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Question for SENCOs re: dyslexia

(41 Posts)
LoopyLucyLoo Mon 05-Nov-12 15:27:44

If you were presented with a profile of a yr 3 child with above average IQ (130) and most intelligence markers (verbal reasoning, auditory processing etc) above 90% yet working memory and processing speed both below 25% would this mean anything to you?

I'm asking as the SENCO at my son's school says this information means nothing to her and I'm trying to figure out if I'm being a bit unfair in thinking she really should understand this information. My son has been diagnosed as dyslexic, but the school don't agree with the diagnosis. Despite the Ed Psych's diagnosis to the contrary, according to the school SENCO, "he couldn't be further from a child with dyslexia".

Any views?

smee Mon 05-Nov-12 16:15:36

Loopy, we're in the same situation. Similar IQ, similar discrepancy, similarly useless SENCO..

My son's now Yr4, but end of year 3 his levels were deemed above average, which means he hasn't got a problem according to the SENCO. We went to the Head Teacher, who's taking it far more seriously. Still waiting to find out what exactly they're prepared to do to help him though. hmm

mrz Mon 05-Nov-12 18:12:29

The whole IQ discrepancy model for diagnosing dyslexia has been widely discredited as a result of research using brain scans in recent years so the profile alone neither confirms or excludes the possibility of dyslexia.
Dyslexia itself is such a wide ranging "label" it isn't terribly useful to the child or school. What the school needs to provide the best support for your child is a summary of the areas that are causing problems. Sometimes the barriers aren't educational but physical and require input from other professionals.

smee Mon 05-Nov-12 19:13:45

mrz, that's interesting. I know it's a very wide spectrum and it seems to me that each child has individual needs, as even if you are dyslexic no two dyslexics are the same.

Surely though a detailed breakdown from an Educational Psychologist of a child could help a teacher a lot, regardless of how you view dyslexia. So for example the report we received showed us a that in relation to other children, our son has a poor working memory and processing speeds, which clearly makes it harder relatively for him to learn things like spellings, or organise his thoughts. If you then add that to a spiky profile, so a massive discrepancy between the lower scores and the far higher ones (so verbal reasoning, auditory processing, etc), that should surely make a teacher realise that the child could use some specialised help in those areas if they're not to get frustrated. By which I mean that the child can't actually write down what they're capable of articulating.

Not sure how Loopy's found it, but our SENCO didn't even read the Ed Psych report. I thought him arrogant, not to mention un-professional. Fortunately for us, the Head Teacher agreed. smile

2011november Mon 05-Nov-12 20:00:45

OP my DS presented with a similar profile. Verbal reasoning at 99th centile and digit span at 25th but was not being assessed for dyslexia and it was not discussed (possibly too young as only 6 at the time).

Have always presumed he is dyslexic as presents as others in the family but never discussed dyslexia with our school as they would also say never seen a child less dyslexic as his reading is great. However his writing is appalling and all reading is done from photographic memory, no phonics awareness as far as I can see but unsure if this has ever been tested.

Our senco and HT state that his lack of application/interest explain his relatively poor results however he reads avidly and is interested in everything at home at the obsessive level I would expect from this type of IQ! I am sure school would have no understanding of breakdown of IQ report and its implications.

smee Mon 05-Nov-12 20:12:23

2011november, my DS is also a v.strong reader. He didn't learn to read until he was 7, but now at 8 is reading at L4 apparently. I hadn't a clue you could be dyslexic and read so well, but apparently it's not uncommon.

This might be of interest, but the only reason we went for testing is because last year, DS's class teacher pushed for it. She's Dyslexic herself, and was incredibly confident about it all, even though every other teacher has ignored it and told us not to worry. She was completely failed as a child (not diagnosed until she was in her 20's), so is passionate about Dyslexia and appalled that it's so often missed.

maizieD Mon 05-Nov-12 21:28:11

I know it's a very wide spectrum and it seems to me that each child has individual needs, as even if you are dyslexic no two dyslexics are the same.

No two 'dyslexics' are the same because there just isn't a discrete 'condition' which can be identified as 'dyslexia'. It's a blanket term which covers a very wide range of problems ( a range which gets wider and wider every year. We'll all end up as 'dyslexic' at this rate...). Ed Psychs should be working to the British Psychological Society's working defintion, which is :

"...dyslexia is evident when accurate and fluent word reading and/or spelling develops very incompletely or with great difficulty. This focuses on literacy learning at the ‘word level’ and implies that the problem is severe and persistent despite appropriate learning opportunities.”

So, if you have a child who has learned to read and write but has other difficulties you are far better pushing for support with the identified difficulty/ies and not worrying about the dyslexia label. It is quite likely that the unsympathetic Sencos are taking the view that if reading and writing is OK then the child isn't dyslexic. You may have more success if you focus on the poor memory and slow processing. These should concern the Senco.

I assume that the EP reports you talk about are private rather than LA? Why did you get them done in the first place?

mrz Mon 05-Nov-12 21:52:27

I agree with maizieD my focus as a Senco and teacher would be to improve working memory and processing speed but I wouldn't be considering dyslexia.

Mutteroo Tue 06-Nov-12 03:16:23

Sorry I just browsed though & don't think I saw this suggested? Apologies if it has; could the Ed Pysch have a word with your child's school? It may help the Senco understand things a bit better. The support offered by your DC's school is so vital & so a clear understanding of his needs is essential. My DS was finally diagnosed at age 12 & he wasn't reading at all. He'd scan through books (just like his mum!) but wasn't able to understand a word of what he's seen. Within 6 months he'd gone from a reading age of 8yrs to a reading age of 14yrs.

Work with your child's school & do not settle for second best. Yes they have other pupils in the class, but there's no reason why our highly intelligent little darlings with dyslexia, are not stretched & helped any more than any other gifted pupil.

smee Tue 06-Nov-12 10:16:14

maizieD, yes in an ideal world, you're right, as all anyone wants is the appropriate help for their child, but a lot of parents feel frustrated with schools and teachers, which is why so many go down the private testing route. In our case the school came to us to say DS should be assessed, but couldn't say when that might happen as it was dependent on waiting for the LA Ed Psych, so we decided to pay over the summer.

Few points back, but I think if a child is dyslexic they always will be. Yes you can help with strategies, but they'll never not have their brain as it's who they are. If you accept that, then I think it's best for them to be given the label of dyslexia. Yes it's an incredibly wide spectrum, but wherever you are on it, it's still incredibly helpful for the individual, both in terms of self esteem but also in terms of being able to ask for help.

It's also useful for the parent. I used to give DS quite a hard time sometimes for writing messily, or not spelling words correctly when he was doing his homework. Now I can see that he was trying, but just finds it nigh on impossible to do what seems simple to me, eg: write on a line. It's made a huge difference to how I see his work and how I talk to him about his homework.

That then translates to the classroom, so he's no longer told to re-write as it's illegible, but the teachers will look with him at working on specific letter formation, or specific spelling to try and help cement it in his head.

All of this clearly helps the child, as the stress is lifted, so instead of shutting down because they feel embarrassed by their work, they know why they find some things hard and if it's treated correctly can feel empowered. So with my son for example, his creative writing's rocketed, as he's not so stressed about being criticised for poor writing/ spelling, so has been freed to write what he's capable of.

Basically the label of Dyslexia means it gives you as a person the legitimate right to shout that you need help/ aren't stupid, etc, etc.. It gives parents a bit more clout too, as though a school doesn't have to recognise it, the Ed Psych breakdown does highlight the problems for the child and what they could use some help with.

Maizie and MRZ, I'm sure you're both great teachers who help kids and spot their individual needs, but we had that with our school too, and even then until there was no extra help without the label of dyslexia. DS's teacher begged us to get him tested, as she said it was the only way he'd get the 1:1 help he clearly needs. She's been proven right and it's still a bit of a battle.

Blimey, what a long post. Basically I agree with Mutteroo. smile

2011november Tue 06-Nov-12 14:47:36

MaizeD not sure if you are referring to me re the EP report but ours was done on the NHS not a private assessment and was not at our request.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 16:48:15

Was it an Educational Psychologist or a Clinical Psychologists report 2011november (it's unusual for an EP to work for the NHS)

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 17:02:52

smee the label of dyslexia would not automatically trigger extra help especially if a child was working at age appropriate levels

smee Tue 06-Nov-12 17:08:52

I know mrz, that's where we got stuck with the SENCO, as DS above average according to the SATs, so didn't warrant any help. It seems unfair to discriminate against a child, who's getting stuck because he's dyslexic though. The Head Teacher's acknowledged that in our case, but I can't see the logic in not. Every child's education should involve them fulfilling their potential. I know that's idealistic, but still seems like something to fight for to me.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 17:17:50

It is very difficult to know what a child's future potential is smee unfortunately

maizieD Tue 06-Nov-12 18:41:34

All of this clearly helps the child, as the stress is lifted, so instead of shutting down because they feel embarrassed by their work, they know why they find some things hard and if it's treated correctly can feel empowered. So with my son for example, his creative writing's rocketed, as he's not so stressed about being criticised for poor writing/ spelling, so has been freed to write what he's capable of.

I find it incredibly sad that a child should need a label to avoid being criticised for poor writing and spelling. It is the job of the school to help any child with needs, whether labelled or not, not pass insensitive judgements on them.

I wonder what the school was doing to try to improve his writing and spelling skills before you obtained the EP report.

When you say 'poor writing' do you mean poor handwriting (which would be more indicative of dyspraxia) or inability to express himself in writing? (I'm just interested...)

2011november Tue 06-Nov-12 19:19:18

mrz - yes you are correct Clinical not Educational, I hadnt picked up on this difference. How would that affect the results?

smee Tue 06-Nov-12 19:22:43

maizie, he's hugely expressive, but just can't write any of it down legibly. You're right though, as he does shows traits of dyspraxia alongside dyslexia. The school to be fair were mostly constructive, but there were still some unhelpful moments iyswim. Also no specialised help untii he was diagnosed. Also, from a child's perspective, when you see your friends all writing neatly, spelling with ease, etc, etc you naturally compare theirs with your own, which nobody can read and looks a mess.

mrz, I agree it's incredibly hard to measure potential. Haven't a clue what my son's is. Having said that, it's blindingly obvious there's a gap between his intelligence and what he can actually write down. Same for writing and for maths. So for example with maths, he can tell you the answer, explain the principle, but can't write any of it down legibly. All hugely frustrating for him.

The nub for me is that I don't care if my son has a low skill job, never goes onto higher education, etc, etc if that's what he chooses to do. I do care if he doesn't get to make that choice because his education's let him down. From a very personal anecdotal pov, I'd say a label/ diagnosis of dyslexia is essential as it can really help to stop that from happening.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 19:34:48

A very different area of expertise. Clinical psychologists aren't usually qualified to identify learning difficulties.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 19:39:07

As the parent of a son with lots of labels (including one from the EP of dyslexia) I can say from experience they didn't solve anything

smee Tue 06-Nov-12 20:01:18

I agree, it doesn't solve anything, but it helps to understand. I know it's helped me and it seems to help my son atm. It's also very tangibly changed the school's attitude. I know that doesn't always happen, but it has in our case. smile

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 20:34:42

The label changed the school's attitude to my son too they moved him down a class ....personally the labels didn't help me understand ... I knew he had problems from birth

smee Tue 06-Nov-12 20:44:05

Ah, but you're a teacher mrz. For us mere mortals it's different. grin

How awful for your son though. I hope you navigated him through it all. Must be tough being a teacher and not getting your own child the support you'd offer in your own classroom.

mrz Tue 06-Nov-12 20:53:52

Actually smee I wasn't a teacher when my son started school.
His head teacher said they didn't have any SEN and a child with a reading age above his chronological age couldn't be struggling. His first EP told me I was an over anxious mother and a child with a reading age such as his would be fine ...
his fourth EP said he was dyslexic (but my LEA doesn't recognise dyslexia) ... she recommended he word process his work and his teachers refused to accept it as his own work even when it was done in class ...
being a teacher doesn't help which is why I do my best to ensure other children aren't failed

smee Tue 06-Nov-12 20:56:49

Blimey that sounds grim, though sadly I've heard similar stories so often. You must have been pulling your hair out. sad

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