Friday, December 18, 2009

Children's University of Manchester Site

Children who have dyslexia in most cases need to 'over- learn ' knowledge taught at school . Here is a great site which I recently discovered on the internet.Its good for going over topics learnt in science.

In Turkey science is initially taught in the 4th grade. This site from Manchester University can help support childrens science learning in a fun way.

It contains excellent mini-lessons and interactive lessons. Topics include the body and medicines, energy and the environment, the earth and beyond, teeth and eating, micro organisms, and the brain and senses. It includes videos and games and has great graphics which will attract children.

Please note there are also some good literacy games to play covering subjects such as nouns, adjectives and idioms etc..

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Here in this dyslexia blog article we talk about how to use cooking to teach your child....

Cooking can be a fun way to help your dyslexic child learn maths as well a good way to encourage them to read. At this festive time of year its really nice to do some baking !!

Cooking involves many educational skills such as reading and comprehension. In addition it requires counting, measuring, understanding time as well as sequencing.

You could start by getting your child to make a packet cake mix (such as the Dr Oetker Lillifee Muffin mix) which is simple for children to make by themselves.

First of all get them to read the instructions and then follow the steps to make the muffins. They hopefully will be more motivated to read if they want to make some yummy cakes or biscuits !!

Once they are able to make packet mixes successfully you could buy a simple cookbook written especially for children.

Once you have decided on a recipe from the cookbook get your child to make it.N.B you can help when and if necessary .

They could count out the number of eggs required or they could stir the mixture a certain number of times.

Let them help measure out the ingredients so they can learn about grams, kilograms and millilitres.

Cooking is an excellent a way to teach fractions. For example, you can cut a cake into 8 equal pieces and then you can explain that one piece of the cake is 1/8.

Also they can learn about time from cooking , if you ask them to work out at what time a cake needs to be taken out of the oven.

You can also make up word problems to test their maths. For example if you're making a cake, ask your child to help figure out how many eggs it will take to make 2 cakes, if it takes 3 eggs to make one cake. Ask them to work out how many sausages they would need to cook for 8 people ,if each person wants 2 sausages. Etc ..

Cooking really is educational as well as good fun for kids !!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Here are some Christmas games to help develop language skills and improve your dyslexic child’s memory.

Christmas is a great time for having fun and playing games.In additon you can help your child to improve their language skills and memory ..

Try playing 'Father Christmas came down the chimney and brought me.....'

This game is a bit like 'My grandmother went shopping....'. You take it in turns to add a new present each time.
One person might say "Father Christmas came down the chimney and brought me a doll " and the next person must remember what Father Christmas has already brought and add something new eg "Father Christmas came down the chimney and brought me a doll and a car".
You can see you many things your child can remember !

How about playing a game of Guess What?

This will help children listen to information in sentences and use clues to help them understand.

Cut out some pictures of Christmas objects from old magazines (or you could use real objects) and arrange them on the table. . Tell the children that you are thinking about one of the things and give them some clues to help them work out which one you are talking about. Give them clues about what type of thing it is, what it is made of and what it can do. Can they guess which object you were thinking of? How many clues did it take? You can let children take a turn too to see if they can give the clues to you.

You could make up a Christmas story together ..

Choose your characters such as a snowman , Father Christmas etc and then take turns to add one sentence at a time to see where your story ends up.

Game ideas care of I CAN

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Here in this dyslexia blog article are some more success stories of dyslexic people...

Molecular biologists Carol Greider and Elizabeth Blackburn jointly won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Greider,who is dyslexic has always struggled with reading and pronouncing words. In fact still Greider wrestles with dyslexia, though for years, she didn’t know her learning disability had a name.

“You learn to overcome it,” says Greider, whose son also has dyslexia. “For me, it was a problem of self-esteem because I was put in with all the kids who needed remedial help. But I liked reading. Once I read more, it got easier.”

Still, spelling and sounding out words remained difficult, so Greider relied on her photographic memory. She got A-plusses in anatomy and chemistry, but standardized tests always tripped her up. Her GRE ( Graduate record examinations ) scores were poor and as result only two of the 10 universities she applied to accepted her. Greider calls dyslexia a different way of viewing the world. “Sometimes,” she says, “it’s an advantage.”

From :Dome magazine( John Hopkins Medical Family ) - –Judy F. Minkove

Other dyslexic Nobel winners are : Pierre Curie who won the The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903

And Archer J.P. Martin - The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1952

Dr. Archer Martin, a British biochemist won a 1952 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering an analytical technique for separating and identifying the parts of complex mixtures. He earned his undergraduate and doctorate degrees at Cambridge. As a child, he had dyslexia and could not read properly until he was 8. Still, he fell in love with science and even built five-foot-high distillation columns in his basement similar to those used in oil refineries !!

Friday, December 4, 2009


The 3rd of December is the International Day of Disabilities.
Dyslexia is what we term as a hidden disability.Unlike some other disabilities dyslexia is not directly visable.
No two children with dyslexia are exactly alike.They may display different weaknesses and strengths. Dyslexia may be mild, moderate ,severe or profound.
Some dyslexic children may learn to read fairly well but experience difficulties in other activities such as writing,remembering facts,maths etc.They may develop their own strategies for coping with these difficulties in the primary school and their dyslexia may remain hidden. Teachers and parents as a result may not realise the child is dyslexic.It may only be when the child starts secondary school that it becomes apparent that the child has dyslexia, due to the heavier demands of the secondary curriculum placed on them.

Monday, November 23, 2009


The 24th of November is Teachers Day in Turkey . Of course , teaching is not only a difficult job but a crucial one for Turkey’s growth and development. In Turkey teachers salary rates are low, plus class sizes can be very large – up to 50 or 60 students.

In schools throughout Turkey teachers will have between 2 to 4 dyslexic students per class.

Here are some basic strategies teachers could use to help those dyslexic students in their classes to be more successful.

1. Use multisensory techniques

2. Make lessons as visual as possible – and use manipulatives.

3. Explain clearly .

4. Give clear and short instructions.

5. Provide key word lists before teaching to help with new or

complicated vocabulary.

6. Make use of technology aids to help dyslexics to overlearn eg computer

7. Use larger print for worksheets and choose clear fonts.

8. Don’t ask student to read aloud – use other reading techniques.

9. Preferably explain errors in written work orally. Often a pupil doesn’t want to read teachers comments. Don’t correct all errors, highlight one or two points.

10.Give more time in tests or give less questions and same amount of time.

11.When asking questions in the classroom allow dyslexic students more
time to answer as they may take longer to process information.

12. Avoid copying exercises – use handouts.

13. Teach students memory strategies – mnemonics (acrostics) etc..

14. Seat students near the front – use a “buddy” system – paired readers..

15. Reduce homework amount – give less questions.

16. Allow students time to record the homework tasks.- write homework
on the board early in the lesson.

17. Most of all show understanding !! - try to be flexible


Friday, November 20, 2009


If you ask dyslexic children to check spellings in a normal dictionary they find it difficult .To look up a word in a dictionary, you have to know how the word is spelt in the first place – or at least the first part of the word..

The Ace Spelling Dictionary ( David Moseley ) is great for children who cannot use an ordinary dictionary.

Using the unique index ,children need only think how a word sounds to find out how to spell it. By simply identifying the first vowel sound , the speller is instantly sent to the page where the problem word is found.

Children just need a basic knowledge of vowel sounds and to know what a syllable is .There are clear instructions at the beginning explaining how to use the book correctly. The ACE Index has a table of 16 vowel sounds and the A-Z alphabet .It contains animal cartoons which will appeal to children.

If you want to look inside this book go to where you can see customer images of the book. Go to Google and type in “Customer images gallery for Ace Spelling”

Another useful item for dyslexic children who have trouble with spelling is the electronic Franklin spellchecker.

It has a built in phonetic spell correction. This feature allows users to type in a word the way it sounds and receive a correction list.

For example :
from "nolij" to "knowledge";from "kaufee" to "coffee" from "fizix" to "physics" and so on.

You can buy Franklin spellcheckers from

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dyslexia Blog is one year old !!

The dyslexia blog is one year old !! Thanks to all those who read my blog. I hope to continue my goal of sharing useful information that I have gained over the years regarding dyslexia with other parents...

I would also like to say a big thank you to Bea Vanni , as without her very useful seminar on blogging that I attended at the Greenhouse bookshop in Istanbul, I would have never have started blogging!! Also thanks to my husband for all his support and help ..

Thursday, November 12, 2009


In a previous dyslexia blog article about reading I mentioned that it is important to help your child to choose appropriate books for your child to read.

Dyslexia Action and Waterstones (a well–known UK bookselling chain) have produced a guide, designed to help children and parents choose books that are more suitable for a young struggling/reluctant reader who has dyslexic difficulties.

Further information and a downloadable pdf of this guide may be found at DA or

Waterstone's Guide to Books for Young Dyslexic Readers :

Guide to Choosing Dyslexia-Friendly Books for Kids :

List of graded books

“Teachers and adults, who are supporting children as they are learning to read, need books of graded difficulty that can be matched to children's reading levels. This is particularly important for children with literacy difficulties, as they need to practise their reading skills with a wide range of books at the appropriate level.”

The Dyslexia Institute has produced a list of graded books which might be useful to parents …

For more information go to :

List of books sorted by grade :

NB Dyslexia Action was formally known as the Dyslexia Institute..

Monday, November 9, 2009


World Children's Book Week is a week-long celebration of children's books.It was started in 1919 and is celebrated primarily in schools, libraries,and by bookstores. Typical events during Children's Book Week include storytelling, author visits, and activities related to books. The goal of Children's Book Week is to encourage a love of reading and books among children.

Franklin K. Matthiews, the librarian of the Boy Scouts of America thought up the idea of creating a Children's Book Week, In 2008, Children’s Book Week moved from November to May. In Turkey however The World Children's Book Week is still celebrated in the second week of November.

The Children’s Book Council Foundation, ‘Every Child a Reader’ is responsible for planning official events and creating materials.

Unfortunately in Turkey most schools don’t encourage children to enjoy reading !! Very often students have to read certain books from a specified book list. In most cases the books on this list are usually quite difficult and heavy .In addition they are often forced to read a certain book for their exams.The end result being that children form a negative attitude to reading They see reading as a chore not as something to be enjoyed .For this reason most children seem to dislike reading..!!

If a child is dyslexic then the situation is made much worse as they may well already have a negative attitude to reading since they find it difficult to read !!

Children's reading preferences or reading speed and level are not taken into consideration. Generally the school administration,select certain books according to the class grade level and which are related to exam subjects. Unfortunately this makes reading a nightmare for dyslexic children.

Reading needs to be made more enjoyable for children in order to get them to read more. World Childrens Book Week is generally viewed by many schools as just a formality. However it could be celebrated in a more interesting, creative and interactive manner.

Here are a few suggestions;

Every class could convert their classroom door into a cover of a book.

Children could dress in a costume of a hero from a book they

Children could make up a play about a short story they have read and act it out.

Mothers and fathers could be invited to read a story they like to the children.

In short, this week can be made more fun and enjoyable !!!

Friday, November 6, 2009


Edward Vickerman who overcame dyslexia to achieve his career dream won the 2009 UK Teaching Award for Outstanding New Teacher of the Year .

Because of his dyslexia he struggled at school .He can remember at the age of seven being given a given a bag of wooden letters. "I had to put them in alphabetical order, I got about as far as D. I couldn't identify any of the letters, or make the sounds they stood for. They could have been anything."

Edward’s father is severely dyslexic. Despite being told at school that he was stupid, he established his own furniture business .Edward's older brothers, both also dyslexic, are now making successful careers with the family firm.

Instead of going into the family business he decided to work in the hotel industry. Edward managed to successfully overcome the difficulties caused by his dyslexia, and went on to do a degree in hotel management. Afterwards he did a post-graduate course in teaching. Edward now teaches business and enterprise at a College and is already head of business at the school, despite being there for a relatively short time.

Mr Vickerman said he gets round his dyslexia by using new technology in lessons rather than communicating by writing.

In an interview he said that“Dyslexia has always allowed me to think differently ,to think out of the box.”

Saturday, October 31, 2009


The UK Dyslexia Awareness Week 2009 starts the 1st of November and continues till the 7th November.The theme is Dyslexia Strengths.

Very often we tend to emphasis the negative aspects of dyslexia but research has also shown that there are some positive aspects of dyslexia as well.

In a powerpoint presentation, produced by the BDA for the Dyslexia Awareness week, it talks about the strengths many dyslexics possess:

Inventive thinking – ability to come up with new ideas..

Excellent at trouble shooting – good at problem solving.

Good at communicating – explaining ideas.

Curiosity – they like finding out about things.

Have a vivid imagination.

Creative – good at music, art and drama.

The EDA (European Dyslexia Association) on their website mentions that :

Many dyslexic people are good at architecture, engineering and other creative arts. They can also be good at acting, lateral thinking and often make good managers in people-related occupations. “

What can you do as a parent ?

Parents should try highlight the positive aspects of dyslexia as much as they can when talking with their child.

Parents should tell their children about positive role models – people who have gone on to be a success in different fields, despite having dyslexia.

They can boost their child’s self confidence by making a list of all the things their child can do well.

Celebrate the successes they achieve. Encourage them in the activities that they are good at and provide opportunities for them to improve their skills and talents.

Dyslexia Awareness involves informing the general public about dyslexia. It also involves developing people’s understanding and empathy for the problems that dyslexics can encounter in their daily lives.

Unfortunately, in Turkey dyslexia is still rarely known and understood by parents and teachers alike.Often children are identified as having dyslexia at quite a late stage in their school career or at worse they are never identified. !!

Many parents in Turkey do not want to admit their children have dyslexia because they are worried that other people will have a negative reaction towards their children .Only with more open discussion about this subject in Turkey will this change !!

In 2007 I attended a conference organised by the Learning Difficulties Network of Cyprus .As part of this conference I took part in a “Train the Advocators Trainers Programme”.The idea being that parents and teachers with direct experience of learning disabilities would train other parents and teachers to become advocates for those with learning difficulties.All those who undertook the training agreed to train at least 10 other people by a certain date. This I think, is an excellent way to spread the word about dyslexia and other learning disabilities throughout Turkey.

Since its dyslexia awareness week I ask all parents (and teachers) reading my blog to make it your goal to inform someone you know about dyslexia this week …. İt might be a neighbour,a friend, a relative, a teacher at school , etc etc .Remember we, as parents both individually and as a group can do a lot to help to raise awareness of dyslexia …..

Friday, October 30, 2009


The first step for children at school is to learn to read.Once they have achieved this goal they are expected to read in order to learn.

If children who are dyslexic are not given sufficient support at an early stage with literacy and do not become proficient in reading then they will encounter difficulties at school later on.They can fall behind their peers due to their poor reading skills.

In Turkey children are expected to learn to read with 3 or 4 months of starting school. In some cases children have already learnt to read when they start school. Since 2006 Turkish children are taught to read by the “Sound based sentence method” (ses temelli cumle yöntem).Sounds are learnt initially.After these sounds are combined to form syllables,later on syllables are made to form words and finally words to form sentences.

As children progress with reading they learn to recognize and say the word as a whole, although longer more difficult words may be broken down into syllables. Dyslexic readers find it difficult to automatically recognize words. Whereas an average child will need to see a word 4- 10 times for automatic recognition – a child who is dyslexia may need to come across that word more than 40 times. For this reason constant practice is essential.

In the school settting all children generally often get insufficient reading practice, apart from reading their text books.Also nowadays at home because of the lures of the TV, internet and playstations children tend to read less and less ! For this reason parents need to play an active role to encourage child to read and to improve their reading skills.This is specially crucial for a dyslexic child in order that they can catch up with their peers.

How to Choose an Appropriate Book

First impressions
The books should look attractive

Subject choice
Don’t go for books, which are easy to read, but whose stories are babyish and boring. Choose an exciting story . Consider your childs interests - for example if he is interested in football choose a book connected to this theme.Don’t limit yourself to just books – but comics,magazines, anything your child might want to read.

Font Size
The writing should not be too small or too big.

Avoid books where the vocabulary is too complicated.

Style – keep it simple!
Look for a simple and direct style.Avoid books with long complicated sentence structures full of sub- clauses.Read several books written by the same author with him as it’s easier to guess what’s coming next if the style is a familiar one.

Keep it short!
Your child may have a short concentration span for this reason choose books that are short, exciting and satisfying and that match the interests of your child. Short stories can be more rewarding for dyslexic readers, who will gain confidence from finishing a book. Also choose books with short chapters.

Eye – catching, age-appropriate illustrations will help to encourage
young readers to read the book. It will also help to explain difficult words and identify characters.

The book should be not too hard for your child to read

How can I tell if a book is too hard ?
The Five Finger Test
Encourage your child to test a page of any book before reading it. Let your child put a finger on each word he cannot read. If more that five fingers are used on any one page,he will not be able to read it without help.

Tips to help your child

Read to your child on a regular basis,sharing the enjoyment of a good story. This is important because it introduces him to a much wider vocabulary and also you can act as a good role model for reading.

Visit libraries and bookshops with your child. Encourage your child to like books.

Set aside a time for reading each day when you can be alone and undisturbed with your child.

Remember dyslexic kids have good days and bad days. You may find that their reading ability can fluctuate a lot.

Summer holidays are very long in Turkey – so make sure you maintain reading practice during this period.

Keep a record of the books your child reads – make bookmarks,prepare a blog, take photos.. This helps to show what your child has achieved.

Once your child can read by himself , each day your child should practice a minimum of 10 minutes reading out loud and 10 mins of silent reading.

Read aloud reading
This exercise is designed to make the child aware of both the sound and sight of the words; and their flow, as it stores both together in your memory.

When your child is reading out loud and he makes a mistake – immediately give him the correct word – don’t make him struggle sounding the word out – as it will interrupt the flow of the reading.

Silent Reading
It is more difficult to know what's going on when your child is reading silently. You will have to ask questions to monitor his comprehension after he has read silently. For your child to be successful explain the most important words or any new vocabulary prior to his reading silently. Do some reading yourself to encourage him while he's reading silently !!!
NB Your child will have better comprehension when he reads silently

Use a pointer- such as a pencil or your index finger, and move it along the line you are reading. Sometimes find it difficult to keep their place and also this can help to speed up their reading.

Alternative Reading Techniques you can try with your child:

Echo Reading- involves you reading one line of a story and your child repeating the same line after you have read. Increase the number of lines read at one time as the child's reading improves. Ask your child to follow the story with their finger to be sure he/she is looking at the words. Let your child read first with easy materials.

Choral Reading- involves a story that your child has read before or that is easy for him/her to read. Read the text together. Lead the reading by using expression and appropriate pacing.

Reader's Theatre is a read-aloud activity. Roles are distributed and each person reads when his/her character speaks. This should be done with easy reading materials for your child that includes conversation..

Partner Reading involves sharing reading. You read a sentence or half the page, and ask your child to read one sentence or half the page. As reading improves each partner can read an entire page or section.

Taped Stories provide good samples for listening to fluent reading. Parents could tape themselves as they read a book to their child. When using a taped story have the child follow the text with his/her finger or read along to help with fluency. Have children tape their own stories and evaluate their reading for fluency.

Repeated Reading involves your child in reading the same books or stories more than once in the same week.
One minute reading. You could find a short simple passage for your child to read (preferably one that doesn’t contain conversation).Get your child to read this passage for 1 minute (3 times ).
Please note : before your child reads the passage out loud - ask them to read it silently.
Afterwards you can count how words your child read in 1 minute (minus the number of mistakes). . The number of words read results can be put on a graph to show progress.
You could also tape record your child reading orally,before and after you begin this activity – to demonstrate progress made.

Paired Reading
You and your child read the words our loud together. Make your speed as fast or as slow as your child's. Your child must read every word. If your child struggles with a word and then gets it right, show that you are pleased. Never let your child struggle for more than 5 seconds.If your child struggles for too long or gets a word wrong, then:
Just say the right word yourself, and
Make sure that your child repeats it properly.

When you are reading together your child may want to read a bit alone. You should agree on a signal for your child to tell you to be quiet. This could be a knock on the book, a wave of the hand.When your child struggles for more than 5 seconds, or struggles and gets it wrong, you say the right word for your child. Make sure that your child says it right as well.Then you both go on reading together, until your child feels good enough to read on alone again, and asks you to be quiet. You must always remember to go back to reading together when your child has had problems with a word.


Remember reading difficulties may be a challenge, but they are not a disaster ,there is a lot a parent can do to help their child !!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


As I have mentioned in other dyslexia blog articles dyslexic children often have problems with memory. As your child progresses through school they will be required to know more and more facts… Mnemonics ( memory aides) are useful devices that can be used to help children remember information that they need to know…


Take the first letter of each item you are trying to remember, then re-arrange the letters so that the acronym makes a new word. This is particularly useful when remembering words in a specified order. Remember that mnemonics are useful for rote memory, but do not aid comprehension. They also can be difficult to form in some cases…

The order of operations : BEDMAS – The sequence in which you tackle any maths problem with multiple calculations.



Use the first letter of each word you are trying to remember. Instead of making a new word, though, you use the letters to make a sentence. Here are some examples:

My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets (Planets)


Eat An Aspirin After A Nighttime Snack ( Continents )

North America
South America

See David Wilson’s site – special Educational for more examples…

After go to : Subject to recall : memory activities across the curriculum


Songs and rhymes can all aid memory. You could teach your child for example ; the months of the year/ alphabet etc by using a tune you both know well and adapting the words..


This is a good technique to use to help remember numbers.
The brain prefers information to be broken down into small chunks. The mind can hold about six (plus or minus three) pieces of information consciously at any one time – three to nine pieces.
In remembering the number string 3235877865 , instead of remembering each number individually you break the number into chunks.

eg 323 587 78 65

Dyslexic children will often struggle with spelling words correctly. Spelling mnemonics can be used to help teach children difficult spellings such as:

Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants. (BECAUSE)
A real friend is there till the end ( FRIEND)

There is a really good powerpoint presentation from ICTeachers site about mnemonics which gives lots of examples of how to learn difficult spellings.
Go to ICTeachers site – after resources , literacy , spelling..

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I have read quite a lot in the Turkish newspapers recently about parents and teachers discussing how children learn writing in schools.Since 2006 all primary children have been taught cursive writing from the first grade. Some teachers and parents complain that this style of writing is difficult for children to learn and also perhaps unnecessary in the age of the computer !!

Cursive writing can initially take children some time to learn. It is however generally recognized that for children who are dyslexic or have dysgraphia the continuous cursive style is the recommended method of writing.Both the BDA ( British Dyslexia Assoc) and the IDA ( International Dyslexia Assoc ) on their websites advise that cursive writing should preferably be taught to dyslexics and those with dysgraphia.


It helps childrens’ writing to be clear, fluent,legible and fast.

All letters start on the line so there is no confusion about where to begin the letter.

Children are less likely to reverse letters which are typically difficult (like b/d ).

There is a clearer distinction between capital letters and lower case.

Dyslexics actually benefit from cursive as it flows .In cursive writing each letter is formed without taking the pencil off the paper – and consequently, each word is written in one, flowing movement Unlike in printing where they have to stop, and lift the hand for the next letter. Stopping can throw a dyslexic off track.

As the pencil does not often need to be lifted from the page this re-inforces phonic and spelling patterns.

Children can learn print through reading, so it's not essential to have them print.

Some Helpful Tips

Don’t give up – it may take some time..

Get your children to practice for short 15 minute intervals.

Begin with small/lower case letters first.

Print large cursive letters on a piece of paper and cover them with sticky back plastic.. Now have the child roll out playdough in a snake and have him or her trace over your letter, learning how to form the letters with the playdough.

You can get your child to use big fat felt tip pens on large paper to write on.

Fill a tray with wet sand and ask your child to write individual letters in the sand. Alternatively you could use rice or beans.Another fun thing to do is buy a can of shaving foam and spray it on your kitchen table – after get your child to write the letters you wish to practice. You can also use carpet squares ( with thick pile ) to write letters on.

In order to practice letter formation use dotted cursive letters which children can trace over.First of all make the letters quite big until they have become competent at forming the letter.

Writing in the air or writing the letters on the childrens backs helps the pupils internalize the motions involved in making the letters. Saying the sounds aloud reinforces the letter sound relationship and will help them as the learn to read and spell words.

Remember to be patient.

For an excellent video about teaching cursive handwriting see
Teachers’ TV
Primary Special Needs - A Passion for Handwriting

Sunday, October 11, 2009


More than often we tend to dwell on the negatives aspects of dyslexia.Here we give two examples of young dyslexic people who have gone on to be a success in their own unique way, despite struggling at school.

A 12-year-old boy started his own company, Spice Thyme after becoming fed up with suggestions that his dyslexia might affect his chances of a good job. Tom Sweet borrowed £200 from his parents to buy foreign herbs and spices which he now sells at markets "There seemed a gap in the market for herbs and spices," added Tom, who imports products from China, India, France and Italy.

Both Tom and his parents believe that the business has helped his dyslexia., especially with his maths.Tom's father said his son had worked hard to develop his business and added that his experience had given him confidence in dealing with people.

Louis Barnett, 21st century Willy Wonka.

A dyslexic teenager became a real-life teenage Willy Wonka by opening his own chocolate factory aged just 16 !!

Louis Barnett began making chocolate at home as a hobby. He was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia. After this he was taken out of school to be home educated. He set up his own company called Chokolit. He gave it this name because this was the way he phonetically spelt the word chocolate. His business has landed contracts with supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Waitrose who stock his luxury chocolates . Companies in Russia, Sweden, India and Japan are also expressing an interest in his products.Louis's chocolates are unique as they come packaged in an edible boxes, bags etc.

His mother said that no one understood him at school and that while his reports said his vocabulary and general knowledge were excellent, to her disappointment they focused on negative points like maths and written work.

He received the Lord Carter Award for excellence in the food industry and was nominated for a Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2007. He was also a finalist in the teen category of the 2007 Enterprising Young Brits Awards.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Its National Poetry Day in the UK today and the theme is hero and heroines...

I am sure parents of dyslexic children would agree with me, when I say that our kids, are certainly heros and heroines in their battle with dyslexia on a daily basis and their effort to overcome their difficulties in the classroom.

Here are two really nice poems I found written by dyslexic young people about dyslexia :

I was born with it
But because of it
I got hit for it
I cried about it
Fought because of it
Tried to get rid of it
Albert Einstein had it
Sulked about it
Called names becasue of it
I didn't like it
Mum had enough of me because of it
Couldn't be bothered to live with it
Do we really have to have it?
Mum thought I was lazy because of it
I thought I was crazy because of it
Punched walls because of it
Got in trouble over it
Disrupted class because of it
Walked out, away from it
Embarrassed because of it

By John Rogers and Lea Bourne
from :
Dyslexichelp UK is a website for parents of dyslexics.

I’m Not Marking This Mess
I can see his face ready to blow
he shouts so the whole class will know
‘Sir, Sir I’m stuck, I need more time.
’‘I told you what to do, don’t step out of line’.
I find it hard and embarrassing with him yelling
about my reading writing and spelling.
‘Hurry up, get on with it, I’m not marking this mess
’I say, ‘I need more time, I’m doing my best’.
He tells me little kids can do better than me
‘I’ve seen better from my daughter, she’s only three
where’s your full stops and capital letters?
now go and sit down until you do better.
’It’s hard to do my work I find
I never rest, it’s always on my mind
then I get frustrated, rude and angry
because he doesn’t understand me.
By Mark Chivers (12 )

Many dyslexic children do find it very hard to memorize poetry and other prose .If your child has to learn something try to break into manageable chunks and practice for a short length of time over a regular basis.

A team of researchers got a group of six-year-olds with dyslexia to memorize a lengthy poem, "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere." It was found that the children made progress in both reading comprehension and fluency after reciting the poem daily for several weeks. You can read more about this research project in an article in the Additude Magazine ( July 2007 )Headed Update on Dyslexia.

Friday, October 2, 2009


There is a lot of useful information on the internet concerning dyslexia but sometimes it takes a long time to find.In my dyslexia blog I am trying to provide parents with useful and helpful links. Here is one such link...

The LDA ( Learning Disabilities Association ) of Minnesota has a very good interactive online presentation called 'Learn how to Learn'.

It gives information on what problems prevent children with learning disabilities from learning.It graphically illustrates what is going on in the brain in a straightforward way which parents can understand.It covers problems in reading, attention, maths and testing.

You need to give an email address to access the presentation.

Also on this site there is a useful home and school checklist which could be adapted by parents.

For further details see :

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


The Stroop Test is a psychological tool which is often used to assess attention problems.

Children with dyslexia often have accompanying problems with concentration and attention
.In fact,researchers suggest that at least 40% of children with dyslexia also have ADD/ADHD.

The”Stroop Effect" is named after J. Ridley Stroop who discovered this in the 1930’s.

The test involves identifying colours from a list of words which are displayed in a colour ink different from the colour it actually names.

Eg GREEN ( the word green is printed or displayed in red ink).
You would give the answer ‘red ‘.

The test involves focusing on one particular feature of a task ie identifying the colour of the word, while ignoring other information ( ie reading the word ).This makes it a hard exercise to do and involves a lot of concentration.If GREEN was written in green ink it would make it a lot easier to give the correct answer.

Animal Stroop : If children are younger and can’t read then they are given animal pictures to look at. Pictures are used where the head of the animal has been swapped with another animal. The child is asked to give the name for the “body” of the animal

The Neuroscience for Kids site has mini stroop test flash cards which you could print out and test yourself or your child.

The One Show on BBC talked about the Stroop Test :

For more information about animal stroop look at the Open University site

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Here in Turkey its the first day back to school after the long school holiday !! In this dyslexia blog article I want to talk about the anxiety and stress children can endure when they return to the classroom...

Its normal that most kids will be anxious about returning back to school ( or starting school ).Some children however may even develop sleeping problems,or wet the bed or have stomach aches and pains, even nausea as a result of their anxiety.

Those children with dyslexia and learning disabilities will also be more prone to suffer from anxiety and stress when returning to school.As a result parents need to be more understanding and patient.

Children may try to stay off school in order to escape their worries. As a parent it's best not to encourage them to miss days ; however you do need to listen to your child's worries and try to empathize with them.If possible,try to discuss with your child practical ways to alleviate their problems at school.

Make some time each day to talk with your child about how things are going at school. I often find that my child doesn't want to be quizzed about school when he first comes home, he needs some time to chill out for an hour or so .

Make sure your child knows you are always ready to listen to his worries.Remember you can't always solve his or her problems completely but sometimes just being a good listener is enough to help them !!

Neil Alexander-Passe from South Bank University undertook a study in 2008.It investigated whether dyslexic children, by way of their educational and social difficulties, experience higher levels of stress at school. Dyslexic children in Grades 3-5 were found to experience high levels of stress, particularly with regard to interacting with teachers and school tests.

See Neil Alexander-Passe's web site with useful information :
(The article on dyslexics, stress and anxiety)

Heres a useful article about 'How to Relieve School Anxiety'.

Good luck to all dyslexic children and their parents with the start of school !!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


During the long school holidays I started to teach my son to read English.I am using Jolly Phonics to teach him.I think this programme is ideal for parents teaching reading to their children since it is clearly explained and comes with numerous ready made printable worksheets and flashcards.

Jolly Phonics is a British programme for teaching reading, writing, and spelling using phonics. It was created by UK teachers Sue Lloyd and Sara Wernham.

Jolly Phonics uses Synthetic phonics to teach children to read .In this method children learn the individual sounds of English first and then they learn how to put them or blend them together to read words.

In Jolly Phonics, each of the main 42 sounds that make up the English language has an action.For example the letter ‘a’ is taught by running the fingers up and down the arm simulating lots of ants running about tickling the arm.

The programme uses a multi-sensory approach, which is ideal for children who have dyslexia to learn to read .It has fun characters (Inky Mouse, Snake, Bee, and Phonic) which will attract children .Jolly Phonics could be used with older children. My son is 10 and he enjoys reading the books !!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Iyi Bayramlar; Şeker Bayram Kutlu Olsun!

Şeker Bayram is the holiday that marks the end to Ramadan , which is a period of fasting.Sweets are part and parcel of this festival especially for children !!. People take boxes of chocolate or sweets when paying bayram social visits to relatives. Sweets such as baklava are made at home and served to visitors.

Most children love sweets, however too much sugar intake has been found to effect a persons ability to concentrate.A child who has dyslexia needs to be able to concentrate even more than a non-dyslexic child in order to take in the same amount of information.

As a result it is important to try to keep a check on your child’s intake of sugary drinks, such as cola and also sweets. Try to give your child plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Unfortunately all Turkish schools have a shop where the kids can buy sweets and sugary drinks – so temptation is never far away!! Of course its difficult to ban sweet things completely especially at Sugar Bayram but don’t them overdo it !!

Please note Blogger has been having some problems in Turkey over the last few days – lets hope normal service is resumed as soon as possible!! I read in the newspaper that blogger is not working properly due to a technical problem rather than a move by the censors.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


In this dyslexia blog article I want to talk about audio books..

Recently I read in a Turkish newspaper about the Turkish National Library having audio or talking books available for blind people and that they are planning to expand their collection in the near future. It made me start thinking about talking books for dyslexics and their availability.

Audio books are very useful to those with dyslexia, as well as for people who have a sight problem. Audio books allow struggling readers to enjoy the same popular books as their peers, while at the same time improving listening and reading comprehension skills.It means that dyslexic children can read books above their normal reading level.

Unfortunately there are not many talking books in Turkish, unlike in English.There are few childrens books available which have accompanying tapes.

It is a very beneficial exercise for children with dyslexia to listen to a cassette tape while following the words in the book. Hearing the text read aloud can improve the child’s reading ability .

The only option for parents in Turkey is to make their own recordings for children to listen to !!

Here are some organisations which have audio books available in English :

National Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic ( USA) RFB&D

This is a voluntary non-profit organisation.

If you are an individual outside of the U.S., you may only borrow books that are in RFB&D's Classic Cassettes format.

RFB&D does not distribute digital versions of audiobooks outside of the United States, except to U.S. citizens who are temporarily residing abroad

You will need to use a specialized DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) playback system to access their digital books.

Individual Membership is now free to individuals with proper certification of disability.

National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS)The Library of Congress

You can qualify for the free talking books programme if you have learning disabilities or dyslexia and also a specific accompanying visual or physical handicap.( proof of disability is required ).

To qualify for the Talking Books programme, "Eligible readers must be residents of the United States, or, American citizens living abroad".

For information about the NLS Services to American Citizens Abroad see:

Listening Books ( UK )

Listening Books provides audio books for people with special needs ,including dyslexia They have a library of over 2000 audio books.They offer audiobooks on both MP3 CD and from their website via internet. .There is a yearly membership fee of about 20 pounds.

Sound Learning which is part of Listening Books provides audio books for young people to support their learning. It has 1600 children’s and young people’s titles. There is a yearly subscription for members.

Please note you must live in the UK .

Bookshare ( USA )

Bookshare offers about 50,000 digital books etc to people all over the world with disabilities such as dyslexia.

U.S.citizens temporarily living abroad can register their permanent U.S. address on Bookshare for U.S. membership. If you are permanently residing abroad, you can register your international address for international membership.
Bookshare is free to US students with qualifying disabilities. Proof of disability is required.

Currently 5,000 books are available for download to international members, based on copyright permissions granted by publishers and authors. These include children’s titles from Scholastic. There is a membership fee in the region of 75 dollars. Books are in DAISY format, however Bookshare offers two free DAISY readers with membership.

Calibre ( UK )

You can join Calibre if you have dyslexia and live in the UK. Calibre has the largest lending collection of audio books in the UK in open format ie you don't need special playback equipment. There is no subscription fee only there is a small charge for the print and CD-R catalogues for adults. Children can join ‘Young Calibre ‘

Commercial sites :

Audible Co UK - 20,000 downloadable commercial audio books.

Spoken Network - There are over 9000 titles to choose from by major publishers such as the BBC, Harper-Collins, Simon & Schuster, Brilliance, Blackstone, and Hachette Spoken Network requires no special eqipment.

The Right to Read Campaign –

The Right to Read Alliance is made up of 19 charities including: Dyslexia Action and the BDA. It is trying to push publishers to make all books available in an accessible way for everyone, including those with disabilities.

Up to three million adults and children in the UK who are blind, partially sighted or have a reading impairment such as dyslexia are denied the right to read. A shocking 95 per cent of all books published never become available in large print, audio or braille, or electronically. The Right to Read Alliance believes this discrimination must end.

People with sight problems or reading disabilities are like everyone else – they want to read the same book, at the same time at the same price.

The situation is bad enough for Visually Impaired people. But since 2002 they have at least had the right to change the format of books to something that they can read – eg by scanning them – without having to get the permission of the publisher. Dyslexic people, and organisations acting for them, still don't have that right, so that dyslexic people now find it even more difficult to find audio books, for example, then they did before. The Right to Read Campaign is campaigning for the same rights for all reading impaired people
”. ( quote )

Books for All - is about learning materials in accessible, alternative formats, for people who have difficulty reading ordinary printed books. It contains information of where you can get hold digital and audio books.

A blog about talking books ..

BDA lists some information about audio books ..

Saturday, September 12, 2009


In this dyslexia blog article I want to try to give some practical tips on how to teach children to tie shoelaces.

Many dyslexic children find it difficult to learn to tie shoelaces since it involves remembering a series of steps, also they get confused between left and right.
Though many shoes now have velcro fastenings - one day ultimately you will need to teach your child to tie his shoelaces!! I recently bought a new pair of trainers for my son which he really wanted – the only snag was that they had laces… It worked out ok in the end as he really loved the trainers so it was a extra incentive to learn the skill of tying the laces !!

Here are some tips :

Look at Ian’s shoelace site – it contains a page on “Shoelace Tips for Teaching Children” It contains helpful videos ….

To help your child differentiate from his left and right - Take two laces in two different colours and cut them in half, afterwards sew them together.

You could cut out an over-sized shoe shape from cardboard and get your child to practice using this :
You could ask your child to decorate the cardboard shoe.
Make holes for the laces and thread through the multi-coloured laces you have made.

If you are left-handed and your child is right-handed (or vice versa) you will always FACE your child when showing them how to tie their shoe laces.If you are both right-handed, or left-handed, you must stand BEHIND them.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Dyslexia tends to run in families. Children of parents with dyslexia are likely to have problems, too. In fact many parents, only find out about their own dyslexia when their child is identified as being dyslexic !! Often parents realize that they were also probably dyslexic, but had not been diagnosed when they were at school.

If you are a parent who is dyslexic yourself then this should give you a better understanding and appreciation of your child’s difficulties in school. You may also be able to help your child to utilize practical strategies to overcome problems they may encounter. Unfortunately, some parents may find that their children's experiences bring back bad memories of the past which they would rather forget !! In an earlier Dyslexia Blog article I talked about Ersin Öztoycan who is also dyslexic and a parent of two dyslexic children.She went on to set up a dyslexia association in Northern Cyprus.

If you think you could be dyslexic, you could take the Adult Dyslexia Checklist test. This will give you a good indication of any dyslexic traits you may have.

One such well-known checklist is the Vinegrad test (1994).

There is another checklist which was devised by Ian Smythe and John Everatt in 2001.See the British Dyslexia Association ( BDA ) site for more information.

If the test result seems to indicate you are dyslexic you will need to be properly assessed by a psychologist, in order get a formal identification.

I had problems when I was at school with learning to read and often when I am helping my child with his school work it makes me remember again the difficulties I had….

Sunday, September 6, 2009


September 8th is the UNESCO International Literacy Day . The aim of International Literacy Day is to focus attention on the need to promote worldwide literacy.

Literacy is seen as a basic right for all people by UNESCO.Unfortunately in Turkey ,often children and adults who have dyslexia and are struggling with reading and writing go unnoticed because of the lack of basic awareness of this problem.One of the reasons for writing this dyslexia blog is to make parents and teachers, alike, aware of dyslexia and its implications.

Between 2003 – 2012 is the United Nations Literacy Decade. The UN sees "literacy is crucial to the acquisition by every child, youth and adult, of essential life skills.

As part of the literacy decade DITT is organizing the World Dyslexia Forum at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris (France )from the 3 to 5 February 2010. In an earlier blog article I talked about this event.

A free online learning course on dyslexia for teachers and trainee teachers in both English and French wil be available on the 5th February 2010 at UNESCO Paris at the World Dyslexia Forum.

Teacher training advisers from over 193 countries will be invited to share their existing expertise and to pilot the free course within their national teacher-training programmes.

The online learning course consists of three sections:

The first section provides a definition of dyslexia and looks at the causes, as well as the consequences of dyslexia.

The second part looks at how teachers can decide if a child may have dyslexia.

The third section focuses on how to include children with dyslexia in mainstream classrooms .

In addition, there will be a film entitled 'Dyslexia - On the right lines', which illustrates and extends the online learning course.
Let's hope this free dyslexia learning course for teachers, plus film can be translated into Turkish. We need it here !!!


Recently I saw that the blog ‘Lipstick Wisdom‘ had talked about my own dyslexia blog.

The Lipstick Wisdom blog provide links to other blogs which give ‘practical, actionable advice from women and families who have already been through a particular life experience or health event.’ Their vision is’ to build a web community dedicated to empowering women through their shared wisdom and life experiences.’

Links and information are given for a range of subjects ,including dyslexia and learning disabilities.

I certainly think its true that mums ( and other family members ) have a lot of knowledge and wisdom that they can share with other people in similiar situations !!! As busy parents we all need practical tips to help us with the problems we face daily.

I like the title of the blog – Lipstick Wisdom ‘ – quite appropriate and catchy …!!!
It maybe worthwhile checking out the other blogs, covering dyslexia and learning disabilities that they have given links to.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Now, is the time for parents to start helping children get ready to start back to school. For children with dyslexia, this task may be more worrying than it is for others. Many children with dyslexia find it difficult to keep up with their school friends and suffer embarrassment due to their poor reading skills. For these children, the idea of facing another school year in competition with classmates can be very stressful.

Your child may become anxious at the idea of returning to school – be prepared to spend time to discuss and listen to his/ her worries.

Return to a normal school bedtime routine:
A few days before school begins start to send your child to bed earlier each night in preparation for starting back to school.

Arrange a meeting or outing with one of your child’s school friends before the end of the holiday.This will help to ease the transition to school and to make your child feel more at ease.

Before school starts, try to create a postive attitude about starting school. Often children enjoy buying stationary for school etc .This can be a way to get them in the right frame of mind for school ,by shopping for materials and new school uniform.

The biggest struggle for dyslexic children is often to get organized.

Help your child by :

Using book covers to color-code textbooks and notebooks to help them quickly select the right book in the classroom.

Buying an extra set of textbooks in case your child forgets to bring home the correct books he needs for his/ her homework.

Discussing and agreeing on a homework routine with your son or daughter in preparation for starting school.

Friday, August 14, 2009


My son recently broke his finger,unfortunately !! Not only did it put a stop all to sporting activities ,he also couldn’t write !! As part of his school assignment for the holidays he has to write a diary.Since he can’t write by hand I have encouraged him to write his diary ‘one fingered’ on the computer !!! This has prompted me to research typing tutor programmes available ….

In a world which is now geared to computers it is an advantage if students learn to touch type properly. In addition ,for a dyslexic child good word processing skills can be a life saver !! Computer skills will especially be useful to your son or daughter as they get older, for longer assignments that they will have to do in school, college or university.

It is best if children start to learn early how to touch type, before any bad habits develop.

There is a wide range of typing tutor programmes available ,for all ages, some of which are free.Mavis Beacon is a widely used and well known programme.

Learning to touch type does take quite a bit of time and effort. You could get your child to practice keyboarding skills approximately 10 minutes a day, especially during the holidays.

Some useful information about typing programmes:

Reviews : Typing Tutors - an article from iansyst.Ltd
An overview of typing tutors that are particularly suitable for use with children and adults who have dyslexia.

The British Dylexia Association BDA has a useful article about keyboard awareness and typing skills :

AbilityNet is a national charity helping disabled adults and children use computers and the internet by adapting and adjusting their technology.

For a useful factsheet from AbilityNet called :
Keyboarding and Touch Typing for Children ( pdf)

Go to :

‘Kids Software Reviews : Typing programs’
A resource for choosing a typing programme.

Here are two typing tutor programmes which teach in a fun way and that are aimed at kids :

Nessy Fingers uses the alphabet to teach keyboard skills unlike other typing tutors that start with the 'home row'. It is particularly suitable for young children. A free demo download is available.

Dance Mat Typing is a free online typing tutorial from the BBC.It has fun characters and voices which will appeals to younger children.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


All parents of dyslexic children have to help their children a lot. As I know from personal experience, if you are a parent who is living abroad either as a ex-pat or you have permanantly relocated to another country, you will have to support your child even more so !!

The knowledge of dyslexia and the support given by schools will vary from country to country. In Turkey ,where I live dyslexia awareness is generally poor amongst teachers and parents, alike. Support and help as a result is also limited and sketchy.

Some languages maybe easier to learn than English so this can be an advantage to your child. For example, Turkish is a phonetic language and also is fairly regular in terms of grammar rules.

Your child however may well find it a hard having to learn two languages rather than just one.

Problems faced

Parents have to familiarize themselves with an education system that they have no previous knowledge or experience of.

Educational methods and approaches maybe different from their own country .For example, the Turkish education system is very much textbook based ,with a lot of emphasis on rote learning. It is generally not very ‘dyslexia friendly ‘ !! European countries which are in the EU maybe better.

Parents often feel alone with the problem as they do not know anyone who is in a similar situation as themselves.

As a parent you will have to help your child with a language which is not your native language .If your own language skills are not strong enough you may feel guilty that you can't help your child enough.

You may find it difficult to obtain and find the right help for your child eg pyschologists, private teachers who are appropriately qualified about dyslexia.

There are a lot of teaching materials available in English to help dyslexic students. However, many countries may have limited resources ,like Turkey.

Many ex-pats will send their children to International schools. Some schools may have provision for special needs kids , but not all do. Many international schools allow parents to bring in learning support assistants to work alongside children in the classroom. Parents generally have to pay for the specialists themselves.

Advice to parents moving or living abroad

Learn as much as you can about dyslexia so you can help your son or daughter.

Consider taking a course which teaches you strategies to help your son or daughter with their dyslexia – there are some correspondence or online courses available.

Research the country you are going to before you leave and find out what is available. Many countries have dyslexia associations eg Singapore , Kuwait ,Luxemborg.etc You can generally find that they have a web site. You could contact them for help.

Many countries have their own International associations for ex-pats
- you could make contact with them to see if any of their members have children with learning disabilities or order to share information.

If there is no association or network group you could try to set up your own !!

If you are sending your child to an International school check out if they have provisions for dyslexic children.Find out the qualifications of the specialist staff , if they have any. Try to contact other parents to find out their experiences of that school.

If teaching materials are limited try to make your own by adapting materials . For example, you can make your own flashcards or games such as bingo .

Try to look for a local private teacher to help you if you are struggling with helping your child with the language.

I decided not to try to teach my son to read English until he had mastered Turkish as I thought he might get more confused if he was taught both at the same time.At the moment Turkish is more important for him in his school life so I decided to concentrate on this language initially.

If you feel alone make contact with other people in a similar situation to yourself , via a online forum.

Try to do the best for your son /daughter but don’t beat yourself up too much …. Remember all you can do is try your best !!

Useful Resources

The Federation of American Women's Clubs Overseas (FAWCO).
The Educational Support Committee of FAWCO prepared a report on Students Who Learn Differently which is on the internet.

Dyslexia Action is the UK's major dyslexia organisation for the training of specialist dyslexia teachers.
It runs a course called : Alpha to Omega: The Hornsby Course in Dyslexia and Literacy .

Direct Learning UK offers a distance learning multimedia course which provides practical training and techniques for how to teach a child who is, or may be,dyslexic, either in school or at home.

Dyslexia International - for a list of country by country contacts

They also have a useful brochure in pdf form - called 'Here and there' for parents.

The BDA ( British Dyslexia Association) has a list of world-wide dyslexia contacts.

World Dyslexia Network Foundation

European Dyslexia Association

The International Book of Dyslexia: A Guide to Practice and Resources

Ian Smythe, John Everatt,Robin Salter ISBN: 978-0-471-49646-5
Are difficulties in dyslexia the same the world over? Over 50 countries are included in this guide, together with details of dyslexia associations and resources.