Supporting your dyslexic child

Today, we have a guest blog from Oliver at Twinkl. The resources referred to in this blog are free to download.

Having your child identified as dyslexic can be a difficult thing to hear as a parent, but even more so for the child in question. Questions about what dyslexia is, what it means for the future and how to manage it are likely to be playing on his or her mind. The most important thing is that it doesn’t mean future goals and aims have to change. Here are some suggestions about how to explain dyslexia to your child and effectively support them without changing your life aims.

Talk through what Dyslexia is

It’s possible, especially in younger children that they won’t have even heard of dyslexia before, so it is important to explain simply and clearly what it is and what it means for the child. It’s likely an educational practitioner will help to explain this to your child. Even if they have, it might be useful to go through it again at a later date in your own time as your child may feel more comfortable asking questions.

It is important to make your child aware that they can ask questions at all times. You should nurture this and ensure that they feel comfortable asking, whenever the questions might come along. It may be a good idea to give your child all the information they’ll likely need to allow them to read about it and research around it themselves without the pressure of parents. This promotes independence and allows them to form questions in their own time. They can then ask you whenever they’re ready.

To help broach the subject and pass the correct information to your child try using this free PowerPoint from Twinkl which helps children understand dyslexia.

Use examples

The younger the child, the more they’ll look for role models both in their own lives and through famous faces they might recognise. There are many famous celebrities who demonstrate what can be achieved by people who also have dyslexia. These include Jamie Oliver, Tom Cruise, Keira Knightley and Albert Einstein.

Using these famous names and faces can help your child to realise that their dreams or goals don’t have to change as a result of the dyslexia identification. It might help to use these celebrities as case studies and explore what they’ve been able to achieve in more detail. There are resources to help do this included in the ‘See Dyslexia Differently’ pack on Twinkl.

Dyslexia in the media

To help your child, it is also a really positive step to find TV, films or books that feature dyslexia. Watching or reading about children or people that your child can relate to, will be really helpful and may even be inspirational. It should show that despite the identification, anything is possible, dyslexia doesn’t define him or her.

Support Systems

It is also crucial to establish support systems, where necessary, for your child soon after a dyslexia identification. Talk to your child’s school and ask what they can do to help, also share with them any care plans you have, so they are fully aware of the support that is required. If you or your child would like extra help then there are always charities [such as Dyslexia Scotland] and support groups to turn to – which might be especially useful in the early days after an identification.

Further reading

If you’d like to read more about dyslexia, the Inclusion team at Twinkl have written multiple blog posts. covering a range of topics, around dyslexia. See below for a selection of these blogs.

Understanding Dyslexia and supporting your child

The first three steps to make a classroom more Dyslexia friendly

Oliver Lincoln, Marketing Coordinator, Twinkl Ltd

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If your child has just been identified as dyslexic and you’d like to chat further to one of Dyslexia Scotland’s friendly Helpline Advisors, please call our helpline on      0344 800 84 84  (Mon – Thursday 10:00am – 4:30pm; Fridays 10:00am – 4:00pm) or email helpline@dyslexiascotland.org.uk

We also have a wide range of helpful leaflets on our website: 

https://www.dyslexiascotland.org.uk/our-leaflets

Please note, Dyslexia Scotland is unable to endorse any particular dyslexia products.

 

 

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Dyslexia Friendly Storytelling

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A couple of weeks ago, the BBC launched this year’s 500 Words competition. 500 Words is a writing competition for children between 5 and 13 years old. Each entrant submits one story of up to 500 words. The three winners in each age category win either their own height in books, the Duchess of Cornwall’s height in books (5’6”), or DJ Chris Evans’ height in books (6’2”).

Entries are judged on

  • originality
  • plot
  • characterisation
  • language

Crucially, entries are not judged on spelling, punctuation or grammar. In fact, the official rules say that entries are judged “without regard” for these potential stumbling blocks for young dyslexic writers.

Entries are also submitted by copying or typing into an online text box. A helpful adult is supposed to do this bit, and to fill out the rest of the online entry form for the child. That removes another potential barrier for children with dyslexia – dodgy handwriting.

Chris Evans started the competition in 2011 while he was a DJ at Radio 2. He had a vision of inspiring a love of reading and writing in all children, regardless of their abilities and challenges. The competition has been a huge success: 800,000 stories have been submitted in the eight years it has been running.

My nieces have provided some of those stories. One of my nieces, Susannah, is dyslexic, like me, and faces the typical struggles with handwriting and spelling. (Her typing skills are very good, though.) This competition gives her a chance to express her creativity without unnecessary barriers.

Many great writers were dyslexic, or are believed to have been. (Dyslexia wasn’t well understood when W B Yeats and F Scott Fitzgerald were around.) There are also successful dyslexic writers today. I’m an author and freelance writer who’s mildly dyslexic. I would love to see more children with dyslexia enjoying writing without feeling intimidated.

If you are between 5 and 13, or you know a budding author who is, here is the link to the 500 Words competition. Entries must be in by 7pm on Friday 8th of March.

Karen Murdarasi

Dyslexia doesn’t deserve to be devalued

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Having recently read via multiple sources (notably The Times Education Supplement and The Telegraph) that a couple of English councils view dyslexia assessments as ‘scientifically questionable’ and opt not to distinguish between those who are dyslexic and those who find it difficult to read, I was hugely disappointed.  Not least because it raises several problematic questions but it also poses difficulties for those who are affected by this policy. 

While some people may question why I would want to concern myself with a problem confined to a small number of English councils, particular ways of thinking – good and bad – are not limited to or by particular locations.  Although it might not be an issue facing the people of Scotland, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about.  Don’t get me wrong, there are arguments both for and against assessments for dyslexia depending on whether an individual finds the “label” helpful, something I’ve written about previously.  But I think there’s a particular danger in calling a neurological difference questionable.  Although it does not appear to be readily apparent, could the logic that has been applied to arguments against the validity of dyslexia not be applied to other learning differences, neurological or otherwise?  If so, where is the line drawn?  And if not, why has dyslexia been singled out?  

This blog often discusses how dyslexia is much more than a difficulty with reading.  By amalgamating those who have dyslexia with those who find learning to read tricky, one would be potentially damaging the self-esteem of both groups of learners and undermining their struggles thus crushing their desire to learn and obstructing them from fulfilling their potential. By challenging the existence of dyslexia, those with this learning difference could also lose the ability to have something to attribute their need to learn differently, therefore reducing acceptance and legitimising needless stigma.  On a related note, children without access to assessments are being denied a potentially helpful identifier in that label.  The ‘label’ may help them to find others with dyslexia like Jamie Oliver and Holly Willoughby to whom they can aspire. Furthermore, by saying that dyslexia is ‘scientifically questionable’, it risks devaluing not only the needs of those learners, but also those who work to make sure those needs are met; namely, teachers, teaching assistants and additional support needs specialists.  

Ultimately though, what is being said about those who have dyslexia?  That their difficulties should cease to be acknowledged?  Why should educational provision and perhaps even access to specialist support, be dependent on which council a school is affiliated with and therefore become a postcode lottery?  All learners, irrespective of their learning differences, need support and positivity to thrive.  By denying the existence of dyslexia, some people are not being supported, and even more could be denied positive learning environments and experiences, which could only be to the detriment of the people concerned, those who care for and support them and society as a whole. 

Gemma Bryant

Volunteer Blogger