My child has dyslexia - how can I help?
For many parents, the moment their child is diagnosed with dyslexia, the whole world changes. A feeling of helplessness, of not knowing exactly what to do or how to support their child takes over and can be overwhelming.
Teachers may have already outlined areas their child is struggling and falling behind in - reading, writing, spelling, to mention a few.
‘Where should I start, what should I do?’ are the questions normally asked.
Before you do anything, you need to have an understanding of what Dyslexia is.
Dyslexia is a Specific Learning Disability/Difference (SpLD) and affects approximately 10% of the population
SpLD refers to difficulty with a specific area of learning and the most common SpLDs are dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dyscalculia and dysgraphia.
Dyslexia is a life-long neurological difference, which usually runs in families and encompasses a wide range of challenges that can impact education, work and everyday life
It is however not an intellectual disability. Dyslexia occurs at all levels of intelligence - from average intelligence to highly gifted and although there is no cure for dyslexia, with the right help, support and skills, individuals can gain confidence and self-belief and develop coping strategies to overcome, achieve and succeed
Dyslexia affects individuals in different ways. Its challenges range from mild, to moderate, through to severe and it can present itself along with other learning differences such as dyspraxia and attention problems
It is often defined as a common language processing disorder which primarily hinders the learning of literacy skills such as reading, writing and spelling but can also affect other areas
However, it is important to remember that individuals with dyslexia often show strengths and talents in other areas such as creativity and reasoning. Their ability to think outside the box can be entrepreneurial, allowing them to make a difference within their chosen career and in the world. The key is to encourage and nurture the positives of the dyslexic brain.
The first obstacle
The first obstacle has already been conquered – your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia. You and their teachers now understand why they have been struggling at school. So with the right help, support, skills and strategies from teachers and support organisations you can help your child with his/her challenges.
A life-changing skill
There are many different approaches you can take but there is one simple and fundamental skill you can teach your child that will produce results quickly, easily, within weeks and which can be life-changing – touch typing.
What is touch typing?
Touch typing is typing with all your fingers and thumbs using muscle memory, opposed to looking down at the keys on the keyboard.
Why would touch typing help my child?
Producing a piece of written work can prove extremely challenging for children with dyslexia. The level of concentration and effort involved can be exhausting and can affect the overall structure and quality of a piece of work. Additionally, this constant battle can cause frustration, feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem.
Touch typing offers a new medium for getting thoughts on paper. Although there are other options available, such as dictation (using a scribe) or voice recognition software, these options can be very time consuming and difficult to master, especially for children with dyslexia who often struggle with short term memory.
Touch typing uses a different process in the brain. Let me explain…
When you learn to touch type using all your fingers and thumbs, with practice, the physical and conscious skill is automatised and moves to your subconscious. (It’s the same as learning to play a musical instrument.) This reduces mental load and frees your conscious mind to concentrate on more important tasks such as planning, composing, processing, proof-reading and editing (often problem areas). It makes life a lot easier and it’s an area where children with dyslexia can excel.
Touch typing also offers a completely different and very clever way of teaching spelling. With the repetition of touch typing words, spellings are ingrained into ‘muscle memory’ and simply become a series of finger movements and patterns on a keyboard. The stress of trying to remember how to spell a word is greatly reduced. Children simply think the word and their fingers automatically type it (a phrase known as think type). They learn to recognise words by sight, saving the decoding process which often causes difficulty.
Subconscious touch typing and producing work on a computer also allows children to work in a non-linear fashion, where they can capture their thoughts first and structure them later.
So now you’ve heard the positives of touch typing and decided to teach your child how to touch type, you need to choose a typing software. There are several available, both free and paid-for options and they all claim to teach touch typing skills – which one should you choose?
Different brands use different teaching methods and some mainstream typing software claim to be inclusive and cater for children and adults with special educational needs but when you try them out, it is not always the case.
Remember, your child has been diagnosed with dyslexia and may be struggling with visual disturbances such as:
Letters that double, reverse, flip, fade or blur
Print which appears to jump, move, shake, shimmer - sometimes appearing to move off the page altogether
Crowding of letters
Sentences running into each other
Headaches from reading
If you think about it, can they learn to read, spell, write and type when the letters in front of them are blurred, jumping around or moving off the page altogether?
It is for this reason you need to choose a typing software that is truly inclusive and can help address visual disturbances and create a calm visual environment for your child to learn in.
Image © - Preference Screen - kaz-type.com
Additionally, ensure the software you choose is safe and secure for your child to use, developed through research, tried, tested and proven to work, includes exercises to build muscle memory but most importantly, is easy to use.
Why choose KAZ SEN/Dyslexia Touch Typing Software?
KAZ is an inclusive touch typing software, suitable for both mainstream and users with special educational needs
It was scientifically developed through research by a team of experts responsible for producing 55 RSA/NVQ level computer and office skill courses
It was trialled and tested by 18,000 students per year, over 3 years, in 300 private training centres across the UK before it was released to the market
It uses a proven Accelerated Learning teaching method, incorporating both ‘brain balance’ and ‘muscle memory’
All SEN aspects were developed with advice and guidance from the Dyslexia Research Trust, including a unique preference screen minimising visual disturbances at the start of the course
It’s simple in presentation, easy to use and delivered in a light hearted-manner
It includes a special module for developing automaticity
It’s safe and secure - KAZ are members of ICO.org and ensure your child’s data is protected
It’s available over all platforms: Download for Mac and PC, SCORM for LMS and Online, the new mode of learning, allowing practice from both home and school
With gentle encouragement and perseverance, teaching your child the fundamental skill of touch typing can help build confidence, self-belief and help them achieve and succeed.
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