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Student Support Question 3: Dyslexia

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Qs: I think my child has dyslexia/dyscalculia what should I do?

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Firstly many people talk about dyslexia (including number dyslexia - dyscalculia) as a disadvantage and actually dyslexia has many advantages.  Many famous leaders have dyslexia in a range of fields.  I recommend reading "The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain" by Brock and Fernette Eide for further information on how having dyslexia is not a disadvantage.

Many children with dyslexia don't get discovered early enough.  It is very common for dyslexia to be found at University level in the UK because Universities tend to offer free, good assessments.  This can mean students with dyslexia can often be ignored by the system, have low self-esteem, problems with reading, writing, counting, directions etc. even though they are often extremely bright, can have great spatial awareness, brilliant creativity etc.

There is a high chance that if someone in your family is dyslexic you may be as well.  This is because dyslexia has ties to genetics.  It is also common in students with other learning difficulties such as Autism or ADHD.

Initial Steps: Health and Teachers

So what should you do?

Firstly I would actually try to read up as much as I can about dyslexia as the more you know the better.  There are many charities supporting dyslexia and dyscalculia and they can provide you with great advice.

Secondly, I would take the person in question to the opticians and get their eyes thoroughly checked to rule out eye problems.  At the same time I would get a hearing test (which can be organised through your GP) to rule out audio problems.

When at the Doctors explain your concerns.  He may identify problems with eyes or ears or even a different SEND condition such as ADHD.

I would also talk to the student's teacher(s) as they are observing how the student is doing in school.  You can ask about their reading age level, how they are doing in numeracy etc. as well as voicing your concerns.  It could be worthwhile asking if the student is receiving any extra support from Teaching Assistants etc. and if you can, speak to the school's SENCO if you are still concerned.

Getting an Assessment: SENCO and Educational Psychologist

Believe it or not getting a formal dyslexia assessment can be like finding gold dust.  To run a dyslexia assessment you need to go to an educational psychologist or a dyslexia specialist teacher.  A parent can request from their school's head of SENCO that a local authority educational psychologist or dyslexia specialist test the child.

In my experiences some parents find the above challenging and often getting an independent psychologist to test a child can be less of a headache (although more expensive).

After Assessment: IEPs, EHCs and Private Tutoring

So you know it is dyslexia and nothing has changed.  What do you do now?

If the student is still in school with dyslexia then a school has an obligation to create a IEP (Individual Education Plan) for the student and often the parent, teachers, teaching assistants, SENCO staff, outside school support etc. are expected to meet to organise provision for the student.  IEP's are not legally binding but are good practice.  They are used to monitor how a student is progressing.

If a student is not progressing then a more formal legally binding EHC (Education Health Plan) should be put into place.

Whatever happens it is possible to organise extra support such as tutoring outside of school (see RK Tutors) for additional help and support.

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