Tag archives: dyslexia

Monday, 3 October 2016

Dyslexia information, articles and websites for Dyslexia Awareness Week

daw_abdDyslexia Awareness Week starts today. What better time for a round-up of useful resources?

This is good on how to make sense of dyslexia.

Research on dyslexia and the brain shows, among other things, that children with dyslexia hear language differently and it’s this that impacts on their reading and spelling. Dyslexic brains are good brains too is also well worth reading.

These visuals showing what reading is like if you have dyslexia are fascinating.

Dyslexic and Loving Words is a moving film, with insights from dyslexic authors, storytellers, poets and academics, including Sally Gardner and Benjamin Zephaniah.

Nasen has guidance on supporting secondary students with dyslexia.

Excellent publishers Barrington Stoke have tips for parents and a useful app.

Do read Bev Humphries on using apps and tablets to support struggling readers.

Finally, some helpful websites:

British Dyslexia Association

Driver Youth Trust

Dyslexia Action

Dyslexia Scotland

Dyslexia SpLD Trust

Helen Arkell


Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Literacy interventions for students who struggle with reading

This term and next I am giving lots of courses and inset on reading difficulties and ways  to support children who struggle with reading. I have been investigating literacy interventions. These are some useful resources. Greg Brooks’ report is particularly helpful for anyone looking for an analysis of available schemes.

Many thanks to Redbridge Library Service for the photo.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Making reading attractive to children and young people with special educational needs

I got in a taxi the other day and the driver asked why I was in Norwich. When I explained that I was giving a course on making reading attractive to children and young people with special educational needs, he told me about his literacy difficulties. Despite not getting on at all well at school, he managed to teach himself to read with Winnie the Pooh. His family got so sick of reading it to him time after time, he set to work to do it himself. He had the book on loan from the library for a year, but he got there. He still has a very soft spot for Winnnie the Pooh. Writing and spelling were another matter. It wasn’t until he was 42 that he was diagnosed with dyslexia. He was a very inspiring man, determined not to let his problems get in the way of what he wanted to achieve.

It was interesting in this context that so many of the discussions on the course focused on finding the individual approach that works for each child. With a mix of KS2 and 3 teachers, TAs and librarians from both mainstream and special schols masses of good practice was shared. We talked about discovering what most fascinates each child, and producing reading materials to suit. Reading buddies who empathise with and support them can make a huge difference. Several delegates shared successful strategies involving visual aids: videos, photos, puppets and artefacts can really help comprehension and enjoyment. Audio books in guided reading have been very effective in one school, giving children with reading problems access to books they cannot yet read for themselves. Assistive technologies are tremendously useful, whether it’s something as simple as the right coloured overlay, or e-books, which have made reading enjoyable for the first time for so many children. There were lots of ideas for making the library more SEN-friendly, and very useful methods for involving parents and carers and the wider family. I especially like the idea of home/school reading challenges which value all sorts of reading: cereal packets, maps, recipes, magazines and lots more. It was good too to talk about appropriate ways to spend pupil premium funds. There was avid debate as small groups explored piles of books and discussed their suitability and their potential uses. The one pictured here emerged as a particular hit.

Training on this topic has become the most popular of all my courses. This was a return visit on the subject for Norfolk Schools Library Service, and they’ve already got a waiting list for next time round.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Special educational needs – online resources

I have several courses on supporting SEN pupils’ reading coming up, and creating the handouts has made me realise what a lot of useful articles and websites about learning difficulties I’ve come across in the last few months.

First, unfortunately only for TES subscribers, an article about the upcoming SEN reforms and what they mean for schools (pages 4-7).

This is a great collection of resources focusing on autism awareness.

Online support group Netbuddy has has put together tips on engaging children (and adults) with additional needs in books.

I’ve discovered a number of valuable dyslexia resources recently:

You may also be interested in my blog about special needs and libraries and HILO books if you have not seen it before. (All my blogs about special educational needs are available here.)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Television programmes about dyslexia

I’ve been very impressed by two recent television programmes on dyslexia. Both help non-dyslexics understand dyslexia and the difficulties and frustrations it causes, and provide encouragement to anyone who has or thinks they may have dyslexia.     

My Dyslexic Mind is a great introduction to dyslexia for children, and indeed adults. Presenter Ben Hunter is a twelve year-old with dyslexia. He and the dyslexics he speaks to give moving accounts of the problems they face – not just the huge effort of trying to get to grips with reading and writing, but the impact on their self-esteem. Pre-diagnosis, they blamed themselves, thinking they were ‘thick’. Ridicule, and the fear of it, are widespread. Dominic Wood remembers his humiliation at six, when his teacher moved the others in the class on to the next book, but said he had to go back to the ‘baby books’ as he couldn’t read. To know more about dyslexia, Ben undergoes tests to see how his brain differs from those of non-dyslexics. His interviewees highlight the advantages those differences can bestow. Dom is sure he would not be where he is today without dyslexia. Thirteen year-old Zac no longer worries about his lack of academic skills. His inventiveness and creativity outweigh any disadvantages. He urges young people like him not to let dyslexia hold them back.

The BBC has launched an interactive website Try Being Me to help children understand more about dyslexia.

Dyslexic: My Secret Past also gives a valuable insight into dyslexia. Shane Lynch of Boyzone never felt able to admit his literacy problems. It was only when his three year-old daughter noticed that he made the words up when he read to her that he decided he had to take action, both for his own sake, and to break the taboo around asking for help. Lynch talks to dyslexic children, a dyslexic young offender and a dyslexic student about their struggles and how they are overcoming them. All have experienced deep feelings of shame. We see Jenny, the student, failing to find a book she wants in the library, because she is embarrassed to ask for assistance. Given all the training I give on supporting children and young people with learning disabilities in libraries, I found this very significant, and his remark to her that he would never in a million years go into a library to find a book.

The prospect of tests to diagnose whether he is dyslexic fills Lynch with dread. If he isn’t, his lifelong fear that his problems are due to stupidity and laziness would be confirmed. But the tests reveal the reverse, and an enormous weight falls from his shoulders. He now feels able to tackle things that previously he was afraid of, and looks forward to his daughter going to school and having to help her with her homework, as it will spur him on further. Lynch ends the programme with a plea to anyone who, like him, has feared knowing what lies behind their literacy difficulties to find out and get help.

Well worth watching, and worth looking too at the comments. I have also just discovered a useful Teachers TV programme on dyslexia. Dyslexia Friendly Classroom explores some of the issues dyslexics face and ways to help.