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What is dyslexia?

In 2009, the Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and the Cross Party Group on Dyslexia in the Scottish Parliament agreed a working definition of dyslexia:

'Dyslexia can be described as a continuum of difficulties in learning to read, write and/or spell, which persist despite the provision of appropriate learning opportunities. These difficulties often do not reflect an individual’s cognitive abilities and may not be typical of performance in other areas.'

Possible strengths:

  • can be very creative and enjoy practical tasks
  • strong visual thinking skills, for example to see/think in 3D or visualise a structure from plans
  • good verbal skills and good social interaction
  • good at problem solving, thinking outside the box, seeing the whole picture

Possible areas of development:

  • problems with reading, taking notes, remembering numbers, names and details
  • difficulty with time keeping, managing time, organising work
  • problems with reading, taking notes, remembering numbers, names and details
  • short-term memory problems or sequencing difficulties, for example following or giving instructions or directions

It is not unusual for younger children to have these difficulties. Concerns should only be raised if the difficulties continue and/or do not change when supported.

Identification and support

Identifying and assessing dyslexia is an ongoing process. Information is gathered over a period of time through classroom observations, looking at the child’s/young person’s work and class based assessments rather than a single test.

Discussion and working together is a key part of the assessment process and participants may include the School ASN co-ordinator, class teacher, parents, East Ayrshire Support Team and the Education Psychologist.

Gathered evidence is discussed and appropriate supports are put in place. Progress is reviewed regularly.

Talking to your child about dyslexia

It can be helpful for children and young people to understand that dyslexia is a learning difference, it is not that he/she has something wrong with them but that they learn in a different way.

Being told that you are dyslexic can be a relief and help children and young people understand why they find certain things more difficult.

It can be helpful to explain that dyslexia:

  • is common and other people in school, and maybe even others in their class, or in the family are dyslexic
  • does not mean they are stupid. Everyone learns differently and has things they find tricky and things which are easier for them
  • is something that people are born with, however there are support strategies that may help you cope better
  • should not hold them back. It can be helpful to research and talk about famous people who are dyslexic and have gone on to have very successful careers despite their difficulties, for example Jamie Oliver.

Reassure them that everyone is different and without our individual differences the world would be a very boring place.

Homework tips

Be patient:

  • Keep calm. Dealing with homework after a day at school can be tricky. Allow time to relax before starting any homework 

Be organised:

  • Identify a quiet clutter free place to do homework
  • Set a routine with room for flexibility around after-school activities
  • Use a visual planner of tasks to be done and tick off when completed
  • Chunk homework into manageable bits and set a time limit with a break in between
  • Collect useful materials like paper, pens, pencils, ruler, calculator, number square, text books and keep them together in a ‘homework box/folder’

Be encouraging:

  • Encourage/praise him/her for what he/she does well
  • Remember, mistakes are OK
  • Do not get worried about the number of spelling errors, praise the content of work
  • Use paired reading where you and your child can read words out loud together in a relaxed way
  • Use rewarding activities to praise good attempts 

Be understanding:

  • If homework is becoming a battle try to find out why in a calm way or leave until later on in the evening
  • However, if you are unable to get your child to engage leave it and discuss with the school

Keep talking to the school:

  • Discuss progress you have noted as well as any concerns with the class teacher and ASN co-ordinator
  • Agree what is an appropriate method of recording information for homework, for example mind maps, dictaphone, bullet points
  • Discuss supports which have been put in place and how you can support these at home

Dyslexia friendly schools

Dyslexia Friendly Schools (DFS) is an East Ayrshire initiative which aims to: 

  • Develop a whole school awareness of what dyslexia is
  • Promote the positive ethos of dyslexia as a learning difference
  • Create a dyslexia friendly environment and implement alternative classroom approaches which will benefit all pupils
  • Respond immediately when pupils are struggling rather than wait for a 'label'
  • Have high expectations of all pupils
  • Adopt flexible approaches

Dyslexia Friendly Schools good practice is in fact good practice for all. Research suggests that 30% of pupils at risk of literacy failure can be reduced to 3% with effective DFS classroom practice.

What does becoming a dyslexia friendly school involve?

During session 2013/2014 twenty seven primary schools are beginning their journey to become a Dyslexia Friendly School. This is a three step process (Bronze, Silver and Gold) and initially involves:

  • Training and awareness raising for staff/pupils and parent/carers
  • Identifying and building upon current good practice
  • Staff awareness raising of how to identify and support literacy difficulties
  • Partnership working with pupils/parents

What could this look like?

  • Pupil groups working together with school staff to research what Dyslexia is and the range of strategies and resources for classroom and whole school use
  • Pupils openly discussing dyslexia
  • Dyslexia Friendly School notice board
  • Dyslexia Friendly School assemblies and workshops
  • A written dyslexia policy
  • Clear guidelines on marking and homework
  • Parents kept informed through school newsletters and website

Contact Information

East Ayrshire Support Team (EAST)
Crosshouse Campus
Playingfield Road
01563 554974