I was diagnosed fairly late on (26 years old) which meant I spent my entire school life being ‘a bit thick’ or ‘a little bit slow’ as a couple of teachers put it. What that meant though, was I managed to come up with a number of ways ‘cope’, helping me to get through.
I don’t want you to feel sorry for me; I had lots of support and help along the way and being Dyslexic is not the end of the world – there are plenty of other, much worse afflictions!
I thought it might be helpful to get some facts so here is some information from the British Dyslexia Association.
‘Ten percent (10%) of the population are dyslexic; 4% severely so. Dyslexia is identified as a disability as defined in the Equality Act 2010. Many of the dyslexic people across the UK, whether adults or children, are unable to fulfil their potential as a large percentage of the population still do not understand what dyslexia is, the difficulties which the condition presents and do not know how best to support them. Dyslexia is not an obvious difficulty; it is hidden. As a result, dyslexic people have to overcome numerous barriers to make a full contribution to society.’
In 2009 Sir Jim Rose’s Report on ‘Identifying and Teaching Children and Young People with Dyslexia and Literacy Difficulties’ gave the following description of dyslexia:
- ‘Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling.
- Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed.
- Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities.
- It is best thought of as a continuum, not a distinct category, and there are no clear cut-off points.
- Co-occurring difficulties may be seen in aspects of language, motor co-ordination, mental calculation, concentration and personal organisation, but these are not, by themselves, markers of dyslexia.
- A good indication of the severity and persistence of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by examining how the individual responds or has responded to well-founded intervention.’
These explanations likely form the foundations of how you might support a Dyslexic young person. Thinking about this led to me thinking about what support I had – but as I was undiagnosed, I received no specific support in school, church, youth group.
I think this may have been a problem in school – I could have done with a hand – but this wasn’t a problem in Church or Youth Group (unless I was asked to read something out loud, which I basically didn’t do).
What I did have was someone that listened to me, heard me and related to me. For me, it goes back to the basics of Youth Work. Basic relational ministry that values what individuals bring in all their individual complexity; there is no real way to replace that or replicate that.
This means we listen to the needs of young people and their concerns and struggles and then we respond to that, without making a big deal of it.