Dyslexia – Handy Hints for Secondary School Teachers


Secondary Hints and Tips

Handy Hints for Secondary School Teachers

We have all come across the situation. A young person struggling with aspects of reading, writing, spelling and perhaps numeracy. The learner who is struggling, despite clear ability in specific aspects of the curriculum. For some there may be slight improvement in time, but for many there will not. Your experience tells you that there is something different about this learner, that he/she needs specific support for learning in order to meet obvious potential. Normal provision is not helping. So, what is their problem? Who can help? How do you know whether or not a particular adolescent may be dyslexic? What should you look for?

Dyslexia is a combination of abilities as well as difficulties. It is the disparity between them that is often the give-away clue. The person who, despite certain areas of difficulty, may still be creative, artistic, sporting or orally very able and knowledgeable. However, alongside these abilities, will be a cluster of difficulties – individual for each person.

Written work

  • Has a poor standard of written work compared with oral ability
  • Has poor handwriting with badly formed letters
  • Has neat handwriting, but writes very slowly indeed
  • Produces badly set out or messily written work, with spellings crossed out several times
  • Spells the same word differently in one piece of work
  • Has difficulty with punctuation and/or grammar
  • Confuses upper and lower case letters
  • Writes a great deal but ‘loses the thread’
  • Writes very little, but to the point
  • Has difficulty taking notes in lectures
  • Difficulty with organisation of homework
  • Finds tasks difficult to complete on time
  • Appears to know more than can be committed to paper

Reading

  • Is hesitant and laboured, especially when reading aloud
  • Omits, repeats or adds extra words
  • Reads at a reasonable rate, but has a low level of comprehension
  • Fails to recognise familiar words
  • Misses a line or repeats the same line twice
  • Loses his place – or uses a finger or marker to keep the place
  • Has difficulty in pin-pointing the main idea in a passage
  • Finds difficulty with dictionaries, directories, encyclopaedias

Numeracy

  • Finds difficulty remembering tables and/or basic number sets
  • Finds sequencing problematic
  • Confuses signs such as x for +
  • Can think at a high level in mathematics, but needs a calculator for simple calculations
  • Misreads questions that include words
  • Finds mental arithmetic at speed very difficult
  • Finds memorising formulae difficult

Other areas

  • Confuses direction – left/right
  • Has difficulty in learning foreign languages
  • Has indeterminate hand preference
  • Has difficulty in finding the name for an object
  • Has clear processing problems at speed
  • Misunderstands complicated questions
  • Finds holding a list of instructions in memory difficult, although can perform all tasks when told individually

Behaviour

  • Is disorganised or forgetful e.g. over sports equipment, lessons, homework, appointments
  • Is immature and/or clumsy
  • Has difficulty relating to others: is unable to ‘read’ body language
  • Is often in the wrong place at the wrong time
  • Is excessively tired, due to the amount of concentration and effort required

If you see a cluster of difficulties together with abilities in specific areas, the young person may be dyslexic.

Your next step should be to consult the school Special Needs Co-ordinator (SENCo) immediately and be given appropriate and immediate support.

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