What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia simply means difficulty with words. It is a specific learning difficulty which is neurobiological in origin and persists across the lifespan.
It is reckoned that about 10% of the population is affected by dyslexia to varying degrees. About 2 to 4% have severe learning difficulties. It is thought to have a genetic predisposition. Therefore if you are the parent of a dyslexic, you might wish to consider if you also suffer from it.
Dyslexic people are not stupid. Many dyslexic people have been highly successful in academia, sport, music, art, business and acting. e.g Einstein, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, Leonardo da Vinci. All dyslexics have strengths even if they have no outstanding talents.
Diagnosing Dyslexia in a child
Recognising the signs of dyslexia may not be easy because (a) symptoms can vary substantially from one child to another and (b) some dyslexic pupils develop remarkable compensatory strategies. However, we list here just a few factors, which may cause you to investigate further
If a child is suspected of dyslexia, there are a variety of Dyslexia Screening Tests, which a school can do. If positive, it is recommended that the child is thoroughly assessed by a Chartered Educational Psychologist, who will then be able to recommend learning styles and multi sensory teaching – visual (seeing), auditory (hearing) and kinaesthetic (doing)
Dyslexic children may also suffer from associated problems such as Meares-Irlen Syndrome ( the brain’s inability to process visual information), Dyscalculia (difficulty with counting) and Dyspraxia (difficulty with motor skills). It is thought that possibly 50% of dyslexics have trouble with maths – so there is a considerable degree of overlap between dyslexia and dyscalculia. The CEP needs to assess for associated problems.
If it is so common, why does it cause so many problems in schooling? Part of the problem lies in the failure to diagnose dyslexia in a child. Difficulties at school can be labelled as insufficient attention, laziness, slowness, poor concentration etc. Another part of the problem is the pressures on class sizes, teaching and immigration in state schools. All UK state schools are obligated to identify Special Educational Needs and provide the necessary teaching environment – but so often, it just does not happen. The process of assessment is often excruciatingly slow, despite the fact that Local Education Authorities employ most of the Ed Psychs in the UK. When it goes to the Local Education Authority, they may decide to issue a “Statement of Educational Needs” – hence the term “statemented” which in theory means the LEA may fund private education. Many parents see this as the solution to the problem, but it is usually not. Firstly it’s quite difficult these days to get a child statemented for dyslexia and secondly most LEAs go out of their way to find the cheapest solution which means avoiding private education if they possibly can. This is why we do not advise parents of statemented children on LEA funding of private schools. We have to confine our advice services to those parents who can afford private school fees.
We may be biased, but we truly believe that private schools provide much better support for dyslexics than state schools. A large part of the solution is simply having small classes where the teacher can identify problems and utilise appropriate teaching techniques. Additionally a number of private schools have Special learning Units, where the more severely affected dyslexics can go for one to one tuition.
If you think your child may have dyslexia, then we recommend you invest in your own Chartered Educational Psychologist’s report rather than wait for the LEA to do something. (Contact us for help)
If you already have an Ed Psych report and want advice on a private school, we commend you to use our Bespoke Advice Service if you simply want to know more about the issues of dyslexia from both experts and other parents we recommend the DysTalk video website.