Dyslexic learners constantly meet barriers to learning across the curriculum and may become discouraged very quickly due to lack of initial success in some subject classes. This can result in subject teachers assuming that these individuals are inattentive or lazy, when they are actually working much harder than their classmates, though with little apparent effect.
Success in musical activity can boost a dyslexic student’s self-esteem and may even encourage re-visiting other learning where performance was previously poor. Difficulties experienced by people who have dyslexia in music will not be the same in each case, and general characteristics of dyslexia – such as problems affecting reading, writing will impact on learning generally. Dyslexia may adversely affect specific aspects of music such as:
- Interpreting musical notation
- Visual processing of written music
- Manual dexterity
We all experience barriers to learning at some time – some as young children learning to read and others as adults trying to pass a driving test. However, while we might expect adults to be able to deal with the barriers they encounter, some young children may be meeting barriers to success for the first time, and be ill-equipped to resolve the issues they experience.
This comment was made by Her Majesty, the Queen, as she presented me with an MBE for services to children with dyslexia.
Far be it from me to contradict the monarch – but I believe that there is not really more dyslexia about – we are just much better at identifying it than we used to be.
2015 will be the 4th year of the blue ribbon for Dyslexia Awareness. Wearing a blue ribbon to show dyslexia awareness was the brainchild of Edinburgh teenager Ellie Gordon-Woolgar in 2012 when she was just 12 years old. Her awareness raising campaign has grown from a personal project leading to the distribution of blue ribbons to Edinburgh schools in 2012 to a national campaign now managed by Dyslexia Scotland.
A former Dyslexia Scotland young ambassador (she had to step down due to imminent exams) Ellie writes:
“In Scotland, dyslexia awareness week is at the start of November – when people are already wearing poppies to remember soldiers. When I was 12, this made me think about how we wear poppies and pink ribbons to raise awareness of particular issues, and I thought that wearing a ribbon could help raise awareness of dyslexia. I am dyslexic and have three sisters – one is also dyslexic, one is dyspraxic and my younger sister is dyslexic and dyspraxic – so is my mum.
This year, Dyslexia Week gives us a chance to celebrate some amazing success stories. Debra Charles is one of the many entrepreneurs who have dyslexia. Her time at Newport Girls’ High School was not happy: ‘People used to say, ‘For goodness’ sake, you’re so thick sometimes’, and I believed it.’ Nevertheless, she had the skills and determination that led to a successful career working with Westinghouse in robotics and with Apple technology.
She is now CEO of her own smartcard technology firm Novacroft. The big breakthrough came in 2002 when she won a contract with Transport for London. Here her skills have made a tangible difference: ‘In the early days it would take a student 48 days to get a card to travel round London. We have reduced that to 24 hours.’
‘Back to school and now the meltdowns will start every evening,’ so says the mother of a 12 year old boy with dyslexia and dyspraxia. School can be a sad and lonely place for a child, especially for one who is in any way different. When this mother put her comment on the web, many parents suggested changing schools. That is certainly one option worth considering but change can be stressful and in any case most children have friends they would have to leave behind.
It is vital that children find their feet socially otherwise their academic work will suffer. Unfortunately children with dyspraxia and dyslexia often take longer to process ideas and may have poor co-ordination. In the competitive world of school they may feel the outsider, the last to be picked for sports, the one who slows down the team in quizzes. Sometimes children with dyslexia get put into a lower set and may ‘get in with the wrong crowd’ and then struggle to escape it. If you suspect that this is the case, talk to teachers and see if your child can be moved to other groups
‘Be my Mum, not my teacher,’ I once heard a child say and it struck a chord. As parents, we are programmed to fix things for our children, to smooth their path and help them to succeed, but sometimes we should stand back and pick our role wisely.