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Dyslexia Ayrshire - FAQ

Here are the answers to some questions we are frequently asked. If there is a question you have about dyslexia or what we do, feel free to contact us by clicking here

What is dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference mainly affecting the ability of individuals to acquire literacy skills. It is complex and resistant to conventional teaching approaches. It is the reason many young people struggle at school - it affects around 10% of the population. It is not related to intelligence.

Dyslexia can vary in severity and can affect individuals in unpredictable ways. Its effects are seen in reading, spelling and writing, although reading speed and comprehension, working memory, processing speed, word finding and organisational skills are all involved. Phonological awareness (difficulty in sounding out words) is a fundamental problem.

Dyslexia is a hereditary lifelong condition. Early identification, assessment for potential ability and appropriate teaching and learning strategies will allow such young people to succeed to their potential. Unidentified, it is likely to result in low self esteem, high stress, behaviour out of character, and low achievement.

How can I tell if I am dyslexic?

Dyslexia can be difficult to spot, but we have given a list of common traits here: Discovering Dyslexia.

Bear in mind that these traits can be caused by other things, and it is important to rule out other possibilities by ensuring things such as eyesight and hearing are fine.

Teachers who have knowledge and experience in dyslexia should be able to identify it, but not all may be trained well enough. One reliable way to identify dyslexia is to have a test carried out by an Educational Psychologist who has experience with dyslexia. This can be done for free for a child in school by requesting an examination for dyslexia, or can be done privately.

Where can I find help?

If you are concerned that your child may have dyslexia, you should first speak with the class teacher. If you are still concerned it is then advisable to speak with the head teacher or deputy head.

In secondary school you should speak with the pupil's guidance teacher.

It is really important to follow-up all conversations, whether by telephone, meetings or casual chat by putting it in writing to the person with whom you had the conversation for clarification. Or, at the very least, make private notes. You may have to refer to these much later.

You can also contact Dyslexia Ayrshire on their helpline - 01292-443648.

Where can I find an Educational Psychologist, and will I have to pay for an assessment?

The school is obliged to have your child assessed if you request an examination in writing to determine if your child has a learning issue. You should write to the school requesting that they carry out an examination by an Educational Psychologist. This assessment is free. Check on the waiting time involved since time is important to a child who may be struggling.

Unfortunately due to the long waiting time for such an examination some parents opt for a fuller private assessment, which schools are obliged to take into consideration.

For information on where you can access such an Educational Psychologist, you can contact Dyslexia Ayrshire on 01292 443648.

Where can I find a specialist teacher?

Specially trained teachers for pupils with dyslexia are not easy to find but if you wish to contact Dyslexia Ayrshire we will be able to give you more information.

My child has not yet started school but is already showing signs of dyslexia. What should I do?

When you are registering your child for school you must speak to the head teacher about your concerns. When your child starts school, you must speak to the class teacher, informing him/her of these concerns. It is also important to put your concerns in writing to the school at the same time. The earlier any child is identified and helped the better. Some private Educational Psychologist will formally assess children as young as 6yrs old. Contact Dyslexia Ayrshire for further information on (01292) 443648.

Nobody at my childs school seems to be listening to my concerns. What can I do?

You must put your concerns in writing to the school. If a full assessment has not been carried out you can request an examination under the new legislation. If you are still unhappy you may want to consider having your child assessed privately, as above.

Identifying and assessing dyslexia is often an ongoing process, observing the child and their work. The school should work with you, sharing their evidence and discussing any changes in teaching, keeping you up to date. It is good to have this in writing. However, you (and your child!) need to be convinced it is all working, and if you feel no one is bothering or your child is upset or falling behind, you must contact the Head or Depute Head in writing to explain this, without letting too much time pass.

If you still feel no one is listening, you should seek the help of the Education Authority in writing, explaining the problem. This is not "causing trouble". Your child's education is more important than feeling embarrassed.

Because too much time can pass, and a child is falling behind, and if doubts remain over any school's understanding of dyslexia, sometimes a full private assessment can be helpful, although expensive. A full assessment by a good Education Psychologist will reliably identify dyslexia (or not!), giving you the child's strengths as well as weaknesses, personal potential, current progress in reading, writing and maths, along with recommendations for the school to take into consideration. 

Is it possible to drop learning a foreign language at school if your child is struggling?

Yes. If a child is struggling with a foreign language and becoming very distressed then it would be wise to speak with the Head of the Language Department and discuss the matter. Remember also that there are some foreign languages which are easier for dyslexic pupils to learn (e.g. Spanish rather than French).

If there is such distress over learning a language that it affects other studies, the relief of dropping it can be beneficial, and helpful to all learning. Ideally this should allow that time to be given to becoming more successfull in other subjects more likely to deliver better results; this is a powerful argument for Heads of Departments to hear, but the school's capacity and flexibility lies with the Head. The school's decision is between whether they can accommodate the change, or possibly having to force a student with dyslexia to do something their learning difference may not allow them to achieve (a form of discrimination which may be illegal). It is really necessary to discuss this kind of thing with the school, where evidence of the dyslexia can be supported by expert and observational findings, and applied to the individual pupil's abilities.

It seems dyslexia brings additional financial costs. Is there any help I can get?

In Primary and Secondary education the Local Education Authority is obliged to provide your child with whatever they need to enable them to access the curriculum so that they are not discriminating against your child. Dyslexia Ayrshire will be able to give you more information and advise you (contact 01292 443648).

Are the computerised tests (e.g Lucid, Lass) reliable?

Lucid Rapid Screening software is used to help teachers identify potential dyslexic difficulties in children aged 4-15 years.

Lass is used for screening in secondary schools with pupils aged 11-15 years.

Neither test is intended as diagnostic. They only indicate varying levels of suspicion, depending on how the test is done. There is no single simple test reliable enough to identify dyslexia outright. It requires someone with sufficient knowledge of dyslexia and experience with it to be able to confirm the "diagnosis". It is helpful to be aware that not all teachers in all schools have sufficient training, knowledge or experience to be competent with dyslexia (Scottish Government reports).

Dyslexia Ayrshire has heard conflicting reports about the results of these two tests. The Lucid test should only take 15 mins and the Lass test 45 mins at most. It has been reported on occasions that the tests have taken up to one and a half hours and identified the student as not having dyslexia. Some students were not happy with the outcome, and subsequently had a full assessment carried out by a Chartered Educational Psychologist, who confirmed dyslexia. If you are not happy with the results from a computerised test it would probably be advisable to think of having a full assessment carried out by a Chartered Educational Psychologist.