Hidden Dyslexia for CA/LA (Scotland) HD211

This course is designed to raise classroom/learning assistants’ awareness of how dyslexia can be masked in the classroom environment and the help them explore the likely impact of unrecognised dyslexia on pupils’ learning and behaviour.

Note: Classroom/Learning Assistants are known by different job titles in different parts of the country – in the course materials you may find reference to Teaching Assistants (TA), Classroom Assistants (CA), Learning Assistants (LA), Learning Support Assistants (LSA), Additional Needs Assistants (ANA), Additional Support Assistants (ASA) and other variations. All refer to the very important staff whose support makes it possible for some children to access the curriculum and succeed in education.

Section 1 Introduction

This introductory section sets the context for the course, with links to relevant legislation and government publications. A short video clip of Sir Jackie Stewart, president of Dyslexia Scotland, sets the context for the course.

The slide presentation offers some reasons why dyslexia is not always identified at primary school, provides a list of suggested off-line reading and the Course Paper Hidden Dyslexia discusses this in depth.

Section 2 Conditions that may conceal dyslexia

This section identifies some early childhood conditions that are often part of the history of dyslexic children. Topics covered include:

  • delayed speech
  • glue ear
  • childhood asthma
  • visual/perceptual problems
  • motor difficulties
  • binocular instability
  • Developmental Coordination Disorder

Section 3 Why dyslexia may be hidden

This short section begins to consider why dyslexia may be hidden. After identifying the main reasons for a failure to recognise dyslexia, consideration is given to:

  • Dyslexia and underachievement
  • Dyslexia concealed by ability and behaviour
  • Dyslexia and multilingualism

Section 4 Coping strategies

This section highlights some of the coping strategies commonly used by learners to conceal their dyslexia that are often perceived by teachers as behaviour or attitude problems.

  • talking to and copying from peers
  • lost/forgotten homework and equipment
  • lack of concentration and organisation

These coping strategies may cause the dyslexic learner to appear to lack interest or application in class. Poor quality of written work may be attributed to laziness or carelessness rather than an indication of dyslexia.

Section 5  Avoidance strategies

This section highlights how some coping strategies become avoidance strategies as the curricular demands on dyslexic learners increase to an unbearable level.

These avoidance strategies may cause the dyslexic learner to become withdrawn and uncooperative or violently disruptive in class, or to truant regularly.

A review of CPD Bytes Course Paper Hidden Dyslexia and Behavioural Issues is suggested before starting this section.

Section 6 Dyslexia – co-occurring conditions

This 2 part section explores visual/ auditory processing factors and other developmental conditions that may co-occur with dyslexia. Co-occurrence (or co-morbidity) refers to either the presence of one or more disorders in addition to dyslexia or the effect of these on dyslexia.

Co-morbid conditions reviewed include:

  • Visual Stress
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Dyspraxia
  • ADHD

Some medical conditions and physical impairments that may co-occur and perhaps conceal dyslexia are also considered.

Section 7 Identification of dyslexia

This 2 part section explores reasons why some aspects of dyslexia do not become apparent until learners begin to experience difficulties within the upper primary or secondary curriculum and why the signs of dyslexia are not always recognised as such by primary class teachers and secondary subject teachers.

Part 2 identifies some barriers to learning experienced by dyslexic learners and considers the impact of different learning and teaching styles.

Section 8 Characteristics of Hidden Dyslexia

This section identifies some characteristics of Hidden Dyslexia and considers these alongside likely dyslexic triggers for poor classroom behaviour.

Before starting this final section, a review of the CPD Bytes Course Paper Hidden Dyslexia is recommended.

Pupils whose dyslexia has not been recognised or fully understood will probably not be successful learners, so are unlikely to be motivated to learn, causing possible classroom management issues. This section highlights the impact of stress on the self esteem and attainment of learners with dyslexia.