Your dyslexic child really struggles with their writing and you are now really concerned that they won’t be able to gain the grades they need at GCSE ( or A level) to gain their place at college ( or university). You are at the point of employing someone to help your child but should you go with a dyslexia specialist?
1. A dyslexia specialist will have the knowledge and expertise to make a difference
A dyslexia specialist will know and understand why your child is not able to produce a good piece of writing – it extends beyond just being told how to put a sentence or a paragraph together.
Lots of my students talk about having lots of ideas buzzing around their heads and that writing is a really slow process for them. Other students tell me that their minds go blank and they don’t know how to approach the writing. The result in both cases is that they can’t get their ideas down on paper.
Every dyslexic student has a weak working memory, meaning that they need the writing process to be chunked down for them, otherwise their writing will not reflect their ability.
A dyslexia specialist will get to know which type of student your child is and can tailor a writing process to them. In my experience, many dyslexic students don’t realise the stages that others automatically do in their heads – they need these stages to be taught to them explicitly.
A non- specialist teacher will be used to teaching children who don’t need to be taught this explicitly. I have had an example recently of a tutor who became very frustrated with a student simply because they didn’t understand how dyslexia affects a child’s writing. In their opinion, the child just wasn’t trying hard enough or putting in the effort. This is often a misconception that dyslexic students suffer – and I’m sure you don’t want your child to.
2.A dyslexia specialist will give your child praise for the content.
Your child may be very good at coming up with unique ideas, but the writing is littered with spelling mistakes and lacks punctuation. As a specialist, the first thing I look for is content and tell a child why it is really good. This is great for confidence building and helps them to feel good about writing.
As part of the writing process, I then teach your child to edit their own work. First, I would ask them to see if they can identify 2-3 spelling mistakes and then we work together to put them right. I would not identify every spelling mistake ( unless there are only a few) whereas your non - specialist may feel the need to do this – which will affect your child’s self -confidence over time.
I would then ask your child to proof read for punctuation. I never get cross that ‘they should know this by now’ because I know that they find it difficult to do because of their poor working memory. However, after they have been taught a good writing process which allows them to edit their work, in my experience they can put in the punctuation, especially the full stops. The reason why they can do it after writing is because they are now only thinking about punctuation and not all the other processes which go into writing ( which words to use, how to write them, grammar….)
3. A dyslexia specialist can help your child understand how they learn.
Dyslexic students are very bright ( as you are completely aware) and they do have particular learning strengths. These learning strengths can be put to good use with learning spellings, for example. A specialist will help your child uncover what these might be which will ensure your child is more successful with all of their learning including their writing and revision skills.
To recap, a dyslexia specialist will be able to help your child improve their writing because they have the knowledge and experience of how to overcome the specific difficulties that is preventing your child from producing a good piece of writing; they will be able to teach your child an effective writing process and finally they can help your child understand how they can learn their spellings.
I am launching a 6-week online programme which will teach your child my writing process and help them overcome the difficulties they are facing. I have aimed this initially at students who are getting ready for their GCSE exams, so that they can obtain the best grades possible. You can work through the programme with your child or book 1 to 1 sessions with Debbie if you would like her support.
For more information or to book a place, please click here.