Tag Archives: dyslexia awareness week

Progress in dyslexia awareness. Dr. Gavin Reid

portrait_gavin_reidAs it is Dyslexia Awareness Week it is good to reflect on the progress that has taken place in this area. Successive campaigning over a long number of years by groups such as the BDA, Dyslexia Action and the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre has resulted in dyslexia having a voice at all levels – in government, local education authorities and at school level. Some years ago dyslexia was seen very much as a specialism in the UK and therefore intervention was in the hands of a few highly trained and skilled professionals.

Since then there has been a widespread movement towards creating more awareness of dyslexia at all levels. As a result, a greater number of schools now acknowledge that dyslexia is a whole school issue and therefore it has an impact upon staff development.

From my own perspective as a trainer and an author I find that I am now frequently asked to do presentations on dyslexia to the whole staff in a school. Additionally, I find that the attendees at presentations that are organised by regional groups tend to be more diverse than before, demonstrating that clearly more and more professionals from different sectors of education are becoming more aware and more involved in dyslexia. The BDA are also accrediting increasing amounts of quality professional courses in dyslexia.

It is for that reason that books such as 100+ Ideas for Supporting Children with Dyslexia have been successful. Teachers now have a greater awareness of dyslexia, and a clearer understanding of the needs of children with dyslexia. The book provides them with strategies that they can slot into their every day teaching, and they now have the knowledge and understanding to appreciate the rationale behind the ideas.

We (Shannon Green and myself) have taken this further in the new editions of our book, which will be available in a primary version and a secondary version. We feel that these sectors do have different needs and in the secondary edition we have focused on specific approaches for different subjects, as well as general cross-curricular suggestions.
100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Dyslexia100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Dyslexia cover
These books have been very successful and the development of the awareness of dyslexia has certainly helped to pave the way for books such as ours which teachers can pick up, understand the rationale behind the ideas and implement straight away in the classroom. We are eagerly anticipating the publication of 100 Ideas for Primary Teachers: Dyslexia and 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Dyslexia next year.

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.

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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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What is it like to have dyslexia? An interview.

This week it is Dyslexia Awareness Week and the theme this year is ‘Making Sense of Dyslexia’. I’m a commissioning editor in the education team here at Bloomsbury and part of my job is creating books for children who struggle with reading. I spend quite a lot of time talking and thinking about what children and teenagers with dyslexia or other reading difficulties might like, what might grab their attention, what makes reading hard for them and what could encourage them to keep trying even though they find it hard.

But I (and I suspect most people who work in publishing) wasn’t one of those children who struggle with reading so I thought that in Dyslexia Awareness Week it might be good to hear from one of those people (instead of me)!

My nephew, Sam, is a typical 10-year-old boy. He has been better than me at all sports since he was about 4, he’ll be taller than I am in a frighteningly short time, and he is one of the kindest people I know. He is also quite severely dyslexic so I asked him some questions about what that’s like for him.

What can you remember when you first found out you were dyslexic?
I struggled at school and so I had a test to see if I was dyslexic. I felt stressed and didn’t know what to think of myself.

What did it make you think or feel?
I was scared that people would notice that I was different, but I got used to it. People don’t worry about it, so neither do I.

Do you think there are some good things about being dyslexic?
It’s hard for me to tell what I get from dyslexia and what is just me. My dyslexia is part of who I am.

Are there things that you find particularly hard at school?
If I’m set a long piece of writing I struggle with my spellings and I struggle when I am under pressure.

What do you think you might like to do when you are a grown up?
When I grow up I would like to be an engineer because I like maths and science or I would also like to play sports professionally.

What are your favourite books and stories?
The Harry Potter series, Diana Wynne Jones’s series about Chrestomanci, and the Percy Jackson books. (Sam’s mum and dad would have read these to him – they are too long and hard for him to manage without support)

My sister (Sam’s mum) told me that it is impossible to tell which of Sam’s many excellent qualities are because of his dyslexia and I think that’s right. As Sam says, “My dyslexia is part of who I am.”

This Dyslexia Awareness Week it is important that we keep in mind the needs of people who have dyslexia. I hope that we can work together to make amazing stories accessible (in whatever form that may need to be) for children and teenagers with dyslexia, as well as making sure teachers have the right training and resources in place to support them. Ultimately, I hope that all young people with dyslexia can grow up to become engineers or sportsmen or whatever else they want to be!

Visit our website to see some of our High/Low fiction for struggling or reluctant readers.