Dyslexia Association launches research findings to mark Dyslexia Awareness Month (October 2018)

Over 90% of teachers agree that unidentified dyslexia damages children’s self-esteem

Key findings include:
• 93% of teachers report that they need training on dyslexia.
• 88% of parents want mandatory training on dyslexia to be included in all teacher training courses.
• Only 22% of students feel confident that their teachers understand their dyslexia and know how to support them.
• 71% of adults with dyslexia worry about disclosing their difficulty to their employer.
Teachers and parents overwhelming agree that unidentified dyslexia damages children’s self-esteem and mental health. Teachers also lack adequate training in both identifying and supporting children and young people with dyslexia in school (93% of teachers reported that they need additional training on dyslexia). Teachers would also like to see early screening for all students (81%), school-based assessment of dyslexia (68%) and greater access to supports within the schools from relevant agencies, e.g. NEPS, NCSE, SESS (81%). The new model for allocation of Special Education Needs resources and teaching in schools now places much greater responsibility on schools to identify and meet needs at local level. However, without the necessary in-service training for teachers on dyslexia, schools will continue to struggle to meet the needs of many students with dyslexia. One student noted: “I know I am clever because I have been assessed but the class does not let me show that I am clever. It shows the things I cannot do.”

Our survey also noted the strengths that people with dyslexia possess. Our survey of students with dyslexia (age 18 and under) found that 94% feel that people with dyslexia have hidden potential. 60% feel that having dyslexia has helped them to develop their skills in other areas. However, 57% said that if they had the choice they would prefer not to have dyslexia – indicative of the persistent challenges many face in school where their dyslexia is not being addressed adequately, and the consequent impact this can have on their mental health.

Getting a dyslexia assessment is not about labelling a child; often it is about re-labelling a child, quashing incorrect beliefs that they are lazy or unable to learn. For most people, getting their dyslexia identified is hugely empowering; and it validates the experiences they have had to date with learning.

In response to the impact dyslexia can have on the self-esteem of young people, during the past year, DAI has developed a new empowerment programme for children and young people with dyslexia called ‘Dyslexia and Me’. This provides a space where they can explore what dyslexia means to them, and gain confidence in themselves, taking pride in being a part of #TeamDyslexia. The seminar is led by Amy Smyth, Information and Advocacy Coordinator with DAI, who as a successful dyslexic herself, is passionate about raising the confidence of young people with dyslexia.

October is European Dyslexia Awareness Month. The theme DAI has chosen for this year’s awareness month in Ireland is “Shout About Dyslexia”. This theme was chosen to reflect the evident need to talk about dyslexia openly. Dyslexia should not be whispered about in hushed voices. There’s no shame in having dyslexia – it’s a learning difference. We should be proud and celebrate our talented dyslexic community.

The Dyslexia Association of Ireland has a wide range of awareness-raising activities and events planned this October. If anyone is interested in participating, they can access our Support Pack on our website www.dyslexia.ie and via our social media pages. It has lots of info on how you can get involved in different ways, at home, in school, on social media, or by taking part in one of our many events.

Commenting at the launch of the awareness week, Rosie Bissett, CEO of DAI, said, “People with dyslexia bring personal strengths and add neurodiversity to our schools, workplaces and communities. They have a right to have their needs identified early and should be able to access appropriate supports. While our education system has made advances in some areas, our research clearly shows that there is much more to be done.”

Bissett added, “We need an education system which is more responsive, and aware of the needs of students with dyslexia and this can be achieved through better education policy and with mandatory teacher training on dyslexia identification and support strategies. An education system that is truly and fully inclusive for people with dyslexia, is an education system that will be good for all.”

Donald Ewing, Head of Psychological and Educational Services of DAI, added, “Without a significant commitment to improving teacher training on dyslexia, there is a real risk that the needs of those with dyslexia will continue to go unnoticed and unmet, and so much potential will be lost. Every class teacher needs some knowledge of dyslexia identification and support strategies. Specialist teachers need advanced training to enable them to assess for dyslexia, and to support the school-wide provision of evidence-based teaching interventions.”

The DAI is asking people to tweet, comment and engage with Dyslexia Awareness Month using hashtag #ShoutAboutDyslexia or #TeamDyslexia sharing stories, and driving public understanding of the condition.

For more information on dyslexia visit: www.dyslexia.ie
With early identification and the right supports, Irish children with dyslexia can succeed with reading.
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