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More thoughts from parents…

Resource support
Is there something wrong with the system in my school district? I see children every day who are clearly dyslexic and yet they get no support from the school at all. If you see a bright kid in your class and they cannot write or spell, there must be something wrong. The resource specialist is part-time and only seems to be seeing about three or four children. I think you have to be in a wheelchair to get to see her! It just seems really unfair – and I’m the one who has to spend extra time each day helping these dyslexic kids complete their work. It makes me really angry. (JJ., Texas, USA)

I couldn’t agree more, JJ. I seem to spend my evenings making materials and equipment that the school should have purchased if they placed any real value on resource teaching. (Rod, Birmingham, UK)

Yes, there is something wrong with the school system. I used to work for Howard County Public Schools in Maryland. We – the teachers – were instructed to hide problems from parents. Teachers are in trouble if they cost the school system money. Seems like the school board prefers to fund promotions so people don’t have to work with kids anymore. (Kristine, Columbia, Maryland, USA)

There are limits to a school’s budget. (Hilary, Washington, USA)

Assessment
Could someone tell me how you assess a child for dyslexia? Are there any simple criteria you can use as a rough guide, or do you really have to have a psychologist come in for each child? Our school district seems to short on funds – as usual – and we never seem to see a psychologist in the building. I work as a Resource Specialist, and I really feel I need more guidance on individual children’s particular difficulties. (Rosemary, Vancouver, Canada)

I’ve worked with dyslexic children for years now, and, whilst you obviously need a proper assessment for each child, I’m beginning to get a feel for the signs of dyslexia. They have a lot of confusions with left and right. If you say to them ‘Point to my left foot with your right hand’, they find it very hard. They also have great difficulty sequencing, for example saying the days of the week backwards or counting backwards. You also notice the joy in physical co-ordination – they love all kinds of outdoor games – basketball, softball, football, and so on. There don’t seem to be one set of criteria that all dyslexic children fit, however, and you have to be careful. But these seem to be fairly common. (Kathleen, Yorkshire, England)

I’m disgusted at my school’s attitude to dyslexic students. They refuse to say that any student is dyslexic – in case it should cost them any extra money – and one parent told me that the psychologist went to sleep during a conference about her son last year. (Disappointed, USA)

I’m really sorry to hear that ‘Disappointed’ is having such a hard time. I hope that you’ve got some support outside of your school. I work as a Resource Specialist, and our psychologist is really excellent. He always includes my opinions in any assessments, and says that a child is dyslexic – or has a specific learning difficulty – if he thinks it. He makes a point of coming to see me after each conference, and I really feel I can always ask for advice. He’s a real gem! (Flora, Minnesota, USA)

Group size
How many pupils do other people take in their resource group? I have over six in most of my groups now and I find it impossible to give individual attention. I just don’t feel that the children are benefiting from the attention I give them because so many of them need one-to-one help. (Ken, Texas, USA)

I couldn’t agree more, Ken. I think two or three is quite enough if you want to see any improvement. (John Gardner, South-West Australia)

Maybe I’m lucky, but I only ever take one child at a time. Our school is fee-paying, so I guess that makes the difference. (Mary, Bristol. UK)

I don’t think group size matters so much as the method you use. Unless you teach the dyslexic children phonemic awareness in a multi-sensory way you’re banging your head against the wall! (LL., Maryland, USA)

Resource support
How many pupils do other people take in their resource group? I have over six in most of my groups now and I find it impossible to give individual attention. I just don’t feel that the children are benefiting from the attention I give them because so many of them need one-to-one help. (Ken, Texas, USA)