Friday, November 11, 2011

Why does Sara feel sick every Monday morning? Coping with dyslexia.

Do you know anyone who fits the following profile (taken from Danella Smallridge's Wiki)
  • Sara has undiagnosed dyslexia.
  • She is good at maths and art.
  • She constantly struggles with reading and spelling.
  • She had reading recovery at 6 years old and made some progress.
  • Every year since then, her literacy achievement has been slipping.
  • Her teacher thinks she is lazy and needs to “try harder.”
  • Last year her teacher thought she was just naughty.
  • Sara thinks she is dumb.
  • Her biggest disability is her low self-esteem.
  • She tries to hide her difficulties from her friends.
  • She would rather people thought she was lazy or naughty– rather than dumb.  (Source)
Danella goes on to say "The really complicated thing about dyslexia is - no two students will have exactly the same symptoms. Each dyslexic student will have their own unique blend of difficulties" (Source).

If you feel any of your students, friends or family might be dyslexic you are likely to find some useful information and sources of support in the resources Danella has compiled. On her Wiki she has advice around diagnosis, as well as classroom tips. For a way more extensive review of dyslexia and the way schools can meet the needs of dyslexic learners you can access a study that Danella researched and wrote up: Delving into Dyslexia (.pdf). An extract from the executive summary is quoted below:

"The current cognitive and motor study conducted in conjunction with the Action, Brain & Cognition lab at Otago University, has found a consistent and significant difference in reactions times for dyslexic learners on a simple visual-motor response task. This adds weight to the New Zealand Ministry Literature Review on Dyslexia (2007) which states that dyslexia is more complex than merely a simple phonological deficit. Based on my learning from current research and the study of specialist interventions, help for dyslexic students must consider: early diagnosis and intervention; general classroom accommodations; specialist 1:1 teaching in literacy & underlying cognitive weaknesses; developing self-esteem through strengths; fine tuning classroom literacy teaching; using multiple memory hooks; addressing any sensory and motor difficulties; teaching social skills; and enhancing metacognition. Davis Dyslexia and SPELD NZ are both recognized providers of specialist teaching interventions for dyslexic learners. This study examines each in detail, and comments on observed strengths and weaknesses."  (Smallridge, 2008, p.1)

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