The past year has been a bit of a roller coaster for us. With everyone finally agreeing that K is dyslexic and getting her the extra help that she needs, life has been rather more frantic, ferrying her around to tutors, helping her at home and dragging her poor siblings around everywhere along the way! It has been a struggle to get this far, we had to push and question every step of the way and I still feel guilty that maybe I should have pushed harder sooner which may have prevented this last year of mania with the 11+ exam adding extra pressure! I posted about our frustrations in dealing with the early signs and situations leading up to this point back in May.
Why would anyone name a condition where spelling is one of the major difficulties, something so difficult to spell? Frustrating? It’s like holding an AA meeting in a pub- really?!!
But, what’s done is done and she has the diagnosis she needed to receive the extra support required to place her on a level playing field with her peers at the measly cost of £580, yes you read correctly £580! No funding was offered, the school cannot provide anything, it was up to us to find, arrange and fund.
We were on a deadline to find and arrange the psychological assessment by the end of the summer term and knowing how much it would cost, we wanted a recommendation. The school gave us a couple of names, but they were either fully booked until October located or too far away. Chatting to a few people and contacting our local Dyslexia Association, I soon learned that Child Psychologists, able to do the assessment that I needed, were few and far between, in the South East of England! –Great!! So I used the power of social media in the hope that someone, somewhere would be able to advise me or point me in the right direction! Once again, I was overwhelmed at the number of people who are or have been in this situation, with lots of responses recommending associations, websites and individuals to help me. I chatted with mums, who were overwhelmingly positive about the help that they have received following their child’s psychological report and the insight gained into their way of learning/ specific difficulties. Our local secondary school was also given high praise for their support structure in learning difficulties and reputation for being a fantastic school in general! In the end, a friend, who was also a teacher at a private school in the area, came up trumps with the recommendation of a child psychologist that regularly assesses children from their school- Sula Ellis and luckily for us, she could squeeze K in mid-July.
This took place in the comfort of our own home over three hours. I arranged for The Boy and Lou to be somewhere else to avoid distraction and set Sula and K up at the kitchen table. Prior to the appointment, Sula had sent me various questionnaires to be filled in by us and by the school so that she could gain an insight into K’s difficulties, character and abilities. The whole assessment was very relaxed with breaks for K and time at the end for Sula to go through things with me. Sula was very softly but clearly spoken with a relaxing tone that immediately put K at ease. I had already explained to K that this wasn’t a test where you pass or fail, but just to gain an insight into how she learns. Sula by-passed many of K’s difficulties (spelling and comprehending) by testing her verbally, therefore gaining an accurate insight into her ability. For example, K had been struggling with the verbal reasoning section of 11+ practice but this is actually one of her strengths when questioned verbally rather than reading the question and writing it down.
Sula was looking for clear discrepancies between K’s areas of learning to give a dyslexic diagnosis. She tested four areas and for each one K was placed on a percentile, meaning that for every one hundred children of similar age, if she placed 20th for example, there would be 80 children scoring higher and 19, lower. Any score lower than 16 would also be regarded a potential issue. There were huge discrepancies in K’s results ranging from 9 through to 75, so she was showing clear signs of dyslexia. The assessment also gave an additional attention deficit diagnosis that also explains a lot and, to be honest, didn’t surprise me!
What Does that Mean?
K needs continued extra support to help her retain information. She needs extra time in formal exams and to sit exams on her own to avoid distraction. The education department gave her 10% extra time, despite Sula recommending 25%- they didn’t even meet her so I really don’t understand why they didn’t award her the recommended amount!! The report contains detailed information and recommendations to help support K at both home and school, it really was worth the £580 price tag! It doesn’t stop there though, she will have to be re-assessed before her GCSE’s because it is only valid for five years. Having a dyslexic child is an expensive pass-time!!
Dyslexia effects people in different ways, making it difficult to help the individual concerned, there are however, many positives, in their creative talents and often an ability to see things from a completely different perspective. Remember to celebrate these positives. When K started the new school year with her new teacher, she came home upset that she was being asked all the same questions again. I think her new teacher was just being thorough and, knowing K has difficulties, wanted to check things out as soon as possible. K was just sick of being ‘prodded and poked’ and became frustrated (plus she had to miss Art, her favourite lesson). Talking that evening, I explained how she could learn to do the things that she found difficult but that other people couldn’t learn to be creative and therefore she actually had the advantage. It will take extra hard work at this stage but in future, things will get easier. Pointing out the positive and reinforcing it regularly, does wonders for self-esteem!
Is your child struggling to spell, read and/or comprehend? Schools should start to pick up on these things by age 7 but, you know your child so don’t be afraid to ask questions and voice your concerns. Things have now started to make sense and K is getting the help she needs now that she is officially dyslexic!