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Dyslexia - and making a difference

(29 Posts)
LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 28-Nov-13 10:33:26

Doctor, Jonathan Ferrier, describes his efforts to better understand the disability and how a simple assessment can change a child's life.

Let us know your thoughts, or your experiences of dyslexia, below.

Nelliemoser Thu 28-Nov-13 12:04:13

Oh! I wish these conditions had been understood in the 50s and 60s when I was at school.

I struggled with writing in particular. Even now when handwriting, which I have always found difficult. I feel it feels as if my head knows how to spell but letters and words seem to come out wrong when I try to write.

I need to think about each letter and the shape as I write it.
"Slow to finish in exams" adorned all my reports.
I now don't hand write letters as I cannot do it without errors and my writing is not at all attractive to look at.

I could actually read well from an early age but it seems I have short term visual memory problems and don't easily remember the text, its much better if I read it aloud.

Thanks to the OU for getting me tested when I was 50! I am officially stated to be really quite clever.

I would hope nowadays a state school would notice and question this discrepancy between my then good reading age as I was considered to be top stream material but really under performing.

ninathenana Thu 28-Nov-13 15:34:06

DD is mildly dyslexic. Her spelling is not good and until she reached senior school her hand writing was terrible.
She finds it much easier to spell when using a keyboard. She thinks it's because she doesn't have to think about forming the letters and spelling at the same time.

TriciaF Thu 28-Nov-13 16:27:13

DH is dyslexic - he has problems with reading, very slow, and much more with written work and spelling. But he trained as an electronics engineer, where he is quite gifted, and earned a good living.
He leaves all the business letters to me. I think that's why he married me
There are several types of dyslexia, depending which neural input or output is affected most eg auditory, visual, hearing, verbal etc.

annodomini Thu 28-Nov-13 16:45:39

My adult GD's dyslexia was not picked up in primary or high school. I don't know why, because it was quite clear to me that she was having problems with reading and writing, although she could read and interpret recipes well. However, the tertiary college she attended after GCSEs was wonderful, helped her with her writing problems and had her officially diagnosed. Her University supplied her with reading aids - acetates - and laptop and printer. This year she graduated and is hoping for a career in fashion.

nightowl Thu 28-Nov-13 16:53:22

My son is dyslexic. This was not picked up by his class teacher in 1996, not that long ago. We had to ask why his writing was indecipherable and he could barely read at the age of 7. The response was 'I can usually work out what he's trying to say' and to advise us to organise a private assessment if we were worried. It caused him many problems throughout his school life but fortunately he has overcome them and is flourishing at the age of 24. I hope things are better these days.

Iam64 Thu 28-Nov-13 17:36:21

One of my daughter's was finally diagnosed age 25, after somehow managing to achieve a 2.1 after not very good A level results. She was re-doing maths and science in order to apply for a pgtc, and the local FE college were more on the ball than either her primary,high school or uni. I first suggested she may be dyslexic when she was 6 but her (lovely and excellent) teacher told me her problems with mirror writing/spelling etc were due to her being an end of August birthday. Since the diagnosis, her difficulties have stopped making her feel "thick" (a recurrent theme when at school) and her spelling/organisation skills have improved beyond recognition. She is a well liked, successful teacher - her own experience does mean she is switched on the special needs that fly below the radar in well behaved, hard working children.

Brendawymms Thu 28-Nov-13 17:51:54

I'm dyslexic, did not learn to read until 12, and my daughter is dyslexic in both letters and numbers. I went to a secondary modern school.
It seems that many with any handicap has quite low self esteem and can easily be labelled as having a learning difficulty. NOT SO they have a teaching disability, teachers have just not found how to teach in the way that the person needs to learn.
My daughters comprehensive school (this was in the 80's) were very good with her and I fought for her to be educated in line with her intelligence rather than reading/ writing ability. We also found that ACE, standing for aurally coded English, dictionary was very helpful to her.
I'm also left handed but managed to learn to write very clearly, got a degree and became a hospital director so don't feel that I have been particularly disadvantaged. Dyslexia, and the label others like to use, just made me fight harder for what I wanted.

FlicketyB Thu 28-Nov-13 21:32:46

A close friend had 2 children with dyslexia. When the first child, in many other ways very bright, had difficulty reading they were sent for an educational assessment. The county educational psychologist said the child was not dyslexic and the parents would just have to accept that their child was not very bright. This flew in the face of all the evidence. They got a referral to a private psychologist, who confirmed the child was dyslexic, but the cause was that their child had problems transferring information from short to long term memory so the 'Look and Say' method of teaching reading, then popular, was totally unsuitable for teaching them to read. The psychologist also confirmed that my friend's child, overall, had a high IQ and the suggestion that he was not very bright was ridiculous.

Fortunately, at that point they moved to a different part of the country, to an area with a much more enlightened education authority. The eldest child had just reached secondary age and both children were kept out of school for several weeks so that they could be fully assessed and the most suitable school selected where they would get most help.

The result was that with proper help both have achieved as well as non-dyslexic friends. Both went to university to study engineering and are having successful careers - but both still struggle with reading.

Nelliemoser Thu 28-Nov-13 23:40:22

FlicketyB my memory transfer issues are something similar. Diagnosis is essential. Just improving the persons self esteem helps.

trisher Fri 29-Nov-13 09:10:18

My DS is severely dyslexic diagnosed at age 10 he struggled with school. Dropped out of when he was 13 because of pressures and bullying. BUT he has gone on to take a B.Tech and BA in Film making and is now doing an MA. I would pass on the advice I was given by a dyslexic adult friend. Reading will always be difficult and not necessarily something done for pleasure but when there is something he(or she) really wants to learn about they will tackle it, just be there to help them.

nightowl Fri 29-Nov-13 09:21:05

My son dropped out of school as well trisher. Not easy is it? Horrible when they are so unhappy and you are wonderng what will become of them. But so good to see them find their strengths and begin to enjoy life again. A friend who is a former teacher always tells me she lives the person my son has become, and she thinks his difficulties and need to struggle against the system are part of that. He is certainly a very different individual!

Christine1955 Fri 29-Nov-13 15:35:10

When I was at school in the 60,s I had a terrible time I was called thick stupid etc, it was only when my youngest son started school I realised he was having all the same struggles as I did , one of his teachers asked has he ever been tested for dyslexia , so
I took him to be tested and they tested me and the results where we are both dyslexic, so that explained all the problems I had at school, and I was determine my son wasn't going through what I went through, I had a long hard battle on my hands could int believe a lot of his teachers still treated him the same as I was, but after two years and two tribunals I got him statemented and he got a whole hour a week extra tuition, he is now 25 a time served joiner and has just got his HGV license , so for those teachers out there who said he would never amount to anything , he may of helped build the house you are living in or delivered the goods you ordered , and I am a very proud mum (please excuse spelling and grammar)

newist Fri 29-Nov-13 15:48:00

Can anyone tell me please is Dyslexia hereditary? My husband is Dyslexic, he has never been diagnosed, he only just learnt to read at 12, by then it was too late. he has just got by all his life. He has 7 brothers and 2 sisters, 1 sister has no problems the other one has. I do not understand how this is. His mother could read but his father could not. Can anyone explain this please

Brendawymms Fri 29-Nov-13 16:01:09

None of my grandparents, parents or siblings have dyslexia but I have. Of my two daughters one has but so far none of the grandchildren have. So I'm non the wiser as to heriditory status either. I'm the only one left handed also. My mother always said she was not there at the conception of me. confused
No I'm not adopted!

Aka Fri 29-Nov-13 16:34:23

This is from th Dyslexia Research Trust
'Dyslexia has a large inherited component (about 50%). Ten important genes have so far been identified; many are involved in setting up the brain during development in utero. Boys are more likely to be affected than girls. Dyslexia in a parent is certainly a risk factor for dyslexia in the child, so you should be aware of the possibility. Current research suggests that if either a father or a mother is dyslexic their sons have approximately a 75% of being dyslexic, whilst girls will have a 25% chance. Therefore it is by no means certain that your child and especially your daughter - will be dyslexic.'

Penstemmon Fri 29-Nov-13 16:41:48

In my experience the great majority of primary schools are very aware of how to manage children who have a specific difficulty with their literacy/ handwriting skills and do so well. It should not matter if you attach the term dyslexia to a child or not. Schools have to help and teach all children to read and write and good teachers use a wide range of methods to do so. These will include particular methods that support those who have 'dyslexia'.

My concern is that there is such a focus on using one method to read and write (phonics) at the moment that those children who do not find this the best approach for them really struggle. Phonics are very important but are only one of a repertoire of reading and writing skills and teachers need to be able to make a professional judgement as to the strategies and methods that help different children.

newist Fri 29-Nov-13 16:45:38

Thanks for that Aka that does seem to be the case in my OHs family

GadaboutGran Fri 29-Nov-13 18:31:21

I do agree with Penstemmon about current reading methods. They suit many people like me very well but they are not right for all & it must start them off on the wrong foot. I have learnt so much about these neuro-diversities since my DD married a very creative & 'different' man who was diagnosed as Dyslexic when he managed to get himself into Art College after failing most exams at school. I began to wonder about the severity of his symptoms and realised he might have Adult ADHD - diagnosed & treated after much struggle. S-i-L can make a reasonable living but only by being freelance, having his wife manage his business & many aspects of his life, and my DD, me & Mr Gad being co-Directors of his company to prevent a repeat of dreadful abuse by a business partner who knowingly exploited his symptoms.
SiL has also trained as a Diagnostic Assessor for Uni students seeking support from the DLA. I proof-read his reports so learn about the struggles others have and have had.
Some are very cynical about these conditions which only adds to the stress for the whole family. I can assure you that any student trying to fake dyslexia etc in order to access support is easily found out as the subtleties cannot easily be faked. They are conditions that come with a great deal of creativity and intelligence but they are sometimes very hard to live alongside, even with treatment, especially where much of what you are handling is the impact of 20-30 years of non-diagnosis, unhelpful reactions of others & poor self-esteem.

Iam64 Fri 29-Nov-13 19:00:30

Gadabout - good point about the cynicism - that notion that 'middle class parents invented dyslexia because they couldn't accept their child wasn't bright' nonsense. This thread confirms that parents often need to have a private assessment to get their belief their child has a specific learning difficulty. I wish I'd done it when my daughter was 6 as it would have helped her self esteem, as it did when she was finally diagnosed in her mid twenties. It's unfortunate (to say the least) that the fact so few referrals via schools can be funded, that many children in schools in areas of high deprivation aren't blessed with parents who have the financial and/or personal resources to either pay, or take on the local authority. I can't imagine that the growth of free schools will help with this.

annodomini Fri 29-Nov-13 19:46:22

I agree, Iam. If only I'd paid for an assessment for my GD. Her clueless mother was just that. She didn't tackle the school and I didn't want to stand on her toes. Relationships were precarious enough. Never mind, she's come through it, but I do wish that she knew the pleasure of reading.

pinkprincess Sat 30-Nov-13 00:40:17

My DS2 who is now 41 is dyslexic.It was never diagnosed when he was in primary school.We were told he was a slow reader.His attempts at handwriting were terrible, he would get his letters the wrong way round and do mirror writing-we were told that this was due to him being left handed!.
I knew this was rubbish as my father was left handed and he had no problems writing.He could understand everything he wrote but no one else could.He was given remedial reading without much success and some of his peers called him ''spakka''which is a local word for someone of low intelligence.
In secondary school his problems got worse, to the extent he became a habitual truant and left school with no qualifications.
He can read now, but only subjects which he has an interest in.He will never be someone who reads for pleasure.His handwriting is still below standard, and he struggles with any kind of written work,needs help with spelling and completing official forms.
Career wise he qualified as a motor mechanic which he had no problems with as he excels in practical work.He passed his driving test first time at 17.He also worked for some time as a driving instructor and got many of his pupils through their test at first attempt but gave this up as the market was flooded and was not making much profit after paying insurance etc.He did a standard photography degree, but did not do the final (Masters) year as it consisted of mostly written work, despite this he is an excellent photographer.
He has four daughters, none of whom are dyslexic, and one son who has autism and other related problems.His son is 12 and unable to read and write but this is not caused by dyslexia.
I only wish this condition had been diagnosed when he started school in the 70s.

broomsticks Sat 30-Nov-13 19:09:53

I worked as a teacher of dyslexic students for about 15 years, in schools and with adults.
It is infuriating that people 'don't believe in' dyslexia angry
So many highly intelligent people have problems with the mechanics of reading and writing. It's not the hard bit they can't do, it's the bit most people do authomatically.
Computers are a big help with the writing and spelling but there are still lots of children not getting the basic help with learning rules and sounds at the beginning.

NfkDumpling Sat 30-Nov-13 19:36:12

There's dyslexia in my DH's family which DD2 and to some extent DS1 have inherited. DD also has no natural concept of right and left and is completely ambidextrous. A terrible problem when navigating!

I understand that Richard Branson (dyslectic) is sponsoring a new type font called dyslexia. Some letters like c are opened up to emphasis the shape and letters like b and d have the uprights sloped differently to differentiate them. Looks promising.

Iam64 Sun 01-Dec-13 09:39:54

That is good news Nfk - Richard Branson is a real high profile dyslexic, he has the money to do this, but of course, it'll also increase his already huge fortune. Does anyone know if he supports any charities? One of the positives our Victorian ancestors left us was the generosity of so many entrepreneurs, mostly Quakers I think.