This week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. Check out the website. Defining dyslexia is a complex and contested process and there are no agreed definitions internationally. The Ministry of Education has drafted this definition as a starting point for our work and as such, it is as a working definition with further refinement expected. The key is the Ministry has recognised dyslexia as a learning difference, rather than a disability and by doing so have turned it into an opportunity for better understanding.
A working definition alludes to Dyslexia as a spectrum of specific learning difficulties and is evident when accurate and/or fluent reading and writing skills, particularly phonological awareness, develop incompletely or with great difficulty. This may include difficulties with one or more of reading, writing, spelling, numeracy or musical notation. These difficulties are persistent despite access to learning opportunities that are effective and appropriate for most other children.
Have a look at this great Youtube ">presentation on Dyslexia.
Dyslexia however is not an end point. It makes things very challenging, especially for children at school working within the ‘traditional’ classroom environment. In my reading about dyslexia I have been inspired by a useful article, written by Jacqui Taylor in an edition of a monthly magazine called Parent and School Today. Jacqui describes dyslexia as a gift and defines it as being able to perceive the world from many perspectives, to view the same thing from many different angles allowing special talents and skills in fields such as art, creativity, design and leadership. Two very well known New Zealanders to have experienced dyslexia are John Britten (motorcycles and engineering) and Richard Taylor (Weta).
Research suggests that people with dyslexia think predominantly in pictures, not the sounds of words and as school tends to cater for word thinkers there needs to be adaptation to the curriculum and the teaching process to cater for all child. It is thought that 10 % of children think this way. That is why there is a variety of approaches to learning to Muritai and why a range of different learning experiences is so vital to make a students day, with their colleagues, a positive contextual environment. Go to the Team Up website for more information.