What I learned at DyslexiFest

DyslexiFest-logo-jpg

Last Saturday, I escaped a drizzly afternoon by visiting Scotland’s first-ever dyslexia festival. The one-day event took place in The Lighthouse in Glasgow. Tucked down a wee lane, The Lighthouse is not the easiest building to find, but it is one of Glasgow’s architectural gems. It was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and it is officially Glasgow’s best cultural venue of 2019.

One of the cultural events taking place at the Lighthouse on Saturday was #DyslexiFest. This was an event put on by Dyslexia Scotland to “celebrate all things dyslexia”. There was lots of information for parents, teachers and individuals who have an interest in dyslexia.

Info tables lined the room, representing different organisations that have a role to play in supporting dyslexics. There were volunteers to chat to, a little ‘cinema’, workshops, and more free sweets and pens than you could fit in your handbag. Best of all, there was a volunteer permanently stationed at the building’s entrance to direct people to the right room – important when you consider how many dyslexics struggle with written signs, or maps, or both!

I know quite a lot about dyslexia – I have dyslexia myself, and I sometimes blog about life as a dyslexic. Even so, I learned a few new things at DyslexiFest, and now I am going to share them with you:

  • I’m not the only person who has days when they seem to be ‘extra dyslexic’! In fact, it’s very normal for difficulties to vary from day to day. It’s so common that a checklist of dyslexia signs included “some days I spell better than others”. So that’s a relief!
  • Children don’t need to have an official assessment of dyslexia to get extra help in Scottish schools. Schools are supposed to take a collaborative, needs-led approach. That means that as soon as any difficulties turn up, you can ask the school to provide extra support (if they haven’t already offered it themselves).
  • But you are entitled to ask for an assessment for your child, if you want. Because even if your child is already getting support at school, you may decide that you’d prefer to have an official assessment. For example, it could help your child to keep receiving useful support once they move on to higher education.
  • There’s a whole range of books specially designed for dyslexic readers, which you can order from any bookshop! They are not dumbed down, they just have dyslexia-friendly fonts, spacing and page colours (i.e. not dazzling white). They feature some big-name authors, too, like Alexander McCall Smith, Julia Donaldson and even Charles Dickens! They would be perfect for children (dyslexic or not) who can understand the language in their books, but struggle with reading dense pages. You can see the range here.

I came away from DyslexiFest with a big bundle of leaflets to pass on to my sister (whose 10–year-old is dyslexic). However, if you didn’t make it along and you would like to find out more about your rights and about the resources available, check out these websites:

Dyslexia Scotland (for everyone)

Addressing Dyslexia (for teachers and schools)

Dyslexia Unwrapped (for 8 to 18-year-olds)

Blog by Karen Murdarasi, guest blogger

 

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