Dyslexia Help That 'Changed My Life'

Article excerpt

Byline: SUSAN ELKIN

DYSLEXIA results, according to some experts, from abnormal brain structure. In a dyslexic's brain the language area is often unusually symmetrical and there might also be tiny differences in the layout of neurons (nerve cells) and the way they connect, too.

The result is that most dyslexics have difficulty, considering their general ability, learning to read and write. Problems with numbers and reading music are very common, as are a poor sense of direction, weak time management and a lack of personal organisation.

A dyslexic child, who might be bright but regarded as dim, is quite likely to arrive at school minus pencil case or homework and to be baffled by most of what goes on in a mainstream classroom.

That's very hard for a busy teacher to cope with, and it's all too easy to mistake a dyslexic child for a naughty or stupid one.

As Harriet Woollam, ten, who attends Brenchley and Matfield Church of England (Aided) Primary School in Kent, says: 'When I was in Year Four, I was really struggling, but my teacher had no idea.' No one knows how many people are affected by dyslexia.

Robert Field, author of The Secret Life Of The Dyslexic Child (Rodale 2002), says: 'Experts claim that dyslexia affects 10 per cent of any given population, 4 per cent being severely affected and the rest affected to a mild to moderate degree. I suspect that numbers are slightly higher because some children remain undiagnosed.' Although 'dyslexia' may occasionally be used by parents of low ability children as a face-saving excuse, it must be taken seriously because in so many cases it's genuine. EastEnders actress Louise Jameson (who played Rosa di Marco) has a dyslexic son, Tom, 20. She believes the teacher in a Kent secondary school who told her 'I don't believe in dyslexia' was talking nonsense.

So what can be done about it?

Most schools try, although a severely dyslexic child needs trained, one-to-one help. That means a full statement of special needs and an assigned adult to sit with the child during lessons. It's costly and does not happen as often as it should.

Most independent schools have trained staff to help dyslexic pupils and arrangements for help. …