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For Parents: Practical Support and where to find help for children with special needs

Parents can support their children by understanding that people with dyslexia often do not perform according to their ability at this age but do catch up a few years later. To share an anecdotal experience, my colleague’s son nearly failed a unit at University recently, not because of lack of ability but because he was told to present a seminar “next Tuesday”. Due to his dyslexia, he could not work out what day that meant and missed the seminar. Luckily, his tutor was able to look at his notes and give him a partial pass.

Dyslexia is often co-occurring and may be found in conjunction with ADHD or Asperger’s syndrome. Research shows that 52 per cent of those with dyslexia have dyspraxia. This can mean added difficulties for this age group with tasks such as learning to drive, which is problematic if you have difficulties with sequencing, working out left and right and auditory instructions.

So, how do parents find support?

First and foremost, parents must understand what Dyslexia is and what are the shortcomings that his or her son or daughter may experience. This is important because no two individuals with dyslexia may exhibit same levels of difficulties and everyone will have some unique strength. The parents should be able to identify those areas of strength and build his or her support system to hone the strength and work on the areas of weakness. To be able to identify the same, the parents can work closely with the Special Educator / Psychologists and assess the needs of the student. Here, a word of caution can be advised to parents, do not put your child into a program or a therapy just because it has worked for another child. Select programs that are specific to your child’s strength or weakness.

Parents can find support by attending parents’ courses, which are organised at Linguaphile Skills Hub. Internationally, many charities also organise such courses. These will help with practical advice and strategies for support at home. Parents can also become parent champions through the Empowering Parents and Carers project and pass on advice to other parents.

Many bright students start university without knowing they are dyslexic, as the strategies they have in place just manage to support them through GCSE and A Level. Unfortunately, in many Asian countries such arrangements are not well placed in the University levels.

If access arrangements such as using a laptop were not put in place for GCSE, then starting to use one as the main method of communication is important. A dyslexic with unreadable handwriting can use a laptop in exams so that the examiner can concentrate on the content rather than deciphering the handwriting. A post-16 diagnosis for those who suspect they have dyslexia, or for those already assessed, is imperative for further access arrangements or support at university. Lap top software which allows text to be scanned and read back, and specialist tuition can be arranged to help student cope with the learning needs. Parents are invited to meet and collaborate with Linguaphile Skills Hub to work more on the area of university support and admissions to abroad universities.

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