Dyslexia is a common type of specific learning difficulty that mainly affects the skills involved in the reading and spelling of words.
A person with dyslexia has difficulty "decoding" words despite appropriate learning opportunities. This difficulty will also be significantly greater than for other areas of learning.
Dyslexia should be recognised as a spectrum disorder, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. In particular, people with dyslexia have difficulties with:
- phonological awareness
- verbal memory
- verbal processing speed
These terms are explained in more detail below.
Phonological awareness is thought to be a key skill in early reading and spelling development. It is the ability to identify how words are made up of smaller units of sound, known as phonemes. Changes in the sounds that make up words can lead to changes in their meaning.
So, for example, a child with a good level of phonological awareness would understand that if you change the letter "p" in the word "pat" to "s", the word would become "sat".
Verbal memory is the ability to remember a sequence of verbal information for a short period of time.
For example, the ability to remember a short list such as "red, blue, green", or a set of simple instructions, such as "Put on your gloves and your hat, find the lead for the dog and then go to the park."
Verbal processing speed
Verbal processing speed is defined as the time it takes to process and recognise familiar verbal information, such as letters and digits.
For example, having difficulty writing down unfamiliar words when they are spelled out, or telephone numbers.
Dyslexia and intelligence
Even though dyslexia is classed as a learning difficulty or more commonly now referred to as a learning difference, there is no connection between dyslexia and a child’s intelligence. Children of all intellectual abilities, from low to high intelligence, can be affected by dyslexia.
Similarly, a child’s difficulty with reading and spelling is not determined by their intelligence, but by how severe their dyslexia is. Children with average intelligence and mild dyslexia are likely to be more skilled at reading and writing than children with high intelligence and severe dyslexia.
What leads to dyslexic screening?
- Identification as a struggling reader by class teacher.
- Discussion with Inclusion Support Team.
- Discussion with parents.
- Permission from parents sought for screening.
The screening we use at Olqoh is DST-J. This screening programme is well recognised. It was developed by Dr Angela Fawcett and Professor Rod Nicolson for use with children aged 6 years 6 months to 11 years 5 months.
The DST-J provides a profile of strengths and weaknesses which can be used to guide the development of in-school support for the child.
The DST-J is NOT diagnostic tool dyslexia can ONLY be diagnosed by an Educational Psychologist
The DST-J consists of the following subtests:
- Rapid Naming
- Bead Threading
- One Minute Reading
- Postural Stability
- Phonemic Segmentation
- Two Minute Spelling
- Backwards Digit Span
- Nonsense Passage Reading
- One Minute Writing
- Verbal Fluency
- Rhyme NEW
- Vocabulary NEW
Once screening has been completed you will receive a report (see a sample report below) and in invitation to come and discuss any findings.
Interventions are targeted programmes for specific areas of learning. Reading and spelling programmes that have been specifically designed for the dyslexic learner can also benefit struggling readers who do not have dyslexic traits.
Dyslexic Interventions used in Our lady Queen of heaven
Alpha to Omega
For over 30 years, the Alpha to Omega programme has offered practical help in teaching reading, writing and spelling to children with learning difficulties, including dyslexia. By following closely the normal pattern of phonological language acquisition, the Alpha to Omega course helps to accelerate students' learning. The Alpha to Omega course offers a multisensory approach
Similar to Alpha, using multisensory approach to help students with their learning.
Acceleread/Accelewrite is a teaching programme involving the use of cards of short sentences following a spelling pattern, used in conjunction with a talking word processor and is in effect a multi-sensory look-cover-write-listen approach.
The child works 1:1 with a supportive adult for 20-30 mins a day for a minimum of 20 sessions, preferably every day if possible.
The word processor is set up to speak every word and then the whole sentence when the full stop is put in.
The child reads the first sentence, or has help if reading is a problem, until she/he can say it by heart. They then attempt to type the sentence from memory.
The talking word processor provides auditory prompts and the helper should not make any comment until the child thinks the sentence is correct. If it is not correct, the child can look at the card and have another go.
When that sentence is complete, the next three are approached in the same way.
Once the four are finished, the helper discusses what the spelling pattern is with the child.
The sentences are scrolled out of sight, and the child types in as many of the rule words as possible from memory. When the child is stuck, the helper can give clues, but not the words. The child can then type in any others that follow the same rule that s/he can think of.
The programme helps to improve reading, make spelling more phonetic and/or improve it, keyboard skills and most effective is the increase in ability to remember things and stay on task - even away from the computer!
Used in con junction with all the above programmes or as a stand-alone aid in the classroom we currently have 21 typers being used by individual pupils accross the school
Talking computer programme used in conjunction with Acceleread/Accelewrite is our most successful reading interventions, bringing a childs reading age up by 7 months on average.