Hints on recognising and teaching;Cover story;Dyslexia Awareness Week

29th October 1999 at 01:00
Identifying dyslexia.

Look out for weaknesses which appear alongside abilities in creativity or in highly developed verbal skills:

at pre-school level

* persistent difficulty in learning nursery rhymes and naming things

* enjoyment in being read to but showing no interest in letters or words

* delayed speech development

* poor concentration

in primary school

* poor sense of direction, confusing left and right

* short-term memory, eg, finding it hard to remember multiplication tables, the alphabet or classroom instruction.

* speed of processing: spoken and or written language slow

* pronounced reading difficulties: laboured or hesitant reading; omitting lines or repetition of the same line; loss of place in the text; muddling words such as 'on' and 'no' 'was' and 'saw'; finding it difficult to blend letters together; failing to recognise familiar words

* poor standard of written work compared with oral ability; messy work that doesn't stay close to the margin; handwriting that is heavy and laborious; confusion of letters such as 'b' and 'd' and 'w' and 'm'; spells a word several different ways in one piece of writing

* easily distracted

* makes anagrams of words eg 'tired' for 'tried'

in secondary school

* still reading inaccurately; still having problems spelling; confusing places, times and dates; needs to have instructions repeated

In addition pupils may:

* Get tied up using long words

* Have difficulty planning and writing essays

* Suffer poor confidence and low self esteem.

* have difficulty organising life around a time-table

* problems writing notes at speed and handing work in on time

Tips for teachers

* have high expectations of ability but be reasonable about written responses

* be prepared to explain things many times in a variety of ways

* watch out for signs of tiredness and fatigue - dyslexic children have to try harder than other pupils

* use a multi-sensory method of learning where possible

* enable dyslexic children to show their knowledge and skills despite their difficulties with writing. Often they will be able to 'shine' orally and teachers should encourage this

* watch out for signs of falling confidence and low self-esteem

* allow dyslexic children to sit near the front, arrange resources so they can be found easily

* use computers wherever possible

* help dyslexic children understand the text they are reading with constant reference to the meaning

* don't expect them to copy chunks of text from a black or white board.

They cannot reproduce accurately and they cannot find their place on the board after they have looked down at their book. The board should be used for reminders but not large pieces of work.

If it must be used, provide a photocopied transcript.

* don't expect the same quantity of written work as you would from other children

* don't ask them to read aloud unless they are comfortable with the idea

* don't expect them to learn strings of facts by heart such as multiplication tables.

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