Instructions on playing the syllables Games purchased at TSD1
TSD Teaching Aids
ABC's 'Behind The News' story on Dyslexia
Eliza, one of Bill's students is the 'Rookie Reporter' in this wonderful story about Dyslexia.
25th March 2014
The wonderful team and BTN have put together a respectful and informative story about dyslexia and how it can affect young people at school. Thanks Emma and the team at BTN for letting Eliza and I help you put together such a great story. Thanks Dr. Sandra Marshall (DAGBAGS) for making this happen.
Click on the link below to watch the story.
This link may not be available for long, so if you can't see it here, go to:
Dyslexia SA 6 Point Plan letter to your local Member of Parliament (or canditate). Download HERE.
Download as a word file
Download letter as a pdf file
"Intelligence masks Dyslexia and Dyslexia masks intelligence"
Students with dyslexia suffer from self doubt and may go to extreme lengths to hide their difficulties. If they haven't received adequate remediation, by High School, they are often frustrated and demoralised. They are frustrated by the fact that they process information, read and write much more slowly than their peers and therefore become overwhelmed by the quantity of work expected. No matter how hard they try, their written work rarely reflects their ability. They have likely had many well-intentioned, but misinformed teachers accuse them of being lazy or inattentive and not working to their potential.
Students with Dyslexia may be talented in areas like oral expression, problem solving, big picture thinking, intuition and insight, computing, mechanics, grasping mathematical concepts (in spite of having difficulties with simple computation and recall of basic number facts). Teachers must be better taught to acknowlegde their strengths and not only focus on their weaknesses.
(Adapted from Speld SA Newsletter, Spring 2012)
Dyslexia remains largely misunderstood by the community, even though it affects between 3 and 10 percent of all learners. Some studies indicate that dyslexic learning styles in the general population may be as high as 20 percent. Sadly, there is no specific support for dyslexic students in South Australian Government schools.
Students with Dyslexia and their families are mostly left to their own devices. If the school can manage some extra support for these students, it is usually provided by non-specialist volunteers or teacher aides who have little or no training in the area specific learning disabilities. Unfortunately, many of these wonderful people, although well intentioned, do not have the necessary training or experience to understand the complex cluster of difficulties that make up dyslexia and as a result, struggle to use the remediation programs that have been provided to them to their full potential.
Steve Dykstra, PhD is a very well regarded Adolescent Psychologist and a founding member of the Wisconsin Reading Coalition says:
"Dyslexic kids aren't qualitatively different than other children. They need more of what all children need, delivered more skillfully, with greater care and intensity. As far as I can see, there is nothing they need which is different than what any child needs.
If you understand dyslexia, you understand reading. And if you don't understand dyslexia and your approach to reading doesn't account for dyslexia very well, then your approach to reading is wrong for everyone, not just children with dyslexia.
Some schools invest heavily in computer-based programs that claim to re-wire reading circuits in the brain, sitting students at computers for a set number of sessions per week. Unfortunately, there is little independent research to prove that these programs work despite the millions of dollars well-meaning schools have spent on them. If your child's school is considering implementing a program for their struggling readers that sounds like it might be a little too flashy, a good place to get some independent information on its efficacy might be the Maquarie University Special Education Centre (see MUSEC Briefings) or When Educational Promises Are to Good to be True.
Too many dyslexic students in our schools think they are dumb and that they will never learn to read, spell or write. What these kids need to know is that they are intelligent (average to above average for their age), but learn in a that many classroom teachers don't know how to teach.
There's nobody to blame, just the need for our community do better in terms of:
Teacher education: about dyslexia pre-service and post-service and the continual improvement of mainstream classroom teaching practices to better accommodate for dyslexic learning styles. Talk to any Australian teacher who trained in the 70s 80s or 90s and they will tell you that explicit training in teaching students to read and spell was missing from their training. They are crying out to know how to help struggling readers. They may also tell you that teaching phonics was (and still is) out of vogue in teacher education establishments and the teaching in phonics in schools was shunned when they trained.
The whole language method of teaching was hailed as the way to go because the education establishment became caught up in the romantic myth that the brain learns to read in the same way it learns to speak - by being immersed in lanuage. The research has since proven this idea wrong. Every brain has to learn to read anew. There are no specialised brain reigons ready to learn reading from birth (like there are for language acquisition). Reading is painstaikingly bolted on through explicit, structured and sequential teaching that teaches the relationships between letters and sounds in a step by step manner. See "How Phonics got Framed" .
We now need to fill this gap in teacher training as well as coach our wonderful and committed teachers how to teach reading in the way that the research tells us works. Teachers also need to be empowered to identify and refer children who are not responding to classroom literacy instruction. Too many parents of dyslexic learners have heard the words 'don't worry, their reading will click', or 'boys take a bit longer', only to find themselves a few years later with a child who hasn't just clicked, who feels utterly defective and hates school.
Improved funding models for students with dyslexia that recognise and fund dyslexia as a learning disability. Currently, no specific funding is available for students diagnosed with Dyslexia. Some Ministers tell us that funding is available and that how schools spend this is up to them. Unfortunately, this is buck passing and is not a reflection of the real situation.
Sadly, Teachers and Principals have to deliver the horrid news that there is no support to disheartened parents daily. Dyslexia takes away a learner's ability to access the currency in schools - print. It is through print that children show teachers what they have learned. In later primary school and beyond, print becomes the main way information is learned, memorised and shared. A child who cannot process print quickly and efficiently must be remediated, using research proven teaching methods.
This takes specialised training and allocation of staff hours to offer research proven, intensive remediation programs (such as the Hickey Multisensory Language Program, or other Orton-Gillingham based programs) in schools. While the current situation exists, schools are forced to stretch limited funding to meet a huge need - a need that extends to roughly 1 in 5 students. It's little wonder that schools fall victim to flashy, well-marketed programs that promise to remediate dyslexic learners that have no research proving their effectiveness.
Accommodations for learners with Dyslexia, especially in test and exam situations. Dr Sally Shaywitz, a leading world authority on dyslexia tells us that slow reading robs dyslexic students of valuable time in tests and examinations. The only way we can give that time back is to allow students accommodations, particularly under test conditions where dyslexic difficulties are most pronounced.
Parents, teachers and leading Psychologists in South Australia cannot understand the position that the SACE Board takes by continuing to place unfair hurdles infront of learners with dyslexia come exam time. Currently the SACE Board uses inappropriate assessment techniques (that are not sensitive enough) to determine which students should qualify for accommodations in examinations. On top of this, the SACE Board continues to ignore the recommendations of local specialists Educational Psychologists.
We are in an unbelievable situation where students who have been allowed the use of a word processor to produce written work all of their high school career have to revert to handwriting during examinations. You don't have to be a dyslexia specialist to understand that slowed written output is often a consequence of dyslexia as well as slowed processing of the written word. The SACE Board's use of unsatisfactory assessment tools and non-specialist advice from interstate ensures that these more subtle difficulties are not taken into account in considering access to the very accommodations that have supported their academic survival leading up year 11 and 12. This situation is unacceptable possibly unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Act. What is the SACE Board's defence of this situation? They tell us that they are doing what the other states do!
Dyslexia SA is a group of made up parents of children with dyslexia, and other interested community members who are committed to raising awareness of dyslexia and increasing support for dyslexic students. Presided over by Dr Sandra Marshall, a G.P. in Gawer, this group has been active in lobbying Government and Education authorities to take action on the poor state of reading attainment in Australia and to better support dyslexic learners in Australian schools.
Australia's failure to follow the research on the teaching of reading has come home to roost. In the 2011 PIRLS study, Australian year fours came 27th in the league table of countries, below all other English speaking countries and significantly lower than 21 other countries overall, including all other English speaking countries (except New Zealand). South Australian results sit at the bottom of this heap. The article “Why Jaydon Can’t Read”, written by some of Australia’s most respected reading academics encapsulates the frustration felf by the academic community about this state of affairs.
Dyslexia SA has spread its roots through South Australia and has sprouted a number of other groups. Right across our state now we have groups very connected and politically active parents, educators and allied health professionals who are raising awareness and knowledge about the poor state of affairs when it comes to the teaching of reading in Australia and the unsatisfactory support for young people with Dyslexia. Our groups are also well conencted with Auatralia's top reading academics and together are making a noise.
We are puttting our 6 point plan in front of Policy Makers all over Australia:
Please view this - it is illuminating and well worth your time to view.
Some of the questions put to policy makers includes;
- Do you know that while Dyslexia remains largely misunderstood by the community and teachers, up to25% of the population is affected by some form of language-based/ information processing difficulty?
- Do you know that Specific Learning Difficulties account for about 15% of the population, Dyslexia affects about 10%, and 4% of the population are severely Dyslexic?
- Do you know we are currently under diagnosing Specific Learning Disabilities by about 8% because there is no affordable, accessible and failsafe early reading screening system for all Australia kids?
- Why is it we're focussed on NAPLAN results beginning at year 3 at the expense of not screening our littlies for literacy/numeracy difficulties very early on in their schooling? Year 3 is too late.
- Do you know there is now extensive clinical evidence to show that unsupported Dyslexics carry elevated negative perceptions of their peers, of school, of themselves and about their academic futures?
- Are you aware of the growing evidence showing overlap between under-achievement in literacy (especially in reading) poor behaviour, poor health and wellbeing and propensity towards crime?
- Are you aware that apart from New South Wales, Dyslexia is not legally recognised as a legitimate learning disability in school systems?
- Do you know there is no specific support available to Dyslexic students in South Australian Government schools?
- Are you aware that some schools have adopted intervention programs within their Special Education suit that claim to help Dyslexic students, despite numerous independent studies showing many have no to poor transfer effects? Regulation is necessary and is easy to implement. All we need to do is follow the research!
- Are you aware that Dyslexic students, and their families, are usually left to find their own way?
- Do you know that good help and quality remediation has long been sourced outside of school systems by families - who can and can't afford it - because it simply hasn't been present in most Australian schools?
- Do you know that Australian educators have failed to effectively respond to conclusive research on how to teach reading to students in schools?(Please see the YouTube clip, 'How Phonics got Framed' - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e8SJFuGRFM)
- Are you aware that many, many Australian educators still argue, and are still confused, over whether a 'whole word approach' to reading is better than a 'phonics-based approach'?
- In fact, do you know there's been a backdrop in some systems where Dyslexia did not exist for a long, long time? Do you know that it was actually ignored, side-stepped and covered up?
- Do you know that the success of our dyslexic students in schools is a LITMUS TEST? When students consistently fail academically, behaviourally or emotionally – then we know our practice is falling short of meeting the individual learning preferences of many.
- Are you prepared to rectify these awful injustices?
Dyslexia SA are inviting schools to become 'Dyslexia Aware' through an established a system of accreditation where all teachers and leaders in schools understand how to teach to students with Dyslexia. We now have local SA schools who have earned the Dyslexia Aware Schools Quality Mark. 'Dyslexia Aware Schools' or 'Dyslexia Friendly Schools' are already well established in the UK, USA and Ireland. Great models already exist and they work for all students because they promote good evidence-based teaching or reading and spelling. When we get teaching right for students with Dyslexia - the bonus is, we get it right for all students!
We need more parent power. We've learned that politicians only listen if they think their position in parliament depends on it. Unfortunately, reading disabilities hasn't received anywhere near the public attention they deserve. It's our mission to raise this public awareness. If Government won't listen, we will make them listen.
If you have an interest in working with our group, please email Bill or Dyslexia SA and we will keep you informed about what we are up to so you can join us!