Dyslexia and learning how to spell..

(45 Posts)
smee Tue 01-Oct-13 10:58:06

Just curious as to what anyone with a dyslexic child thinks about how sensible it is to push spellings? DS is 9 and really struggles. He has 10-12 words a week to learn and even though he tries, it's really hard to get them to stick.

A friend who's severely dyslexic told me it's daft to try and make him, as there are computers, etc, etc. My instinct is to try, but it's taking up increasing amounts of time and I think I'm in danger of making him feel stupid, as we have to keep going over and over the same words - even so they don't stay in his head. I try and have a laugh with him and keep it light, but it's an uphill struggle. This week we've got 10 words, but we're still struggling over the first 3. Would really welcome any thoughts or wisdom from those with older dyslexic children?

One thing that cheered me up when I had a meeting with DS1's headmaster to discuss secondary school choices was that he mentioned his own son (who is older) is dyspraxic. I knew then he would take me seriously. Sad but true.

smee Wed 02-Oct-13 12:59:03

Yes couldn't agree more, Pigeons. DS's year 3 teacher told me he was dyslexic, then told me she was too. That was brilliant, but when I talked to other teachers they told me all sorts of nonsense. One teacher who I really rate who was deputy head at the time even questioned whether dyslexia existed. Another told me it wouldn't affect DS at all as he was bright. shock

Net result has been us kicking up huge fuss (DH is a governor so that's helped mightily) and the school deciding to embrace it. Cue whole day inset training for the entire staff and they've got so into it that they now term themselves a dyslexia friendly school. Still obviously they still miss things and there's a very long way to go before all kids are recognised/ helped.

Totally concur with that article you read too. I thought about taking DS to Dyslexia Action for extra help, but then compared what they could offer with things the school were already doing across the class. His school seem far more advanced in terms of different strategies than DA. Who dare I say it are a bit wet!

Just in case anyone's interested, I found this website interesting. Also agrees on a 'whole class' approach:
http://www.4d.org.nz/edge/4d_edge_index.html

kitchendiner Wed 02-Oct-13 16:38:41

No teachers at 2 Junior schools "got" DS. Same story as above - "he hasn't got dyslexia because he can read", placed on bottom table, scribed work frowned upon, etc. Incredibly, it has been the total opposite at Secondary. I can only think that secondary school teachers are given more training in dyslexia. Also, they are able to see beyond the spelling mistakes and are more interested in the content. Due to the larger number of pupils, they are probably used to encountering more students with dyslexia. And they are not fixated on the 3R's which are the very things that dyslexics struggle with.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 03-Oct-13 13:04:37

smee wel done to you and DH for changing attitudes at one school at least. Yes we have had the teachers that don't believe in it, when little pigeons was diagnosed the Headmistress said to accept she was "bright but slow, like an over eager little puppy falling over herself all the time " (well drr yes, dyspraxia?) but that she found that every child who went to an Ed Psych "comes back with a label" How many parents fork out £500 if they don't strongly suspect a problem? To my friend whose daughter was severely dyspraxic (and had the multiple hospital visits to prove it ) she said she worried that an EdPsych report that showed she was very bright indeed had given them (imagine in Jean Brodie accent, she was scottish) "hope". I was also informed by big pigeons English teacher that in her opinion she had been "cured"

DDs selective secondary schools do quite well at recognising the problem, they generally end up with about 10% with a diagnosis but are not so good at supporting. The problem is that the standard of the people they recruit for Learning Support vary widely and they relie on the special arrangements in exams to level the playing field (which they are doing less and less thanks to Gove). However in the independent schools there are some real examples of best practise, two locally have drop in centres with staff and equipment on hand to support pupils whenever they need help and advice.

kitchendiner it is not just the 3Rs they struggle with though is it? Organisation, getting things down off the board, slow processing skills and poor working memory so they struggle with timing and misread questions in exams, and the associated anxiety . These are the fundamental difficulties that become more significant at secondary level.

Universities are generally very good at least. As long as students come to them they have assessment and support processes in place and all academic staff are fully briefed eg www.uea.ac.uk/services/students/disability/disability_SPLD

Shootingatpigeons Thu 03-Oct-13 13:07:17

See what I did there, sneaked in a spello in the first word, one of my basic ones like almost submitting my university application saying I had an O level in Aart......blush

Shootingatpigeons Thu 03-Oct-13 13:17:00

kitchendiner sorry if that comes out as sounding challenging. It isn't. It's just these are the daily challenges my DD faces doing humanities A levels, organising her thoughts for essays and getting them down, keeping on top of the paperwork, getting information off the board and the problems she faces in exam conditions and the associated anxiety. All of which I spend an enormous amount of time facilitating and supporting her in finding and implementing coping strategies. It doesn't end, except that I am aware I have got to get everything in place before she goes away. But the good news is that whilst GCSE was a bit of a perfect storm at least at A level she is finally coming into her own, the quality of her ideas becoming more important than the quantity of knowledge she can get down.

smee Thu 03-Oct-13 14:58:49

This is all ever so interesting.. Good to hear secondary might be better kitchen. Hope you're right!

What you say about organisation and speed, recall etc sounds spot on Pigeons. DS very much like that. He gets incredibly muddled and loses his place if he's asked to do too much. Yesterday he came back excited, as he'd been allowed a dictaphone to write a story with. Makes perfect sense as he stresses about writing, so that limits his creativity. The teacher sent him out and told him to have fun dictating his story, then asked him just to write just the first paragraph. Was lovely to see him so excited about creative writing and the teacher made a big point of telling me what an amazing story he'd written. Mind you that might have been a result of my rather blunt e-mail questioning whether she really needed them to call out to the whole class what they get in the spelling test each week. She sent an e-mail straight back saying she's not going to do that again. grin

kitchendiner Thu 03-Oct-13 15:25:58

Shooting Totally agree - the problems you mention are exactly those that we are now facing. I am having to give an enormous amount of support with trying to get him to plan things, re-read questions, proofread, etc. He is not sinking but he is certainly underachieving. It's not perfect - we are not getting print-outs of lessons or extra time for assessments, but it is nevertheless so much better than our experience of Junior school. I also hope that it is forcing DS to address some of these issues himself rather than bury his head in the sand. Being put down from top group Science has been a wake up call for him and going up to top group English has been great for his confidence, etc. The reasons for him going down of course related to the dyslexia and him mis-reading questions, missing out whole pages of questions and thinking that he could only do his best with a scribe (not always available to him). He is now having to address these things and I am confident that at the next reshuffle, he'll be back up to the top group. Smee Your school sounds great. I took in some fantastic work that DS had dictated to me and it was totally dismissed and not even read. Our Junior school also had SATS levels on the wall for other students and parents to look at!

smee Thu 03-Oct-13 16:21:47

Oh my, Kitchen how ridiculous. Takes me back to my primary school when we had to sit in ability order..! Good to hear your secondary's better. Hope it continues.

kitchendiner Thu 03-Oct-13 17:13:03

Yeah, I complained about all the levels being on the wall for all to see. Fine if you were on a Level 4 or 5 but if like my son and his severely dyslexic mate you were on Levels 2 and 3 then not good and no the business of the other parents.

sydlexic Thu 03-Oct-13 17:15:52

I found that using mnemonics such as Betty eats cakes helped. I could remember whole sentences and long stories easier than the right order for the letters. I learned one word a day, writing it several times also helped.

bruffin Thu 03-Oct-13 17:30:06

sydlexic
Mnemonics did work for DS
He was taught Big Elephant Cant Always Use Small Exits for Because. Unfortunately he thought always began with an O
DS can often spell words out loud, its just getting them onto paper there is a problem.

MsDyslexiaTutor Thu 03-Oct-13 17:57:54

I'm as it says above- a specialist dyslexia teacher.

-First your DS will - if they don't change things in the next 6 years- be graded in GCSEs taking spelling into account.

-Secondly, even with computers, spellchecks are not infallible. I have taught adults in the workplace who are dyslexic ( as well as hundreds of children ) and adequate spelling is needed in most jobs- ie I taught a policeman because he had to write down statements as the suspects spoke. I also taught a rocket scientist because his reports- very technical- were not able to be read due to some words, that were very similar, being spelled wrongly.

-Third- yes he should try to learn to spell but you should speak to his teacher about homework lists.

He/they should be focusing on key high frequency words first, and synthetic phonics from KS1, and 'word families'.

There is no point him trying to learn random lists of 'odd' and irregular words, though some like 'because' are taught with mnemonics.

If you can afford it, employ an after school tutor who is trained in dyslexia.

Go and talk to school and see what they have planned for him- he should have an IEP and be on the special needs register.

MsDyslexiaTutor Thu 03-Oct-13 18:09:28

It's also best to do little and often- to get words into their long term memory they need to be learning them for 5 minutes daily not 30 minutes once a week. Take 2 words at a time. Get him to say each letter at the same time as writing it - and use joined up writing which is proven to help.

Help him learn about syllables- divide words into syllables- and work on the tricky bits which might include a silent letter or something irregular.

Buy a cheap set of plastic or wooden letters and use these on the kitchen table to practise spelling- much better than continual crossings out in a book.

Practise writing words in the air- 'air tracing' which uses the eyes, ears, and hands. Say each letter as it's written. This is called multi-sensory teaching. It's different from just looking and writing.

smee Thu 03-Oct-13 21:03:17

Thanks bruffin and MsDyslexia. Lots of useful tips. Rather oddly, 'because' was one of the first words he ever managed to learn. We chanted it each day on the walk to school. It took a week, but he does still remember it. smile

Shootingatpigeons Fri 04-Oct-13 13:05:36

Interestingly I had a chat with my DD last night about spelling, because she said she would like to seek out her learning support teacher and thank her for what she did for her in Year 3. Without all the basic tools she was given she thinks she would still be struggling to write anything comprehensible. In particular she mentioned breaking words down into syllables so she thinks as she spells friend, fri end. We decided in the end it would be a bit stalkerish though she did find her on Facebook!

I would say though, slightly contradicting msdyslexiatutor though I entirely take her point, that in senior management, where studies have shown that dyslexics are over represented, probably because of their strengths in being able to think and see problems holistically, poor writing and spelling are incredibly common. Part of my career was facilitating strategy development at Board level in some of the biggest companies in the UK and it used to amuse me how many of the CEOs who were so impressive in the sessions I ran were clearly dyslexic when it came to writing anything down, with truly terrible writing, spelling and grammar.

mummytime Fri 04-Oct-13 13:25:32

There was an article I read recently, which said dyslexia drove some high achieves to do so well. As they couldn't read and write as well, they had to develop verbal and team working skills, which contributed to their success.

smee Fri 04-Oct-13 13:26:53

I've noticed that with DS pigeons, so it helps him to break words down. This week, with 'conscience' and 'conscious', he's fixed on remembering the 'sci' in the middle as a key to the whole. How lovely of your DD to want to thank her old teacher. smile

I haven't much experience of dyslexia in the workplace, but wonderful dyslexic friend with very high profile big job tells me he's fed up of having to explain that he needs help proof reading important docs before they go out. They're often astounded that someone who's clearly so bright can't spell, write legibly. He says he's bored of educating them!

Smee my dd is 9 and in year 4, she was being given too many spellings and is now done to 4.

Can I ask if anyone has any advice for getting extra help from schools, please?

bruffin Sat 12-Oct-13 09:21:49

School did wordwall and stareway to spelling with DS. They are both intensive 1 to 1 schemes which helped a bit.

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