Increase Dyslexic Tests in schools and lower or get rid of university dyslexia test fees
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I am Alice Briers and I am writing on behalf of the 6.3 million ‘potential’ dyslexics in the UK. At the age of 17 I put myself forward to be screened for dyslexia which over a lengthy process I was diagnosed with dyslexia and hyperlexia, a learning difficulty which made my life a major struggle. The process of diagnosis was in fact only due to the confrontation of my personal struggles, which felt to become a struggle beyond my own control. I raised concerns following distress at school to a teacher with the guided support from my mother. The process of diagnosis starts with what is called ‘screening’. This is a brief assessment by a professional whom has undergone training in supporting individuals with learning difficulties. This screening can be carried out at home but usually done through staff at the place of education. From this screening process, dyslexic indicators are analysed and further screening is then offered if a reasonable amount of dyslexic tendencies are apparent.
Many people understand dyslexia to be the inability to read and write, however this naivety fails to acknowledge the affect dyslexia has on life skills such as; being able to give directions, being organised, hand and eye coordination and memorising tasks.
My concerns are supported with the statistics shown on dyslexia in the UK and from my personal life long struggles I want to advocate support and acknowledgement for all children and adults. Children can display signs of dyslexia from as young as the age of three, which is partial reasoning for me to contact you. My efforts in providing evidence and sound reasoning is to propose for earlier screening tools and support for children from ages 3-4 and throughout their education. The questions I ask myself is “why did I struggle for so long?”, “why was my disability not recognised sooner?” and “would my life be any different now?”
It is a requirement for teachers to observe and assess child development and to support their needs as required. My forthcoming idea to tackle the challenges surrounding dyslexia is to create and instigate a learning disability screening matrix. The screening tool would be like a questionnaire including questions regarding the child’s history of behaviours, development, speech and language, hearing, general health and diet etc, all of which are found to be contributory factors. It would be distributed with a leaflet about dyslexia to assist the use of the screening matrix promoting the challenges and support for learning difficulties on a national basis. Responses from the screening tool can be added to a traffic light coding matrix which provides teachers and families with the degree of dyslexia the child could potentially have. During the child’s education, the ‘screening matrix’ can be updated as the child’s wellbeing and learning is re-assessed; this therefore can be formally discussed at opportunities such as parents evening where teachers can get a holistic understanding of the child’s learning and wellbeing.
This screening matrix would be non-invasive and should not cause any harm towards families and the child if explained well. If done nationally other parents would have the reassurance of the prevalence of learning difficulties and inform them of the support that can be given. Parents should also be fully informed that the screening matrix a new campaign to recognise the early signs of learning difficulties but they are able to decline during any stage of the screening process.
The screening process therefore would be commenced at a much earlier stage than it were for myself. I feel this is very important to be able to provide the appropriate support for every child in the UK and reduce the amount of children slipping through the same sieve I did.
If there were any indicators for dyslexia following the screening then it is the duty of care for teachers to therefore be proactive in putting plans in place for the child and discussing the support with whom is involved (parents, the child and other institutions).
If the screening matrix instantly highlights major difficulties then the child can at this point be referred to other agencies provide extra support where needed. This will also provide reassurance and support to the teachers; following survey it was found “In relation to teaching children with dyslexia: 74% of teachers did not feel satisfied that their initial teacher training provided them with the skills they need to identify and teach children with dyslexia.”
As a university student I have seen first-hand financial struggles to benefit from the support they deserve as a human right. Early intervention and recognition would prevent children and adults getting to this stage in life having the added pressures on their disability. Also another story close to my heart is following the struggles of my older sister. It wasn’t until her second year of university following the repeated attempts to pass assignments lecturers considered sending her for dyslexia screening. With time and many assessments it was also confirmed she was dyslexic, but time was too late, the work did not meet the academic levels required and it was for my parents to intervene and pay out for private screening, assessments and the costs to re sit the module in order to continue her education and achieve her dreams.
I shall therefore be placing a petition online, which will further promote my ideas and determination for change and better education for those just like me.
My kindest regards
I look forward to hearing your response
Miss Alice Briers
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