You have fought really hard for your child's school to recognise that they have dyslexia and finally, they have put in place extra help. You might be thinking that you can breathe easier now but I'm afraid that is not actually the case. You quickly find that the 'extra help' your child is receiving is not actually helping them at all. Here is a roundup of the problems that I have come across, just so that you are aware that your challenges have not ended yet.
1. Your child is still not making progress.
It can be really difficult to understand why a child is still not making any progress when you know that they are receiving 1 to 1 or small group help. The intervention needs to teach your child the skills they are missing - sounds pretty obvious, doesn't it? Therefore, if your child is not making any progress then the intervention is not addressing their skills gap.
In my experience, most teachers do not understand dyslexia and they are therefore ill equipped to know whether the intervention will actually be of any help. There are many different types of interventions out there for dyslexic students but they often remedy a particular skill , for example Nessy uses a phonic approach to teach how sounds match to letters whereas Seeing Stars uses visualisation skills to teach this.
The skill of the teacher in charge of the intervention is knowing whether the child lacks visual imagery skills or auditory skills ( or both, in which case combining ideas from these two programmes is ideal) leading them to choose the best intervention.
Your child may also be suffering from a physical problem with their eyes such as not focusing on an individual word properly or skipping over letters in words without seeing them in which case a programme like Engaging Eyes from Dyslexia Gold is a good intervention to use. Many untrained teachers will miss this issue and until it is rectified your child will continue to read poorly.
Unfortunately, many parents report that school just pull out 'the dyslexia intervention' or 'the spelling intervention' and when that doesn't work, the fault is located within the child ( doesn't pay attention, isn't sitting still...)
2. Their intervention is actually using a method which has never worked for your child.
Recently, one of my students, who started secondary school this year, told me he was having to attend a spelling intervention class. I thought that was brilliant because, frankly, there was a lot of room for improvement!
Unfortunately, everyone's expectations were quickly dashed when it turned out this intervention was just using the method that hadn't worked for the previous 6 years in primary school. This was totally demoralising for the student and frustrating for me as I had answered an email from the teacher, advising her of a programme and method the student was having lots of success with.
I guess the school didn't have the programme I was using and were also unable to come up with a different one, so my student no longer has this intervention, choosing instead to go to his geography class which he enjoys.
3. You think the intervention sessions are taking place but they are not actually happening!
I think we all understand that some days don't go to plan, but a number of parents have been perplexed to find that their child's 1 to 1 or small group sessions simply weren't happening or were cancelled more often than not . Clearly this type of thing isn't overly helpful when your child is crying out for the extra help.
You can see that this whole intervention, getting extra help thing is quite a minefield. If you find that any of the above are happening, what can you do about it? In the UK, you can:
- make an appointment to see the Special Needs Coordinator.
- ask them questions about what skills the intervention gives your child, what skills your child doesn't have and why your child isn't making progress.
- ask the SENCo why the sessions are not taking place as they should be.
Knowledge about dyslexia is very patchy in schools - some teachers are well trained in this area but so many are not. You shouldn't have to become the expert, but the reality is that you have to be to make sure that your child receives the right help as opposed to just any old help. Doing the wrong intervention programmes will detrimentally affect your child's self esteem and confidence, getting them right is just so important.
If you would like tips and ideas of how to help your dyslexic child, then please join my free Facebook group here.