Does dyslexia make you stronger?

I know from talking to many parents that concerns about their children’s progress in literacy often stem from their own, or their partner’s, struggles with dyslexia (with or without a diagnosis).

Recent research by Margaret Malpas from the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has sought to identify characteristics which are helpful to adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. She wanted to find out why, despite their struggles with literacy, so many adults with dyslexia are particularly successful across a range of careers. Her research shows that 67% of dyslexic adults surveyed believed they had special strengths resulting from their dyslexia, the top one being determination. Other skills that featured highly included empathy, intelligence or a particular ability and motivation to help others.

A full account can be found in Malpas’s book ‘Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint to Success.’ If you are still struggling with literacy and would like help to improve your skills, the BDA has recently launched a new elearning programme for adults which is priced at £12.99 for 10 modules. Information on both publications can be found on the BDA website.

Highlighting the positives of dyslexia is the theme for this year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week running from 2nd to 8th October.

Does dyslexia make you stronger?

I know from talking to many parents that concerns about their children’s progress in literacy often stem from their own, or their partner’s, struggles with dyslexia (with or without a diagnosis).

Recent research by Margaret Malpas from the British Dyslexia Association (BDA) has sought to identify characteristics which are helpful to adults with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties. She wanted to find out why, despite their struggles with literacy, so many adults with dyslexia are particularly successful across a range of careers. Her research shows that 67% of dyslexic adults surveyed believed they had special strengths resulting from their dyslexia, the top one being determination. Other skills that featured highly included empathy, intelligence or a particular ability and motivation to help others. A full account can be found in Malpas’s book ‘Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: A Blueprint to Success.’ If you are still struggling with literacy and would like help to improve your skills, the BDA has recently launched a new elearning programme for adults which is priced at £12.99 for 10 modules. Information on both publications can be found on the BDA website.

Highlighting the positives of dyslexia is the theme for this year’s Dyslexia Awareness Week running from 2nd to 8th October.

 

Developmental Language Disorder

Education, and in particular special educational needs education, is a minefield of terms and labels that change frequently. This can be very confusing for school professionals and parents alike! One recent change has been the use of the term Developmental Language Disorder (DLD) to describe children experiencing difficulties understanding or using language.

Around 7% of children are estimated to have a significant difficulty acquiring language and for many this may last throughout childhood. These problems may interfere with everyday communication as well as their education.

Children may have problems with one or more of the key components of language including:
• Understanding spoken language
• Using spoken sentences – in terms of vocabulary and/or grammar
• Knowing how and when to use language appropriately in social situations
• They may have a speech difficulty in addition to their language disorder.

For some children, the language disorder may be associated with a known condition such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, a brain injury or genetic condition such as Down Syndrome, or may be part of a more general learning difficulty. It may also result from learning English as an additional language, having repeated episodes of glue ear or where a child has been living in social disadvantage. Sometimes, however, there are no additional factors of this kind and it may be an isolated difficulty with learning language (previously known as Specific Language Impairment).

At St John’s we identify, monitor and observe any pupil we suspect may have DLD. We can assess their understanding of language using a computer programme called Language Link and put in place language intervention groups to support their learning. All staff are also trained in using Language for Learning strategies and resources in class.

Where the language difficulty is more severe or fails to improve sufficiently with support, we are also able to refer pupils for therapy sessions and advice through the Speech and Language Therapy service.

If you are concerned about your child’s language acquisition, please contact me (Jeannie Newhouse) on 01732 453944 or by email on newhousej@st-johns-sevenoaks.kent.sch.uk.

Understanding reading difficulites

We often get asked the question by parents: Does my child have dyslexia? This is often in response to a child experiencing persistent spelling, or less often, reading difficulties.

We have created a leaflet, detailing some of the main problems that children often encounter with reading, including dyslexia, and how the school supports them. We also give suggestions as to how you can help your child at home.

A copy of the leaflet is attached here but you can also obtain a printed copy by asking at the school office.

Download (DOCX, 42KB)

Talking to your child about school

The Heads Together organisation, which is backed by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has published its top 10 tips for talking with your child. The help sheet had been drawn up in partnership with charities Young Minds, Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families and Place2Be, and is designed to encourage your child to share their worries and concerns with you. The full article can be found at headstogether.org.uk

Here are the tips:

PREPARE FIRST: pick the right time and place and get into the right frame of mind
to have these important conversations.

* Asking questions such as Q&A competitions encourages children to talk: Colours of the rainbow? Best bits of your day? Name five birds? Most difficult part of today?

* Share your own stories to show that you have had similar feelings.Make it a two-way conversation.

* Tell stories by each writing a letter/email about yourselves to a relative or friend. Be positive about your child’s suggestions: ‘Yes tell them that, it was so funny!’

* Focus on making the cake…and chat. Walk the dog…and chat. A focus on something else can take the pressure off hard conversations.

* Get things into perspective. Explore together the lives of children of different generations or countries. What changes have other children faced?

* Give them space to question and time to absorb information.Children may not open up straight away, so check in with them from time to time.

* Imagine yourself in their shoes. Let your support be guided by what they might be feeling and thinking.

* Be a role model. Showing how you cope with difficult feelings will help your child cope themselves.

* Have a supporting cast. Parenting can be stressful, so have someone you can turn to for support.

* Remember nobody is perfect and we all get upset or angry sometimes. Tough times can help us develop the skills and resilience that will last a lifetime.

DON’T EXPECT INSTANT RESULTS.  THE EFFORT TO TALK AND LISTEN WILL BE APPRECIATED
AND WILL LAY THE FOUNDATIONS FOR FUTURE CONVERSATIONS.



This week you will find a leaflet for parents entitled ‘Helping your child to develop good language and communication skills’ in your child’s bag. We have created this leaflet as a source of strategies, games and advice which could be of benefit to ALL children in developing listening and attention skills, a wider vocabulary and in building good social skills.

Language and communication skills are a vital part of children’s development. They influence their learning and social development including relationships with their peers and adults. Sometimes the difficulties children have with aspects of language are not obvious and can be mistakenly put down to learning difficulties or poor behaviour.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or comments about this leaflet or your child’s specific communication skills.
Jeannie Newhouse 01732 453944 or jnewhouse@stjohnssevenoaks.co.uk

Download (DOCX, 40MB)

Support for parents of children with ASD/Asperger’s

Please see below two events for parents of children with ASD/Asperger’s (either with a diagnosis or where this is pending):

Supporting Communication – some ideas and examples
Sheryl Bunyard (Assistant Headteacher & Director of Inclusion at Ifield School) will talk about some ideas and examples of different ways to support communication, including the use of technology.
When: Wednesday 18th May at 6.45pm to 8.45pm.
Where: North Kent College, Oakfield Lane, Dartford, DA1 2JT
To book: Contact Lois Spearing at: lois.spearing@nhs.net

This is part of a series of evening talks arranged by the Multi-Agency Autism Group to help parents, families, carers and professionals learn more about autism and to gain confidence in managing children in their care.

ASD Parent Drop-in for Sevenoaks
Please come and talk with experts in confidence or just have a chat with other parents.
When: Wednesday 8th June from 1.00 to 3.00 (come for all or part of this time).
Where: Hope Church, Mill Lane Centre, 128 Seal Road, Sevenoaks, TN14 5AX
To book: Just turn up!

Dyslexia awareness

If you would like to find out more about dyslexia or literacy difficulties, Dyslexia Action is running a drop-in session on Wednesday 27th April from 10 am to 1 pm in Tonbridge. Specialists will be available to answer your questions and talk about how children (and adults) with literacy difficulties can be supported. There is no need to book and the advice is free.

Where: Tonbridge Learning Centre, First Floor, Bridge House, 97-101 High Street, Tonbridge, TN9 1DP.
When: Wednesday 27th April 10 am to 1 pm.

For further information:
Email: tonbridge@dyslexiaaction.org.uk
Tel: 01732 352762
www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk

The importance of developing early language skills

Some of you may have read recently about research which shows that children with poor language skills at age five are significantly more likely to struggle with maths and literacy at age 11. Conducted by the Institute of Education on behalf of Save the Children, the study analyses progress data from 5,000 children and showed that 23% of children who struggled with language at age five did not reach expected levels in SATs in literacy at age 11, and 21% didn’t achieved the expected grade in maths.

The study indicates that children who start school without being able to tell a short story, express feelings and communicate easily with a wide range of adults will be strongly disadvantaged, regardless of family background.

I am currently compiling some information to show how you can support your child with their language development at home, including improving attention and listening skills, broadening vocabulary and cultivating better social communication. This information will be available on this site as well as in the form of a leaflet.

Wellbeing and mental health

Last week I took part in training on how to use the new Wellbeing Toolkit for schools. This is a comprehensive pack looking at developing the wellbeing and mental health of a whole school community as well as providing assessment, support and interventions for those children who may have specific, or more complex, difficulties. Together with our Parental Support Advisor/Play Therapist, Jane Smith, who has been attending Mindfulness training, we will be introducing these concepts to the whole staff in the next few weeks. More information will appear on the website shortly with a view to running some parent workshops later this year. Please could you let me know if there is anything you would particularly like information about?
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