Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Dyslexia? I don't care what they think

I don't even care whether some pompous professor has decided that dyslexia is ‘just an excuse for parents’. Tom's dyslexia - and his school's refusal to believe in the condition - was the trigger to our deregistrations from the school system nine years ago and so it was the very best thing to have happened for us.

The thing is, there will always be some schoolteachers - and even professors, no doubt, who fail to realise that parents know their children. And when someone's ten year-old son can explain the theory of relativity to them but not get the six letters of his own name in the right order, that parent would know there was something amiss.

And when the boy in question is generally amenable and obliging but is reported by teachers as lazy and deliberately obstructive, the parent definitely smells a rat. Especially when she has another son who can spell perfectly well but who also does happen to be inclined, on occasion, towards laziness and disruption (constructive disruption, of course...) but no complaints are forthcoming about him at all, she realises that she doesn't have to be Albert Einstein herself to know that there is a major problem.

The school refused to test him, on the gounds that "He's intelligent, so he can't be dyslexic." ??? This was their Special Needs Co-ordinator! But we somehow found the money and commissioned a 15-page report by an Ed Psych to try to convince the school that he was extremely dyslexic and therefore should perhaps be allowed to play out with his friends sometimes instead of being kept in every break and lunchtime for "refusing to get his spellings right". This report the school refused to read. "If you pay someone £180 to find something wrong with your child, they will find it," his teacher famously said.

Tom can spell now. And go out when he wants to. And he has his self-respect back too.

But I have to say, the so-called education system we have in this country doesn't seem to know much about learning.


Blogger Ruth said...

My dh struggled right through school until near the end of secondary with undxed dyslexia and got a name as a no hoper and slow and lazy. His teacher realised it wasn't true and help swing it so he did hands on stuff instead of things irrelvant to him, and he ended up in ship building cos of it. If it hadn't been for that one teacher, who recognised his potential, I dread to think what would have happened to him. Nothing has changed in the 20 odd years since. Dyslexics are intelligent. I have two dd's with dyslexia. I makes me so angry that schools failed to dx dyslexia and places are making a fortune out of private referrals and even if a diagnosis is made little, if anything, is done to help the child. The EP here told me school is the last place to put a dyslexic child when I phoned him for some advise on behalf of a HE.

9:40 pm, May 29, 2007  
Blogger dottyspots said...

Dh was dx. with dyslexia about 10 years ago.

Someone used to HE her gs (probably still is) in Coventry who had something to do with one of the national dyslexia associations - she has some great advice for HE-ing and dyslexia, I could find out if she's still around (last I heard they'd sold up to live on a narrowboat, but might still be at the Warks meetings).

I would say that the best choice for a dyslexic child is to be HE-ed as then any learning can be tailored to the individual child, but then I know I'm preaching to the converted here :)

10:34 pm, May 29, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:09 pm, May 29, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

I did hear this guy being interviewed on Radio 4 this afternoon.

That may be what he said but it wasn't really what he said. IYSWIM.

His point is that dyslexia is being used as a blanket term by parents who are despairing of getting help. He doesn't blame them for doing so, he knows that if you can "get a diagnosis" you can get help. But dyslexia is being used as an umbrella for such a wide range of conditions that it may mean that people who are affected by it don't get the right help.

A bit like dermatitis - which merely means you have something wrong with your skin.

He made quite a lot of sense to me, while the Dyslexia association woman they put up against him really didn't.

11:40 pm, May 29, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That is pretty much like us, M had a terrible time at school once he had a dx of dyslexia the school would'nt/ could'nt help. He's been home ed for over 2 years now and is a happier child. I'm also dyslexic (I got a dx 2 years ago) and was written off at school.

12:06 am, May 30, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

I gather things are a bit easier for dyslexics in schools nowadays, Ruth? Hence the story, I guess. Our EP described Tom's treatment as being "similar to expecting a child with total visual impairment to copy something down from a whiteboard - and saying he couldn't play out until he had done so." I said that in my letter to David Blunkett, which he failed to respond to. I should have sent it in audio or braille! *Slaps own forehead*.

Nikki, we tried every known method of teaching dyslexics to learn to spell when we first started HE and nothing worked for Tom. What worked in the end was leaving him alone to work out his own strategies. He taught himself to spell in the end, which is amazing considering the extent of his dyslexia.

Tim, what programme was it? I'll 'listen again'.

4kids, glad to hear your M escaped too :-)

8:08 am, May 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Weve just withdrawn our dyslexic son because of exactly the experiences you describe Gill.
It was the same with our eldest child too until she self harmed on two occasions as a desperate cry for help. Yet nobody helped her. The school just denied even more fiercely that they weren't responsible for her problems and that appropriate help was being given and if it didn't help... that means she's not bright enough for it to make any difference. There could be no conceivable possibility that they weren't meeting her needs.
She's now in a school for Dyslexic children and is blossoming.

Weve removed our son to save him from the sheer misery of being a dyslexic but compliant child described by them as 'happy' who wets the bed,chews his clothes to shreds whilst at school of course, displays all the signs of being deliriously happy with them.

9:52 am, May 30, 2007  
Blogger Ruth said...

I don't know if it is any better now but it wasn't 6 years ago when I took my lot out. G was called a "no hoper" by one teacher at the age of 7. She only brought home one reading book in a full year of school, did no written work at all and was left on her own all day. I went in repeatedly to sort things out until I found out about H.E. It was ironic really that, despite her doing nothing in school, the LA inspector wanted to see loads of written work. I told them where to get off:) S was only 6 and I got her out before it was obvious but lack of help was similar.

11:50 am, May 30, 2007  
Blogger lucy said...

I'm afraid it isn't any better. We came out three years ago and it was dire for dyslexics, just like you experienced - a diagnosis did not get you help. I do have a friend with a dyslexic son in secondary school now and what I hear from her is so appalling I actually think it might be getting worse :(

5:48 pm, May 30, 2007  
Blogger Tim said...

Sorry, I don't remember the programme, it might have been about 6-6.30pm, probably "Today".

7:37 pm, May 30, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dyslexia doesn't exist. It's lack of knowledge or acumulation of error in how to read and write.

Not all children are going to be interested in reading and writing at the same age. Not all teaching of language is going to help them learn it.

At school, when kids have a question or misunderstand something, they might go unoticed. So they don't learn.

As adults we don't all expect to be professional writers, good public speakers, mathematicians, athletes... Why do we expect children to keep up with an arbitrary amount of knowledge at x age?

It makes no sense.

1:24 am, June 03, 2007  
Blogger Gill said...

That's not the case, anonymous, and if you'd ever spent time trying to help a dyslexic learn to read or write, you'd know it wasn't.

My Tom could not and still can not remember how to spell words. He can look at a fairly simple word for ages, look away and still not remember how to spell it.

He's trained himself to get around this problem by memorising a series of tricks and mental processes so that he can effectively bypass his inability, but I can assure you he was given every possible assistance before this.

His father had the same problem and his sister has it too, to some extent, though my younger son has absolutely no dyslexic traits.

10:31 am, June 03, 2007  

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