Dyslexia - we use the Davis Dyslexia programme

M's first week of school has finished (well four days as Monday was a public holiday) and it has gone without a hitch.  M's biggest worry was working with a new teacher re his dyslexia.

His worry was how to work with this new teacher knowing that she has had no experience with dyslexia and she certainly didn't know that it affected more than reading but so far so good....she has even gone through some of his writing with him with great success, he came out of it feeling good as it was her checking his writing he was worried about the most.  So one week down, we will just have to wait and see about the rest

He has been in a very safe bubble for the last two years with a teacher who backed my thinking that M has dyslexia, not only that Lee attended a workshop for the Davis Dyslexia program and became the workshop teacher within the school to help teach children with dyslexia  (every Wednesday).  This meant that M had a teacher who was able to help him daily with class activities as well as the workshops.  It was also this teacher who identified that M need an intensive workshop with a fully trained Dyslexia teacher, (the course is a week long one on one sessions) as his dyslexia was more advanced than what he would be able to help with. 

It has been an amazing journey with M over the last one and half years as we learn more about the dyslexia and the extent that it affects children.  What most people don't realize is that its more than just reading, it can also affects writing, maths and balance (although there is a whole other host of names for those).  For M it affects all areas (he is quite a severe dyslexic) however its now his writing in which it affects him the most.  His reading has come such a long way and he has gone from reading 2 and a half years behind to reading at his age level.

The biggest thing we have come to learn through the Davis programme is understanding M's level of confusion and if its high then he can't learn anything and he needs to get his 'dial' to a good place to continue and sometimes that means leaving it alone and doing it later.

I had been saying since M started reading that something wasn't right, he was struggling to remember basic words, the biggest give away was at the beginning of the book he could know the word 'the' and four pages into the book he could no longer recognise the word and would look at you blankly when you pointed out he had just read it, as for him it was like it was written in Chinese for all the sense it made to him.

His level of confusion was now so high his brain effectively couldn't function that way any more.

Another signal was being unable to learn new things, it took two years of teaching for him to learn the days of the week and we went over it a lot, and as for tying his shoes forget it.  He was so hard on himself, he expected perfection and if he couldn't do it he was so mad with himself and would get very frustrated (apparently also very common with dyslexic children).  It didn't help that he has a brother who is advanced in reading and maths, M would look at H and see that he could do so therefore he felt he should be able to as well, it didn't matter to him that his brother is 3.5 years older than him either.

Being told he was dyslexic and his brain didn't work the way everyone else's does was like a light went on for M.

It wasn't a bad thing (and believe me we made a point of saying it wasn't bad) it was a good thing, finding out there was a real reason why things didn't happen for him made it so much better for him, he no longer felt he was dumb, he was just dyslexic.  We did research to find all the important people who have dyslexia and how far they went (scientists, prime minsters, presidents, actors etc) and that was a high light for him as well.

Finding the dyslexia program to get M further help took a lot of research, although he was using the Davis Dyslexia program at school I wanted to make sure it was the right program for him.  I knew there were a number of options out there including phonics based programs.  I was provided with one from England called Toe to Toe.  It turns out that phonics was not the way to go with M.  Because he could make no sense of it, it just caused him so much confusion and he got so upset.   However I know for other children phonics is the way to go...it is about finding what suits your child best, and sometimes that will mean changing tack part way through because it proves not to be right for your child.

Dyslexic children are like all other children when it comes to learning - you have to find what works best for them.  After all that is why there are so many choices out there.

The biggest draw card for me was that the Davis Dyslexia program was designed by a dyslexic and it celebrates being dyslexic and the extra skills that you bring because of it and is very visual based.

For M his art is amazing he is well advanced for his age it detail, concepts and skill level .  He also has an amazing ability to see an issue from another point of view.  His teacher summed it up nicely (and with amazement), Lee will be on the mat with a group of children trying to explain a concept them, M would hear a small part of the conversation when walking past and stop and say "Oh you mean......." the kids would look at M totally get it and Lee would be looking at him thinking "how the hell did you get that....."

Going to the week long program was amazing.   M was slightly young for it but the tutor was prepared to take him on because the work he had been doing at school had put him way ahead of the younger category.

It was during this week we learnt the extent of M's dyslexia, it wasn't a one stop shop and hey you are fixed, and it was never sold as that.  Rather it taught M skills to cope, deal and move forward with his dyslexia, it also gave us homework to continue his work at home so he will continue to improve.  At the end of the week it was a much more confident M who finished the course, he was so much more sure of himself and the improvement in his balance and writing was incredible.

Okay so I've written this long blog just in case anyone is reading it and interested in M's dyslexia journey and what is working for us.  I cannot recommend the Davis Dyslexia program enough to anyone who is interested in using it and it will  come up through my blogs the stuff we are doing with M and his dyslexia training.

It has also had a double benefit for me as a student teacher as it has supplied me with skills and knowledge that I otherwise would not have.

One thing to note as well - we found out from this journey that Dyslexia runs through a big chunk of my family including my oldest son!!!!  You may have already ready read that he is advanced in his reading and maths, but where he is not advanced is in his writing.  His sentence structure is poor, his spelling - forget about it - but if you read the sounds he wrote down it makes sense.  H is on the lower end of the Dyslexia spectrum as it turns out so am I.  There are many different levels of Dyslexia,  and it is a big journey to understand all that it involves.


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