03-09-2019 5:21:26 PM CST

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HIGHER EDUCATION & DYSLEXIA

Our child had difficulties in first school, middle school and high school - but with the right kind of help and input, they survived!   Now they are ready to go into higher education, either at college or university - but how will they manage?

NOT ONLY do our grown children, now higher education students,  need to be responsible for getting to their college or university classes and lectures on time, (right day, right place, right time etc)  they need to be self-motivated, they need to learn to work in groups with students they may not know, learn to discuss issues and concepts they don't known much about ... 

Higher Education students will need to find their way around the college or university e.g. different buildings spread over a vast site,  find the library and IT suite and know how to use them!  Not as easy as it sounds - I know,  I was one of those students! 

I personally found the library very challenging - it seemed a complicated system that didn't match anything else I'd come across; eventually I found the isles where the books I needed where likely to be, and searched hard - then found I had to wait for the books to be returned before I could use them to study or completed assignments and essays!  Some students may find the canteen and student rooms very challenging as they are very disorganised and often very noisy - it can overwhelm your senses. 

Understanding the assignments and essay requirements in Higher Education was something else!  The assignment tasks seemed to be written in another language and I had to try to decipher what on earth it was they really wanted!    Thankfully,  I was able to access Student Support at University, but firstly,  I needed to introduce myself to them and let them know what my difficulties were, then they were able to assess my needs and work with me.

Higher Education students with Dyslexia often struggle with organisational skills, memorising and study skills, reading skills, taking notes, writing essays and revision, they therefore often need a tutor to help them through their studies.  

Through Student Support, I was assigned another tutor to assist me in understanding what was required from me and how to structure essays so that they covered all of the requirements of the task for the course.   Teachers and Lecturers in higher education are required to make some adjustments for dyslexic students and any other kinds of needs that students have, but they need to be made aware via the Student Support Department.    

Some students require note takers in their classes.  I was  given a computer with speech to text hardware and other programmes to assist me in my studies.  This is a good tool for students, but because I was already a good typist, it wasn't something I really needed, however, I have found Grammarly and an online dictionary to be excellent tools - and ones I use constantly!  Personally, I found the support I received at University was better than I received anywhere else. 

I would advise two things:  

Firstly, get additional support with a tutor either face to face or in some form or other.  Any student with Dyslexia or any extra needs will benefit from getting Student Support involved with their studies, so that they can manage the work-load, stress, assignments, essays and deadlines. 

Secondly, Dyslexic students may benefit from our on-line Study Skills Course, for students in high school or higher education with dyslexia.  Our on-line course covers topics such as:

-  organisation and exercises
-  active listening
-  memorising techniques
-  study skills and memorising
-  reading skills
-  more memorising techniques
-  taking notes
-  mind mapping
-  writing essays
-  revision of the course

 

If you are interested in this on-line course, please contact me on this website.


With perseverance and support,  dyslexic students can survive and thrive at college and universities!

 


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03-02-2019 5:17:11 PM CST

 

TRANSITIONS:  MOVING UP TO MIDDLE OR HIGH SCHOOL

As a parent of a child with Dyslexia, ADHD  Aspergers or Dyspraxia etc, you will need to be your child's advocate.  You will need to negotiate with teachers, educational professionals and others including the medical professionals.  You will need to be strong and resilient, yet reasonable and positive.
When my son went through the educational system, I went with him -  not into his lessons of course, but into the school to negotiate his needs.  

Moving to a new school was a sock for my son, as more was demanded of him than he was able to deal with.  Changing classrooms and teachers for lessons, finding his way around the school etc and adjusting to stricter rules and higher requirements and standards of work and strict teachers who did not understand his difficulties was enough to make him give up trying, give up on school and teachers etc, which he did from Middle school onwards.  Physical Education was one prime example.  My son had Dyspraxia among other things, meaning he was slow at dressing and undressing  and he most often forgot to bring his P. E.  kit with him, leading to punishments and detentions.  You may know already, but Dyspraxia also means there are memory and organisational issues a child has to deal with - a school diary often didn't suffice in this area.  P. E  is also difficult when your child's coordination isn't good or they find it difficult to follow the teachers instructions and directions.  This got my son into more trouble.  You can imagine the resentment that built up in him plus a breakdown in confidence, followed with bullying from peers.  School became torturous at this stage.  my son started misbehaving and refusing to go to school.  I only just got him through the first few years at Middle School but decided enough was enough.  He needed more specialised education.  

We choose a special unit attached to a mainstream school, because despite wanting him to go to a school for dyslexic children, the LEA refused to fund this.  My son ended up in a autism base attached to the school.  The teacher was excellent and understood his behaviourson etc.  I was quite impressed with her.  He made a little bit of progress.  

But more trouble  came our way when my son had to move to High School.  This was an utter failure.  They moved him to another mainstream school with a different type of unit - it was a learning support base, which you would think would work but in his case, it didn't.   This was all the LEA had to offer and it was the wrong place for him.  My son and his teacher did not get on at all and his behaviour worsoned.  Two teachers who were in the base had no real understanding of his needs and were intent on punishments, which again, made it all the more troublesome.   School became a battlefield.  Our communication broke down and our emotions were raw.  Teachers meetings were like hell on earth. There was no understanding or trust anymore.  In the end my son was expelled and we felt helpless in helping him.  He couldn't take anymore schooling and neither could we.   All of this could have been avoided if our son was placed in the right kind of school or unit.

I'm sharing get this to help parents avoid these pitfalls and all the heartache that goes with it.  I would advise parents to make sure that the school your child attends IS the right kind  for them,  with the right kind of attitudes and the right kind of support all around.  In the right hands our children can excel and make good progress - I know this because my second  son, who also has Aspergers syndrome and Dyspraxia, thrived in the right school.  He failed in mainstream  Middle school but when he was properly assessed and sent to the right kind of autism base unit, he was able to manage school and passed his G.C.S. E.'s.  After many more years, he is now studying at a university in the USA.  

Through the years, I've needed to be both my son's advocates,  through their failures and achievements.   I totally understand how parents feel and some of the struggles they go through, and I now tutor children with Dyslexia and other difficulties after taking some training and having work experience at a private school.  I really enjoy what I do and find it fulfilling.  If I can help you or your child in any way, please contact me.  

Meanwhile parents, make good choices with your child's schooling and education and keep strong!  

For 5 Tips on how to help smooth the transitions, contact me with your email address and it will be sent over to you shortly.
 


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02-25-2019 6:26:25 AM CST

 

STRUGGLES GETTING  AN  E.H.C.  PLAN

 

In my last Blog,  'Being Heard',  I explained some of my experiences and struggles with 'being heard' and my child being supported at school.  The struggles began when my eldest son was a toddler, with slower speech development,  co-ordination difficulties,  difficulties blending and connecting with peers, and then when he started school,  difficulties with reading, writing, following directions, concentration and generally keeping up with his education at school.   I explained the difficulties I had getting teachers and the first school he attended, to listen and to take things seriously,  and to offer extra tuition and help with his education.  Our son eventually had a diagnoses of Dyspraxia, Asperger's Syndrome and Dyslexia.  I think they missed ADD, but this was enough to help us understand what was happening with our son.

 

However, we moved to a new area and school, and my son joined year 2.  This school were more sympathetic and understanding of dyslexia, with a helpful teacher and SENCO.  At last we had some recognition of the problems he was having at the school, but the problem was that the problem did not go away!  Although the school was able to put in some limited help, via small group work, once a week, they were unable to provide help in the classroom or with the widening gap in his ability to read and write.  The school was stuck.  They needed more funding and more staff to be able to accommodate his needs.  

 

We went to many meetings and reviews with the school SENCO at his primary school, but progress was still slow.  I felt my son needed a Teaching Assistant in his classroom at a minimum, but this could not be accomplished without finances from the Local Authority.  So a battle began with the Local Authority - although they knew my son's difficulties from the school records and meetings, they did not agree to him having a Statement of Special Needs, as it was called then - this is now called an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHC), in the UK.    

 

We attended many Individual Education Plan  (I.E. P. ) review meetings with the SENCO,  and some with the Local Authority (L.A.) representative, who unfortunately for us, was the worst, most uncooperative, unsympathetic and uncaring person I had come across in the education field!  From their point of view, if my son made a tiny steps of progress, they refused any further help - even though he was more than 2 years behind his peers at this stage.  In exasperation,  we took the LEA to court, to force their hand into giving our son a Statement (EHC), not once, but 3 times we went to court - but even though we had evidence and medical reports to back us up,  we STILL failed to get the necessary Statement (EHC) that we needed.  The L.A. had good solicitors and representation that fought our case.  We felt angry, exhausted and exasperated, and this time, because we had moved house and area,  we did not have a support group to help us through!

 

Eventually,  after many battles, the LEA  agreed to carry out a full assessment of our son's needs - and guess what?  They discovered that he WAS as far behind as we said and they FINALLY agreed to Statement him!   What a relief!  At last!  We finally had some extra help in the classroom - 7 hours of T.A. help!   Well,  that was better than nothing!  It was the next step up on our journey.  


Just an added note here, the Plan should note and mention all your child's stated needs, and should state specifically, how the school is going to help your child.  

Today,  25 years plus later,  the system has changed from a Statement of Special Educational Needs to an EHC plan in the UK.  The process is still tough.   I still regularly meet many parents who face similar difficulties with their child's education, and they feel they need tuition for their children because it is not forthcoming from the school.  

 

To achieve what my son needed,  despite the setbacks,  it took courage and persistence, negotiations with school, plus help from medical experts including Occupational Therapy,  Speech and Language Therapist and other educationalist just to get the Statement (or EHC), because his difficulties were persistent and the educational gap was wide. 

 

Not all children will need a EHC plan, but most with Dyslexia and similar difficulties will need extra support in school.  I would encourage all parents, no matter  your child's needs are, or how hard the road gets,  to keep negotiating with the school teacher and SENCO,  to seek outside help, such as tuition and other therapies and professionals,  to keep persisting and to continue to have courage to push through, until you are able to get what you know your child needs.  Be strong!

 


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02-20-2019 11:43:44 AM CST

Dyslexia and Being Heard

 

I was a parent of a young child just starting Reception Class in Primary School, nearly 25 years ago, in Birmingham.  He was my first child and this was our first experience of school, and unfortunately, it was not a good one.     

I was aware of my son's difficulties, by observing how he blended in with other children, how he responded to instructions from the teacher, and how he progressed with his reading and writing. I also observed his attention skills were poor and his fine motor skills were poor, e.g. he couldn't hold a pencil or write his own name.   As I talked with parents and made my own observations I became more aware of the gap that was present and growing.  I often spoke to the teacher about my concerns, but mostly felt my concerns were not taken seriously and I wasn't being heard.  They made me  feeI that I was being too fussy and over-anxious.  However, the more I asked, the more I felt pushed back,  and ignored by the school.  I felt I had to fight to be heard, but the more I spoke up for him, the more they seemed to close down.  I had a battle on my hands.

Going back in time,   when my son was about 3 years old, I  had a referral through the Health Visitor for speech therapy, because of my son's late development of speech.  Speech Therapy only lasted 6 weeks, however it was still obvious there were other concerns - he did not respond well to instructions, nor was he compliant.  He did not seem to develop well all round - he seemed slower than his peers in most areas.  This eventually lead to another referral, to specialists at a Child Development Centre.  Thankfully,  they heard and understood!   They saw him and myself several times to make assessments.  Eventually,  when my son reached about 6 years old,  they diagnosed Dyspraxia and later on Aspergers Syndrome.  

The battles with the school begun.  The Teachers and School were not listening.  I turned for help in other directions.    I joined a support group for children with Dyspraxia (who mostly had other difficulties too, including Dyslexia and Aspergers or ADHD).  This group of parents were the most supportive group I ever came across and they REALLY understood my daily struggles and dealings with education - we were like a life line or even a life support machine to each other.   We laughed together and cried together.  We 
helped each other in every way we could.    

By the time my son was 8 plus, and still in his first school,  he was still really struggling with reading and writing.  The school had by then, put in some input in form of small group work, but it was minimal and not enough for his needs - by then the gap had widened.  Eventually,  I went to a private educational psychologist who diagnosed Dyslexia.  My son had a continuum of difficulties, although not all in the severe range, but he had an overlap of Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Asperger's syndrome.  Eventually,  we moved house and moved school, and the new school was more understanding and supportive of his needs, but he was still behind...  my concern for my son was that he received the right level of special needs input at school.  I was also concerned that he would not manage as he continued to mainstream education... unfortunately, this turned out to be right.  But I'll explain more about this in my next blog... 


Let me advise you and encourage you:

Firstly,  if you have any experiences like the ones I have shared with your child or the school system, then join a support group and get as much information and support as you can, outside of education as well as inside.  

Secondly,  we offer private tuition for dyslexic students and on-line tuition,  or your child may benefit from our on-line phonics course, that covers all of the basic phonics and spellings, in a fun an interactive way.  Go to our page for on-line phonic course to find out some more details.  You can contact me if you are interested in any of our services on the form provided on this site.

This is a long journey and to get through this, you will need some level of support as you journey with your child through their education and life.  


 


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02-20-2019 11:02:34 AM CST

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