Dyslexia Awareness Week – You might be wondering: do I have dyslexia? The symptoms will differ depending on whether you’re a child or younger adult – or an undiagnosed adult.
This year Dyslexia Awareness Week takes place from 2-8 October 2017 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and from 6-11 November 2017 in Scotland.
The theme for Dyslexia Awareness Week 2017 is ‘Positive about Dyslexia’ and will raise awareness of things like creating a dyslexia friendly environment and dyslexia awareness in our schools!
It’s especially important to spot dyslexia in schools. Children with dyslexia tend to mix up words – which might mean saying something like ‘beddy tear’ instead of teddy bear. They may have trouble saying long words and learning the alphabet could be a problem.
Other signs involve not only issues with learning letter names but also with the sounds of words and letters. This means the phonological awareness is poor and they might not be able to answer a question like: ‘What word would you have if you changed the ‘p’ sound in ‘pot’ to a ‘h’ sound?
The signs in young adults and adults will be less obvious. They might write more slowly and have problems expressing their knowledge on a subject. If you’re experiencing real difficulty with spelling or find yourself trying to hide your work from others this is quite an obvious flag that something is going on.
You can also get involved by fundraising for this cause. if you need some suggestions for getting started? The British Dyslexia Association has provided lots of ideas to help you on your way! A car boot sale is a great one! and if you are away from Nigeria and Africa You know that spring clean where you find lots of miscellaneous stuff you don’t know where to put? Well gather it all together, get your friends and family to do the same and you’ll be off in no time!
WHAT REALLY IS DYSLEXIA:
The word ‘dyslexia’ comes from the Greek and means ‘difficulty with words’.
- It is a life long, usually genetic, inherited condition and affects around 10% of the population.
- Dyslexia occurs in people of all races, backgrounds and abilities, and varies from person to person: no two people will have the same set of strengths and weaknesses.
- Dyslexia occurs independently of intelligence.
- Dyslexia is really about information processing: dyslexic people may have difficulty processing and remembering information they see and hear. This can affect learning and the acquisition of literacy skills.
- Dyslexia is one of a family of Specific Learning Difficulties. It often co-occurs with related conditions, such as dyspraxia, dyscalculia and attention deficit disorder.
- On the plus side, dyslexic people often have strong visual, creative and problem solving skills and are prominent among entrepreneurs, inventors, architects, engineers and in the arts and entertainment world. Many famous and successful people are dyslexic.
HOW IT FEELS TO BE DYSLEXIC
- I see things from a different perspective.’
- ‘I can come up with solutions no one else has thought of and I think fast on my feet.’
- ‘When I am reading, occasionally a passage will get all jumbled up, but when it happens I have to read and re-read the passage over again
- ‘I know what I want to say, but I can never find the right words.’
- ‘In formal situations, although I know what I want to say, I struggle, lose focus and then my mind goes blank and I panic.’
- ‘I have the right ideas, but I can’t get them down on paper.’
- ‘It’s like my computer crashing with too much information!’
- ‘Sometimes when I am being told what to do, the words I hear get all jumbled up in my mind and I just can’t take in what is being said to me.’
‘In general conversation with family, friends and colleagues they usually accept that I tend to ramble, forget and repeat,…. because that’s part of me’.
People with visual stress may experience one or several of the following:
- Blurred letters or words which go out of focus.
- Letters which move or present with back to front appearance or shimmering or shaking.
- Headaches from reading.
- Words or letters which break into two and appear as double.
- Find it easier to read large, widely spaced print, than small and crowded.
- Difficulty with tracking across the page.
- Upset by glare on the page or oversensitive to bright lights.
In some cases any of these symptoms can significantly affect reading ability. It can also make reading very tiring. Of course a child will not necessarily recognise what they see as a problem, as this is how they always see text.
If a child complains of a least one of these problems or has difficulty at school, they should be referred to an optometrist or orthoptist with expertise in this particular field (see contact details below). Many dyslexic people are sensitive to the glare of white backgrounds on a page, white board or computer screen. This can make the reading of text much harder.
- The use of cream or pastel coloured backgrounds can mitigate this difficulty as can coloured filters either as an overlay or as tinted reading glasses. – People with reading difficulties sometimes have a weakness in eye co-ordination or focussing and an specialist practitioner might recommend treating this with eye exercises or glasses. If these problems are present, they should be detected and treated before coloured filters are prescribed.
- The choice of colour of text on white backgrounds can also affect clarity e.g. using red on a whiteboard can render the text almost invisible for some dyslexic students. For information on dyslexia friendly text see Dyslexia Style Guide.
MUSIC AND DYSLEXIA:
Yes! Dyslexia can affect music. You/your student/your family member or friend may have difficulties with things such as:
- Sight reading music.
- Remembering instructions in lessons and/or aural work.
- De-coding information – in music theory or exams, for example.
- Organisation of things like attending instrumental or voice lessons, going to rehearsals, having the right stuff, practicing alone…
However, some people don’t have any of these problems, but may react to dyslexia in their own unique ways.
But – there are things that can be done!
- Find a teacher who understands dyslexia.
- Look at alternatives such as different (or no) exams; choice of instrument etc. Is music reading really necessary?
- If exams are necessary, there are ‘reasonable adjustments’ that can be made to make life easier.
- Use multi-sensory approaches in as many areas as possible. For example: use colour, pictures, demonstration, listening to explanations, recordings, discussion, written text (yes – some dyslexic people like it!), hands-on exploration and so on. Music is good for this as it involved DOING. Decide what works for you or your student.
- See whether there may be a problem with seeing music on the page. If text or music seems to swirl around, ‘visual stress’ could be a problem.
- It can be important for some dyslexic musicians to get a whole picture of a piece before working on it in detail.
- There are various books available e.g. Music, other Performing Arts and Dyslexia published by the B.D.A. ( A U.K based store}