Dyslexia – is it all in the eyes? Scientists suggest children with dyslexia have different eyes to non-dyslexic children!

In the news this week, scientists claim to have spotted a major physiological difference between the eyes of dyslexic adults and non-dyslexic adults.

Are you left or right eyed?

Most of us have a partiality as to which hand we use to throw a ball or which foot we use to kick a ball. But did you know we also have a preferred – or dominant – eye? 

Our eyes work as a team.  However, your dominant eye is the one that provides a slightly greater input to your brain.  In fact, it is thought that the dominant eye has more neural connections to the brain than the non-dominant eye.  If you are right handed, it is likely you are also right-eyed – but not necessarily.

So what has eye dominance got to do with dyslexia?

There has long been this idea that there is a relationship between ocular dominance and reading and spelling ability. Way back in the ‘70’s, testing of ocular dominance formed part of the test for dyslexia. It was thought that dyslexia was associated with the failure of the child to establish ocular dominance – and that a lack of ocular dominance would somehow lead to confusion about precisely where words and letters are positioned on a page. Read more ›

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Dyslexia – let’s start talking about it Come out of the darkness and raise awareness of dyslexia

This week I’ve been reading lots of inspirational stories about dyslexia. And indulging (or enduring?) in my new guilty secret – running.

I am a closet runner. Those that know me are probably giggling at this news.  The rest of you are probably wondering what on earth this has got to do with dyslexia.  Bear with me.

I am not keen on anyone witnessing my sad shuffle around the block.  So I tend to run at 5.30 in the morning, in the pitch dark.  An abrupt and unwelcome start to my day, believe me. I certainly don’t want anyone to see me as I shamble past!

So what’s running got to do with dyslexia?

Dyslexia Awareness Week

Well, this week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. The theme this year is Positive about Dyslexia. The British Dyslexia Association has been doing a wonderful job helping raise awareness of dyslexia and creating a more dyslexia-friendly world. The key to raising awareness of dyslexia is communication.  It’s all about talking about dyslexia so that we no longer stumble around in the dark – like my nocturnal running!

The BDA have featured interviews with lots of people from all walks of life being just that – Positive about Dyslexia. Jamie Oliver, Samantha Fletcher, Richard Branson, Ross Linnett and Josh (aged 10) all have their say. They are talking about dyslexia and how it has shaped their lives in a very positive way.

If your child has dyslexia, talking about it is important. Read more ›

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Dyslexia – the annoying things people say 5 myths about dyslexia exploded!

5 misconceptions about dyslexia exploded…

If your child has dyslexia, sometimes well-meaning friends, relations – and even teachers – will come out with some of the following myths. But perpetuating these misconceptions can be damaging to your child. Here’s five common myths about dyslexia exploded…

Read more ›

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Wondering if it’s dyslexia? The best online dyslexia screeners

An online dyslexia screener may be the first step…

I get asked time and time again about online dyslexia screeners by parents who think their child may have dyslexia. 

Of course, online dyslexia screeners are not substitutes for a professional assessment from an educational psychologist or a specialist dyslexia teacher. But a dyslexia screener could be a stepping stone between a parent voicing their concerns and obtaining a formal diagnosis.

Dyslexia assessments should be carried out by a recognised professional (beware of cheap “assessments” online)!  And they can be expensive. The cost can range from £300 to over £1000 and, unfortunately, you cannot get a dyslexia assessment on the NHS. An assessment can also take up to four hours to complete the testing. And then you have to wait for the report. That’s a big investment in time and money! Especially if you are only at the beginning of your journey to a diagnosis of dyslexia.

So, as a first step, it makes sense to investigate online dyslexia screeners if your child appears to be struggling.  Just be aware that an online dyslexia screener won’t give you a definitive diagnosis of dyslexia.  But it could give you a good indication if your child has signs of dyslexia and point you towards any areas of concern.

If you google “on-line dyslexia test”, you will be bamboozled with hundreds of results. Before you give up in complete bewilderment, let me show you two of the best…

Read more ›

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4 great reasons why your dyslexic child needs to read Help your child with dyslexia read his way to a happy and healthy life...

Dyslexic children can read their way to a happy and healthy life…

“Most children in England do not read on a daily basis: in 2011 just over a third (37%) of 10 year-olds surveyed reported reading for pleasure every day.” PIRLS 2011: Reading Achievement In England

Texting their friends, checking Facebook, surfing the internet, downloading music and films – our children are bombarded with technology.  Most children over the age of 10 have a smartphone – and use it constantly! Is there any time – or inclination – to read a book? And for the dyslexic child who struggles with reading – why bother?

We know reading is good for our dyslexic children. It improves their literacy skills. And dyslexic children can gain the same benefits if they listen to an audiobook downloaded to their phone. But there are other amazing reasons for encouraging our children with dyslexia to read. Read more ›

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Back to school for your child with dyslexia 5 tips to help your dyslexic child cope with back to school trauma

New uniform, shoes and haircuts, new pencil cases and backpacks – it’s back to school time! Unfortunately, for children with dyslexia the return to school after the long, unstructured days of the summer can be traumatic.

Imagine how it feels for your dyslexic child – thrust into an environment where they are reminded they are different for up to eight hours a day, five days a week. It’s a fact that dyslexia can be mentally and physically exhausting.  No wonder your child comes home tired and stressed in those first few weeks.

For children with dyslexia, preparation (or lack of preparation!) before the new school year begins can make or break the entire year.  But there are things you can do, as a parent, to ease your dyslexic child back into school. Read more ›

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Why early identification is key to your dyslexic child’s self-esteem Unlock doors to self-understanding

Early identification of dyslexia can help self esteem

Imagine if you were able to give you child some sort of answer to why he can’t seem to get stuff the way other kids can?

What if you were able to tell your child, “The reason you struggle so much at school is not because you are less clever than your classmates – it’s because you have dyslexia”?

There are so many reasons why it’s important to identify dyslexia in your child as early as possible.  Perhaps the most important is the effect on your child’s self confidence. Feelings of frustration and failure can be extremely harmful to a child’s self esteem. Isn’t it better that your child knows there is a problem that is not their fault?

“When school or work is difficult, the best news to tell a parent, child or adult is “it’s because you have dyslexia”. This unlocks doors to self-understanding” Bernadette McLean, Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre

Read more ›

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Outdoor Summer Fun for your child with dyslexia 5 Outdoor Activities to keep your child with dyslexia learning over the summer holidays

Dyslexia Summer Fun

It’s the summer holidays – unplug the PlayStation, grab the raincoats and jump into the wellies!

Multi-sensory learning is important for the child with dyslexia – and where is more multi-sensory than the woods, the beach or the local park?

Your child with dyslexia may learn more by doing and investigating rather than simply watching and hearing. This time away from the classroom is a great opportunity to share the great outdoors with your dyslexic child and participate in activities with friends, family and community.

“The changing nature of the outdoors makes it an incredibly stimulating and multi-sensory place to play. This is important as babies and young children learn and gain experience through all their senses “ – NCT

5 Outdoor Activities to keep your child with dyslexia learning

Here are 5 activities you can do with your dyslexic child over the next few weeks to encourage his curiosity, persistence, investigation and discovery. Take a picnic and make an afternoon adventure of it  – and you never know, your child may even discover the joy of unplugging that PlayStation!

Read more ›

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5 tips to help your child with dyslexia enjoy the Summer Reading Challenge Stop the Summer Slide with the Summer Reading Challenge

Stop the Summer Slide with the Summer Reading Challenge

Stop the Dyslexia Summer Slide!

It’s a fact that, whatever your child’s reading level, there’s a chance their reading will regress over the summer holidays.  Known as the “Summer Slide”, your child is likely to return to school in September with a lower reading age than he has now. This is particularly true of the child with dyslexia, who is likely to be a reluctant reader anyway.

How can a book possibly compete with films, You Tube or their PlayStation, right? But it’s important for the dyslexic child to keep reading over the holidays and beat that “Summer Slide”. Read more ›

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Dyslexia: Learning Difficulty or Learning Difference? What’s in a name?

Dyslexia: Learning Difficulty – or Learning Difference?

Is labelling dyslexia as a “difficulty” a good thing?

Dyslexia is usually identified as a Learning Difficulty, or a Specific Learning Difficulty.

A difficulty is “a thing that is hard to accomplish, deal with, or understand”.

Well, it’s certainly true that reading, writing and spelling can be all of those things for the dyslexic child! Hard to accomplish, deal with and understand! But does that mean your child has a Learning Difficulty? Does your child find learning difficult?  Not necessarily!

Do you agree that the word “difficulty” is a negative term?  A word that somehow suggests there is something “wrong” with the child?  That the child with dyslexia is in some way “broken”.  Perhaps his brain is wired incorrectly. Maybe he has an inability to learn because he is not intelligent enough!

Is dyslexia really a “difficulty”?

Should we tell a child he has a “difficulty”?

Could describing dyslexia as a “difficulty” gives dyslexia a negative slant?  Something to be overcome?

And what if your child is told he has a “difficulty”? Does it become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Will he come to  believe “I can’t do that because I have a Difficulty”? Would he expect to struggle?

In addition, let’s think about those surrounding the dyslexic child. Parents, friends, relatives, teachers. Might they focus on the child’s weaknesses, rather than his strengths?

But the dyslexic child may have many positive attributes.  He may have better three-dimensional spatial reasoning.  Perhaps he may be able to understand abstract information and see connections between concepts.  It could be he is exceptionally creative.

 Specific Learning Difficulty

The British Dyslexia Association call dyslexia a Specific Learning Difficulty

Seems like the British Dyslexia Association don’t like the term Learning Difficulty either.  Although it’s a bit clunky, they are keen to call dyslexia a  Specific Learning Difficulty.  This is because Learning Difficulty is more of a global term which indicates an overall impairment of intelligence and function.  Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Difficulty because there is a discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability.

But what if a dyslexic child is taught in the right way, the way that enables them to learn? Then is the word “difficulty” still applicable? Wouldn’t dyslexia become a learning difference, rather than  a difficulty?

What’s in a name? Celebrating difference

If dyslexia was acknowledged globally as a Learning Difference rather than a Difficulty, would it help your child?

Would a name change make a difference to your dyslexic child?

  • First of all, your child may be encouraged to be the best he can. To embrace a “can do” attitude to life. After all, who wants to go through life thinking they have a “difficulty” which they need to somehow overcome?
  • Also those surrounding your child may be reminded that a dyslexic child needs a different way to learn.  Acknowledging dyslexia as a difference places the emphasis firmly on inclusion.
  • In addition, teachers may feel encouraged to embrace difference when they plan and teach.  Perhaps it would help teachers to remember to think about the needs of their dyslexic learners more and differentiate their lessons to accommodate their needs.  It might remind teachers to embrace multi-sensory teaching methods.  Multi-sensory teaching helps all the children learn.
  • Finally, school authorities may feel more responsibility to support difference through school policy, practice and ethos.

But do children really want to be different? Does Learning Difference describe dyslexia better? Would difference be a great ethos to celebrate?

 

 

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