Dr Nola Firth presentation on supporting students with dyslexia

Dr Nola Firth
Hon Research Fellow
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
Dyslexia Roundtable
June 13, 2014
Introducing myself
• Hon. Research Fellow
– Centre for Adolescent Health, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute
and The University of Melbourne
• Co-author ‘Success and Dyslexia’
• Member National Dyslexia Work Party
• Churchill Fellow
– Dyslexia in USA, UK, Canada
Member DEEWR expert advisory group 2010( measurement of
student disability)
Teacher dyslexia professional development Swinburne University
• President, Learning Difficulties Australia (2001)
– Special Education Consultant (LDA)
• Recent positive changes in dyslexia
policy and practice in Australia
• International best practice
- USA, Canada, UK, Netherlands
• The way forward
Recent changes within Australia
• Positive federal response to NDWP
– Explicit recognition of dyslexia as falling under the DDA
• Review Disability Standards for Education
– Awareness of rights, compliance review
• Language : Dyslexia named in the new national
disability measurement model
• Raising Children website
• State Education Department on-line training
• ‘Dyslexia friendly’ schools and resilience support
Helping people with dyslexia: a
national agenda
• Recognition of dyslexia as a disability under a
nationally agreed definition
• Mandatory teacher dyslexia education
• Adoption of ‘dyslexia friendly’ practice in schools
and workplaces including:
– Free, systematic diagnosis
– Non print options including targeted use of ICT
• Effective resilience programs/environments for
young people who have dyslexia
• Reference: Dyslexia Working Party (2010),
A satellite ‘dyslexia friendly’ school
now in most states in Australia
• Four are here today!
• Robina P.S., Gold Coast
• Wedge P.S ., Melton, Victoria
• Dyslexia Coordinator (Andrew Bridge)
• Teaching handbook notes
• Reading difficulty in the family?
• ‘Success and Dyslexia’ resilience program
• dyslexia coping awareness, positive thinking,
Resilience and Dyslexia
• Genetic, life-long phenomenon, highly resistant even to
skilled teaching
• Students at risk of giving up, disruptive behaviour, school
dropout, mental health problems, unemployment.
• Reference: Chan & Dally, 2000; Deshler, 2005;
Lackaye,Margalit, Ziv, Ziman, 2006; Nelson & Harwood,
2011; Raskind, Goldberg, Higgins & Herman, 1999;
Shaywitz, Morris, & Shaywitz, 2008; Rose 2009.
• Adaptive coping/resilience is a better predictor of outcome
than extent of dyslexia
• Reference: Margalit, 2003; Raskind, Goldberg, Higgins &
Herman, 1999; Raskind, Margalit & Higgins, 2006.
Successful adults who have dyslexia
Have goals
Are self aware and adapt in the light of their LD
Persist in the face of failure
Learn creative ways to compensate
Have effective coping strategies
Make use of support systems
Choose a career that fits their strengths
Reference: (Reiff, Ginsberg and Gerber, 1995; Raskind,
Golberg, Higgins and Herman, 2002; Hellendooorn &
Ruijssenaars, 2000; Nalvaney et al., 2010 Madaus, Zhao
& Ruban, 2008)
International dyslexia best practice
Specific learning disabilities (dyslexia) has
explicit legal recognition as a disability in USA,
Canada, UK.
• Underpinned by human rights, disability
discrimination legislation
– Further detailed in education legislation
Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (UK)
Part 4
Code of Practice
• 4.3 Physical or mental impairment includes sensory
impairments and also hidden impairments (for example,
mental illness or mental health problems, learning
difficulties, dyslexia and conditions such as diabetes or
epilepsy). People who have had a disability within the
terms of the Act in the past continue to be protected from
discrimination even if they no longer have the disability.
People with severe disfigurements are also covered.
• Reference:
Code of Practice for Schools
• At the end of a lesson, homework, is written on
the board. A pupil with dyslexia is unable to copy
it down in the time. He is given a detention for
not doing his homework.
• Is this less favourable treatment for a reason
related to the pupil’s disability?
• The reason for the detention is the failure to do
the homework. This relates to his inability to
write it down in the time available, which is a part
of his disability.
A systematic pathway to diagnosis
Netherlands: national insurance
scheme pays if school doesn’t
undertake the assessment
UK, USA, Canada – school
The Netherlands
• Health insurance diagnosis and tuition for
‘severe’ dyslexia ( since 2006)
• Dyslexia card
• Reference: Steeg & Firth, 2012
School based diagnosis must be
followed by an ILP
• Parent agreed accommodations
• Self advocacy transition component USA
• Legally accountable, focused document
of measurable targets
• Independent review - USA
Mainstream schools
• Special education and resource teachers
(USA, Canada)
• ‘Dyslexia friendly’ schools (UK)
• Mandatory teacher SLD education
• UK – 4000 extra teachers dyslexia trained,
2010 (Rose report, 2009)
SLD/dyslexia dedicated schools/
• Some government funded
• Well resourced (e.g., low student/teacher
ratio, software)
• Self-advocacy transition programs
• Resilience programs
‘Dyslexia Friendly’ model
Awareness - by staff, students, parents and the
• Specific mention in policy documents e.g.
strategic plan, welfare
• Induction – explicit reference
• Parent information (fact sheets, newsletter,
seminars, initial information)
• School Council/community information
• Teacher training (e.g. SPELD courses)
Systematic diagnosis and monitoring
• Specific progress goals set and monitored (e.g
10 % improvement in English scores for SLD
students, ILP goals for individual students)
• Profiles with exact strengths and difficulties
(e.g. difficulty with phonic analysis, good oral
comprehension, low short term auditory
Systematic 2nd and 3rd wave reading,
spelling, maths support
• Frequent revision (spelling - most used
• Motivation (read for interest, related to class
• Both phonic analysis and context (many SLD
people have great difficulty with phonic
analysis and/or visual memory)
Low print options – input and output
• Chunking into diagrams, tables
• Visual cues – underlining, highlighting
• Scribe, reader, reading test (5 errors per 100 words),
summarising, shortening sentences
• Other mediums
– Drawing, construction, drama, interviews,
Powerpoint presentation, student as teacher
– Audio, video, ipod
– IT support: predictive typing, text to speech,
speech to text
Increased assessment options
• Increased time allowance
• Non-print based (e.g. scribes, audio)
• Opportunity for correction and reassessment
• Focus on assessment of specific targeted
• Include positive feedback
Further Information
• UK content of concern/discussion has moved
– Extent of dyslexia
– Co morbidities
– Dyslexia week
• Employer responsibility (UK)
– Employer courses and support (BDA, dyslexia
– Justice professional’s booklet
– Liverpool Council – 14 depts ‘dyslexia friendly’
The way forward
• Include dyslexia examples in the guidelines for Disability Standards
for Education
• A federal definition of dyslexia to be adopted for the national
counting of dyslexia (NCCD)
• Mandatory teacher training (AITSL)
• Systematic diagnosis of dyslexia established (school or NDIS)
• Add an oral comprehension section in NAPLAN
• Create ‘Dyslexia friendly’ environments as expected school practice
( AITSL) including:
– Tailored reading/spelling
– Resilience programs
– Text to speech, speech to text software in all schools
[email protected]

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