Why Parents Shouldn't Always Accept What Schools Tell Them About Dyslexia.
And why you need to get as much information as you can about it.
So imagine this. You have a child who is struggling or not enjoying reading at school. Whilst they are clearly intelligent and have lots of friends, they are not really doing well at school. Their results are average or below average but their potential is huge.
You have a meeting with the school as you suspect that your child may have the language disorder, Dyslexia, and the school tells you that whilst your child is not achieving the dizzying heights of A* results (or 9 with the new GCSE system), they are passing and that they will be OK. They are not concerned as your child will be fine. They are experts in education, right? I can trust their opinion, right? I can go home and not worry now but somehow, the advice doesn't hit the mark.
Here is another scenario...
Your child is really struggling with reading to the point of it being disruptive for them in class. You speak with your child's teacher and both agree that they think that your child is showing 'dyslexic traits'. The teacher says that it is OK because they have a plan and what they are going to do is get your child to have half an hour a day to sit with an iPad and work on a fun app that helps with problems associated with dyslexia. This will really help.
Wonderful! The school is doing something about my child's apparent dyslexia, I don't need to worry because that app and focused time will help them....
Feeling stuck and something isn't right about what you have heard at school about your child's dyslexia?
Yeah! Me too!
My daughter was in the first scenario. With her dyslexic traits, her results seemed low compared to what we perceived as her obvious intelligence (as well as effort put in), we felt that there was something not quite right about just accepting that she would be OK. Certainly our daughter didn't see it that way.
|Coming up next month - book now, click here.|
If we had listened to the school, she would have struggled through class for another three years in secondary school and who know's how her GCSEs would have turned out. In the end, she got great results but not because we listened to the school. We had to do some work ourselves in finding out more about dyslexia and what we should do next.
We got her diagnosed with an educational psychologist and we found out more about dyslexia and the wider world of special educational needs. With that information we were able to feel more confident in negotiating with our school for further support underpinned by the official diagnosis that the school had to take notice of (it is now illegal to discriminate against children with dyslexia in school - see 'Three Reasons Why Your Child Should Have A Dyslexia Assessment').
What I have found out since is that most teachers have little training on special educational needs and that there is a a huge difference in what teachers know from school to school. The SENCOs are much better, but even then the training and knowledge demonstrated varies.
As parents we cannot risk not knowing as much as we can about dyslexia and it's co-occuring difficulties.
Whether your child is in a good school or not for supporting dyslexic thinking, we are our children's advocates, we have to keep our schools accountable for how they support our children and with that in mind we need specialist knowledge that we wouldn't normally have. We have to take the time to find out as much as we can, talk with other parents having the same experiences and have regular discussions with our school SENCO and teachers about what they are doing to support our children.
There are so many resources out there in the form of specialist dyslexia charities and events that could really help you in your own personal development around dyslexia and special educational needs.
I have listed some of the more important ones on my resources page which I hope that you will find helpful.
In fact I am so passionate about this that I have teamed up with my friend and (more importantly dyslexia specialist) Georgina Smith to organise the third SEN Jigsaw Conference. This conference seeks to help supporters of children with special educational needs to get a better understanding on what can so often be such a puzzle for us all.
The SEN Jigsaw will help you to understand more about special educational needs in terms of behaviour, dealing with dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, APD with experts who will be speaking and leading workshops. We will also have workshops on SEN and mental health (very important topic) as well as how to get an EHCP (Education Health and Care Plan) so that you can unlock comprehensive support for your child.
You will get to be able to meet other parents as well as other SEN professionals that work in education as well as meet organisations that provide products and services that help.
It really is going to be a valuable experience if you are a parent or supporter of a child with special educational needs.
Click the banner below to find out more.
|Click here to check out the lineup for the day and to book tickets.|
But this isn't the only event taking place that will support you with the knowledge that you need to support your child and I would encourage you to take a look at my events listing on this blog as this will be useful to you.
So what is the takeaway message?
On the whole schools are doing the best that they can to support your child, but there are huge gaps in what they can offer. As a parent you need to be up to date as much as possible on your rights to ask for support and exactly what it is that you are wanting support for. If you have that information then you will have a solid foundation from which to conduct effective negotiations.
If you want to meet other parents online as well as get great resources that will support you then go to my sister blog, Parenting Dyslexia.