Unravelling dyslexia. Pippa Sweeney

Pippa Sweeney author photoWords Get Knotted – my book about dyslexia was created when three stars became perfectly aligned. Firstly, I discovered that my eldest daughter had dyslexia just after she had completed her secondary education. Secondly, I was just about to start an MA in Authorial Illustration with the aim of writing a children’s book, and lastly (and probably because of the first little star), I had just begun to explore the creative possibility of using muddled wool and knitting as a visual metaphor to express word difficulties.

I soon realised that dyslexia often goes undetected for a number of reasons, for example, children are capable of developing very complex strategies to cover up difficulties and sometimes parents (myself included) unknowingly have dyslexia, and therefore often perceive difficulties as quite ‘normal’. It’s also not just about reading – there is a wide and complex range of difficulties associated with dyslexia.


My aim was to create a book that would appeal to any and every child and to help word difficulties become detected and understood. I had previously always used black and white line to illustrate so I obviously had to find a fun and colourful medium for the book. I know it sounds corny but I had my ‘eureka moment’ when I discovered needle felting which uses needles to shape muddled, unspun wool and this fitted in beautifully with the wool imagery in the book. Words Get Knotted rapidly developed after this point, and my colourful characters and illustrations began telling their own story and giving advice!

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Words Get Knotted is a really positive book that not only aims to empower a child to understand and articulate his or her own word difficulties, but also offers hope and encouragement for them and their families. Dyslexia difficulties should only be a tiny part of a child’s life, whereas dyslexia strengths can have huge potential if nurtured correctly.

Find out more about Pippa at www.pippasweeney.info


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