Dyslexia is more than an isolated defect in reading or spelling. The problem may be perceptual, auditory receptive, memory based or a processing deficit.
- Quality of written work does not adequately reflect the known ability of the pupil in the subject.
- Good orally but very little written work is produced – many incomplete assignments.
- Disappointing performance in timed tests and other assessments.
- Poor presentation of work – e.g. illegibility, mixed upper and lower case, unequal spacing, copying errors, misaligned columns (especially in Maths)
- Poor organisational skills – pupil is unable to organise self or work efficiently; carries either all books or wrong ones; frequently forgets to hand in work.
- Sequencing poor – pupil appears to jump from one theme to another, apparently for no reason.
- Inability to memorise (especially in Maths and Modern Languages) even after repeated practice.
- Inability to hold numbers in short-term memory while performing calculations.
- Symbol and shape confusion (especially in Maths).
- Complains of headaches when reading; sometimes see patterns in printed text; says that words move around the page or that text is glaring at them.
- Unable to carry out operations one day which were previously done adequately.
- Unable to take in and carry out more than one instruction at a time.
- Poor depth perception – e.g. clumsy and uncoordinated, bumps into things, difficulty judging distance, catching balls, etc.
Poor self-image – lacking in confidence, fear of next situations – may erase large quantities of written work, which is acceptable to the teacher.
- Tires quickly and work seems to be a disproportionate return for the effort involved in producing it.
- Easily distracted – either hyperactive or daydreaming.
Disabilities are divided into these two categories. It is easy to make allowances for the child whose disabilities are obvious – the bright child in the wheel chair -It would seem callous not to. No one would stand by and watch a child with a physical disability struggle when they could help make life easier for them. Unfortunately pupils with hidden disabilities are often perceived as “at it”, not trying or being disruptive, especially if they are boys. Their difficulties are no less real but lack the sympathy vote.
DYSMETRIA – is a weakness in the eye muscles which cause difficulties with tracking and spatial awareness. This causes pupils to have reading difficulties and problems with copying from boards and reading graphs and tables. Their eyes jump lines and cause them to read and re-read or they don’t recognise the page or line boundries. They find it hard to judge where pavement or stairs begin and end and have difficulties judging distance. This is diagnosed by an orpthoptic specialist not an optician. The pupils may be given a series of exercises and may have different coloured paper, coloured lens and require larger font.
DYSPRAXIA - Is an immaturity in the organisation and planning of movement. It can run in families. It is a brain processing difficulty. Typically these pupils lack co –ordination in PE ie. hopping, catching or kicking a ball, immature art work, being slow and hesitant in most movements have to be taught most skills as they lack instinct, have difficulty learning to hold a pencil, tie a tie/ shoelaces and copying from the board. They can also have poor social judgements. This is diagnosed by doctors and occupational therapists. Who can prescribe them therapy that may alleviate the symptoms.
ASPERGERS and COMMUNICATION DISORDERS
Aspergers has to be diagnosed by a team of psychiatrists and Speech and Language Therapists (CAT) Community Autism Team. Aspergers is high functioning autism. Basically it is a social impairment. People who suffer from this seem odd to others. They are not self aware or empathetic and lack insight into the needs of others. Asperger pupils are not generally intellectually impaired but their behaviour problems and difficulties in changing their behaviour often inhibit their progress. They often are inappropriate in their interactions sometimes over familiar or rude. They don’t understand repartee or conversational rules hence they often have difficulties in relationships. They are overly literal and don’t cope with ambiguity. They can have a sense of humour as long as it doesn’t depend on interchange of humour.
They often have over exaggerated physical affectations or tippy toe walks or can speak in strange accents and start collections eg collecting old coke cans.
• Avoid idioms or sarcasm, but employ humour.
• They can find it difficult to make eye contact-don’t force the issue.
• They need explicit but non ambiguous instructions –don’t say “perhaps you could do this for homework”
• They respond well to routine as they like rules and set expectations, but they lack flexibility. They don’t like the rules to be broken.
These are pupils who would not meet the criteria for Aspergers. Sometimes called semantic/ pragmatic. They find it difficult to follow the flow of conversation and to take part. They appear fey in a world of their own and seem not to pay attention. They find it difficult to generate questions and relate in a natural way.
SPECIFIC LANGUAGE DISORDER
Pupils with SLI have difficulty with the use of language. It can be expressive or receptive or both. They usually have been slow to speak and struggled with the mechanics of language – reading, writing, spelling when young. They find large pieces of written work difficult to plan and execute and need information chunked. They need diagnosed by a Speech and Language Therapist
Their verbal responses can be unstructured punctuated with word finding difficulties and their written and verbal responses can lack development and sequence. Sentence and question generation can take a long time. This can cause social relationship problems
Means the information received can be scrambled they often mis understand verbal instructions and find it difficult to sequence and order. Often their responses can bear no resemblance to the requirements of the task or to the conversation. They can develop fooling strategies such as excessive nodding or writing vast amounts of rubbish.
ADHD or ADD
This is a range of behavioural problems with accompanying poor attention span. They are often impulsive with little understanding of cause and effect. For a child to have a diagnosis he or she must be diagnosed by a psychiatrist. It can be genetic or the result of a birth trauma or risk factors such as the mother drinking in pregnancy
Behaviour management techniques are effective but take effort and consistency. Many pupils are medicated with Ritolin.
• Establish a relationship that is not based on your frustration at their behaviour.
• Daily routines are very effective.
• Avoid empty phrases like “behave” instead suggest a task with a time limit.
• Set clear and unambiguous boundaries.
• Be consistent.
• Don’t have an over stimulated environment when they are completing tasks, which should initially short and focussed.
• Avoid addressing them in a group.
• Don’t insist on eye contact.
• Reward good or improved behaviour.
• Sanctions can be effective if the child cares what you think of them or cares what they might lose. They are also worth employing in a judicious manner as long as the pupil knows it’s the behaviour not the person that you are disliking.
SEBD ( social, emotional, behavioural difficulties)
Behavioural difficulties are often mistaken for ADD. Children who have behavioural difficulties often have an emotional or social basis for them: Insecurity, family trauma, inconsistent parenting, need to fit in.
The behaviour techniques for ADHD should be employed.
Other reasons for difficult behaviour can be personality and intelligence driven. Some pupils are highly intelligent and under stimulated and when coupled with immaturity and a strong personality can challenge parents.
• Set them challenges
• Be consistent on behaviour expectations
• Close down loopholes –they will exploit them
• Keep to routines
• Try not to get locked in a negative cycle