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The Specific Learning Difficulty of

Dyslexia and Dyscalculia

How can I help?
As a parent you may well have been thinking for some time that your child had something not quite like other children in his/her learning style. You may well have waited for some time to find out what the difficulty is or have paid for an assessment yourself to give you a clear picture. Parents are often the first to realise that their child has a learning need and both before and after the need is identified parents are often anxious. This booklet will help you to understand your childs needs and give you ways in which you can help both at home and by working with the school. We hope that you will find it useful and we will welcome any comments

Section 1 - Help for Parents

What is Dyslexia and dylcalculia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difficulty, which all teachers should seek to help meet

The word dyslexia comes from the Greek dys meaning difficulty with and lexia meaning words or language. So dyslexia is simply a difficulty with language. Largely hidden, dyslexia is a combination of abilities and difficulties that may affect learning, literacy and numeracy. People with dyslexia may also have problems with organisation, sequencing and memory. They may have good oral communication and reasoning skills, but find written expression difficult. All people with dyslexia have their own combination of abilities and difficulties. With support, each will develop ways of coping and achieving.

Sir Jim Rose used the following working definition of dyslexia: Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points. Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well founded intervention.

10% of the population are dyslexic, 4% of the population are severely dyslexic It occurs irrespective of intelligence and social background Dyslexia runs in families Dyslexia can cause frustration which may lead to emotional and behavioural difficulties Early intervention and dyslexia friendly teaching enhance learning It is on a continuum

How can you recognise?


Younger pupils may: Have particular difficulty with reading and spelling Put letters and figures the wrong way round Leave letters out of words or put them in the wrong order Have difficulty following instructions Find it hard to remember multiplication tables Older pupils may: Still read inaccurately Still have problems spelling Have difficulty planning and writing essays Have poor confidence and low self-esteem Make insufficient progress despite appropriate intervention These may result in: apparent poor motivation, low self-esteem and inappropriate behaviour, which can indicate frustration and anxiety. Every effective school must be able to: Assess pupils systematically Use multi-sensory teaching approaches Teach study skills Communicate with parents about difficulties and how to meet them

What do I do if I am concerned?
Speak to your childs teacher, and they could observe and assess your child

raise concerns with the SENCO SENCO will suggest more ideas If your child is still not progressing, school may provide support and seek further advice The school may set specific individual targets which will enable progress to be monitored It is important that you maintain contact with school

Individual Education Plan

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) will identify your childs strengths how your childs difficulties will be helped by setting simple targets who will help, what tools will be used when it will be reviewed

What do I do after my child has been identified with the Specific Learning Difficulty of Dyslexia

Here are some ideas: Educate yourself and learn as much as you can about Dyslexia via books and the internet Access information - British Dyslexia Association and Somerset Dyslexia Association provide support and leaflets (see the addresses at the end of this leaflet) Involve people - parents, family, friends and school Keep a folder about your child containing IEPs, letters, reports from school and hospital etc. Think about joining a parent support group, or setting one up Check your childs hearing and sight Remember a child with dyslexia/dyscalculia will need to over learn. The more you do at home the better your child will progress. Do not give up stay positive! Look at equipment that may help your child - coloured overlays, pencil grips, laminated word maps, plastic letters and numbers.

How to help teach your child at home

Visit school and talk to your childs teacher about your childs targets. Find out if there is anything that needs to be practised at home - it will be best if you use similar approaches to those in school. Set aside a short daily session to spend time helping your child. Dont be critical - your childs self esteem may be fragile. Help your child realise what he or she does well and discourage negative attitudes. Help your child to be better organised by using lists and pictures of what is needed for school on a day-to-day basis getting ready for school the night before, eg packing bag, PE kit, lunch box etc Understand that your child may be reluctant to engage in school work at home. Help with homework. Tell your childs teacher if work sent home is genuinely too difficult or is taking an unrealistic time to complete. Help your child to become self reliant and independent by Be supportive but dont do everything for him or her. Break tasks down into manageable steps and encourage sequential planning - first - next - then - for tidying up, getting dressed, packing their school bag, etc. Be patient.

Make learning FUN:

play games to develop memory to help your child hear sounds in words to help your child hear syllables in words to help your child hear rhymes in words help to establish weekday names and sequence - talk about today, tomorrow, yesterday

Reading with your child

Help your child to learn the sounds letters make to help them read and the names of the letters to help them spell - use both! Help your child to learn to say the alphabet so they know which letter is which. Sing and say alphabet rhymes Buy a set of plastic letters so that your child can set out the alphabet and point to the letters as he or she names them Read to your child so that he or she continues to enjoy books. If you listen to your child read, do not be surprised if words are forgotten from one line to the next. It is not deliberate; it is the result of poor visual memory.

Just keep helping and stay patient!

Multi-Sensory Teaching
Encourage your child to touch and feel the shape of each letter by using plastic, wooden or sandpaper letters. Draw large letter shapes in the air, on the floor, in trays of sand and on paper whilst saying the sounds each letter makes. Get them to picture or imagine the shape of the letter in their head. Make letters out of playdough, plasticine or clay.

A child with Dyslexia may experience problems with visual processing and tracking or see the words become fuzzy or moving around the page. their hearing may be fine, but their auditory memory or processing may be weak. Involving the use of more of the senses, especially touch and movement, will give your childs brain more memories to help them learn and remember.

Help with Spelling

Spelling is a visual skill that can be supported by using the following methods. The adult: Writes the word the child is learning and says it out loud. The child: Looks at it and repeats it Spells it out, using the letter names and/or plastic letters Repeats the whole word again Copies it, naming the letters as they are written (preferably in joined script, which helps build a memory of the pattern of writing the word) Reads the word out loud again Covers the word and writes again, again naming the letters as she or he writes Checks this attempt at writing it against the original The adult: Praise - help if necessary by using the same process. Encourage any progress.

Frequently asked questions about dyslexia


Will my child get better? No cure has been found for dyslexia, but with help and encouragement a person with Dyslexia can find ways to enable them to learn and lead a fulfilling life. Should all children with dyslexia have a statement? No. Under two per cent of all children have a statement. Children with dyslexia should be able to rely on help from their own school. Should a doctor see all children who may have dyslexia? Not necessarily. Dyslexia is an educational description rather than a medical condition. There are some situations where an opinion from a doctor, a nurse or another health worker is useful. If you have any doubts about your childs hearing, this should be checked out as part of assessing literacy problems. If your child has movement or co-ordination difficulties, a doctors opinion is useful. Should children with dyslexia have their eyes tested? It is always a good idea to make sure a child who is having reading difficulties has their eyes tested, especially if they are peering closely at the print, holding it a long way away, complaining of discomfort or that the print is jumping about or any other visual difficulties. Some opticians will assess children for coloured lenses which may make them feel more comfortable when reading. There is some evidence that they help children with Dyslexia when combined with appropriate teaching approaches. You would have to pay both for an assessment and these lenses if an optician advised they would help your child as they are not available on the NHS. They are a provision to help your child see so, like other glasses, will not be provided by Education.






Are there any miracle cures? No. All reputable approaches are likely to need a lot of work from the child, teachers and parents. Be very suspicious of approaches that say different! Most approaches use a combination of techniques. Be careful of any approach that suggests it will succeed independent of a teaching approach or work by the child. Some approaches say they work; many have no solid evaluation behind them. Saying something works, even on the internet, does not necessarily mean it does.


Section 2 - More Detailed Information

How To Help Your Child At Home
How do I know if theres a problem? Remember, children develop skills at varying rates, some early, some later. Be guided by your childs teacher who will alert you to any concerns s/he may have about lack of progress. As a rule of thumb, schools take a reading age (RA) or two years less than chronological age (CA) as an indication of difficulty. Tests used to establish RA can give differing scores. Its often better to trust an experienced teachers assessment - especially with young children. Does your child have any of these difficulties? Cannot recognise and remember early key words. Has difficulty in writing his own name correctly from memory. Does not identify the initial sounds of words - cannot say that baby begins with a b or cannot play I Spy. Cannot pick out an a or a s from a selection of plastic letters. Finds it hard to re-form simple words made of plastic letters, when the letters are jumbled up (eg sit, mat, pig). Cannot sequence days of the week, months of the year. What can you do? Read to your child. This will increase his language awareness, which helps in all areas of education, not just literacy. Read together - Paired Reading. Be positive and encouraging and try not to be critical. Self esteem is often delicate. Try to find a place thats quiet. Get close - reading together can be very warm and snuggly.


When your child gets a word wrong just tell him what it says, then he says it after you. DONT let him struggle or break it up or sound it out. When your child gets a word right, you smile and show you are pleased and say good. Give praise for: good reading of hard words, getting all the words in a sentence right, putting wrong words right before you do (self correction). How to do it You and your child both read the words out loud together. You must not go too fast. Make your speed as fast or as slow as your childs. Your child must read every word. If your child struggles and then gets it right, show you are pleased. But dont let your child struggle for more than 5 seconds. If your child (a) struggles too long or (b) struggles and gets it wrong then you: o just say the word right yourself and o make sure your child then says it right as well. Make sure your child LOOKS at the words. It can help if one of you points to the word you are both reading with a finger. Its best if your child will do the pointing. Your child might want to read a bit alone. Agree on a way for your child to signal you to be quiet - a squeeze, maybe. You stop reading out loud straight away and praise the child for making the sign. Remember No negative comments. Remain patient. Be prepared for words being forgotten from one line to the next or from day to day. This is a result of a poor visual memory so, just keep helping. Other ways to help Develop opportunities for doing things that your child is good at.

Cooking with a child is a valuable activity. Play a variety of games with your child - board games and card games. Make sure that theres an element of luck and enjoyment and that the child has a good chance of winning. Give your child pocket money to spend. Encourage them to think whether they have enough money to buy what they want and to check their change. Do not put pressure on your child - reading and maths can be fun and useful, which is how it should be in the home. Give the child a watch that has both an analogue and a digital display. Computers Encourage your child to practice computer skills learned in school. Suggest that your child plays some computer games that involve logical thinking, rather than just speed of response. There is some excellent software available A typed piece of work can be very satisfying for the child with poor handwriting. Finally Encourage independence where possible. It is a fine balance to be supportive but not to do everything for your child. Show interest in the book your child has chosen. Talk about the pictures. Talk about whats in the book as your child goes through it. Its best if you talk at the end of a page or section, or your child might lose track of the story. Ask what your child thinks might happen next. LISTEN to your child - dont do all the talking.


Parents and Children Reading Together

How you can help your child to read at home When reading with your child, try to find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Sit next to the child so that you both can see the text. You could start the reading session with a text that the child is familiar with. Reading something they find easy will give the child confidence that they can read and will encourage them to try more difficult text. The child will have in their mind that they can read because they have just read to you. You could introduce a more challenging text now. The child will try this more challenging text with your help. Allow the child to have control of the book, place the book in front of them and allow them to turn the pages. This will give them ownership of their reading. The most successful teaching occurs when we build on the achievements and strengths of learners. To build on the strengths of the child, we need to identify those reading behaviours that are successful. It is important that you praise the most useful aspects of their reading. When giving praise for reading, be specific. Instead of saying That was good, you could say I like the way you sounded out the letters in that word to help you read it. When listening to a child read there are three useful phrases to bear in mind: o Does that make sense? This will encourage the child to think about the meaning of what they are reading. (Meaning) o Does that sound right? This will encourage re-reading and to think about language and structure. (Structure) o Does that look right? This will encourage your child to look at the print. (Visual) If your child is stuck on a word, give them some time to work it out. They may be working out the sounds of the letters or thinking whether what they think the word means makes sense. Intervening too early does not encourage independent reading.

Enjoyment Make sure you are both relaxed and happy. Read the story aloud first. Talk about the story. Look at the pictures. Ask questions about the story and the characters: Why did that happen? Guess what might happen next. How do you think he/she feels? Vocabulary Never make assumptions. Ask your child to show you the front and back of the book. Show me the first page. Show me the last page. Point to the top of the page. Point to the bottom of the page. Whats the name of this story? Show me a word. Point to each word as we read. Other things to share Play lots of rhyming games - what rhymes with cat/man etc? Show me a word that sounds the same as Sing nursery rhymes or Roald Dahl nonsense rhymes (they love these) - stop at the end of a line and allow the child to provide the missing (rhyming) word. Play I Spy to practice either rhyming or initial phonic recognition.


Syllables Hearing and clapping parts of words is an important skill for reading and writing. Encourage syllable clapping - use words such as marmalade, understand, hospital. Write a sentence and cut it up so that your child can reassemble to words in the right order. Take a sentence from the book you are reading together. Glue the sentences into a notebook so that you can look at them again. Talk about the capital letter and the full stop. Point out capital letters for names or people or places to remind your child about capital letters. If your child cant read a word tell him what it is. Dont get cross! Ask him if he can find the word on the next page. Stress is the Enemy of Learning Remember, learning should be fun! Always talk to your childs teacher if you are worried. Always greet your child in a positive way - What good things have happened today? Give lots of praise for achievement whatever form it may take - it may be an act of kindness, a swimming success, a good piece of Art work. Talk to your child about all the famous dyslexics who have done well in different walks of life.


British Dyslexia Association, 98 London Road Reading Berkshire RG1 5AU 0118 668 271

Dyslexia: Your Questions Answered Catch em Young British Dyslexia Association

Judith Stansfield, British Dyslexia Association & R-E-M Jean Blight, Egon Publishers Ltd Desktop Publications

Practical Guide to Dyslexia A Dyslexic Child in the Family Dyslexia. Talking it Through (for 5-10 year olds)

Althea, Happy Cat Paperbacks

Dyslexia Friendly Schools: Achieving dyslexia friendly schools

British Dyslexia Association