It is estimated that over 10% of the population suffer from dyslexia to some extent and that about 4 people in every hundred need special help. Dyslexia is a genuine learning difference that occurs irrespective of intelligence but the problems that it causes can largely be overcome by the right teaching, understanding, encouragement and support for the determination of the person with dyslexia. It is not possible for us to give general advice on the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia – each individual will have different problems and will need to cope with them in various ways. What can be included in general however is the need for hand-outs to be provided on coloured paper rather than white as indicated on the attached list of students. The challenge is to find a form or method of communication that is accessible to all parties concerned and which results in the least distortion of information.
The child presents with greater difficulty than the majority of their peers in the following areas:
- Phonological awareness and processing
- Verbal memory
- Verbal processing speed
- Word reading and spelling skills with consequent impact on other literacy skills
- Number skills
Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia. A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.
Quality first Teaching
- Differentiation of literacy and numeracy tasks to support learning outcomes, eg, listening and discussing rather than reading and writing, use of assistive technology, etc
- Alternative multi-sensory activities to enhance and support learning, eg, visual and practical
- A variety of alternative ways to present and record learning, oral, photographic, video, highlighting/cutting and pasting text, flow charts, mindmaps, bullet points, etc
- Use of classroom learning aids (eg, subject specific word mats, word lists coloured coded by category, writing frames, spellcheckers, specialist dictionaries, ICT, etc)
- Use of reading texts matched to age and interest as well as reading level across the curriculum
- Careful consideration of accessibility of learning materials in terms of readability, density of text, size and choice of font, layout, overlays, coloured paper, appropriate use of illustrations etc
- Enhance attention skills by reducing background noise and distractions
- Support to sequence tasks and instructions within class
- Giving extra processing time for thinking, speaking and listening
- Support for homework and arrangements to ensure that tasks are clearly recorded including use of ICT
- Use relevant Quality First Teaching to support learning as per SLCN and MLD sections
- Up to 3 hours teaching assistant support per week and/or the provision of equipment that is not normally available for:
- An assessment of child’s SpLD leading to an appropriately targeted intervention programme planned in partnership with the child and their family and as advised by an outside agency where involved
- Individual/small group programmes reinforced by appropriate ICT on phonological awareness, phonics including letter sounds and blending, sight vocabulary, reading strategies, comprehension and inference skills, letter formation, handwriting, spelling, sentence formation, grammar, writing/composition skills, study skills, etc as appropriate and using evidence based interventions programmes
- Classroom support to develop literacy and numeracy skills and generalisation of skills taught as part of individual/small group programmes
- Child’s baselines and subsequent progress accurately monitored and provision regularly reviewed and adjusted in line with their progress over a sustained period (ie, at least 2 terms)
Other Classroom Strategies
- Laptops are useful instruments for the dyslexic and can be allowed in class by agreement with the SENCO. Based on need, the student can be offered additional support with editing and organising the work afterwards – this approach is not permissible for controlled assessments and assignments completed under timed conditions as these must be the students’ own work.
- Mere repetition is not necessarily useful in the explanation of a concept or idea in the form in which it was first presented – it may be better to approach from a different angle that the dyslexic may understand more readily. It is important that the content of books and articles used be of appropriate interest to the age group concerned. If the literature can be related to the students’ interest in sport or a hobby for example, it will assist them to be involved with reading outside school hours and provide motivation.
- Allow the use of computers, laptops and word processors in lessons and for completing extended written homework tasks. Copying from the board can be very difficult for dyslexic learners and should be avoided wherever possible. Where necessary, bullet points should be permitted rather than long sentences. In general, the best advice is to provide a personal copy of source notes for use by the student as copying from the board is unhelpful. Colour copies of handouts should also be provided – encourage reprographics to provide at least three copies per class on pastel coloured paper. Encourage students to take a photo of notes on the board using a phone/tablet.
- Whilst teaching, the best use and management of time is very important to enable the student to achieve effective output of work, an element of constant encouragement should be given. Unless there is some recognition of EFFORT as well as achievement the student could be tempted to neglect those subjects where they continually receive an unfavourable response.
- Have pupils work in pairs – dyslexic pupil who has good ideas but difficulty with spelling and handwriting with a pupil who is good at writing but not so strong on ideas
- Have any text that the pupil will struggle with read to them by a ‘study buddy’.
- Avoid asking pupil to copy from board - have them work with a study buddy, or quickly jot things down for them, or use a photocopied transcript
- Be aware that the pupil may find it hard to hold questions, information or instructions in their head for long enough to act on them, and repeat instructions/questions. ‘Chunk’ them rather than saying in one long string, jot them down on a sticky note, or encourage the pupil to do so.
- Allow time for processing (for example paired discussion with a partner before putting hands up)
- Be aware that dyslexic pupils may know something one day and forget it the next, may lose or forget equipment they need, or may forget what they are supposed to be doing in the course of a lesson. Avoid criticism when this happens; instead, talk with them about strategies they can use to help them remember things
- Use ICT supports – audio taped texts, laptop, predictive word processing , speech-supported texts, spellcheckers, mind mapping software
- Mark for content rather than presentation. When marking, praise for two correct spellings, target two incorrect spellings and use these errors as teaching points. Suggest a way of avoiding the mistake in future - for example, the similarity of the spelling to other known words, or ‘the tricky bit’ that has to be learned.
- Enable pupil to record their ideas using alternatives to writing: PowerPoint presentations, making posters, oral presentations, dramatic reconstructions, mind maps, matching labels to pictures/diagrams/maps , sorting statements or pictures into categories
- Scaffold writing: Provide writing frames and templates (e.g. writing up a science experiment) to help structure.
- Provide prompt sheets: questions to answer, key words to build each section or paragraph around, sentences or paragraphs to put in correct order, paragraph openings
- Provide clue cards
- Use cloze procedure(where the pupil fills in missing words in text)
- Do not expect pupil to easily remember sequences such as days of the week, months of the year, the alphabet, times tables, number facts. Provide aids (for example, a pocket alphabet or calendar, table squares, calculator}
- Avoid embarrassing pupil by asking them to read aloud in front of others, unless they volunteer
- Overcome problems in learning by rote by helping pupil recognise patterns, use mnemonics, or use memory strategies that create relationships between items in a list in order to aid recall.
- Allow extra time to complete tasks and be aware of the fatigue the pupil may experience because of the amount of effort they have to put in to learning
- Teach pupil strategies to improve organisation, such as diaries, workplans, checklists of equipment they have to bring to school each day
- Provide the pupil with a study pack – spellchecker, highlighter pens, glue sticks, post-it notes, a line tracker for following text, blank audio tapes, index cards for subject vocabulary or spelling mnemonics, dictionary sheet of high frequency words, alphabet strip, memory jogger card for b/d confusion, sticky labels to use to correct or conceal, a tables square, a calendar, a calculator
- Write down homework for pupil, or give it on a pre-printed sticky label or sheet they can stick into their book, or record your instructions on a dictaphone. Allocate a homework buddy they can ring if they have forgotten what to do (‘phone a friend’).