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Dyslexia - The Hidden Disability

Author: iansyst Ltd

Published: 2010-10-22 : (Rev. 2015-10-23)

Synopsis and Key Points:

Hidden Dyslexia is the theme of Dyslexia Awareness Week to raise awareness of challenges faced by students with a disability that presents no visible physical signs.

Main Digest

How to spot the signs and support dyslexic students this Dyslexia Awareness Week (1-7 November 2010).

"I got really good help from some amazing teachers and my mother and father worked tirelessly with me, so by the time I was 11 I had kind of overcome the dyslexia and now it's not really a problem. I don't notice it anymore." - Actress Keira Knightley

'Hidden Dyslexia' is the theme of Dyslexia Awareness Week 2010 (1-7 November), developed to raise awareness of the challenges faced by students with a disability that presents no visible physical signs to the outside world.

Approximately one in 10 people in the UK have dyslexia, a serious learning disorder which affects a person's reading, writing and spelling skills. If a young person does not realize they are dyslexic it can have a serious effect on their development, both academically and emotionally. This is because many students quickly become aware that they are not like their peers but by not knowing why can lead to low self-esteem, exclusion and depression.

However, by recognizing the signs of dyslexia and diagnosing it at an early age, and subsequently implementing the right support mechanisms, this disability should not be a barrier to success, as witnessed by dyslexics such as Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and Leonardo da Vinci.

Sharon Goldie, educational consultant at iansyst Ltd (www.dyslexic.com), offers advice on recognizing the warning signs that a student may be dyslexic and provides some steps for ensuring the right classroom support.

1) Recognizing the signs

The first signs of dyslexia can be seen in a child who has difficulties with reading, writing and maths. This can manifest itself in a variety of ways including confusion over left and right, poor spelling, writing letters or numbers backwards and having difficulty following directions.

Many dyslexics have average or above average intelligence with a high level of creativity so if a student's achievements do not match up with their potential it should be seen as a clue that something may be wrong.

2) Communicate with the student

Once the early signs of dyslexia have been identified, it is important to begin communicating with the child right away. Another of the reasons it is known as the hidden disability is because for people who have not been diagnosed with it, they become ashamed that they can't do what they believe is normal and learn to adapt around their disability.

Opening up a dialog with the child will also help you understand how best they learn things. Often, they are the best source for this information so it is vital that you encourage them to share with you what teaching techniques work for them.

3) Be aware of the classroom environment

Dyslexics often have trouble concentrating when there are a number of distractions around them. To help overcome this, have them sit away from the door and if an assignment requires a particularly high level of concentration, provide them with a solitary room, free of any interruptions.

To further eliminate distractions, the student should be given a seat at the front of the room with no obstruction between them and the board. In addition, writing the homework on the board well before the end of the day will help because copying from the board may take a dyslexic student twice as long as their peers.

4) Plan ahead

This includes everything from allowing a dyslexic student extra time to complete exams or general schoolwork to ensuring that you, as a teacher, have prepared your day and lesson plans in accordance with the student's needs. Reducing the amount of homework and allowing the student to submit some homework assignments verbally have proven to be beneficial.

Whenever possible, providing a structured lesson using multi-sensory methods - looking, listening, speaking and doing - can be of great assistance to a dyslexic child. By making learning active and fun, the student will be gaining new skills while not focusing on the tasks and methods at which they feel they are a failure.

5) Utilize available technologies

As with any disability, dyslexia affects people to varying degrees. Therefore, the use of technology can be extremely beneficial. It must always be noted that the use of any assistive technologies are not a reflection of the child's intelligence.

Allowing the student to have use of a laptop and its various tools can save time and lower stress levels for both the student and teacher. For many students, having the use of its spell checker, onscreen word banks and predictive text software can greatly improve their written work. For more extreme cases, text to speech software can have a significant effect on the quality of work submitted by the student. And finally, for students who are especially articulate and expressive verbally, voice recognition software may enable them to have their ideas converted from the spoken word to text quickly.

iansyst Ltd has specialized in the area of dyslexia for over 27 years and delivers a range of advice, software and computer technologies to enable dyslexic people to achieve their potential.

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