All The Facts You Need To Avoid Heartache: No.5 Dyslexia - Information Unlimited

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IT IS estimated over two million people in the UK have severe dyslexia and five million people are less seriously affected. It is the single most common serious learning difficulty but it affects three times as many boys as girls.

From nursery school onwards, children and their families can become increasingly damaged if dyslexia goes unrecognised. Dyslexic children may be bullied, humiliated (through ignorance) or considered to be late developers, which leads to feelings of inade-quacy, frustration. anger and isolation. The earlier dyslexia is diagnosed, the better. Diagnosis brings huge relief and proper help enhances both ability and self-confidence. If the answer to most of the following questions is "yes" your child may be dyslexic.

Before age seven

Persistently jumbles phrases

Can't remember the names for everyday objects, eg table and chair

Difficulty learning nursery rhymes and rhyming words

Learns to speak clearly noticeably later than others

Is often accused of not listening or paying attention

Trips, falls over or bumps into things a lot

Has difficulty with skipping, catching, kicking or clapping to a simple rhythm

Has problems dressing and putting shoes on the correct feet

Ages seven to 11

Has difficulty with reading and spelling

Puts figures or letters the wrong way round

Has a poor concentration span for reading and writing

Takes longer than average to do written work

Has problems understanding what they have read

Confuses left and right, days, months and years

Has difficulty understanding time and tense

Can answer questions orally but has difficulty writing the answer

Is unusually clumsy

Has trouble with sounds in words

Is surprisingly bright and alert in other ways

Lacks self-confidence

Ages 12 to adult

Inaccurate reading

Bizarre spelling

Difficulty in taking notes, copying, planning, writing essays or letters

Needs to have telephone numbers or instructions repeated several times

Gets tongue-tied using long words

Confuses places, times

Lacks confidence

Most dyslexic children should get the help they need in school and may be assigned a special needs teacher. Schools are expect-ed to do everything possible to make sure children with educational difficulties are properly provided for. Call the Department of Education Publication Centre on 0845 6022260 for the code of practice schools should follow.

If the parents and the school agree a child is not getting enough help within the system, they can ask the Local Education Authority (LEA) to make a statutory assessment of the child's problems under Section 329 of the 1996 Education Act. Once the LEA has agreed to conduct an assessment it will gather reports from the parents, the school, the LEA educational psychologist (who may be independent or attached to the LEA), the District Health Authority, the medical officer, speech therapists and the school's doctor. It will analyse the child's special educational needs and should then make sure appropriate provision is made. Parents can give their own advice and to submit independent evidence. Once the assessment is completed the LEA should issue a statement which details the child's precise educational difficulties and specifies what should be done to give the child the help they need.

The British Dyslexic Association - Helpline 0118 9668271 or e-mail: - for advice and information.

The Dyslexia Institute - 01784 46385 has a network of professional centres for independent assessments, costing pounds 200-pounds 300.

Network 81 - 01279 647415 - set up to help parents with special needs children.

Advisory Centre for Education - 0171 354 8321 - helpline open 2-5pm. Has publications on special needs.

Independent Panel for Special Educational Advice - 01394 382814 - supports parents and helps them get the right assistance for special needs, as well as offering a representation service for tribunals.