Thursday, March 8, 2007

Additions 9th March

I've added links for the following:
  • I found a link to dyslexics.org on a blog I have been following - I Speak of Dreams, particularly the post on Theories on the Cause of Dyslexia. Both writers are what I would call sober on dyslexia; they are concerned that dyslexia should be understood in a way that includes a scientific understanding. Theories on the Cause of Dyslexia refers to the idea that we can expect that more than one cause of dyslexia will prove to be the case when we have full understanding. This page on dyslexics.org refers to the myths of dyslexia and suggests that a lot of the problems that dyslexic people have are caused by bad teaching early on - this in a week when inspectors have criticized literacy standards in nursery education. A lot of misunderstanding is caused by focusing so much on the idea that dyslexia is poor reading skills, rather than that poor reading skills is one symptom of dyslexia, exacerbated in countries with difficult spelling patterns.
  • I have started to put resources I use to teach what I call underpinning numeracy skills for people to learn in preparation for the end tests in to one place. At the moment this is on a wiki page which I can update easily wherever I am. Eventually I will incorporate it on the site along with the Spellsheets page and other similar sets. At the moment it mainly includes my own resources (quizzes and pdfs) and stuff from Skillswise. Although the site is mainly about online learning, there are some points where I need to organise paper-based resources as well. At the moment this is linked from the End Tests page.
  • I have gone over the word lists in the spellsheets and changed fonts into sans serif ones for easier reading with my learners.

3 comments:

hayesatlbch said...

I am not sure what you mean by " A lot of misunderstanding is caused by focusing so much on the idea that dyslexia is poor reading skills, rather than that poor reading skills is one symptom of dyslexia, exacerbated in countries with difficult spelling patterns."

Now I can understand that there are many factors involved that together result in poor reading skills with the result being called dyslexia. Poor reading skills are the defining aspect of dyslexia. What causes much misunderstanding is the idea that dyslexia is something other than having poor reading skills.

If we are going to stretch the idea that people with good reading skills are dyslexic then dyslexia has no meaning.

If you're meaning to say that dyslexics have neurological differences that result in phonological problems that contribute to difficulties in developing reading skills, then you may be right for the majority of dyslexics but not all.

That dyslexia is exacerbated in countries with difficult spelling patterns is true and unsurprising. While possible, I don't think the creation of a particularly friendly language for dyslexics will catch on with non dyslexics any more than American sign language for deaf people became popular with hearing people. Other than pushing dyslexics towards being more impaired than a matched dyslexic in a country with easier spelling patterns I don't see where anything of practical value is gained by that idea.

Most good definitions of dyslexia do let you know that you only are considered dyslexic if you have been in a position where you have had proper instruction and still fail to acquire normal reading skills. This excludes many poor readers from being considered as being dyslexic because of mental defects, poor instruction or non attendance or health issues.

I consider myself an expert on misleading statements and conclusions about dyslexia. 9 out of 10 web sites say vision is not a factor for dyslexia. The reality is that a minority of dyslexics have visual problems that make reading difficult and their symptoms have been well documented. Less well documented has been the successful removal of those visual symptoms. I sell a product that claims to remove any described visual problem that makes reading difficult for dyslexics. My product needs no personal evaluation and has a money back guarantee.The See Right Dyslexia Glasses are available at www.dyslexiaglasses.com .

Most of the people involved with dyslexia are looking for a simplistic answer for dyslexia when all the existing data at best has only identified risk factors for dyslexia. It is a complex and complicated condition and the final answer of what dyslexia is and causes dyslexia will also be so.

Liz said...

Hi, it is Liz from I Speak of Dreams.

Thanks for the link and the comment!

I disagree with some of the statements at dyslexia.org (especially on the myths page) but we agree on the fundamental issue: effective teaching of reading, to mastery using research-based programs such as Direct Instruction for all children.

At some point, I would very much enjoy a discussion of the difference in "dyslexia culture" (for lack of a better word) between the US and the UK.

Viewed through the admittedly biased lens of the internet, it seems to me that the "dyslexia culture" in the US is much more focused on research-based approaches, while in the UK there is still a lot of, well, wild, unproven ideas.

Example: The "framework for understanding dyslexia" pages from the UK Department of Education and Skills.

Research-proven approaches (such as the big-tent Orton-Gillingham reading and writing methodology) is given the same weight as Dore, Irlen, Davis Councilling, and other unproven but for-profit enterprises.

Chris Jackson said...

Thanks for the comments. I'm not sure I'm up for a discussion, but here's my perspective. It's my role to help people who have generally left school and have some degree of difficulty with literacy or numeracy. I increasingly find it helps to have an assessment of dyslexia, where appropriate, to help people forward. I can recognise that some people have difficulty in processing leading to poor skills in either English and/or Maths. This is often different from the needs of people who have missed out on learning for some reason or other. I can accept that diagnosing dyslexia as a condition where literacy skills (usually reading and spelling) are significantly poorer than we would expect from intelligence, I can accept this as useful when we do not know what causes dyslexia. I don't find it intellectually satisfying however, particularly as I have great reservations about the intelligence side of things. When I am asked to assess someone, I won't assess if there are significant alternative circumstances which might explain the literacy deficit; I also look for confirming symptoms which include memory issues, motor issues, organisation and so on. Although poor reading and spelling are present in most cases, many people with dyslexia assessments are more concerned with getting down on paper what is in their heads, or remembering appointments, or not losing their work, or indeed confusing which number to multiply by and which number to divide by. Knowing what is going on would allow me to help them more.

I don't think we do too badly in the UK, despite what you may read on websites. You will still find schools which routinely do not recognise pupils struggling with dyslexia. But once a child has a statement there are legal obligations to support. At college we can easily get funding to support learners on courses; and at higher level, University students who have dyslexia have the right to financial assistance for support and equipment. All this is underwritten in law under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). On the downside the media are quick (and free) to publicise any new theory on dyslexia or any new claims to cure dyslexia, and they are keen to make claims of this sort even if the evidence is not there.