Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing
Elena one of the survivors, today proudly studies painting at a London art college. Her school years were made a misery and a waste especially because her dyslexia went completely undiagnosed until she was 14 years old. She could not read properly and if she did, she was unable to comprehend it. Elena took much longer to write essays or be able to learn. Her teachers would call her upfront, to the blackboard and ask her to spell words. Repeatedly she was never able to spell them out correctly let alone pronounce the words. While experiencing this frustration, her class mates would find it funny and make Elena feel stupid after all. Her teachers strongly believed she was just lazy, by humiliating her, it would encourage her to work harder….
….A famous poet, Benjamin Zephania had severe dyslexia. He often spoke about how he dropped out of school because he was not taught how to read and write in a way in which he could learn. His learning needs were not fully understood but he did have the support of mentors, in his case his parents and eventually some of his teachers who recognised his giftedness. With his self-confidence safe-guarded, he was ultimately able to win through, he became a successful poet even though he would never be able to jot down his feelings, thoughts but instead have someone write for him. Having graduated from the University of Cambridge, UK, he took his doctorate at the University of Liverpool, UK, and went on to achieve his goal of becoming a financial analyst.
So what is dyslexia, you may ask?
Dys–lexia comes from the Greek and means ‘difficulty (dys) with words (lexia)’.
There are two main types:
· developmental dyslexia, which is an innate condition
· acquired dyslexia, when a person loses the ability to read and write as a result of an injury to the brain, or a disease
A plain language descriptive definition of developmental dyslexia has been drafted by Dyslexia International’s panel of experts and consultants, The Dyslexia Consultancy e-Team, headed by its Scientific Advisory Committee:
Developmental dyslexia is a lifelong, neurologically-based condition that is often inherited.
It results in persistent problems with:
and usually goes with difficulties in:
· short-term memory
· sequencing (alphabet, days of the week, months, etc)
Dyslexia is not the result of low intellectual abilities.
Nor is dyslexia the result of:
· poor schooling
· poor home background
· not wanting to learn
Dyslexia is not caused by poor vision or hearing, or lack of motor co-ordination, although, in some cases, problems with visual and auditory processing and motor co-ordination may occur together with dyslexia. (https://www.dyslexia-international.org).
Without early recognition by their teachers, pupils with dyslexia may risk continuous failure at school. They lose morale as they see their classmates getting ahead and leaving them behind. The lasting impact of this loss of self-esteem should not be underestimated. Young people with dyslexia feel defeated by the education process and are unlikely to go on to further training. They will face difficulties finding a job. In some instances they become marginalized, cannot integrate into society and get involved in anti-social behaviour.
I plan to dedicate my years in teaching and supporting children with such learning difficulties. Above all to demonstrate that individuals with learning disabilities such as dyslexia do not have a lower level of intelligence. In fact more often than not, the complete opposite is true.