When I was younger I was not diagnosed with dyslexia. I went to a grammar school, my mum was a teacher and at every parents evening my teachers would tell my mum something that she had discovered many years before…her daughter was dyslexic. What was done? Not much at the time. It was way before all the interventions that were available or researched and so little, that I recall, was different.
My mum gave me strategies to help me and in the end that most likely hindered me in the short term, I was coping too well to need real interventions. I eventually had an ed phyc appointment at around Year 9 but by now had too many strategies to pass the test with anything more than borderline diagnosis. I had made it to grammar on appeal but was lost in the system some what.
At A Level I remember completing a project for Psychology and choosing to focus on dyslexia…a very humbling time to realise how much of an issue I had that I had skirted around. That’s the problem…dyslexics make changes that can hide the bigger issues and struggles they have.
So now, as a teacher, I try and make sure that I address at least some of the issues I faced. So these seem to work for myself as a sufferer and as a teacher trying to aid others.
Firstly, TELL PUPILS! I think it’s very important to share this with suffering pupils to let them know it is not something that will define them. You can succeed in an academic subject (Joint Degree in RS and Psychology).
Secondly, IT IS NOT AN EXCUSE…it does not mean pupils cannot do certain tasks. It means that they need to find a way easier for them. Maybe they need sentence starters or visual cues. Maybe they need strategies to aid organisation. I think it is important to let them know things might be harder at times BUT THIS IS OK…life is hard for everyone at some times. This can help them overcome and feel proud of themselves.
Thirdly, BE UNDERSTANDING OF THE FEAR AND CONFLICT. It is likely a dyslexic has fear and conflict all the time when writing. Even now I have to re-write a facebook status because I can’t spell a word and not even spell check can help me. Also already in this article most times I have spelt dyslexic a red line has appeared underneath and writing is always double t no matter how many times I come across it. It just doesn’t stick in my head. I don’t know what. In the staff room staff ask me a subject specific answer and I am back in the GCSE classroom…my memory just can’t retain unless I have support (e.g. PPTs in lesson). Be caring, be understanding, encourage them to use extra time – they are unlikely to want it but will most likely need it.
An example of tasks written white on black.
Lastly, THE FEAR OF NOTHING is a big thing. For a dyslexic starting off is so hard. This is why sentence starters as really helpful. I was so scared of a blank page at school but once I had the right idea life was much better. It was confidence that had been knocked and never recovered. If you are a brave teacher TAKE AWAY THE PAPER ALTOGETHER! I often write on the tables with my classes and picture work. It’s amazing how much taking away those lines for the “perfect” piece of written work can liberate someone with dyslexia.
In the end this is just a few things I do and an insight into the ways I feel and deal with
dyslexia. There are many more issues and problems and mostly, as all pupils, all those
who suffer have different issues.
As long as those who observe me, such as OFSTED, have always taken this into account
to make me feel catered for….oh wait.