By Laura Vida Wilkinson
Are you worried that your child might have Dyslexia?
Here are a few pointers:
1) Stay calm. While Dyslexia can be identified in children as young as 4 using straightforward tests, it is not usually officially diagnosed until a child is 6+. Dyslexia can be tricky to diagnose in younger children. It is relatively common for kids in P1/2/3 to reverse their letters/numbers and have trouble reading/spelling. However, some dyslexic children develop their own strategies which can mask the difficulties. It is also important to remember that Dyslexia brings considerable strengths as well as weaknesses. Albert Einstein, John Lennon and Pablo Picasso are all thought to have had Dyslexia and boy,didn’t they achieve!
2) Inform yourself, if you can, before plunging in. There is so much information out there which will enable you to decide whether or not to take further action.
Two highly informative sites:
British Dyslexia Association (www.bdadyslexia.org.uk)
Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity (www.helenarkell.org.uk)
3) If still worried, arrange a meeting with your child’s class teacher. It’s always best to work collaboratively with your child’s school, since they will organise tests and support. Edinburgh schools should all have a member of staff trained to do the assessment- the SfL teacher.
4) Schools are busy places and Dyslexia is relatively common, among a host of other issues. If nothing is happening, do be demanding. Ask for a meeting with the headteacher, ideally in conjunction with the class teacher. Know your rights and insist on them! It is important for a child with suspected Dyslexia to have been tested well before starting Secondary school. A diagnosis could mean extra time in tests and ongoing support during the school day. But the diagnostic process takes time.
5) A diagnosis will help your child understand his/her strengths and weaknesses. With the right support, your child will be able to maintain a healthy self-esteem.
6) There is a lot that you can do at home to support your child, whether or not he/she has Dyslexia. Please see my tips for making reading fun for struggling readers. Spelling will only really improve with regular exposure to words. Online games and resources (see Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity website) are out there in plentiful supply; just ask your child’s teacher or any qualified tutor/ friend.
7) Remember: Dyslexia is relatively common and presents itself in many ways from mild to moderate, to severe.But there is free help out there, for every child.
For local events and advice www.dsse.org.uk
Dyslexia Scotland - South East
Laura Vida Wilkinson