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What is dyslexia?
The British Dyslexia Association’s definition 1999:
Dyslexia is best described as a combination of abilities and difficulties which affect
the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing. Accompanying
weaknesses may be identified in areas of speed of processing, short-term memory,
sequencing, auditory and/or visual perception, spoken language and motor skills. It is
particularly related to mastering and using written language, which may include
alphabetic, numeric and musical notations.
Some children have outstanding creative skills, others have strong oral skills.
Dyslexia occurs despite normal teaching, and is independent of socio-economic
background or intelligence. It is, however, more easily detected in those with average
or above average intelligence.
Amanda’s quick short cut method for defining dyslexia:
Persistent problems with spelling even ‘easy’ words
Problems ordering things sequentially
Miscopies, especially from the board
Loses place when reading or in a series (e.g.
Difficulty ‘seeing’ errors
Handwriting ‘messy’, poorly constructed or immature
Does not seem to learn by ‘ordinary’ teaching methods
Might be described as a ‘quick forgetter’ not a ‘slow
Poorly organised
Better orally than in writing
If most answers to these questions are yes, investigate further.
First step:
Check the SEN Record of Need. Has s/he been identified already.
Second step:
Refer to Amanda. Use the referral slips in the staffroom. Photocopy an example of
the pupil’s work and make comments about what you have identified as a learning
Third step:
Wait for Amanda to get back to you.
What Amanda can do:
Test for dyslexia using ‘The Dyslexia Screening Test’.
If ‘at risk’, refer for an IQ test and dyslexia testing by the Educational Psychologist.
Supporting pupils with dyslexia in mainstream classrooms.
 Raise pupils’ self esteem. Reward what can be achieved. This is the single most
important factor in achievement according to pupils themselves.
 Use the information supplied in the IEP if the pupil has one. The SENCO will
have assessed the pupil and prioritised what needs to be learned.
 Give two instructions at a time. Ask pupils to repeat instructions to you. Repeat
instructions until s/he can repeat them back.
 Allow more time for tasks such as getting out books, getting started, completing
work. This includes practical tasks.
 Do not ask pupils to read aloud without preparation.
 Teach unfamiliar subject words.
 Help with study skills such as skimming, scanning, selecting key words.
 It helps if teachers’ handwriting is legible and worksheets are typed!
 Mark written work on content and encourage the use of a wide vocabulary.
 Correct only a few errors. Do not cover work in red ink.
 Teach the spelling of subject specific words. Do not overload pupils.
 Give all pupils a list of subject specific words to be stuck into their exercise
books for reference.
 Have lists of subject specific words on display in teaching rooms.
 Allow the pupil to read work back to you if you cannot read it.
Written work:
 Encourage legible handwriting but do not expect it to change.
 Do not ask for work to be written out again unless it is much worse than usual.
 Either give more time, or photocopy notes from another pupil or a ‘parallel’ book
kept by a TA.
 Accept less written work.
 Assess through oral responses.
 When setting long responses, use writing frames.
Ways of assessing understanding without too much writing:
 Matching questions to answers.
 True/false statements.
 Sentence matching (‘tops and tails’)
 Multiple choice.
 Labelling diagrams.
 Categorising.
 Table/grid completion.
 Title – paragraph match.
 Choosing a précis.
 Sentence completion.
 Sequencing.
Left brain and right brain functions:
Left brain functions Right brain functions
Uses logic Uses feeling
Detail oriented “Big picture” oriented
Facts rule Imagination rules
Words and language Symbols and pictures
Present and past Present and future
Maths and science Philosophy and religion
Can comprehend Can “get it” (i.e.
Knowing Believing
Knows object name Knows object function
Forms strategies Presents possibilities
Practical Impetuous
Safe Risk taking
We all use both sides of our brains. Most people are ‘left brained’. Dyslexics are
‘right brained’.
‘Right brain’ learning strategies:
Visual-spatial patterns
 Encourage sensory exploration and ‘hands on’ activities
 Develop visualisation skills
 Encourage imagination
Multi-sensory learning.
Most people have a dominant learning style:
Auditory learners
Kinaesthetic learners
Visual learners
20 – 30% of school age
children remember what is
30 – 40 % of school age
children remember when
they use their hands or
whole body to learn.
40 % of school age
children remember what is
Talk to themselves
Mouth words
Like speeches/singing
Tell jokes
Prefer verbal
 Easily distracted by
 Listen well
 Like lectures
 Enjoy rhythm and
 Remember by listening
 Recall conversations
 Use talk well
 Spell out loud
Auditory learners say:
“That rings a bell”
“Sounds great to me”
Like physical activity
Move a lot
Make and/or alter
Remember by doing
Like action words
Use gestures
Like close proximity
Need to visit a place to
remember it
Kinaesthetic learners say:
“Let’s tackle the issue”
“Run that by me”
“I’ll handle that”
Neat and tidy
Like tidy work
Plan ahead
Like detail
Like to look good
Like simile and
Like pictorial lessons
Don’t listen well
Day dream often
Like an overall view
Draw, scribble, doodle
Prefer images to words
Visual learners say:
“That looks right to me”
“I can see what you mean”
“I can picture the scene”
Addressing different learning styles in lessons:
Auditory learners
Use tapes
Use poems
Tell stories
Use dialogue
Use drama
Read aloud
Kinaesthetic learners
Be practical
Use three dimensional
Make things
Use tactile experience
Move about
Visual learners
Use pictures
Use diagrams
Use colour coding
Use highlighting
Use handouts
Do practical