Friday, 4 April 2014

D is for Dyslexia, Discalculia, Dyspraxia & Diplegia (plus dreaded Diet!)

So many D’s for this post – so little time – so please forgive me as I whistle through.  It will only be a short touching upon each one I’m afraid and yet I know how important they are and how common they are to be found in mainstream schools everywhere.

Dyslexia is thought to affect about 10% of the population (that’s three children in any normal classroom!) with about 3% severely affected.  In the early years, it is often difficult to spot as children are still learning and make many of the mistakes commonly associated with dyslexia e.g. b and d reversals.  However, a child who struggles to read and write along with their peers and yet displays a high intelligence may well have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia. 
A really good grounding in phonics will help all children particularly those with dyslexia but it must be remembered that they will need at least twenty times the amount of repetition that most children need to retain all of the complicated vowel patterns and ways of writing we have.  It has been most noticeable at my school that since phonic teaching has improved using a multi-sensory approach (Jolly phonics actions linked to Letters and Sounds) we are starting to pick up those children with major difficulties much earlier as well as noticing a whole class improvement in reading and writing which will include the 10% who have dyslexic tendencies.

I have undergone dyslexia training (off my own bat) but have found that in reality there is not the capacity for 1:1 tuition within mainstream school to really help those children badly affected.  The cost is far too prohibitive (at least 2 hourly sessions a week 1:1 is what is needed for a child to have a chance of keeping up with their peers) and I never heard of a child being given a statement for dyslexia in all of the different authorities I have worked in – let’s face it some authorities don’t really believe it exists!
We use the Nessy program at my school for some children to gain confidence and use something they enjoy doing but the main thing is good phonics and spelling tuition and the understanding that some children find it a lot harder than others and they are NOT lazy.  In my experience, chatting with children about the possibility of dyslexic tendencies and what this means and how they are intelligent but that their brains are working in different ways to that of their peers allows them to have confidence to keep persevering and know they are “special” in a positive way!

For multi-sensory resources check out:

We have recently begun to develop ways to work with children who might have dyscalculia.  This is a condition similar to dyslexia but with numbers so they have major problems in recalling and understanding maths.  The British Dyslexia Association lists these typical symptons:
·         Counting: Dyscalculic children can usually learn the sequence of counting words, but may have difficulty navigating back and forth, especially in twos and threes.
·         Calculations: Dyscalculic children find learning and recalling number facts difficult. They often lack confidence even when they produce the correct answer. They also fail to use rules and procedures to build on known facts. For example, they may know that 5+3=8, but not realise that, therefore, 3+5=8 or that 5+4=9.
·         Numbers with zeros: Dyscalculic children may find it difficult to grasp that the words ten, hundred and thousand have the same relationship to each other as the numerals 10, 100 and 1000.
·         Measures: Dyscalculic children often have difficulty with operations such as handling money or telling the time. They may also have problems with concepts such as speed (miles per hour) or temperature.
·         Direction/orientation: Dyscalculic children may have difficulty understanding spatial orientation (including left and right) causing difficulties in following directions or with map reading.

We have been using the Dynamo maths profiler and then following the dynamo maths program in small groups outside the classroom to build up greater understanding for those children who are lacking in certain areas of maths – going back to basics in many cases.  It is proving very popular with the children who are using it and they enjoy going out for these lessons.  Knowing that children, who before really dreaded the hour of maths each day, are now happy and looking forward to it speaks volumes I think even if they might never catch up with their peers.

Dyspraxia affects fine and/or gross motor skills and sometimes social and emotional behaviours and speaking and language too.  There are many exercises that have been found to help these children and at my school we are currently working with health professionals to gain training for teachers so that short bursts of exercises can be delivered to children throughout the week.  Once again it is a condition that affects more children than are likely to be known about in a class and any help that can be given is always beneficial in the greater scheme of things.

In my school, we have a number of children with diplegia (a form of cerebral palsy) that affects the lower body limbs and makes movement and walking difficult.  Those that are badly affected have assistants to help in lessons such as PE where there may be mobility issues.  Children with this condition do everything that their peers do (Sports Day, school trips, drama, PE & Games etc) albeit with modifications where necessary, however a recent addition to our provision has been my successful attempt to get swimming sessions at the local special school’s hydrotherapy pool whilst the rest of their class go to the normal pool.  This has been an outstanding success and the children are benefitting in so many ways but my gripe is that the Local Authority had no provision - it was left to me to get it all organised as well as school once again footing the bill to get the children there (the special school has given their pool facilities for free) and the specialised swimming teacher is also providing provision freely!  I know how to plead!!!  This venture has now spread and other children who need specialised provision are also attending these swimming sessions so I am so proud – from small acorns mighty oaks grow.

My TpT products today are:
D is for Donuts – a booklet which allows children to practise their number bonds/addends to 10 using donuts
D is for Dragons – two dot-to-dot pages to practise number order

and finally on my longest post ever DIET - I will begin my diet to lose the necessary two stone needed before the summer holiday begins at the end of July!


  1. Thanks for visiting my blog - I'm pretty Dragon obsessed too!

    I have experience with dyslexia as my brother was diagnosed with it about 5 years before it was officially recognised here in UK. He was lucky that my parents were able to find a teacher to help him privately and I think he has coped with it quite well.

    and a big 'Gratz!' on getting the kids into the special swim sessions. xx

    1. Thank you for your comments. I think those that can afford it would seek out private tuition or private schools to give their children that extra help but it is very difficult for the children whose parents cannot afford this.

  2. So smart! I had never heard of dyspraxia or dyscalculia. They both make so much sense now that I think about them.

    1. I think these labels do help people understand the difficulties many children face when attaining well in education appears to be the only goal - there is a lot more pressure than when I was at school - not everyone was expected to be academically good - there were other skills leading to other jobs.