Open your ears to that cry for help

As the headteacher of a specialist dyslexia school, I have seen countless examples of how poor behaviour can be a key indicator of special education needs ("When naughtiness is really a cry for help", 16 August).

Children often arrive at our school thoroughly disengaged and introverted, with absolutely no desire to communicate with, or learn from, adults. Instead of receiving the support they so desperately need, they have been labelled as naughty and considered a "problem child", not a child with problems. It is difficult to fathom how hard it must be for a bright child battling with dyslexia. They know the answers but communicating them is almost impossible. When this struggle goes undetected, it is little wonder that frustration develops into disruption.

When children with special educational needs get the correct support, the transformation is staggering. Teachers must not take bad behaviour at face value - there is always a reason for it. It may not be related to SEN, but when it is, it's a cry for help that must be heard, otherwise students will be sentenced to a lifetime of underachievement and unhappiness.

Dr Daryl Brown, Headteacher, Maple Hayes Dyslexia School and Research Centre, Lichfield, Staffordshire.

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