October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. ‘Go Red’ along with ‘Succeed With Dyslexia’ are asking people across the world to take part in going red, lighting buildings and even whole townscapes red.
In the UK, schools and colleges have been participating in supporting Dyslexia Awareness Week for more than a decade. Annual activities that stimulate peer awareness and promote kindness are taking place in hundreds of schools.
The aim of these October activities is to help dyslexic learners feel less isolated by their learning difficulties and better understood by their friends. The message is about the impact of dyslexia on learning and self-esteem, delivered through assemblies, activities, and inspirational ideas like No Pens Wednesdays.
During this time, learning tasks are achieved through multi-sensory learning opportunities. The range of these activities can include using drama, games, art, and listening activities. Some teachers welcome this type of learning period with creative relish; others detest the shake up to well established routines.
Despite the teachers’ viewpoint, many students will be enjoying different types of learning activities taking place and hopefully becoming a little more sympathetic and understanding of their dyslexic peers learning challenges.
Dyslexia often leaves you feeling tired, confused, and overwhelmed by the task in front of you. The psychological impact linked to feelings of failure and frustration can spark a lifetime of self-recrimination.
The classroom experience is just the tip of the iceberg. Failures to diagnose dyslexia early, and to provide adequate academic and emotional support, inevitably shapes a learner’s outlook on their skills and abilities.
Dyslexia Awareness Month and Go Red will be the focal point for us to reflect on ways that we can better support and understand dyslexia. We need to address the emotional and psychological impact of poorly supported dyslexia better.
Without good literacy skills you are far less likely to be successful at gaining employment or achieving promotion at work.
Recently there has been a strong message about the value of dyslexic strengths in a changing world. Companies like Apple, Microsoft, and GCHQ have been seeking out dyslexic individuals who have neuro-divergent skills.
Valued skills include improved reasoning that can help an organisation to meet its business objectives. The skills of connecting, imagining, exploring, and visualising are equally in demand.
The reality for many is that they have not been blessed with a compensating skill. Dyslexia does not feel like a superpower, it feels like a curse. It causes doubt of your self-worth and damages the confidence needed to earn, learn, and achieve success.
There are many bright people who, despite doing fantastic work, do not put themselves forward for promotion, or try to achieve advancement.
The hurdles of reading and learning are just too difficult. Without the right tools, dyslexia feels insurmountable.
Here are a few common experiences that dyslexic learners experience in school:
- Getting teased because you have been identified as being unintelligent by your peers.
- Feeling a lack of self-worth because your work is returned to you covered in red ink or crossed out.
- Being directed to re-write your spellings in order to learn them when you know it will make no difference to your ability to write the word correctly.
- Being taught the same way as everyone else and it not making any sense.
- Looking through your work and being unable to read what you have written.
- Having notes that are so hard to read you are unable to revise for tests.
- Looking at your homework book to realise you have no idea of what you are supposed to do.
- Being disorganised and unable to remember information on demand.
- Feeling upset because your friends are making learning connections and you are not.
- Becoming brain fogged and exhausted.
- Having a very short concentration span that leads to missing important information.
- Acting out in order to avoid reading aloud then getting into trouble for that behaviour.
- Working slowly and always being the person who is catching up.
- Being unable to correctly transfer information from the board to your page.
- Doing the same phonics learning intervention over and over again and not making progress.
With the right tools it is possible to succeed with dyslexia. There are assistive technology tools like ReaderPens, audio files, speech to text applications, and mind mapping tools that can make a huge difference.
Getting these tools into the hands of the students is the challenge that we need to be addressing. Join in with Go Red this year and share the message that we must better identify learners with dyslexia and effectively support them with the right tools and the right strategies at the earliest opportunity.