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 :