5 January

Happy New Year!

I finished off last year by recommending audio books and now I have a great site for children’s books.  ReadingZone has advice for children (toddlers to young teenagers) and parents. There are book news, reviews and recommendations for each age group and a newsletter if you would like regular recommendations and news.


Do you need a last minute idea for Christmas?

20 December

I am a huge fan of audio books . Whilst the importance of reading cannot be overemphasised, listening to an audio book can have some similar benefits.  Your child will be hearing new ideas, literary structures and vocabulary.  The book may expand their knowledge or pique their interest in a subject.  My son also used audio books to help him sleep at night; listening to a well loved story helped stop his mind from following other thoughts and he would drift off while a familiar voice created a low background of sound.

Audible is a great site.  You can download a single book or take out a monthly membership. 

You may also like to look at Listening Books, a charity which provides audio books for people who find it difficult to read for a number of reasons including dyslexia.  The books can be provided on CD or downloaded.


Improving Educational Outcomes for Children with Dyslexia

14 December

You may have responded to Sir Jim Rose’s call for people to tell him of their views and experience of dyslexia.  The deadline has now passed and he recently posted an update about the response he had. He received around 850 responses which are now being looked at. His recommendations for identifying and teaching people with dyslexia will be made next Spring.


Dyslexia – talents and difficulties

5 November 2008 

The most important message for Dyslexia Awareness Week must be that dyslexia is a combination of talents and difficulties, all stemmimg from the tendency to utilise visual, multi-dimensional thought. The characteristics are far wider than many people realise and cover far more than just difficulties with reading.

The Davis Dyslexia Association International has a list on their website of the 37 Common Characteristics of dyslexia.   For example:

·        Excellent long-term memory for experiences, locations, and faces.

·        Poor memory for things that have not been experienced.

·        Strong sense of justice; emotionally sensitive; strives for perfection.

·        High in IQ, yet poor academically.

·        Learns best through hands-on experience and visual aids.

·        Has poor self-esteem; uses ingenious compensatory strategies. 

·        Has difficulty telling and managing time, learning sequenced information.

The full list can be found at www.dyslexia.com.  

These difficulties are compensated by creativity and intuition. For some dyslexic people, the talents naturally outweigh the difficulties, For others, they will excel when taught in a way that suits their thought process, by using hand-on, sensory learning methods.


Today I think only with scents

14 October 2008 

I visited Kew Gardens recently and walked through the Secluded Garden. It has extracts from poems about touch, scent, hearing and sight to illustrate how gardening affects the senses.  It is a beautiful place, you should visit it.

I love this one by Edward Thomas.  He evokes the images just by writing about the scents!



To-day I think
Only with scents, – scents dead leaves yield,
And bracken, and wild carrot’s seed,
And the square mustard field;

Odours that rise
When the spade wounds the root of tree,
Rose, currant, raspberry, or goutweed,
Rhubarb or celery;

The smoke’s smell, too,
Flowing from where a bonfire burns
The dead, the waste, the dangerous,
And all to sweetness turns.

It is enough
To smell, to crumble the dark earth,
While the robin sings over again
Sad songs of Autumn mirth.

Collected Poems by Edward Thomas is published by Faber & Faber, ISBN: 0-571-11368-0


Dyscalculia and the link with dyslexia

1 October 2008 


There is some interesting research out which finds that many people have both dyslexia and dyscalculia.  This study supports the view that dyscalculia stems from a difficulty linking symbols (for example ‘3’) to the meaning (     ♥  )  and helps clarify why the symptoms of dyslexia and dyscalculia have so many similarities. 


You can read a summary of research by the University of Western Ontario here


Or find out more about the Davis® Maths Mastery Programme here


Ritalin and a drug-free alternative

September 25


I suppose that I should feel pleased to see Ritalin in the headlines again but some how it seems that we are always hearing the same – it is oversubscribed and can have significant side effects.

It would be a more positive news story if some of the non-medication alternatives could be highlighted and discussed.  The BBC web-page has comment with a number of people’s personal stories. No-one turns to medication lightly but it seems that too few alternatives are mentioned.


The Davis methods are a drug-free option. They need the child to be motivated and the methods can take time to fully bed down but the end results can be very significant.  Click here for more information.


Reclassify dyslexia as a thinking style not a disability

September 23 2008


The Prime Minister was recently petitioned by The Learning People to reclassify dyslexia as a thinking style, not a disability.


Their petition drew attention to the complex nature of dyslexia and its composition as a mixture of talents and difficulties. 

They wrote

“There is also mounting evidence that dyslexics can succeed at all academic tasks when instruction is appropriate to the dyslexic thinking style. As a society, our focus needs to be on catering adequately for all thinking styles, not writing some of them off as disabilities. We urge the Government to submit new laws to Parliament to reframe dyslexia as a thinking style, not a disability.”

(Extract from the The Learning People petition)


You can read the full government response on their website here.       

It recognises that not all dyslexics suffer from the negative symptoms and clarifies that

“Where dyslexia has this (adverse) effect on an individual, that person is a disabled person for the purposes of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 and thus is entitled to the full protection from discrimination that is provided by the Act, including from discrimination that arises from a failure to make a reasonable adjustment.    

The Act requires reasonable adjustments to be made for disabled people not just in employment and access to goods, services, facilities and premises, but also in access to education, the functions of public authorities and private clubs. A disabled person who considers that they have been subject to disability discrimination, including as a consequence of a failure by an employer, service provider or other duty holder to meet their duty of reasonable adjustment, may take enforcement action through civil procedures.”  

Sadly the response does not address the learning needs of people with alternative thinking styles, it just supports the existing laws as sufficient.

However the petition has brought the issue to the attention of the Prime Minister’s office and that can only be positive.

This is what some people have said: