Exploring Literacy Difficulties and Dyslexia as a Barrier to Learning

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Introduction

This essay is written from the perspective of an SEN Teaching Assistant and it aims to give an understanding of Dyslexia and how it manifests as a barrier to learning. The essay will start by critically evaluating some of the definitions and causes of Dyslexia followed by a discussion of Uta Frith’s Causal Modelling Framework and how it has helped my own comprehension of this specific learning difficulty. I will be critically exploring the arguments surrounding literacy and dyslexia

 

Defining Dyslexia

What is Dyslexia? An often misunderstood and confusing term for reading problems. The word dyslexia is made up of two different parts. Dys meaning not or difficult, and lexia meaning reading, language, words. A common misconception about Dyslexia is that it is a problem of letter or word reversal (was/saw, b/d) or of letters, words or sentences dancing around on the page (Rayner, Foorman, Perfetti, Pesetesky & Seindenberg,2001) but in the early stages of learning, writing and reading words backwards is quite common in both average and dyslexic children.

According to Elliot and Gibbs ,there appears to be no clear cut scientific basis for differential diagnosis of dyslexia versus poor reader (Elliott & Gibbs, 2008). Although some of their arguments are relevant, such as the use of IQ tests having “little utility for diagnosing specific disability” (Vellutino et al,2004) or the biological aspect of dyslexia, “the scepticism about how much has been learned from genetic and brain-based studies” (Elliot and Gibbs.2008) I do not agree with the statement that Dyslexia is a “catch all term of convenience” and throughout this essay I will be emphasising on that.

Dyslexia has multiple meanings and symptoms to many people and that is why so far no definition has achieved and international consensus.

In this part of my essay, I will be comparing some of the definitions I have chosen and discuss my views on the one that best describes it.

In 1968, the World Federation of Neurology stated that” Dyslexia is a disorder in children who, despite conventional classroom teaching experience, fail to attain the language skills of reading and spelling commensurate with their intellectual abilities”, in other words, children of normal or above normal intelligence who struggle to read and spell, for some reason.  The main problem with this definition is that is narrow because it only mentions reading and spelling and it demands a discrepancy between intellectual ability and attainment. Also, the term “disorder “is very widely used and does not give us a specific idea as to what type of disorder is referred to, i.e. learning, reading

Moving forward from a descriptive definition to a causal one such as the International Dyslexia Association’s defining it as a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin and it is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. It goes on in mentioning a deficit in the phonological component of language unexpected in relation to the techniques used in the classroom, for the year group. This definition was adopted by the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association in November 2002, but referring to it only as of neurological origin, in my opinion, limits it to fact that the problem is located physically in the brain and no other factors, such as social status, developmental delay, speech or hearing impairment, affect it.

From my point of view, the most helpful definition is the one detailed in the Rose Review (2009) and that Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.

It is helpful because not only does it talk about reading and spelling but it includes other areas such as difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. It doesn’t demand a discrepancy but instead talks about a “continuum”. A final helpful point about this definition is it explains that dyslexia is more likely to be present if it is persistent. It clearly states the fact that dyslexia is a learning difficulty with several different causes. It is lifelong without any clear cut-off points but it would probably be useful to mention a few teaching strategies and methods that should be used such as the ones listed in the British Dyslexia Association definition, “specific intervention, application of information technology and supportive counselling” (2009)

Sir Jim Rose gives us the importance of a shared definition so that children can get the right support.

Dyslexia is not a disease and we can’t get rid of it completely, dyslexia is not caused by unstable emotions or unhappy childhood although frustration from not being able to perform at the same level as their peers results in unhappy experiences in school, inability to fit in, anger.  In conclusion, emotional problems are not the cause but the effect (Savage ,1985)

Causes of Dyslexia

In recent years, the field of knowledge about Dyslexia has undergone significant changes as a result of considerable scientific and educational research (Reid,2001)

According to him there are a number of explanations (hypothesis) which can be associated with Dyslexia, Cognitive Causes, such as the Phonological Deficit Hypothesis, Working Memory Hypothesis, Double Deficit Hypothesis, Visual processing Deficit. Biological Causes, Cerebellar Deficit, Magnocellular Deficit, Genetics. These hypotheses each refer to different theoretical approaches supported my nay researcher such as Frith (1999), Snowlin (2000), Regan and Wood (2000), Reid (2001) to explain Dyslexia from causal perspective.

The most researched theory is that of the Phonological Deficit, a term initially mentioned by Keith Stanovich (1986) and is basically how we process the distinctive sounds elements that make up a language, how we store and retrieve them from different parts of the brain. In spoken language, this process is automatic, is “instinctive, all that is necessary is for humans to be exposed to it” (Pinker S.,1994)

How this causes Dyslexia? Mostly it focuses on reading and why we can’t read well, to read you need to know the graphemes (letter images), the phonemes (letters sounds) and most important to correctly put them together.

According to this theory, a deficit in phonological processing impairs decoding, preventing word identification.

Connected to phonological difficulties are those of working memory and some people have even talked about “phonological memory” (Gathercole,2000)

It is agreed the Phonological Deficit Theory is a contributing factor and that is one of the reasons that Stanovich (1986) proposed that “Dyslexia should be defined as a core phonological deficit. This is also supported by Margaret Snowling (1998) when she claimed that many studies since 1980 have shown phonological processing difficulties.

Going on to the Visual Theory of Dyslexia we can only ask ourselves if visual disorders cause reading difficulties and what proportion of dyslexics is affected. It looks like subtle visual deficits might impact reading and one of the best examples is visual stress (Wilkins AJ,1995), a condition that gives the reader illusions of shape, movement and colour in the text distortions of the print and general visual irritation. It leads to impaired reading fluency and it can be helped by using coloured overlay or glasses (Bouldoukian, Wilkins AJ. Evans BJ,2002) Other problems often mentioned include binocular fixation instability and poor vergence control (Stein J,2001), increased visual crowding (Spinelli D, De Luca, Judica A, Zoccolotti P,2002) as well as visuo-spatial attention deficits (Hari R, Renvall H, Tanskanen T,2001). All of these problems might have a direct effect on reading delay it is still not scientifically

proven. They do remain debatable, especially since visual disorders are quite often accompanied by a phonological deficit.

Quite a few dyslexics seem to have visual problems and visual stress is an independent cause of reading delay but their impact on reading still needs to be proven.

Finally, the Cerebellar Theory of Dyslexia tells us that a mildly dysfunctional cerebellum can cause Dyslexia. It seems to be one of the main theories for what causes dyslexia and is based mainly on the association of dyslexia with a lack of balance. One example is Nicolson and Fawcet (2011), who are not directly refuting the phonological theory, show that motor skills are a vital part of learning and should therefore be taken into account in the explanation of learning difficulties. Problems with motor skills can lead to both phonological problems as well as writing skills (Nicolson and Fawcet,2011) and previous research on the brain shows that the cerebellum has an effect on the development of the left hemisphere of our brain. The relationship between motor skills and phonological development is vital if there is to be development of the correct teaching technique (Nicolson, Fawcet&Dean A,2001) In conclusion motor skills affect the development of phonological skills hence bring about Dyslexia (Peyrin et al,2012)

The cerebellar and phonological theories could easily coexist in Uta Frith’s framework.

The phonological deficit theory assumes that an abnormality in the processing of speech is an important cause of reading difficulties in dyslexia. Alternatively, the cerebellar theory claims that, at brain level, if there is an abnormality in the anatomy of the cerebellum, it can cause reading difficulties. In conclusion, both theories are compatible with each other leading to behavioural difficulties, all affected by external influences.

Dyslexia is a common disorder characterized by learning difficulties. Several theorists have tried to explain the causes of Dyslexia, including through the Phonological Theory, the Cerebellar Theory and the Visual Theory but the connection between phonemes and graphemes is seen as a very important process of learning and as the only way through which language can be expressed.

 

Theoretical models

It can be useful when looking at any developmental condition to use a causal model such as Frith’s Causal Modelling Framework and she developed this in order to bring together the various competing theories.

The three levels of the framework start with the biological factors, such as brain abnormalities or genetic disorders that lead into cognitive level with causes such as visual and timing difficulties, automaticity and working memory. The effects of these biological and cognitive factors at behavioural level are difficulties in learning to read, phonological tasks, naming, speech development, balance, time estimation, memory, spelling, phonic skills, motion detection. Frith’s model also talks about the importance of the environment at every level. This means that as teachers and parents we can have a big impact on the achievement of all learners with dyslexia through the way we teach children to read.

It is helpful because it explains how different theories can co-exist. For example, the cerebellar theory which is about the biological level says dyslexia is caused by a difference in the cerebellum area of the brain. This could explain the cognitive causal theory of the phonological deficit because motor difficulties caused in the cerebellum could cause speech delay which in turn affects phonological development which is cognitive. This in turn can cause difficulties in reading and spelling because phonological skills are key to developing literacy. Similarly, differences in brain activity can cause difference in a cognitive level in how you visually perceive words which in turn cause behavioural differences such as finding it difficult to see words on the page.

Identifying features of Dyslexia

I have already mentioned some of the features of Dyslexia, when explaining Uta Frith’s framework but making a comparison on how children with and without dyslexia progress, it is quite difficult.

Children are faced with new challenges every day, confronting those challenges is hard enough for every child but to face them whilst having a learning disability make it the more difficult. The characteristics of a dyslexic person differ just as characteristics of children without disabilities vary. Such characteristics are learning style, motor dexterity, time/math/memory/cognition, language/reading skills, behaviour and vision. Sometimes a dyslexic youngster has early or late developmental stages, such as crawling, walking or talking.” (Grolier’s Online Encyclopaedia)

Social interactive theory and how society reacts to dyslexia make the differences a disability also the view of learning differences as deficits in the learner.  The value of certain forms of literacy over other forms and as a consequence those who can access it over those who can’t. Using certain sorts of literacy skills as a proxy for level of intelligence and the people that lack those skills are deemed unintelligent/uneducated. Regarding those that cannot process information fast as unintelligent and that is due to ideas that link speed of information processing to intelligence.

Agreements and disagreements

Agree

  • Dyslexia is the result of brain differences and that leads to a cognitive difference in the processing of the information, for example, reading and writing
  • Information processing, they recognise the importance of cognitive processes
  • Physiological basis in the manifestation of dyslexia and the impact future brain imaging studies will have
  • Phonological processing difficulties

Disagree

  • Too many definitions of dyslexia, an agreement has not been reached.
  • More research into cognitive and behavioural has led to disagreements putting even visual processing difficulties over phonological ones
  • Incidence and gender differences
  • More male dyslexic than women but females=less attention seeking behaviour=less likely to be identified
  • Females process language differently

In regards to how society views it, unfortunately, I do believe that dyslexia is still seen as a meaningless label which is holding back teachers and parents from helping children with their individual reading difficulties (J. Elliot, E. Grigorenko,2014)

Without this label, children do not get the right support, the differentiated teaching and the right resources. But as Dr Bishop has claimed in an article from 2014,” we may find it easier to work with the label and try to ensure it is used in a consistent and meaningful way, rather than argue for its abolition.”

Going all the way back to The Simple View of Reading presented by Gough and Turner in 1986, defines reading as getting meaning from text. If you don’t do this, then you are not reading. There are 2 elements to getting meaning from text – decoding and linguistic comprehension. Clearly meaning that a student’s reading abilities are determined by good decoding skills and a good understanding of the word/phrase/sentence. Back in the 80’s this equation was put forward to bring together the two opposing camps of early literacy teaching, the Whole Language approach and the Phonics view (Gough and Turner), approaches represented as “top down” and “bottom up”. Even though the two camps could not agree at the time, the SVR was adopted by the Rose Report(Rose,2006) and forms a central part in the teaching of early reading. In relation to Dyslexia, The Rose Report is the basis on which children should be assessed and monitored at an early stage and the EYFSP is the major source of information on the children’s abilities for Year 1 teachers (Rose Report ,2009). Thanks to Sir Jim Rose, all children have now got the chance to learn, teachers are better trained to recognise the early signs and better equipped to tackle any issues at an early stage.

Conclusion.

This essay shows that although the causes of dyslexia are unclear and the

type of difficulties children with dyslexia experience can vary, schools and

local authorities have a duty to encourage exceptional teachers in undertaking

specialist teaching training in order to assist with early diagnosis and targeted

teaching for dyslexic children. Furthermore, it highlights the role of the

constructivist approach in developing a positive attitude towards learning

through promoting an accepting learning environment and gradually placing

the locus of control to students in order to help them overcome their difficulties

and achieve their full potential as valuable members of our soci

This essay shows that although the causes of dyslexia are unclear and the

type of difficulties children with dyslexia experience can vary, schools and

local authorities have a duty to encourage exceptional teachers in undertaking

specialist teaching training in order to assist with early diagnosis and targeted

teaching for dyslexic children. Furthermore, it highlights the role of the

constructivist approach in developing a positive attitude towards learning

through promoting an accepting learning environment and gradually placing

the locus of control to students in order to help them overcome their difficulties

and achieve their full potential as valuable members of our soci

This essay shows that although the causes of dyslexia are unclear and the

type of difficulties children with dyslexia experience can vary, schools and

local authorities have a duty to encourage exceptional teachers in undertaking

specialist teaching training in order to assist with early diagnosis and targeted

teaching for dyslexic children. Furthermore, it highlights the role of the

constructivist approach in developing a positive attitude towards learning

through promoting an accepting learning environment and gradually placing

the locus of control to students in order to help them overcome their difficulties

and achieve their full potential as valuable members of our soc

This essay shows that although the causes of dyslexia are unclear and the type of difficulties children with dyslexia experience can vary, my opinion is that schools and local authorities have a duty to encourage exceptional teaching. Specialist teaching training should be made available in order to assist with early diagnosis and targeted teaching for dyslexic children. I think just as Dr Bishop was arguing, instead of seeing labels as a barrier, we should work towards changing society’s opinions through promoting an accepting learning environment and gradually placing the focus of control to students in order to help them overcome their difficulties and achieve their full potential.

References

Elliot, J., Grogorenko, E. (2014), The Dyslexia Debate, University of Durham

Bishop, B (2004), My thoughts on the Dyslexia Debate, bishop blog

Rayner, K., Foorman, B.R., Perfetti, C.A., Pesetsky, D and Seidenberg, M.S. (2001) How Psychological Science informs the teaching of Reading, University of California, Los Angeles

Elliot, J. and Gibbs, S, (2008), Does Dyslexia Exist? Journal of Philosophy of Education, Vol 42

Vellutino, F., Fletcher, J.M., Snowling, M.J. and Scanlon, D.M. (2004), Specific reading disability(dyslexia): what have we learned in the past four decades? Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, vol 45

Sir Rose Jim (June 2009), Identifying and Teaching Children and Young people with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties. The Rose Review

Savage, J. (1985), Dyslexia: Understanding Reading Problems, New York, Messner, J.

Frith, U. (1999), Paradoxes in the definitions of Dyslexia, Dyslexia, No.5

Stanovich, K. (1986), Mathew effects in reading: Some consequences of individual Differences in the acquisition of Literacy, Wiley, Reading Research Quarterly, vol.21

Gathecole, S.E., Pickering, S.J. (2000), Working memory deficits in children with low achievement in the national curriculum at 7 year of age, The British Psychological Society

Snowling, M. (1988), Dyslexia as a Phonological Deficit: Evidence and Implication, Child Psychology and Psychiatry Review, Cambridge University Press

Wilkins, A.J., Evans, B., Busby, A., Jeanes, R. (1995), Optometric correlates of Meares-Irlen syndrome: a matched group study, vol.15, Ophthalmic and Psychological Optics

Bouldoukin, J., Wilkins, A.J., Evans, B.J. (2002) Randomised controlled trial of the effect of coloured overlays on the rate of reading of people with specific learning difficulties, Ophthalmic Physiological Optics, vol.22

Stein, J. (2001), The Magnocellular theory of developmental Dyslexia, British Dyslexia Association

Spinelli, D., De Luca, M., Judica, A., Zoccolotti, P. (2002), Crowding Effects on Word Identification in Developmental Dyslexia, IUSM, Rome

Hari, R., Renvall, H., Tanskanen, T. (2001), Left mini neglect in dyslexic adults, Oxford University Press

Nicholson, R.I. and Fawcet, A.J. (2011), Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, procedural learning and the cerebellum, Cortex

Nicholson, R.I., Fawcet, A.J., Dean, P. (2001), Developmental dyslexia: the cerebellar deficit hypothesis, Trends Neuroscience

Peyrin, C., Labier, M., Pichat, C., Le Bas, J.F., Valdois, S. (2014), Visual processing of multiple elements in the dyslexic brain: evidence for a superior povietal dysfunction, Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Reid, G. (2001), A Practitioner’s Handbook, West Sussex, Wiley

                             

Introduction

Why is a dyslexia assessment important? Despite taking into account experts’ claims that Dyslexia is a meaningless label that is holding back teachers and parents from helping children with their individual needs (J. Elliot, E. Grigorenko,2014). Same experts claiming that children who do not get a Dyslexia assessment are seen as lazy, after reading and hearing so many different views, I believe that an identification of Dyslexia is necessary as it recognises learning differences, it helps organise appropriate teaching strategies. By putting a name to their learning difference, they begin to feel better about themselves, it helps teachers plan lessons accordingly and it can improve standards by raising students’ performance.

In this essay I will critically analyse a Dyslexia report, trying to address key issues such as links to the Code of Practice, does it provide guidance to help determine which teaching approaches should be implemented for the student, are the recommendations suitable for the particular needs of the individual and what issues does the report raises that are being debated by different organizations surrounding Dyslexia.

An appraisal

An assessment is a process in which information is gathered to identify which are the contributing factors in a student’s difficulty with learning to spell and read. Our assessment is based on the fact that the student has been observed for over 3 years and it is clear the he found learning sounds, reading and writing difficult, despite having good spoken intelligence and a good memory. K’s National Curriculum reading level is very low. He has the reading level of a Year 1 student, even though K is now in Year 4, with a chronological age of 8 years and 8 months. His class teacher and the school Senco has provided most of his background information. It needs to be specified that K’s family situation and his behaviour in school has attracted outside support and intervention. K’s mom is grateful for the extra support but she is quite negative about the child’s achievements and is not able to provide much support at home.  K and his family are known to Social Services, a Support Worker observed and sought to provide assistance. Alongside the school report, K has been assessed by an Educational Psychologist, due to his considerable amount of neglect in his early years and showed signs of developmental delay and               psychological trauma after 9 months of being away from his mother.  Research shows that dyslexia is not caused by emotional or family problems, but emotional problems do begin to develop when early reading instruction does not match their learning style (Orton, T.,1925) K’s profile does not mention a history of Dyslexia, meaning his deficit might be phonologically based. It is obvious and mentioned throughout the assessment that K has poor concentration, low self-esteem and frustration when he cannot achieve at the required level. These characteristics are evident in Dyslexics. Their pain of failing other people’s expectations is surpassed by the ability to achieve their goals, but with the right support these difficulties can be overcome. The definition used by the SLT teacher is one that I find most useful in defining Dyslexia. A learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling (Rose, J.,2009)

When a student is having difficulties reading and spelling a diagnosis is important as it identifies the source of the problem and it determines whether the student fits a dyslexic’s profile. The diagnosis should be followed by intervention               and a remedial program. Dyslexic children must get specialized support in order to make progress. It is very important that the student’s specialized instruction begins at the current level of reading rather than at the student’s grade level.

Also important in this process is the documentation as it helps to determine the student’s eligibility for special education, support with his SATs exams, college entry exams or even in the workplace.

During this assessment, the student had his oral language skills tested, where K scored well within his age range. K was not IQ tested so I cannot comment on his Expressive Vocabulary and sequencing although the British Picture Vocabulary Scale was used to assess the receptive skills, K scoring slightly above average. It’s also known that the student has got a good spoken intelligence, as observed by his class teacher and Senco.  In regards to the other areas tested such as word recognition, spelling, decoding, phonological processing, automaticity and reading comprehension, K showed weakness with his phonological memory and awareness, reading and writing.

K’s overall underlying ability is within average, meaning he should be able to learn but his reading, spelling and writing skills are below average for his age.

The tests do suggest that even though the student finds it slightly easier to combine sounds he lacks knowledge of spelling rules that enables him to read and write more complex words.

Aspects of phonological processing are challenging for student K and a difficulty in this area is a clear indicator of dyslexia because of the ability to process speech sounds

If a child cannot use the sounds he is hearing, difficulties in reading and writing will exist.

Another area of difficulty for many dyslexic children is memory and attention. “Children experiencing attention difficulties have documented cognitive deficits in working memory “(Savage, Cornish, Manly, Hollis,2006)

Even though K was quite restless and fidgety during his assessment, he achieved well above average in his Rapid Naming Tests, which might show that his processing speed is not affected and his difficulties with organisation and concentration are associated with dyslexia and not another developmental disorder such as ADHD. It must be added that K has already been referred to a Mental Health Service in order to be monitored and assessed for ADHD, based on his class and playground behaviour. His current teacher has put in place strategies to support K in managing his behaviour, mainly because he feels the need to always be right, defending his answers when wrong but also as a result of his low self-esteem.

K was not assessed for signs of visual stress but it has been recommended to use different coloured overlays or coloured paper.

The tests were age appropriate and the specialist Teacher did offer relevant recommendations. All areas of learning development have been covered but what I would like to add as a general recommendation is that due to K’s inability to concentrate for long periods of time, learning sessions should include kinaesthetic activities that give opportunity for movement such as matching games, drama, role-play, memory games, Simple Simon, putting alphabet cards around the room. Multi-tasking could be used to help develop focus, meaning, tasks are broken down in short chunks with clear expectations.

Still to help with his attention, K should be seated at the front with his back to the rest of the class to avoid distraction.

The recommendations are fit to K’s profile, they focus on his strengths such as the use of ICT games, phonics games on computer to develop his literacy skills.

More emphasis should be put on expressing himself, using ambitious vocabulary and that might be achieved through Social Stories, as a whole class approach. That will also help with his low self-esteem. His SLT specialist has proposed lots of approaches to help K work on his weaknesses.

On the negative side, these recommendations would not help a teacher or LSA staff without prior Dyslexia training. Each child needs an individual plan, built according to the child’s needs. For a teacher to be able to follow through and support the child, Dyslexia training is required. Teaching needs to be differentiated, the fact that the SLT Specialist is recommending dyslexia friendly strategies and a dyslexia friendly classroom is very helpful but without appropriate training that cannot be achieved. His 1:1 support during lessons should   be modified according to his dyslexic needs, as well. Without staff training, it cannot be done. In regards to whole class strategies I think not many are recommended.  K’s lack of confidence and enthusiasm would surely be helped with whole class strategies or even starting in small groups.

K is afraid of failure and works better with a 1:1 support but increasing slowly the number of children in the group, would be beneficial to K.

Eventually he could be included in discussions, debates and demonstrations.

Psychologists use the term “working memory “to describe the ability to have to hold in mind information over short periods of time” (Gathercolle and Alloway,2007)

To assess K, the SLT Teacher has used the COTTP, Rapid Naming Tests, where K performed above average for his age. Meaning that his processing speed is not affected but his working memory might be poor. During the tests he had short attention span when he is was not fully interested in the task.

 

A critical analysis of policy and pedagogy issues

The main issues debated in government around Dyslexia are put forward in quite a few reviews, beginning with The Rose Report (2009) where a key recommendation was that “more specialist teacher should be trained in order that every primary school had access to someone with this level of expertise” (Rose, J.,2009). Not surprisingly, the Dyslexia SpLD Trust, in 2013, supported by Dyslexia Action, was raising the same concern in regards to children with Dyslexia and Special Needs. Schools should “ensure all staff have appropriate knowledge and understanding in order that the requirements of children can be met in all subjects band activities” (SpLD Trust ,2013). It was also mentioned amongst other key points that SEND Children “should be identified as early as possible so they can receive targeted support and intervention” (SpLD Trust,2013)

The Ofsted SEN Report (2010), mentions that “schools should stop identifying pupils as having special educational needs when they simply need better teaching and pastoral support” (Ofsted ,2010) that can be achieved if a better level of expertise in special educational needs would exist in schools. In contrast with the last report but on the same line, “No to Failure” (2007) commissioned a study to gather evidence on the impact of all the different ways support was delivered to children with dyslexia in main stream schools. Sadly, the study showed that many children with dyslexia were not identified and given the right support by their teachers and school.  As a result of their findings, Sir Jim Rose was asked to recommend, analyse and review literacy difficulties and dyslexia, leading to the Rose Report, “Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Learning Difficulties”

Even though, in the dyslexia assessment I presented my views on above, the student had indeed a dyslexic profile, his behaviour and frustration was brought on by the fact that his weakness has not been identified early and a dyslexia assessment was only led in year 4 of study. Early identification and intervention would have been beneficial, but that could only have been achieved with the right specialist training of the staff.

I tend to conclude the fact that, even though K was on the SEN register for over 3 years, that was only caused by his behaviour. With the right level of qualification and knowledge a teacher could have picked up on K’s struggle way before. Luckily, it 1was not intervened too late and K will be able to progress and achieve with the right support.                                                                                       

This only reinforces the main point of all the reviews acknowledged, such as Sir Jim Rose’s Review on Dyslexia (2009), The Bercow Review on speech and language difficulties (2008), No to Failure study (2007) that the level of knowledge in SEN, needs to be improved in our schools.

“A statement is not enough” (Ofsted ,2010)

Conclusion

 

From my point of view, K’s Dyslexia assessment, has confirmed all the concerns the school staff had. It is a useful document even though it puts a label, the child can now give a name to his weakness. I do agree that putting a label might make people see only the diagnosis and not the child, but working in exactly the same environment myself, being a SEN teaching Assistant, a 1:1 support, with a label, you know how to help the child. Signs and characteristics are there but without enough experience teaching stuff cannot identify the difficulty and cannot support the child. I have only had to add a few other points to the report, such as visual support, working memory activities, attention improving strategies but the only thing that might lead to future questions about the nature of assessment is why has it not been identified until now? And why, in this year and age, teaching staff still lacks the right understanding of dyslexia?

It is true that sometimes Dyslexia or any other learning difficulty is over diagnosed and that as it is mentioned in the 2010 Ofsted report on SEN, better teaching techniques are needed to recognise and implement the right support, the delay in assessment affects the child, affects his behaviour, affects his future learning.

Teachers need better training to recognise dyslexics and learning difficulties.

Children with special educational needs need to feel included.

Schools need to identify children with special educational needs early on and offer specialist support.

Teachers need to identify traits of dyslexia, such as avoidance, avoiding reading and writing, anger, frustration, isolation and ask themselves what are the causes.

Even though many dyslexics do succeed in life we should not lay the wrong labels on our children, we should not label them misbehaved or troublemakers, we should identify the signs and give our children the right support.

“Instead of scolding and blaming, please teach and assist me…” (Every child is special, movie, Amir Khan,2007).                                                      

     References

Elliot, Grigorenko, E., The Dyslexia Debate (2014), University of Durham

Orton., Word Blindness in School Children (1925), Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, vol.14

Sir Rose, J., Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties (2009), The Rose Review

Savage, R., Cornish, K., Manly, T., Hollis, C., Cognitive processes in children’s reading and attention: The role of working memory, divided attention and response inhibition (2006), The British Psychological Society

Gathercole, S., Alloway, T., Understanding Working Memory,2007

Dyslexia SpLD Trust, Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties: Policy and Practice Review,2013

Ofsted, The Special Educational Needs and Disability Review,2010

Dyslexia SpLD Trust, No To Failure Final Report,2009

Bercow, J., The Bercow Review: A Review of Services for Children and Young People (0-19) with Speech, Language and Communication Needs,2008

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