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Dyslexia or just struggling??

(10 Posts)
dm86 Sun 06-Mar-16 21:53:11

Hi all,

Thank you in advance for any help anyone can give.

My daughter is 8 and currently in Year 3. She has always struggled at school throughout the years. I have always took the attitude that the school know what they are doing and that they will be doing what they can. There was always a lot of talk of what they were going to do but I failed to see any evidence of this. However last parents evening I decided enough was enough and I questioned (ok kicked off!) exactly what they were doing to get her back on track. She was then given an Individual education plan setting out what help she was getting etc. This was due to be reviewed end of Jan/Begin Feb. It is now March and I have yet to have a review despite mentioning to her teacher. I am going to go in and have a meeting with them again this week. They did also say she should've started receiving help a long time ago and that it had been 'missed'. I also feel every teacher blames the teacher the year before.

After speaking with another mum I work with who's daughter struggles. She has monthly reviews with regards to her daughter. She has also been assessed by the educational psychologist. I asked my daughter's teacher about this and she spoke to the senco who said that would be fine to refer her to the psychologist. This was a number of weeks ago and I haven't yet had any of the forms that are to be completed to refer her.

I personally didn't think there was anything medically wrong with her and that she was just struggling/behind. However the more research I do about dyslexia the more I feel this could be the issue. Her dad has it and I know it can be genetic and tends to run in families. How or where do I push for an assessment just to rule it out?

I'm really concerned at the moment that if thinks don't change or improve she's going to fall further and further behind. I sent her to the school she is currently in as I believed she would receive a better education. It is not our catchment school and I have to drive her there 15 mins each morning. To then feel she is not getting the education she deserves is upsetting :-( We have also begun in January extra tuition for her on a Saturday morning for 90 mins and this isn't cheap!

Any advice would be so much appreciated. Thank you.

Cookingwine Sun 06-Mar-16 22:22:05

An educational psychologist assessment would be a good start and should identify any specific learning difficulties like dyslexia etc. I would definitely push for that as it should also come with recommendations tailored to your child. I am in the same boat as yours but DD is in a private school so I have to pay for it myself, which makes it easier somehow as I don't need to wait for the school to get the ball moving.

Traalaa Mon 07-Mar-16 09:19:08

If his dad's dyslexic, I'd say it's much more likely. Definitely push to get her tested. Schools can be hugely evasive about it all. Our school told us DS was dyslexic, but even with that, we were told he'd be assessed 'at some point this academic year'. That was early in year 4. We paid for a private assessment through Dyslexia Action in the end as I didn't want a whole year to go by. It's not at all cheap and you have to be aware though that the report/ diagnosis doesn't get you very much help in lots of ways, but there's a huge, huge plus in that if she is dyslexic, your DD will know that there's a reason why she struggles. That made a massive difference to my son's self esteem. Also the Ed Psych report breaks down strengths and weaknesses, which makes it a lot easier to push for appropriate help and for you to help her too.

DraughtyWindow Mon 07-Mar-16 09:27:29

When you go for your meeting, prepare and take with you an agenda and list objectives & outcomes. You have to really pin them down and not allow them to fob you off. There is usually a waiting list for the EdPsych, but you need to chase them for the forms. Ask that the SENCO is also present at the meeting. And also keep records of who you've spoken to and when, emails etc. You have to keep on at them relentlessly I'm afraid. If necessary, speak to the Head Teacher. Good luck.

RoseDog Mon 07-Mar-16 09:38:47

My Dd is 13, she was 8 when I started asking for extra help for her, I was always told she would catch up, things would eventually 'click' for her, sadly it never, I asked at every parents evening if she could be dyslexic always told 'no' I was eventually pulled into school when she was 11 her behaviour took a turn for the worse, the meeting was with the head, when I pointed out to her bluntly everything my dd struggled with and that I think she had been failed things were very slowly done but I had to keep on and on at the school.

She started high school in August last year and just on Friday I got in black and white her issues and it makes heartbreaking reading, things that could have been addressed and put in place at an early age that were just brushed aside.

I was told by another parent that parents who shout the loudest get the most for their child.

Please keep pushing and don't do what I done as I feel so guilty for trusting the school and not my own instincts, my dd is suffering now and it's going to be a long time before she is confident producing work at school.

LittleCandle Mon 07-Mar-16 09:53:18

DD2 is dyslexic and has some unusual symptoms of it as well. I actually moved her to a different primary school because the local school was being very obstructive and told me she just had 'dyslexic tendencies'. I tore them off a strip and finally moved her. Her new school was in the same local authority (Scotland) and they were able to get her tested and have measures in place within a couple of days. Previous school said that testing could only be done in one centre and there was over a 2 year waiting list. They simply couldn't be arsed doing anything. I think you need to really throw your weight around to get your DD assessed. It is a real shame we need to do this, but it seems to be the only way. I would even consider moving schools if you can have a chat with your catchment area school and see if they are more willing to help her.

My DD - to give you hope - is doing a joint degree in 2 difficult subjects, so please do stick with the fight.

HexU Mon 07-Mar-16 12:14:29

Strong family history of dyslexia and associated conditions in our family we had concerns from reception onwards with our children.

We've been fobbed of by some, told they weren't struggling enough to get help then it suddenly as the approach sats been an emergency, had interventions that were a complete waste of time.

Obvious things first - I assume you've had eye and ears tested to be sure no problems with hearing and seeing in the class room. Concentration levels could indicate problems there - has anything been said there?

Did she pass the phonics test end of year 1?

Does the school teach phonics well or do they do mixed methods ?

When she reads to you is she guessing words or missing words out?

If guessing she may well respond to going over the more complex phonics code dancing bears might be worth a look - if she isn't reading left to right but skipping can be sign encouraged to look for pic clues instead of decoding letters - so using card with square cut out to highlight the word she should be reading or rulers to help her follow the lines can help - though sometime they just need to slow down when reading.

If she reads well it spelling the problem ?- if so do the school teach spelling or just send home lists of random words ? Do they correct spellings - of not she's committing to memory the mistakes not the correct spelling. Words can appear to them as random list of letters - not attached completely to the sounds - saw similar with maths 14 and 41 were swapped till we did a lot or work on place value then that stopped happening.

apple and pears good for spelling. Seen with my own children the quicker you step in there with teaching spelling the easier and quicker the progress - less unlearning of incorrect stuff I think. Also good for drilling in basic punctuation.

it was doing that with one of mine - it contains lots of writing that there were problems with letter formation school hadn't picked up on and pencil grip.

My children's old school used both dancing bears and apple and pears but my children though obviously struggling weren't bad enough so didn't get it in school till much higher up when the problem was massive then it wasn't frequent enough and meant taking the child out of lessons she was already having to work harder than others in.

Their current school uses Nessy - a computer based program for spelling and they don't seem to miss planned lessons doing it - seems built into the school day.

Short term memory an issue?
one of mine struggles to follow a list of instructions another seems to cope find but dictate a sentence they struggle - dictating sentences happens a lot in apples and pears.They both need a lot more practise than other children to automate things - very obvious in maths with number bonds and time tables so use on-line maths program for practise.

Better their spelling and writing generally more able they've become in getting their ideas down on paper.

handwritting - how is it? If there are problems are the general co-ordination problems ? Mine can't ride bikes despite lots of effort - they are many actives that can improve fine co-ordination skills. Last school picked up this issue finally on our son but completely ignored same problems in our daughter. Do slopes or grips improve matters and is the pencil grip correct?

You may find rather than looking at the big label of dyslexia you might get more response from teachers if you focus on smaller issues your child struggles on.

I'd ask around as many parents as possible see if any others have gone down private report route and what the school response was. Last school ignored them completely which I found out form other parents they got no extra help or concessions.

Might be worth getting a report if you really don't know where the problems are - though teachers and the private tutor should have some idea.

See if you can make an appointment directly with the SENCO - or them and the class teacher to discuss the support they feel is needed and they can offer.

Short and frequent - 10 minutes a day can over time make a massive difference - so while the school should do more you can make a difference at home as well on top of the 90 paid minutes you're already doing.

<sorry that a huge essay>

Traalaa Mon 07-Mar-16 14:29:29

I think it's v.important to realise how wide the spectrum is. Every dyslexic is different. For example, my son was late to read, but he's great at it. Lots of people query how he can be dyslexic if he can read so well, including teachers. There's an awful lot of ignorance even amongst educationalists about it.

HexU Mon 07-Mar-16 16:42:17

Traalaa right people do assume you can't enjoy reading if your dyslexic- I did and do read widely and when a child quite advanced for my age books my reading comprehension skills always having been very good.

My parents were assured this would help with my spelling - it didn't as was so dire I was eventually near end of my education diagnosed with both dyslexia and dispraxia, which is often co-morbid more co-ordiantion problems. Sometimes parents say that their child is a good reader but a poor speller. This situation comes about because, as primary teacher Vicki Martin explains, ''These children have a strong whole-word visual strategy for recognising the shape of whole words when they see them, or have other strategies like guessing from pictures and the sentence and using partial phonics to make a good guess. This all gives the impression of good reading. However, they have clearly not been taught the alphabetic code (the 40+ speech sounds and their letter combinations) adequately enough to represent these words in their writing''. Research by Frith supports Martin's contention that 'good readers but poor spellers' have been taught literacy through the 'balanced approach' which focuses strongly on the visual aspects of words with superficial teaching of the alphabet code and phonics skills. As a result they lack phonemic awareness and advanced code knowledge, which are vital to achieve good spelling. Frith, ''assembled a group of teenage good readers/poor spellers'. Though their reading ages were normal, investigation revealed that 'their word recognition was very 'visual' in nature; they were whole-word readers with poor phonological skills (evidenced by poor nonword reading)'' (A.Ellis p91)

spelfabet: Many older children have “good enough” reading but poor spelling. When you scratch the surface, many of these children are still using too many of their cognitive resources just getting the words off the page. This makes them disinclined to read for enjoyment, and attracted to fairly simple books, like comics/graphic novels and books without complex language/narratives. Often these are children who were slow to learn to read, and whose catch-up program was very focussed on reading, not spelling.

Reading is an easier skill than spelling, because when you’re reading you can rely to some extent on guesswork. However, when you spell, it’s very clear to everyone what you do and don’t know about word structure. If you want your child to be able to decode effortlessly and automatically, they should do plenty of well-organised work on spelling.

Reading and spelling should be reversible processes, because the last step in spelling is checking what you’ve written, by reading it. So spelling is a double whammy in terms of practice, and makes the reversibility of our spelling code clear.

My reading accuracy was never great - I relied heavily on context so I suspect in my case and probably in DD1, who has excellent working memory unlike our other children, we hadn't fully grasped the complete phonics code and it was more obvious in spellings. Though DD1 struggles more retaining correct spellings I think in part because she had many more years of incorrect spelling to unlearn.

If spelling is the problem Spelling DOs and Don'ts.

marion001 Tue 08-Mar-16 11:56:06

I am always very sorry to hear stories about the lack of intervention support provided for children at schools. I know having worked at schools it can be for many reasons. I am a Specialist Teacher who teaches and assesses children with specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia etc) at different schools, so I really appreciate your frustrations with the education system. The school should be providing your child with the right care and support. They have a legal obligation to do this as identified in the EHC (Education Health Care plan). IPSEA is a good site for parents and state clear guidelines and proceedures about what legally is included, as a minimum, in any Education, Health and Care Plan (“EHC plan”).
Finally, I was surprised of the amount of extra support your child is receiving. 90 mins tutoring sessions are not appropriate for a child of 8 years. As a freelance tutor, I offer teaching blocks of 20/30 minutes 3 times a week which is ideal and much "kinder" to children. Children need frequent, short bursts of teaching in order to improve attention, retention of information and gain rapid progress. If the tutor/establishment is saying that 90 minutes is what your child needs, then they are very wrong and sadly the onlyperson that will be benefiting is themselves (financially!).

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