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Children with dyslexia - Q&A with a dyslexic!

(17 Posts)
dyslexictom90 Sun 29-Nov-15 17:02:11

Hi I'm 25 years old and I am dyslexic. The purpose of this is to try and answer questions you may have about dyslexia. Although I'm not an expert in treating such a condition I have experienced all the trials and tribulations which come with it. For instance if you have any concerns about your children's aspirations, confidence, life expectations, etc.

Even though my dyslexia is very severe I have managed to go on to university and achieve a degree in philosophy and politics. This has led to me to write a small book about dyslexia, 'Dumb or Dyslexic, A personal exploration of dyslexia' . Which if you're interested you can find on my website . Please feel free to ask me anything.

Rainbowsurf Sat 02-Jan-16 22:48:11

How can I reduce my sons distress over reading/writing and his low opinion of his abilities?
He has a dyslexia tutor now which has greatly helped him with his anxiety over literacy but he thinks he is not clever at all (his assessment with ed psych put him average ability in literacy and way above average in maths if the dyslexia aspect is removed) as sadly he goes to a high achieving state school which only values academic results and rewards accordingly (it's basically a giant SATS machine). However had we try to improve his self esteem with after school activities we are undermined by school again!

dyslexictom90 Sun 17-Jan-16 10:22:40


When it comes to dyslexia an individual’s natural reaction is to think he or she is stupid. Of course this is not the case.

I have felt exactly the same emotions as your son, I remember times being found by my mother in fits of rage when trying to come to grips with my own condition. Your son is by no means alone.

In my opinion it is the most difficult obstacle for a dyslexic to overcome. It's not helped by the fact that in our day-to-day lifes the notion of spelling/reading is associated with intelligence. How else is a child supposed to react to the fact they cannot spell/reading but by believing they are stupid.

What advice can i give you to tackle your child's self-doubt?

Of course it's not going to be easy and no one answer I can give now will solve it. It is a gradual process of building confidence little steps at a time.

Firstly I can warn against the advice that in order to tackle the child's self-doubt you need to cure his dyslexia. Such an idea can be quite damaging because I don't believe that dyslexia is completely curable. I can go into more detail about this if you wish. However holding this view only highlights your child's inadequacies and in fact may have a diminishing effect on his confidence.

Instead to tackle your child's self-doubt he needs to harness his will to fight against it.

It is right that you have taken actions to give your child a further tuition. I too had positive discrimination in this way and it helped provide a place to deal with my dyslexia in a pragmatic fashion and more importantly build my confidence (increase willpower).

The only question I would ask is what is the quality and quantity of your child's extra tuition? It can play an enormous factor; my parents went to the extreme of moving me to a different school to get the aid I needed.
Your child's willpower is going to be determined by his age and motivations. All children have insecurities but it's when they develop into adults that such negative thoughts will disintegrate.

What motivates your child? Motivation is what powers the will. Firstly to improve their reading/writing abilities it is crucial that you find what interests them and what they are passionate about. It may be a subject matter like history or something more hands-on like archery? Are they academic or vocational minded? What motivates them now may be a precursor to their aspirations for later on in life.

The last point I would probably make is that without positive discrimination my own willpower's attempt to challenge my dyslexia would have probably been snuffed out. I have received a huge amount of help where it be, extra tuition, technology, classroom assistant, extra time and scribes in exams....etc. Time and time again within my small book I commend this fact.

I hope this is of some help, if you have any more questions please do not hesitate to ask. And if you're interested please check out my book.

Legoladette Sun 03-Apr-16 16:16:53

I get all your advice (it's good!) what I would like to know is how do you get the support? How do you change other people's attitudes? How did you get the access to the technology? How do you make schools listen? How do you change the attitudes of OTHERS? the lazy or belligerent or stupid labels, how do you educate the educators?

dyslexictom90 Tue 05-Apr-16 22:41:05

Thanks for the questions Legoladett.

I will boil down your questions to two. Firstly, how do you get the positive discrimination my child needs? and secondly, how can we change the attitudes around dyslexia?

Firstly, how do you get the positive discrimination my child needs? I'm sorry to disappoint however I do not have wide knowledge regarding this. Only what I have experienced. As I have mentioned, I have received positive discrimination and this is because the schools and universities provided such help. I go into great detail in the second part of my book about this very subject matter. But here are some key points of how my dyslexia was recognized.

Around the age of 14 I undergone a psychological assessment to determine that I had dyslexia. Even though it was clear the years before this test that I was dyslexic having the paperwork is of great importance.

When moving schools around the age of 15 I did not go to my nearest more convenient school because the facilities for dyslexics were poor. Instead my parents decided that I should go to a school which was further away but had a one-on-one tuition for dyslexic children.

When attending university I had another psychological assessment since my previous one had expired. After this I received various pieces of competing equipment. For instance dragon naturally speaking. Which is a voice recognition software. Every single piece of major work at University I wrote using this and that is what I'm using to write to you now.

This is just what happened to me and I do not know if it reflects the norm.
Of course I feel very fortunate and It really annoys me to have cases in which a child who is clearly in need does not get the help they deserve.

secondly how can we change attitudes around dyslexia?

This is something I tackle head-on in the book. And actually I come to the conclusion that it is not so much changing everyone else's mind but instead changing the mindset of dyslexic themselves. My aim is to arm dyslexics with indignation to tackle such misconceptions.

The reason being is that there seems to be an intrinsic tie between intelligence and spelling/reading Ability. For instance if a child is very good at spelling and reading aren't they often referred to as intelligent? Even though we know that with critically analyse such a connection it is not founded.

I can go into more detail if you so wish thanks tommy

Legoladette Wed 06-Apr-16 13:28:09

Thanks for your reply! My son had his first EP report at 7 as it was very obvious to everyone that his dyslexia is profound. I think this is where my frustrations (and problems) really lie. There does seem to be support for the "slightly dyslexic" pupil. But for those, like my son, who really can not grasp phonemes and diagraphs and are far from functional as far as literacy skills are concerned, they are deemed "stupid".

dyslexictom90 Wed 06-Apr-16 23:23:48

hi legoladette.

I too like your son suffer from severe dyslexia. If your problem is that the school he currently attends does not facilitate for severe dyslexics then I would seriously question moving him to a different school. This is the action my parents took for me.

I had a one-on-one tuition in a room which was known as the dyslexic base. This took place about twice a week for five years until I left sixth form. I presume this is the sort of treatment you desire for your son.

However what I would stress is that although my reading and spelling ability improved, gains were marginal. Ultimately there is a incurable aspect to dyslexia. It's what I call in my book 'the brick wall of dyslexia'.

This may sound pessimistic however by attending the dyslexic base I was able to build confidence in my inability. Dealing with it in a pragmatic fashion. In essence this is what led me to write my book. I wanted to write an interesting and engaging book which would hopefully help all dyslexics slay their demon of self-doubt.

So although I would recommend this sort of greater intervention it is not the final solution to dyslexia.

I am curious you seem to suggest that the school which your son attends view him as stupid? Or is this just how you feel with the lack of intervention.

If the former, this is a completely unacceptable view to hold of dyslexia.

If the latter, How does your son feel about his condition? does he think he is stupid?

Legoladette Thu 07-Apr-16 09:46:48

Hi, thanks again for your reply. I would love to move schools!! The problem is we are at the end of the road with where he can go. I guess there may be a boarding school miles away, but until he is there, I wouldn't know if it would work and it may well be out of the frying pan into the fire. The school he is at is meant to know what they are dong!
It appears school looks at a spreadsheet of grades. So on literacy his grades are "special school" but cognitively he is bright. He needs 1:1 to access curriculum as he literally can not read or write. I have been trying to get the school to look at voice to text software - have you tried this? He knows a lot but keeps it to himself because he can't put it on paper. I am seriously considering a split placement out of desperation where I hire a tutor and he learns at home and he goes to a school for art, sport etc. it shouldn't be like this in the 21st century!

dyslexictom90 Sat 09-Apr-16 19:41:07

hi, legoladette

Yes I use Dragon naturally speaking, which is an amazing voice recognition software. I highly recommend it. anyone else reading this thread who has a dyslexic child should give it a go. Its truly liberates the dyslexic from the closed shell of which there dyslexia has banished them too.

The conflict you're having around what action to take with your son is fully explored in my book; please check it out. The conflict is between achievement and contentment.

You have one option to send him to a specialist school. From my understanding of such schools they are not based on standard academic subject matter. This may suit your son and allow him to become content with his disability. However there is a big dilemma, my parents could have done the same thing to me. However it would have written me off doing anything academic. It was only when I was in my GCSEs that I became deeply interested in history and politics. If my parents had sent me to a special school it is fair to say I would have never gained such interests and eventually gone to university.

Your other option is to keep him at a regular school. As I suggested If he is bright then he may gain a passion for academic subjects. And therefore with the right support hopefully be able to achieve academic qualification. I support I mean, a teaching assistant sat next to him in classes, given extra time and scribe in exams and lastly voice recognition software ( which you will probably have to source). However the big dilemma is if your child's dyslexia is as bad as you're saying. That he is unable to read or spell one syllable words for instance. Is any achievement academically plausible.

What is most fundamental is that the emphasis should be on your child. Which one of these options will provide the greatest amount happiness for him? Through contentment or achievement? What would he said?

sashh Sun 17-Apr-16 07:37:12

it shouldn't be like this in the 21st century!

I totally agree - sorry to hijack your thread dyslexictom90.

Dyslexic teacher here.

Dragon is good but laptops also often come with speech to text software built in. It is good to try different ones as some work well with a male adult voice and less well with other voices.

As for getting the school to take things seriously and putting support in place. Schools have a budget. They receive money on a per pupil basis and SEN children attract more funding.

BUT the school can allocate resources as they see fit and BUT 2 it is your choice as a parent to allow the school to spend 'pupil premium' or other funding on your child or to ask for that money to be routed to you to provide other support.

Legally under DDA 2005, SENDA and Equality acts your child not only has a right not to be discriminated against but to treatment that would be an advantage to a non dyslexic student.

I am a rare thing, a dyslexic who had few problems learning to read, but looking back I think that was because I learned with 'flash cards' - whole words, no phonics. Even now as an almost 5 year old an unfamiliar word with stump me or I will read one word as another more familiar word but 90% of the time I am recognising whole words.


One think that helped me get over the 'stupid' label was looking at others who are dyslexic and successful, this group includes Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill and Henry Winkler, it may also include Leonardo Da Vinci and Einstein.

Your brain works in a different way to the majority if you have dyslexia, the things that are valued at school are not necessarily those that are valued outside school.

Some of the things I can do include going out to by sewing thread and knowing I can match it to the cloth I have left at home. I can see whether furniture will fit without measuring, computer programming and British Sign Language are completely logical to me and I learned both easily.

You have one option to send him to a specialist school. From my understanding of such schools they are not based on standard academic subject matter. This may suit your son and allow him to become content with his disability. However there is a big dilemma, my parents could have done the same thing to me. However it would have written me off doing anything academic. It was only when I was in my GCSEs that I became deeply interested in history and politics. If my parents had sent me to a special school it is fair to say I would have never gained such interests and eventually gone to university.

You seem to be quite out of date, children in special school do GCSEs, the schools that specialise in dyslexia often aim to take a child out of mainstream for a year or two to develop the skills to enable them to return to mainstream.

I would also dispute that it is a disability, for legal definition it is but it is just a different way of 'brain wiring'

MummyMumsy Sun 17-Apr-16 15:24:52

I agree with the above post. My DS is at St David's College in north Wales. They are a dyslexic specialist school which teaches a full curriculum including A-Levels and most of the kids go on to university. Shapwick is good too, as is Bredon.

dyslexictom90 Tue 19-Apr-16 10:20:18

I must reiterate I am not an expert in teaching dyslexia or in navigating the educational system. And my book has nothing to do with such subject matter (So it's great to see that some of you are). It is not so much that my views are outdated surrounding specialist schools but rather that I do not know. Legoladette seemed to suggest taking her son to school which specialises in art and sports therefore I assumed they did not take traditional academic subjects. This proves not to be the case, therefore anyone reading this thread please retract what I said about specialist schools.

I was just giving my initial reaction to such a general dilemma. And I believe in essence my advice still is valid. There is a temptation to lessen the suffering to a dyslexic child by closing off certain avenues - and this would have been very detrimental if it happened to me.

I'm sure that there are other threads which are better suited to discussing the bureaucratic practicalities surrounding dyslexia however I am passionate about empowering the dyslexic him or herself to supersede their weakness.

One point I will pick up on Sashh is your form of encouragement.

“One think that helped me get over the 'stupid' label was looking at others who are dyslexic and successful, this group includes Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Winston Churchill and Henry Winkler, it may also include Leonardo Da Vinci and Einstein.”

This sort of encouragement I have heard countless number of times in fact it is one of the first things which is said when talking about such a subject matter. However I find it general and dead-ended. There's not really much else to say but that there are famous people with dyslexia who have made it. How exactly does that help child in its day-to-day life at school? Interestingly throughout the whole of my book I never make reference to a famous person with dyslexia. In fact I make a general critique of such generic advice:

“ You may have heard that dyslexics are apparently more likely to excel in creative activities. From this perspective, the purpose of the disability is for the individual to excel in other areas. However, what about those who are not creative? Do they not have any value? By trying to illustrate areas in which dyslexic could excel, doesn't this further highlight the undesirability of dyslexia? It's a ‘you must be good at something else’ attitude. P39-40 (Dumb or Dyslexic? A personal exploration of dyslexia)

In certain cases such advice can have undesirable effects on the dyslexics well-being. For instance when having specialist one-on-one treatment at school there was a poster on the wall of a famous Olympian rower, with an inspirational quote about dyslexia. However what does rowing have to do with dyslexia. For me it only further highlights the undesirability of dyslexia.

Instead this has led me to spend three years writing a far more all-encompassing guide for dyslexic's. Which is based on visceral experiences and empowering arguments for dyslexic children and their parents. As a consequence of this, I try and uncover a love for dyslexia and a love for disability.

I believe the best way to tackle a child's self doubts surrounding the notion of considering himself or herself stupid is to come to a better understanding of what exactly is meant by intelligence. It is only when you examine the notion of intelligence and understand that the inability to spell or read is not a necessary counterpart of it.

twitterusername Wed 25-May-16 12:00:04

At parent’s evening we notified about DS1 Mock SATS Math’s result of 63% with no result for Writing. I persisted with but still no answer. This can only mean one thing to me, that he is failing.

I have made contact with next school at coffee morning and by email but they are such a large organisation it is easy to get lost in the system.

What is my next step? I am guessing to do another Dyslexia Action report to show the little progress DS1 has made with support following a tribunal of refusing to do a Statutory Assessment. I will then be able to use this new report for a request of Statutory Assessment as there is no continuity of recording attainment as the system changed. I am keen to obtain the right support for DS1.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

dyslexictom90 Tue 31-May-16 19:50:20

I am not necessarily the best person to talk in regarding the best procedure to get your child help. All I could advise is to make sure that he gets A full diagnostic assessment, to clarify beyond doubt that he has dyslexia. So you are able to get as much help as possible for him at his current or next school.

Lizzzar Sun 28-Aug-16 23:22:08

I have not read this book, but I certainly know something about dyslexia,
and I would consider it to be primarily one person's personal experiences, not general advice about dyslexia. Although I don't doubt that it contains accurate information about how dyslexia affected the author, this would not necessarily be relevant to anyone else. It is also certainly the case that well known independent schools that specialize in dyslexia do GCSEs and A levels with the aim of the majority of their leavers entering University.

Lizzzar Mon 29-Aug-16 02:39:48

I have now read this book(it's very short) and while I hesitate to criticize a book that's obviously well intentioned, some things are rather odd in it. Even severe dyslexia does not necessarily mean someone will go through their life barely able to read and write, although there's certainly nothing wrong with using speech recognition software if it helps you. Also, having dyslexia does not mean it is not possible to understand Shakespeare - there is a possibility he was dyslexic himself, although of course impossible to say for sure. F Scott Fitzgerald and Yeats, as well as several other well known writers, certainly couldn't spell though, and a stilted writing style has nothing necessarily to do with having dyslexia. Nevertheless, the author's central objections to the links between dyslexia and giftedness appear related to not all people with dyslexia being gifted, which is certainly true, but that they still have a right to be valued as people. I would agree with this, but it still seems a rather obvious thing to say. Nevertheless, read the book if you are interested in a very personal, rather idiosyncratic response to dyslexia.

dyslexictom90 Wed 07-Sep-16 21:18:28

This will be my final post on this thread.

Regarding the previous comment even though I did not ask for a book review I respect everyone has their right to an opinion. I only wish you would have e-mailed me personally before you make a review. It is the decent thing to do, since it is very easy to someone to tarnish someone else's work on a faceless forum.

This really brings me to the review itself, I am not going to defend my work, I think it stands for itself. However let me just pick up on one point to demonstrate what I am saying. It is stated above by Lizzzar that, ‘some things are rather odd in it. Even severe dyslexia does not necessarily mean someone will go through their life barely able to read and write’, now I make it explicitly clear within the introduction that I'm going to refer to dyslexia in this way. And this is a direct quote from page 8, “I define a dyslexic as a person who has difficulty reading and/or spelling. To help simplify things, I will portray dyslexics as those who cannot read or spell even if they do have some degree of capacity”. The reason for doing this is to make things simple since dyslexia comes in a whole spectrum of the degrees. And it would result in a very complicated and confusing book if you try to address the whole spectrum at once.

Now I will not spend any more time picking apart the review however I only ask everyone makes up their own opinion about it, especially when as i have demonstrated it appears misleading to say the least.

Overall the book is a very personal account of dyslexia however this is not a weakness since it allows for dyslexics to relate on a very emotional and tangible level. I never claim that this is a cold calculated scientific investigation of dyslexia. The books main purpose is to empower the will of the dyslexic to believe that they can achieve over their adversity. It is very easy to say this in a cold calculated way however it is incredibly difficult to get a dyslexic to believe it. This is something that can only be achieved through an emotional and highly rhetoric force which I know this book can achieve.

I had quite high expectations when I started this thread, I hope to have a positive communal conversation around dyslexia- with a conversation that went back and forth between me and others. However it has proved to be a limited domain in which to discuss people's thoughts and feelings. Instead people seem to interject comments and then disappear - this is usually done with a judgemental undertone. I suppose what has shown me is that I've got to use far more direct avenues to talk about dyslexia rather than impersonal faceless Internet forums.

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