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Can someone help me with Dyslexia please?

34 replies

Watoose · 21/01/2009 09:59

I think it's quite likely ds has it, and I'm worried in case the school are pushing him too hard in his reading and writing (both of which he finds extremely hard) as I've read that this is a bad idea.

I'm not sure what to do or how to get him some help - or even how to be sure he is dyslectic/dyslexic?

His father has dyslexia, and I've spoken to another mum this morning who said it can run in families.

It would kind of fit in with his difficulty with words and numbers I think?

These are my reasons for suspecting it: (He's 5.8)

  1. He can't read - he can sound out very, very simple words occasionally, but we get about two words per reading book, if we're lucky. I have to read the rest for him. (He's very resistant)

2. He will read a number or a word backwards, consistently - ie he will read the number 84 and ask me, 'What does 4 (and) 8 make mummy?'

3. He thinks 9 is b, d is p, the usual muddles. He can't remember a lot of letters let alone whole words.

4. (something the mum mentioned this morning) He can't say the days of the week or months of the year, doesn't understand concepts like yesterday or tomorrow or next week or a length of time such as an hour. it's all nonsense to him.

5. He's very bright and funny, excellent at making things, speaks wonderfully (was very early talker) but cannot ride a bike, tie laces, is totally chaotic and falls over and knocks things over a lot.

Can anyone shed any light on what I should be doing to help him - dyslexia or not? I said something to the head this morning who seemed very dismissive - I'm more anxious not to create more problems by pushing the reading etc than actually about getting him to read.

Thanks in antic.
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Watoose · 21/01/2009 10:01

He can't write either - just about manages his name, and can copy letters if I help him a lot but he couldn't just write a word by himself.

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Watoose · 21/01/2009 10:11


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Watoose · 21/01/2009 10:55
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Littlefish · 21/01/2009 11:12

It does sound from what you've said that there is a mismatch between what he can do verbally and practically, and what he can do in reading and writing. This mismatch can be an indicator of a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia

Have you talked to the classteacher? Have you asked to speak to the SENCO (Special Needs Co-ordinator) about your concerns? Is the classteacher aware that your husband is dyslexic? Are the school putting in any additional one-to-one or group work time for your ds to support his phonic development? Can he recognise and/or write individual sounds? Can he tell you the initial, final or middle sounds in words? ie. can he hear the sounds in words, but not write them down?

There are some basic strategies which could be helping him both at school and home, such as visual timetables, completion charts etc.

Visual timetables are basically a long strip, with pictures to show the order of events in the day. Completion charts have 3 pictures to show the order in which he needs to do a task.

"cannot ride a bike, tie laces, is totally chaotic and falls over and knocks things over a lot". Some of these things can also be an indicator of Dyspraxia (as can the lack of organisational skills and sequencing skills). It might be worth you doing a little reading up, or asking on here.

Littlefish · 21/01/2009 11:12

It would be worth you re-posting this in the Special Needs section too.

Watoose · 21/01/2009 11:22

Oh thankyou Littlefish, I was getting a bit despondent!!

His teacher hasn't mentioned anything but he only started here in October as we moved and he didn't complete reception (Not that I think that would have made much difference, but you never know)

There's a parents evening in March apparently. When I spoke to the head today she said Dyslexia covers a wide range of problems from just finding reading hard to full on problems with words etc. she said that there is no specific way to help these children and that no special measures are needed but that she will mention it to his class teacher and keep an eye

That made me a bit concerned as the mum I spoke to said there was a way to help him, using phinics initially and a certain order of introducing other elements...I'm afraid they might be unaware of what can be done iyswim?

I mentioned that his dad is dyslexic so she knows that now - though I'm not sure how much she realises it might be relevant.

Are the school putting in any additional one-to-one or group work time for your ds to support his phonic development? No, but then I have only just raised it with them as a possibility.
Can he recognise and/or write individual sounds? He can't write without copying or tracing (aside from his name) but can sometimes hear a word and say it sort-of phonically. Like 'c-a-t' or something.

Can he tell you the initial, final or middle sounds in words? ie. can he hear the sounds in words, but not write them down?

Yes, but it gets very muddled very easily. Or ends up back to front or mixed up.

Thankyou again - I'll perhaps post in SN later on and see what people say over there.

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Watoose · 21/01/2009 11:23

sorry phonics not phinics!

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Watoose · 21/01/2009 11:25

Btw I really like the idea of the charts. I have a lot of trouble explaining when something is going to happen, like tomorrow etc etc, and a chart would make it much easier - I see the time in my head but I guess he doesn't have that facility (yet)

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Littlefish · 21/01/2009 11:42

It sounds like he needs to do more work on his basic phonics. He's been in the class for 3 months now, so they should absolutely be up to speed with what he needs.

It sounds like they are starting at too high a level for him. If he hasn't got the basic letter/sound correspondence of phonics then it will be impossible for him to apply those phonics into reading or writing. Just so I can be clear - can he recognise (ie. read) individual sounds. I mean, if he sees "a" on a page, does he know it says "a" (the letter sound, not the letter name "ay")? Can he do this for all the letters of the alphabet, plus the additional sounds which make up the 42 synthetic phonic sounds? How much of his Reception year did he miss?

I'm not trying to sideline your concerns - I'm just trying to get a fuller picture of where he currently is

"When I spoke to the head today she said Dyslexia covers a wide range of problems from just finding reading hard to full on problems with words etc. she said that there is no specific way to help these children and that no special measures are needed but that she will mention it to his class teacher and keep an eye". This attitude by the headteacher worries me greatly! I say this as a class teacher!

Get yourself over to the SN board. You will have the ladies up in arms over there! They will be able to give you much more specific advice.

Lowe123 · 21/01/2009 11:42


Yes I agree that all sounds very familiar to me. I am 52 have a degree in physics, and am a software development chap. But at school I was dumped into a remedial class left school at 15 with no opportunity for any qualifications. What I have to say is of course only from my personal experience and I am assuming that you are in the UK?

  1. Seek professional advise, One way or another you need to get a proper diagnosis using an educational physiologist or similar. It should be possible to organise this though the school. If the school head is dismissive (Not at all uncommon) take it up with your Local Education Authority (LEA). If you don?t get the answer you want keep on politely pushing. It can be possible to do this privately I was assessed by Dr Margret Newton at Aston University though I believe that she has since retired but I think that there is still a department their, They could possibly point you in the correct direction. Be warned though the private way can be expensive and in my opinion there are lots of quacks out their jumping on the band wagon. There is a UK dyslexia association but to be honest I have never had anything to do with them so I cannot comment, it?s possibly worth sending them an email.

2. Do no harm. When I was younger my parents did everything they could to help but without understanding what was going on, This just lead to stress and resentment on both sides. Don?t forget dyslexia is swings and roundabouts. Just because your English isn?t the best doesn?t mean you aren?t far better at other things than most. Again it?s important to take advice, read the literature etc.

3. Over time people learn a set of strategies to mitigate the problem, this is a very personal thing. When young I think one of the important things is to find something you are interested in this leads into a desire to find out. When very young this is a problem but encouraging interests can always help. For me the most important thing is to maintain a sense of humour and proportion. Dyslexia in a way is a symptom of the disproportionate values society places on some skills. For example I am better than most at Math and Logic should I then say others are thick because they aren?t so good at that?

In short seek professional help, get a proper diagnosis, keep pushing schools and LEA?s, look for and encourage any talents or interests you notice. Don?t give up.
Littlefish · 21/01/2009 11:47

Very good post Lowe123. I agree with so many of your points.

If a child is dyslexic, it just means that they learn in a different way. Not better, or worse, just different. It is up to the schools to recognise this, and the many other ways in which children learn and ensure that the teaching and learning supports all children. Sadly, this isn't the case in many schools or individual classes, where teaching follows the "one size/style fits all" model. Unfortunately, teachers receive very little additional training in specific learning difficulties and therefore, lack the knowledge and confidence to know how best to work with children's differing learning styles.

Watoose · 21/01/2009 11:53

Just answering one post at a time,

Little fish, no, there's no way he can do that - he will see 'a' and say 'ay' (sometimes)

He can't do that with many letters.

He did half days for a lot of reception, and then missed the summer term as we were moving away. He was also ill quite a bit.

I don't know how much help he's getting really. They knew he had missed quite a bit when they took him into year 1, so I assumed they would have a plan to help him catch up.

A lot of us have mild concerns about the head for various reasons - her attitude when a friends's son was being bullied seemed very much 'boys will be boys'

But the class teachers seem Ok so I'll try and talk to the main one and see if she is more reassuring.

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KateF · 21/01/2009 11:55

Your ds sounds very like my dd2 who was diagnosed with quite severe dyslexia last year (when she was 7). I could not get anyone interested in her difficulties before that and still am struggling to get help for her. A lot depends on where you live (I am in Bedfordshire which has no dyslexia support at all)but there are things school can do (your Head sounds rubbish). I got dd put into the SENCOs class for Year 3 and she has started dd on Sounds-Write and Toe by Toe which has helped with her reading and spelling. At the moment maths is a disaster because she cannot recognise patterns or sequences and the mathematical language is incomprehensible to her but we are seeking help with that. Make an appointment with the SENCO asap - even if she doesn't know much about dyslexia she will have contacts at the LEA.

Watoose · 21/01/2009 11:57

Lowe, thankyou very much for sharing your perspective. It's really helpful and fits with what I think re ds, that he is brill at various things, has a fantastic imagination, physical grace and speed, is lovely and funny and clever - but not in a schooly way and I am concerned he is in fact already creating coping strategies when asked to do something. I really remember this with his dad (not together now) and want to avoid him growing up thinking he is not good enough or has to hide his problems.

I'm glad you have come so far in your life and done so well despite early difficulties.

I've had a look at the BDA site and there's not a local group but will definitely try and get some specific advice - the mum at school said she thought they would refuse to assess until ds was 7, which seems entirely daft to me.

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Watoose · 21/01/2009 12:01

KateF thankyou - I know the Senco at this school quite well, well enough to talk to her personally anyway - she's always been friendly to ds as we were neighbours before.

I think I might approach her and ask what steps to take and whether she can suggest any ways to get him extra help.

Partly I would rather he wasn't 'helped' too much - trying to get him to catch up with the other kids seems like a recipe for disaster really, I have a set of Jolly phonics books here but there's no way he will want to do them, because it makes him feel like a failure and so frustrated - he can't seem to 'see' the words etc.

I just want him to be Ok really.

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KateF · 21/01/2009 12:07

I see your point, he is still very young. dd2 needs "help" otherwise she could not access any of the curriculum. In Year 2 she would just put her head down on the desk and cry with frustration because no-one could make any sense of what she had written. It is very hard for a bright child to be unable to write anything that makes sense. We are now going through the same thing with maths and I don't know how to help her - the frustration she feels is awful. I just want her to be OK too but i know that life is going to be much tougher for her than her sisters

Watoose · 21/01/2009 12:10

Oh poor dd
I hope I didn't sound like I was criticising you Kate. Not in the slightest, I am just worried about what kind of help is the right sort and how to get school to treat him as an individual - rather than push the writing etc which is so hard for him.

I guess it's a very fine line and they do need to access the curriculum as you put it - and to be understood.

Thanks again and hope we understand each other Ok! x

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KateF · 21/01/2009 12:15

Of course, I didn't take it the wrong way . Please feel free to ask for any info and if he is diagnosed later you will need to inform yourself because sadly people will not come rushing to offer you help. My LEA is dreadful and I have had to fight for everything but some are very good (Hertfordshire and Solihull to my knowledge).

Littlefish · 21/01/2009 12:18

It's not about getting him to "catch up" with the rest of the class at this stage. It sounds like it's about helping him to start making progress.

As he missed a considerable amount of Reception, I wouldn't expect him to be able to recognise letters and numbers. The trouble is that the rest of the class will have covered these things before, and have now moved on. Without some additional support and direct teaching by an experienced teacher or ta, the gap will widen between your ds and his classmates .

I think you mis-understood me a bit. (I didn't explain it very well!). What your ds needs to do is be able to say the letter sounds first, not the letter names, as the letter sounds are used in blending. (Letter names come later). Anyway, it sounds like there are bigger issues here, such as the school's general approach.

I think that speaking to the SENCO is an excellent idea. I would make an appointment to speak to her her and the classteacher together so that you can all discuss your concerns openly, without relying on messages to be passed.

KateF · 21/01/2009 12:22

Might be worth asking if your school do Sounds-Write. Ours do it from Year 1 and it has really helped dd. It is done in small groups so your ds would not be singled out as there are bound to be other children who could do with a bit of a boost.

swedishmum · 21/01/2009 12:25

HT sounds like she needs to improve her knowledge. Totally agree with Littlefish about basic phonics.
I have a dyslexic ds (Y7, and managed to get into grammar with lots of hard work), and I have a postgrad dyslexia qualification. Given that his dad's dyslexic, the school should certainly be keeping an eye on his progress at his age. A proper understanding of phonics is good for all children, and if he hasn't "got" this, it is much more useful for him to get the help now rather than feel frustrated with work he can't do in class.
I go in to school and do work with children who need a bit of extra support - based on phonics/rhyme using games. Not rocket science by any means, but it really can make a difference. Good luck!

mumstheone · 21/01/2009 12:33

Dyslexia is a serious word and the criteria to find out if a child is dyslexic are very strict. To put it simply if there are 100 criteria and he only gets 99 of those then he is not dyslexic. It is also a little early to diagnose him, most lea's do this at age 7. I assess children for learning difficulties (not dyslexia) and have seen 1000's of children.

I would first make sure that he knows his sounds and recognises upper and lower case letters of the alphabet. Using the computer keybord is very helpful for this. Stick to getting him to type out his name - in different colours, in different fonts etc and simple cvc words like cat and dog. As a precautionary measure get his eye sight and hearing tested as well. The key is to repeat repeat and repeat, but make it enjoyable - use flash cards, playdough to make letters with, magnets cut and stick and even computer programmes.

haggisaggis · 21/01/2009 12:34

I am so glad sometimes that my dd is in our local primary. THEY approached ME about her difficuties. It was them that raised possibility of dyslexia - and have arranged daily one - one support with TA or class teacher. She gets weekly support from learning support teacher. They also advise me to get an OT referral for her and it was found she has DCD (another name for dyspraxia, I think) and she gets help for that too. She is now 6. They started all this before Christmas when whe was 5 and in P1. She is coming on very well thanks to all this support. I hope you manage to get similar support for your ds.

Watoose · 21/01/2009 12:49

Thankyou all, there is some really great help on here and I'm glad I asked

Kate - phew!

Littlefish no it was me, I have a very vague knowledge of phonic teaching and thus get confused easily! I think I need to read more and get myself up to scratch withit before I discuss with them.

I will arrange a meeting asap.

Mumstheone I like the idea about using the computer to make it more exciting. He has just got into doing basic primary games on here so he might be quite keen!

Thanks again x

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elliephant · 21/01/2009 13:00

From your OP, your DS sounds a lot like my youngest DS, who was assessed as dyslexic at 6.5 yrs. His older brother, 9.5 yrs, was assessed at the same time as was their dad who's 40! It does run in families and is more common in boys.
In my case, I knew something was up as both my boys had the same problems and I was determined that younger DS wasn't going to suffer and struggle as his older brother had.
With my older son I had years of being annoyingly told there was no problem, we should read more with him, join the library etc. One teacher, who had also taught my DD who was top of her class and 2 years ahead in reading and writing at six, suggested my son's problems were because he did not have enough nursery rhymes read to him as a baby
One of the lightbulb moments for us was when oldest DS,who's excellent at maths, just could not learn to tell the time or remember months etc. So when younger DS displayed similar problems I became a pushy parent and was in the school a lot looking for learning support and feedback . Don't assume teachers know the signs - all children are different and all teachers do not have learning support training. I was able to organise a private assessment as the waiting lists were very long here and the school were happy to accept the findings.
Do push for help, your DS obviously needs some whether he is dyslexic or not, particulary as he has missed teaching time. My sons were very aware that they were struggling, they both used to 'learn' books off and were stressed at being 'caught out'. It had a toxic effect on their self esteem. Now they are happy to tell people that they are dylexic, DS9 thinks it's cool and likes to name all the famous footballers/ writers/ actors/ scientists/ Bill Gates types who are as well.

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