for random or wrong words (malapropisms) to come out are many.  Why do they come our wrong?... it can be deemed a short-term problem when under pressure, for example talking to or reading to an audience, or it can be more medium or long-term and can be as a result of slow or slurred speech and, in many cases, stutter or repeating words and sentences with lots of mm mm’s in particular when we are asked to read out loud or we are generally unsure of the subject.  This can often be found in dyspraxics (due to poor facial muscle tone) and in some cases dyslexics.  It can also result from confidence and self-esteem issues, delayed speech or indeed slow processing, to such an extent that we miss the point and put in the wrong word.  Even in conversation, we can go to make a point and, whilst waiting for our opportunity to add to the conversation, completely forget what we were about to say and then find ourselves apologising.
I know find it easier to apologise before I set into a conversation and will openly tell people I am dyspraxic and its part of the deal.  This often leads to me being more aware of others speaking and also relaxes me, which reduces the number of mistakes I make.
 We will also take a look at ‘mondegreens’… these in a way are a sort of aural malapropism. Instead of saying the wrong word, you hear the wrong word. The word mondegreen is generally applied to the mishearing of verbal questions, instruction poetry and song lyrics, although technically it can apply to any speech.  This can be caused by a lack of knowledge, comprehension, processing issues, lack of interest/stimulation or pure lack of concentration.
Slurring your words can lead to unexpected situations; this can also be linked to balance too. Again, it can be caused whilst under pressure, maybe giving a speech, a part in a play or being asked to read out in class or give an opinion to friends.
I remember in my early days as a college lecturer people were giving a suspicious eye to anything that wasn’t the norm.  We had a few heavy drinkers and a few alcoholics across the college and I remember being asked to the Human Resources Department on one occasion as the HR Manager had been told that they thought I was drunk during the day as I have been known to lose my balance on occasions. I found this amusing and many close friends would vouch that I rarely touch alcohol. I explained about my DCD and all fell into place.
 One of the key things with verbal dyspraxia and the above is due to poor facial muscle tone and correct use of the diaphragm. Many dyspraxics not only breathe through their mouth but they breathe very quickly (short breaths, they also tend to groan whilst eating). They can, therefore, run out of breath which leads to the breaking of sentences.  We also have difficulty programming our speech cords, which can lead to shortening words and getting letter sounds wrong… this can also be down to incorrect or minimal lip movement.
This can also be similar in the case of:
Auditory – where the individual has difficulty hearing the correct sound… often confusing similar sounding letters or words ending in  i, e, y (eg. spy sounds like spi) and phonetics.
Visual – where the individual has difficulty seeing the difference between similar looking letters or words.
Audio-visual – a combination of auditory and visual difficulties.
As we also know this can be down to dyslexia, with the words have been incorrectly programmed into the long-term memory in the first instance.  This needs to be identified and worked on with the child/adult to produce the correct letter/word sound and repeated until the incorrect word has been overwritten/erased in the long term memory.
Looking at this further, the child or adult knows what they want to say.  Once this has been processed by the brain, however, they cannot say it correctly on a given occasion (stress) even though they know what they want to say and realise that they have said the word incorrectly. This can also put the word or sentence out of context in a conversation (longer to process what others are saying).
Quite often this is way beyond the control of the child/adult and if this happens on a regular basis (coming out of the comfort zone), it could lead to a stammer.  Planning and promoting confidence is key to avoiding this… it may also be exaggerated when the child/adult is angry or frustrated.
The way forward is through support and, if it’s a constant problem, speech and language therapy should be sought.
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 Toby © 2021

Hyperlexia and its meaning by Dyslexia Toby © 2019

What is Hyperlexia? …let’s take a look

 Norman E. Silberberg and Margaret C. Silberberg (1967), were the first two to really coin this, they described it as “the precocious ability to read words without prior training (tubula rasa) in learning to read, typically before the age of 5, deemed the normal start point for reading”.
This is a syndrome that has many positive and negative facets.
Those with hyperlexia generally have a high decoding ability (words).
They also have an above average IQ and many link this to both Aspergers and Dyslexia.
One of the many facets is the problem with oral skill and the understanding of others.
In spite of all the above they can lack in comprehension.
Contradiction to the above as is often the case comes in the form of one Darold Treffert, he maintains that Hyperlexia has certain subtypes, only some of which overlap with autism,  with just 5-10% of autistic children being hyperlexic.

Fair facts
Hyperlexic children are often fascinated by letters or numbers. They are extremely good at decoding language and thus often become very early readers.
Some hyperlexic children learn to spell long words (such as elephant) before they are two years old and learn to read whole sentences before they turn three.

A fairly shallow trial showed:
A study of a single child showed that hyperlexia may be the neurological opposite of dyslexia.
Because of its complexity, it’s very often overlooked through mis-diagnosis.
Hyperlexics need to learn through rote (overlearning), this is shared with dyslexics.
They also share difficulty in learning the rules of language.
A precocious skill in reading above their expected age.
Difficulty in having relationships and lack social skills.
Certain phobias are evident in some.
Heavily fixated with text and numerics.
Almost military in keeping habits and routines.
Monkey see monkey do, they can be heard repeating a certain word time over.
Unlike many dyspraxics and dyslexics, they hit early milestones and then fall back… usually around two years of age. They can even revert back to crawling/bum shuffling.
Again like dyspraxics, they have selective hearing and often this is due to singular focus.

They have a very strong visual memory.
Again like dyspraxics, they can hand flap, rock or make sudden movements.

Many of the above as mentioned cross over with dyspraxia. This could be due to the same areas of the brain being slightly immature.
I can hear you saying the same.

I can see myself in so much of this article.

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 Toby © 2021