The best laid plans…

[Disclaimer: I am dyspraxic, but planning and organisation can be issues for people with dyspraxia and dyslexia.]

Planning ahead is difficult for me – there, I’ve said it! Some people might be surprised to hear me say this, as they’d say that I’m quite an organised person. However, it is something that I have to work very hard at and I have many strategies in place to help me.

I have a previous work colleague to thank for some of the strategies that I use today. She was a very organised PA to a Director and sat down with me to try to help me with some strategies, as I was feeling very overwhelmed with my workload at that time.  These strategies included:

  1. using coloured folders with the days of the week and ‘week commencing…’ folders. So, rather than feeling overwhelmed with all my workload, using the folders to put upcoming tasks into. These would release me from the anxiety that I had so much to do and didn’t know where to start – I didn’t need to worry about these tasks until that day/week.
  2. using my outlook calendar to plan my ongoing work and development tasks;
  3. to only use my Outlook calendar rather than a paper diary and Outlook. Using both had meant that I kept forgetting to update one or the other and double-booking or missing meetings.

These strategies seem to have worked for me for the past few years. However, the best laid plans don’t always work, as real life gets in the way. I get quite anxious when an unexpected task or project lands on my desk.  If it’s an urgent task like information for a report, then I need to stop my planned work to do the urgent task, which I know many people would understand in the circumstances. However, the difficulty for me is getting back on track with the outstanding task, after completing the urgent task.

I analysed my actions in a similar situation that occurred recently. I had a couple of big development tasks to do that week where I needed to analyse and make decisions, as they impacted on upcoming work and meetings. However, I was asked to provide some information for a report that had a quick deadline. After procrastinating with a recycling task (why?!), I managed to complete the task before the deadline (much to my surprise). However, I then found it difficult to get my head back into the mindspace to analyse the collated information and make decisions. I think that the cartoon below (by Erin Human) illustrates this situation exactly:tendril-theory

When you have planning difficulties, I feel that it’s very important to have an understanding and supportive manager. I’ve been fairly lucky in my working life as most of my managers have been very supportive.  I did have one manager in the past who micro-managed me and my planning and organisation difficulties made working with her very difficult. She and I were very similar in a lot of ways, but she couldn’t understand what I was doing with my time. I spent a lot of time in her office, justifying the time that I’d taken to complete a task or report. To be fair, though, at that time neither of us knew that I was dyspraxic.

I only discovered that I was dyspraxic in 2015, so I’m still learning about the way that it impacts on my planning and organisation. I’m lucky now that I have a very supportive and understanding manager.  I do still find planning and organisation tricky, but the difference now is that I can be kinder to myself when plans do go awry.

Helen (Volunteers Manager)

 

Death of a dyslexic journalist

The death of the Sunday Times journalist, AA Gill, has been in the news recently because he was an amazingly eloquent writer. He had a wonderful ability to describe situations using a prolific number of adjectives and similes.  But he should also be remembered for his severe dyslexia. He was born in Edinburgh but when his parents moved south he was sent to a “progressive” school in the south. This was the early 1960s and despite it being allegedly progressive he was labelled stupid and eventually he just “checked out”. After a period of alcoholism and unsuitable jobs, he took up cooking which led to teaching and to one of his students asking him to write an article on food for a magazine. The rest is history, as he became a well known restaurant critic – but such was his unique style of writing that he wrote on any subject which interested him.

An extract from his obituary in his own Sunday Times: “It still took him three weeks to read a novel and he could not spell. ‘I couldn’t tell you what an adjective is’ he once said, ‘people tell me over and over again but it just refuses to go in’. Menus presented a challenge. ‘I read hugely, just very slowly’. He wrote in his own form without paragraphs or capital letters and then dictated all his copy”. The Sunday Times employed a copytaker for him throughout his journalistic career. His last article was written in hospital with the help of his copytaker who described the draft of the article, “the computer was filled with runic-looking words muddled by his dyslexia”. The article was published on the day of his death and was about the compassionate care he had received from the NHS. In his true descriptive style he described his extensive cancer as “the full English breakfast”.

Extract from an article written by Jeremy Clarkson about his friend Adrian Gill, published in Sunday Times 18/12/2016:

“He died last weekend, leaving us with a body of work that beggars belief. It beggars belief partly because he didn’t start writing until he was 38 but mostly because of his profound dyslexia. He’d have had a better chance of getting his letters in the right order if he’d lobbed a tin of alphabet soup into a ceiling fan. He’d often text me to say where we were having lunch and I’d have to use a Turing decoder to work out what the bloody hell he meant. “Twersy”, for instance, was “the Wolseley”.

The way Adrian dealt with this was a lesson to all sufferers today. History was his favourite subject at school but he always got a bad mark, so he asked his teacher why. You’re one of the best in class, said the teacher, but you’ve got a problem with your writing. Adrian decided angrily that he didn’t have the problem; the teacher did. And he vowed ever afterwards to make it someone else’s problem, not his own. Adrian struggled, too, with reading. It would take him half an hour to read the inscription on a statue or a war memorial, which is something he did a lot, and yet somehow he knew everything about everything.”

Susie Agnew, Dyslexia Scotland Board Member

Learning new words

At high school, the scheme I learned French through was dyslexia-friendly. Here’s how.

  1. It was multi-sensory
  2. It presented the learning material in a context
  3. It involved overlearning
  4. It involved diagnostic tests
  5. It was exciting and enjoyable

These dyslexia-friendly aspects of my school French scheme are just as useful to me now as they were back then. I use them along with some other ideas to learn new words in English. This is how I learn new words then.

1)    I hear new words and write them down

  • I listen to audiobooks. (Books give language a context). Whenever I hear a word I don’t know, I write it down on a sheet of paper
  • When I have filled up one sheet I start a new one. I number the sheets
  • I use felt tip pens to write each word in a different colour. This helps me remember the words. I also enjoy the sensory aspects of writing with felt tips pens: the feel, the sound, and the colours

2)    I find the meanings, and record them in writing and audio  

  • As soon as I can, I look up my words in a pocket dictionary
  • I write down each word’s meaning on the sheet
  • I find it exciting to discover a word’s meaning – it’s like unearthing treasure
  • I also make an audio recording of each word sheet

3)    I find images and create flashcards

  • I search online for images of each word
  • I create a flashcard for each word, using a table in Word
  • Each flashcard has on it a word and its corresponding image. I also add the number of whichever word sheet the word is on, for reference

4)    I learn the words

  • I look at the flashcards on my computer
  • I hide the words by selecting the words column then formatting the font as ‘hidden’. I look at each picture and say its word
  • Then I unhide the words column, and hide the pictures column. I use WordTalk to listen to the words one at a time. When I hear each word, I envision the image that goes with it
  • I read my current words of the day sheet at odd moments, silently and out loud. I also sing, clap, dance and act the words
  • I listen to the audio recordings of my word sheets

 

5)   I test my learning

 

Once a fortnight, I record a test on my digital audio recorder. For each word, I say the word and ask for the meaning, or vice versa. I download the recording onto my computer. The next day, I play the test on my computer and speak my answers. I audio record it. Then I listen and check my answers with the word sheets. I tick off the words I’ve learned and carry forward any I haven’t into the next fortnight.

Other tools for learning new words

(This paragraph references software that I as a dyslexic individual find helpful, or that others have recommended to me. This does not equate to Dyslexia Scotland endorsing these resources).

  • To look up words by speaking them, and hear them spelt out:
  1. On a computer – Google Chrome’s ‘search by voice’ feature (Click on the microphone icon in the search bar. Then say ‘spell’ followed by the word you wish to find);
  2. On an iPad or iPhone – Siri;
  3. On an Android device – Easy Speak Pro (compatible with The Scottish Voice)
  • To create audio-visual flashcards:
  1. An e-book App – see https://alifelessordinaryds.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/dyslexia-stories-8

 

By an adult member of Dyslexia Scotland

Is dyslexia a good label?

On Thursday 10th November 2016 as part of Dyslexia Awareness Week, Dyslexia Scotland asked the following on Facebook –

Is being identified as dyslexic a ‘label’?

And is that good or bad?

Tell us what you think?”

To which I replied –

I would much rather be labelled Dyslexic, than labelled: Stupid (Not Working To The Best Of My Ability), Lazy and/or any of the other negative labels that are often given to dyslexics before they are given a ‘label’ of dyslexia. The dyslexia label is a GIFT. It’s just a shame that by the time most of us get it, we are trying to wrap it around what remains of our shattered self-esteem.

The above inspired my creative side to create:

doreen_jigsaw

I would call it a drawing, if it wasn’t for the fact I used stencils (because my hand just won’t draw what’s in my head if I try to draw it freehand. I think I have many dyspraxic tendencies (I was an extremely clumsy child, and although I’ve gotten much better, I am never sure how co-ordinated I will be from one moment to the next).

In this case I think stencilling works to this piece’s advantage due to the fact the fairy’s body is in pieces and stitched together with the remains of her self-belief. Her wings (which would ordinarily be the most ethereal part of her) are the most cohesive and effective due to the fact she identifies herself as dyslexic. And her internal dialogue can now take on a much more positive note.

I drew the background as jigsaw puzzle pieces because whilst volunteering at this year’s Education Conference, I really enjoyed Dr Rob Long’s keynote speech. One of his Powerpoint slides, which illustrated a child’s abilities, behaviours and emotions as a jigsaw of different ages; i.e. a 12-year-old dyslexic child may have a reading age of 7, but a spatial awareness age of 14 or higher.

Another talk (“Seeing Words – The Art of Visual Communication”) I heard recently was from Alex at the Glasgow Adult Network. Before I write anymore please see:-

I’m not going to explain this one, please just contemplate the visual for a few moments.

doreen_bird

I would now like to give a response to Sarah Entine’s “read me differently” film. I feel I have reached a stage in my life, where I am sick of being a star and trying to fit into a cuboidal box. I am fed up of the negative labels given to me by a society that dislikes my marvellous star points breaking out of the box.

Sarah Entine’s salvation appeared to be in discovering her creativity through a flower arranging job, which led to her finding the courage to go back and study her masters degree and became a social work professional (working in an occupational / activity-based psychologist type role). I hope to soon find my individual path to greatness. And fly away, through my true colours to my one moment in time to be all that I want to be.

Doreen Kelly, Dyslexia Scotland Volunteer and Member

 

Parent-School Partnership

Our son was diagnosed as dyslexic two years ago, when he was eight. Since then he has been receiving tuition outside school hours, in addition to the support he receives in school. His tutor mentioned that another child she taught had set up a Dyslexic ‘club’ at school; somewhere the emphasis was on socialising and not school work. We thought this was a great idea and would be helpful in boosting our son’s confidence, by showing him that he is not the only one who is dyslexic in the school.

We suggested the group to the school, although at first they were not sure how this would work. Under the supervision of a teacher, it was agreed the club would meet once a week over a lunchtime, as a trial.  This started last year and approximately ten children attended the group each week. Feedback from the children told us that they felt relieved to see that they were not the only child struggling with dyslexia in the school. One child’s response when joining the group was “you mean I’m not the only one?”.  My son said to me “mum there are some really clever people there too from p7!” The children, with the help of the teacher, got together and produced a PowerPoint presentation of Dyslexia and how it affects them.  They then presented this to the parents of the group one evening.   They used bullet points and pictures to help them and avoided using lots of writing and long words.  This presentation gave the children confidence and a sense of comradery.  The club was well attended, however when it was a sunny day the teacher noticed attendance dwindled.  Therefore, it was agreed with the input of the children, that it would move to once a week during morning break.  They felt that it was good to continue with the club, however didn’t want to miss out on playing with their friends outside during the lunch break.

At the same time, the Headteacher at the school set up a parent’s support group. This was a trial group also, to see if coming together to share ideas and difficulties would benefit those of us supporting a dyslexic child. The group met four times last year. Like the children, it was great to meet other parents who are experiencing difficulties helping their child with school work and life in general with dyslexia.  The Headteacher and club teacher were also present to give their input and receive feedback from parents.

In the future, we hope to produce a school leaflet for children and parents, explaining a bit about dyslexia and the help they can receive. We also hope to have guest speakers both at the children’s and adult groups, who can inspire and give strategies and advice to us all on managing life and work with dyslexia.

Both clubs are still in their infancy, however we feel we have taken a step forward in raising awareness in the school community about dyslexia. Most important of all, the children enjoy socialising and realising they are not alone, which is a great confidence boost.

Lorna Murray – guest blogger

 

The invisible superhero

Dyslexia is hardly a superpower – in fact it’s a ‘specific learning difficulty’. But this ‘difficulty’ seems to have a strange way of making people better at some things. Dyslexia often co-exists with high levels of:

  • creativity
  • intuition
  • interpersonal skills
  • perseverance and determination.

Look at Pablo Picasso, who never amounted to much in school but came up with a bold new artistic vision. Or Richard Branson, whose business acumen more than overcame his academic difficulties. These are only two names on a long list of dyslexic high achievers.

It’s not that being gifted causes dyslexia, of course. Nor is it proof of a genetic connection between dyslexia and creativity, the way blonde hair and blue eyes often go together. It could be that having a brain that’s wired differently gives you different abilities. Or it could be that struggling with everyday tasks like reading, writing and coordination simply pushes dyslexics to compensate. We use skills that aren’t hampered by our unusual brain wiring to make up for the ones that are. That sounds like a good thing – and it is. But unfortunately it can cause problems of its own, because dyslexia’s real superpower is invisibility.

I wasn’t diagnosed with dyslexia until I was in my teens. It probably didn’t help that I’m hardly a ‘classic case’; I was (and am) a voracious reader. My spelling may have been, let’s say, idiosyncratic, but my writing was fine for my age. Everything was fine for my age, in fact, and that was the problem. Unless a child is failing in something, their difficulties may not be picked up. It’s easy to see ‘careless’ or ‘rushed’ work by a child who is doing fine when it’s actually painstaking work by a child who is struggling to keep up. That label of ‘careless’ was the bane of my school life until a teacher who was trained in dyslexia finally saw the mismatch between my spoken ability and my written work.

After that I got extra time in exams and natty purple glasses to stop lines jumping around. I was also taught techniques to help me overcome my poor memory and spelling. They were so effective that I am now an excellent proofreader, and people are impressed by how well I remember names! But if I hadn’t been diagnosed, perhaps I would simply believe that I was ‘careless’, always letting myself down.

Some people believe that dyslexia is a ‘gift’. I’m not sure that I agree with them. I had a friend at Scotland’s top university who could not write without a voice-operated computer. That didn’t seem like a gift. My younger sister can never fully enjoy a book because reading is such hard work. To me, who inhales books, that doesn’t look like a gift. When I break another glass, or have to stare at a road sign to figure out which way it’s pointing, that doesn’t feel like a gift. But when I can effortlessly make connections that most people miss, or ‘see’ the past behind present-day places, that does feel like a gift. And perhaps I wouldn’t have these abilities without my dyslexic wiring. Dyslexia may not be a gift, but it comes bearing gifts.

Karen Murdarasi, guest blogger

You can see more blogs from Karen here: www.kcmurdarasi.com

 

 

Dyslexia Awareness Week kicks off…

Dyslexia Awareness Week starts 7th of November and I’m quite excited about writing this blog just before it kicks off.

I’ve always loved books, and was inspired to write my own stories long before I could actually spell. I was lucky because my dyslexia was acknowledged early and I was sent to a special school, where I got extra help to learn how to read and write. I remember the first book I read all on my own and how I carried it around all day and kept re-reading it – because I could! After that there was no stopping me. A whole new world opened up for me. It was as if I’d entered some secret universe – full of adventures and escapism and even a sense of acceptance – all aspects missing from my real life outside of books. My local library became my sanctuary and I started swallowing up one book after another. Without these stories to comfort me and take me away to different worlds, I don’t think I would have coped as well as I did being a teenager. The more I read the more words I learned and the better my spelling became too.

So, I was lucky. I got special help from an early age and eventually I learned to read and write well enough to fool others into thinking I’m not dyslexic. I was also lucky to go to school in the 90s, where dyslexia was becoming recognised. Some of the stories I’ve read about people who went to school before then are truly saddening – how teachers didn’t recognise or accept dyslexic students’ struggles and how they suffered. How they were labelled as stupid and left behind, and the stigma and mental health problems that followed. These same people, now adults, come into the literacy centre, where I work, full of self-doubt and self-defeating attitudes and it’s truly heart breaking because they are anything but stupid. They are full of self-taught coping strategies and have so many brilliant but overlooked strengths.

Nevertheless, dyslexia still wasn’t very well understood in the 90s and I struggled in most of my other classes, even when I enjoyed them, because back then there wasn’t the same awareness around the link between dyslexia and dyscalculia, short term memory problems and problems organising one’s thoughts (always being told my essays were too incoherent). So teachers would pull me aside and tell me I ought to do better and try harder and like so many others, I was left feeling like I was actually stupid; that it was my fault I wasn’t doing better, rather than my dyslexia. In fact, I wasn’t told any of these facts about dyslexia until I was 27 and I decided that I was good enough to get a university degree and was finally properly diagnosed. By then dyslexia had become a stigma for me too. It took me many more years to be able to openly and proudly say I AM DYSLEXIC. And it’s with joy that I welcome Dyslexia Awareness Week because so many people – especially in key roles, like teachers – still don’t understand that there’s more to dyslexia than spelling and reading, and our unique skillset, creativity and different way of perceiving the world are often not rated as important as high grades, but should be. So I encourage more awareness and acceptance and take great joy in the fact we’re all different and thereby make the world a more interesting place. I, therefore, also encourage you to engage with Awareness Week – learn new things, share the knowledge and help us spread the word.

What has your experience with dyslexia been? Have you been affected by a lack of awareness of dyslexia?  You can learn more about Dyslexia Awareness Week here.

Terese Smith – guest blogger

 

Organisation & Time Management: Most Dyslexics’ Second/Third Nightmare!

At a recent Dyslexia Scotland Adult Network (Stirling) Meeting, we were discussing how difficult it is to organise our lives and homes on top of jobs, studying and/or family life.

These problems are by no means limited to us dyslexics (but our non-linear [often nonverbal] brains don’t help matters). I have also recently joined some local stitching clubs, and it was a friend in one of these that gave me the following idea. She said that she rewards herself monetarily for the tasks she does each day.

I thought this was a great idea and started using her idea. I reward myself 1p for things like every page I read, every 30mins I walk, every item I iron, and every item I put away in a drawer or hang up (I used to have huge piles of clothes everywhere because I thought, I’d forget anything I couldn’t see).

The following is a photo of how I keep a record of what I have done each day:

doreen_blog_photo

I have found this can be a good way to plan out a day. Without having to time everything out (which is something I cannot do, I don’t seem to know how long things will/should take me to do). I have found if I am having trouble starting in the morning: I get the pad out and write out a table, listing the tasks I have been putting off or I know need doing. And then somehow it’s a wee bit easier to get started.

AND yes I know the lines aren’t straight! I gave up trying to use a ruler, it was just too much hassle. And it’s not like anyone else will need to see it (other than an outside chance I feel the need to show my husband).

Also, due to the fact that I also reward myself for every room I hoover, or every window I wash, or every piece of furniture I polish; I can keep track of how often and/or frequently I do these tasks, that aren’t daily tasks but need done on a semi regular basis. So, if I’m sitting thinking about when I last did a task, I can just flip back and get a definite answer.

I can see how some people may feel this is a bit like a child’s reward chart. But it works with kids doesn’t it? Why should we have to grow out of everything that helps! No one else needs to know. And it can be a way to save for treats that you otherwise cannot justify (I use 1ps because I’m temp and don’t always have a job: but the friend who told me about it uses other denominations [like 10p etc]).

Why not give this a go if you are having trouble organising your life. Perhaps if this doesn’t work for you, it might give you ideas about what else might help. Or if you use other techniques (or have other ideas) please comment below, we’d love to learn from your coping mechanisms.

Doreen Kelly

Admin Volunteer/DS Member

Harry Potter and the Magic of Accessible Books for All

I’ve never been a massive fan of Harry Potter. I watch the films and enjoy them, but I was discouraged from reading the books as a result of a teacher misjudging how long it would take to finish it, and consequently abandoned it partway through. Having said that, I think I was secretly glad given the miniscule size of the print. Following the announcement that the new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is to be released in a dyslexia friendly format, it got me thinking about the other books. Should this version of the play take off, it will hopefully lead to an increase in titles being available for those who have dyslexia and other difficulties that may impair either the ability to read, or enjoyment of, reading.

It’s not all good news though. The first thing the Amazon listing says is that the new copy of the play is in a large print version. While this is obviously helpful for those who find it easier to read books with a bigger font, it is simplistic and naive to assume this will help all dyslexic readers. I’m not dyslexic myself, but I am visually impaired and the assumption that my difficulties with certain things would be fixed if only someone made the text bigger was a prevalent misconception throughout my schooling. As a consequence, I am very empathetic to the fact that learning difficulties and impairments are nuanced and shouldn’t all be lumped together.

For those who argue that technology can take care of formatting preferences, they are making several misguided assumptions. Firstly, that people can afford to buy such things. Secondly, they aren’t realising that technology can hinder people’s ability to access books due to Kindles etc. having an unlimited battery life and screen glare. Also, some people just prefer a book, and they should, where possible, have that option.

I appreciate that it is costly and impractical for countless different versions to be made and the fact that the publication is endorsed by the British Dyslexia Association should at least be encouraging. Below that pronouncement, however, is the text “Formatting may also aid readers with visual impairment, Parkinsons disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis, brain injury and Cerebral Palsy. Also great for all readers with tired eyes after a long day!”

The implication is that this is the additional support needs copy of the book, which is disappointing as I personally can’t see how it will help people with all of those conditions. Having said that, there is a huge part of me that wants to applaud the publishers of the book, W. F. Howes Ltd. Making books accessible to all is an admirable endeavour, and in order to achieve that someone has to be brave enough to get the ball rolling.

Well, rolling on. We can’t forget Strawberry Classics or Barrington Stoke, specialist publishers who format books so they can be easily read by people who have dyslexia. Without belittling the importance of their work – it’s both tremendous and vital – it is, at least in some ways, a shame that specialised publishers need to exist in order for this need to be fulfilled. While it’s great that there are publishers who specialise in the production of accessible books for dyslexics, it’s a pity that there are not specialists within mainstream publishing houses too. If there were, titles, both classics and popular fiction, may be brought to a wider audience. Furthermore, I think the demand is there. One in ten people in the UK are believed to have dyslexia alone, and while I know there is not – nor should there be – a one size fits all approach to formatting – more can still be done (look at books that children and young people need to read in school, for instance).

The publication of the dyslexia friendly version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not just a step in the right direction, but something other publishers need to capitalise on for the benefit of not just their profit margins but those with additional support needs. As the Amazon advertisement illustrates, they are numerous and deserve to be recognised by mainstream publishers. In doing so, publishers would not only recognise the right that everyone has to be able to read, but also send the message that dyslexia shouldn’t stop people being able to access books, whether that be for enjoyment or necessity.

Gemma Bryant

Book review: ‘Dyslexia and Mental Health’ by Neil Alexander Passe

This book gave me insight into the psychological effects that dyslexia can have on an individual. It did that by explaining the difference between defence mechanisms and coping strategies.  We use defence mechanisms in response to situations to protect ourselves from anxiety.  However, instead of dealing with the difficulty, defence mechanisms actually prevent us from doing so.  For example, if we drink alcohol to escape anxiety, we are not allowing ourselves to self-help. Coping strategies, on the other hand, enable us to fulfil our potential.

Here are some defence mechanisms the book discusses.

  1. Avoidance – in fact, this is termed as a ‘pre-defence mechanism’. E.g. if you really don’t want to write a report, you procrastinate writing it
  2. Denial e.g. denying that you are dyslexic even though you know you are
  3. Repression = forgetting something bad e.g. a car accident
  4. Regression = reverting back to a child-like emotional state e.g. bed-wetting, stammering, sulking
  5. Displacement (‘kicking the cat’) = taking your emotion out on someone or something other than the person you feel it about
  6. Projection e.g. if you think you’re stupid, accusing other people of thinking you’re stupid when there is no evidence to support this
  7. Reaction formation = when you are attracted to someone you know is unsuitable and you behave as though you can’t stand them
  8. Intellectualisation = thinking away an emotion that is uncomfortable for you
  9. Rationalisation = explaining away your bad behaviour
  10. Sublimation = using your emotions to produce positive results e.g. growing vegetables instead of vandalising cars

And here are some dyslexic defence mechanisms the book explores.

Emotional defence mechanisms

  1. Social withdrawal e.g. daydreaming, avoiding socialising
  2. Self-blame – internalising problems and punishing yourself
  3. Hiding in class – trying to keep out of the teacher’s radar
  4. Perfectionism – paying attention to detail
  5. Hypochondria, including psychosomatic pain
  6. Blocking out – trying not to think about the thing that threatens you
  7. Depression
  8. Drug or alcohol abuse
  9. Self-harm e.g. with food or body
  10. Suicide or attempted suicide

 

Behavioural defence mechanisms

 

  1. Truancy
  2. Distraction e.g. misbehaving in class
  3. Frustration
  4. Bad temper e.g. blaming others for difficulties
  5. Pessimism e.g. saying ‘I’m going to fail this test’
  6. Bullying – an expression of anger and frustration and a response to hostility
  7. Shouting, biting, tantrums
  8. Attention seeking e.g. shock, anger
  9. Fantasy e.g. imagining answering someone back rather than actually doing it
  10. Violence, revenge, property damage, criminal activities

The coping strategy this book suggests is Seligman’s ABCDE technique. This is about overcoming hopelessness in a learning context.

The book also identifies several different dyslexic coping profiles.  These really helped me to understand and accept myself and others.

I found some of this book difficult to follow, and some of it contestable. Nevertheless, I benefited from reading it.  The groups I would recommend it to are:

  1. Dyslexic adults;
  2. Parents / carers / educators of dyslexic children / young people; and
  3. Counsellors / psychotherapists.

My top 3 tips for tackling this book are:

  1. Start with chapter 14
  2. Consider skipping chapter 1 if you are finding it hard-going (it’s summarised in chapter 14)
  3. Before reading each chapter, read the conclusions and bullet points that come at the end of it.

Dyslexia Scotland has a copy of this book in its Resource Centre.

Published in the UK by Jessica Kingsley, 2015. ISBN 978-1-84905-582-6

This book review was written by a Dyslexia Scotland member.