Could your child be dyslexic by Avril Lane Watson, B.Ed

book-15584_1280Why is my child not happy in school? They seem very clever at home- why are they doing so badly in tests? Is my child dyslexic?

Many parents ask themselves these questions and it can be very difficult to find an answer.

Teachers can’t give a definite answer- they can tell you about your child’s performance and behaviour in class but getting a diagnosis involves paying for a report from an educational psychologist.

What if your child is a bit dyslexic- can they be just partly dyslexic?

Many parents feel an enormous sense of frustration when looking for answers.

I’m Avril Lane Watson- I’ve worked as a primary school teacher in Ireland for 15 years. After being a class teacher for 4 years I became very interested in the pupils in my class who were very bright and intelligent but academically were failing. I was saddened by how this affected their self-esteem and decided to do whatever I could to find a solution for them. I didn’t know at this stage but my two brothers were undiagnosed dyslexics- I was however very aware of how they had hated school and how their confidence had been shattered as a result.

I decided to train as a Learning Support Teacher and taught dyslexic children for the following 11 years. I loved teaching then and enjoyed communicating with the parents and class teachers to organise a plan for each child to learn in the most enjoyable, self-esteem enhancing way!

There are many ways in which you the parent can help your child now – here are a few tips.

-Find out more about dyslexia- if your child didn’t crawl and performs well in other areas besides school work there is a good chance he/she has some form of dyslexia. Read the book ‘The Gift of Dyslexia’ by Ronald Davis for more guidance.
-Talk to your child about what their interests and talents are. Discuss what they would like to do with their life? Show your child the youtube clip- like a dyslexic-(it’s on our website and facebook page)
-Did you know that some people have different learning styles? Some learn visually- they need to see things and to remember, others are auditory learners- they remember what they hear best and others are kinaesthetic learners- they learn by touch and feel.
If your child is struggling to learn you need to find out his/her learning style and teach them in that way- also make sure their teacher is made aware of this too. You may find that your child struggles to learn spellings through a phonological approach- most dyslexic children can’t differentiate the vowel sounds- teach them visually instead ( the LOOK, COVER, WRITE, CHECK approach)or get them play-dough and make the letters of the word- if their kinaesthetic learners they’ll love this!
Watch out for other learning styles also- perhaps your child can only listen while they are twiddling with a pencil or looking out the window. Many children get stressed if they have to look at the teacher while being spoken to – they’ll hear them perfectly if they are looking away! These things drive teachers mad until they understand them- let the teacher know your findings. I don’t know any teacher who would have a problem allowing these behaviours in class as long as they know the purpose behind them.
-If your child is putting in a big effort to write yet is slow and writes very messily and makes spelling mistakes these are all indications of a form of dyslexia. Meet with the class teacher and discuss a fair plan of reduced writing-so that your child doesn’t become disillusioned by their best effort still ‘being rubbish’- as I’ve heard many children say about their hard work.
Can you imagine what it feels like to go into a class every day where you know you’re the worst in the class? You have to watch your peers who are not as smart as you easily sail through their work while you sit there feeling sick from effort. Then as they finish early they get to play games while you slog on.
There are many types of dyslexia, it’s generally inherited and is much more common in males. People who predominantly use the right side of the brain think in creative/picture mode- they are more artistic than left brain dominant people and are more likely to be dyslexic. That’s why many singers, artists, inventors, actors and so on are dyslexic.
-If you find that some days your child can be very alert and work well other days they can’t seem to focus or perform well you should look out for a pattern which causes this.
Watch their sleep patterns; don’t let them near a screen such as an Ipad after 6pm- the rays from the screen especially close up ones can disturb sleep patterns leaving your child sleepy and irritable the next day.
Stay in touch with what they are watching on T.V or playing on the X-Box etc. If they are still young- follow the age guidelines. Children up to the age of 7 are particularly affected as their unconscious is still easily influenced.
Very often it can be food intolerances especially artificial colours, flavours and preservatives in food. I have especially noticed how Monosodium Glutamate (disguised as M.S.G and E621) has a negative effect on children. It is in most crisps, sausages and Chinese food. Of course sugar, chocolate and caffeine (in Coke& Red Bull) can also scramble the brain. If your child’s gut flora is out of balance they can be very badly affected by regular food such as dairy and wheat- but that’s another post!
I do hope this information has been useful. I want you to know that you- the parent -are the biggest influence on your child’s life- your attitude towards their dyslexia will make an enormous difference to how it positively or negatively affects their lives. They will be taking in what you say and how you say it, even when you think they’re not listening. Please be careful when you’re talking about them to anyone- they will listen in at any opportunity- remember even when they seem distracted they can be listening intently. They’re very clever and concerned about their problem!
If you have any questions please feel free to ask, I’ve spent all my life living with, learning about and working with dyslexic people so I’ve learned a lot!
It’s a lifetime passion of mine to help people understand dyslexia, to teach dyslexic children and in so doing bring happiness to a multitude!
Avril