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.

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