The Dyslexia Association of Ireland (DAI) will be celebrating Dyslexia Awareness Month this October, along with dyslexia organisations worldwide. Our focus this year will be on empowering people to #TrustYourInstincts.
All too often we hear from parents frustrated that their concerns were dismissed and not acted upon sooner. Individuals with dyslexia also share their frustrations at not having their needs identified or support provided earlier, leading to lifelong impacts on their mental health. So if you suspect that your child, a child in your class, or indeed yourself, may have dyslexia trust your instincts. Talk to the school, talk to other parents, talk to someone with dyslexia. Please reach out to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland for information and advice on assessment and supports.
This Dyslexia Awareness Month we will be shining a light on the barriers that exist, sharing voices of dyslexia, and providing information and advice on how to help. On our social channels we will be sharing stories and personal insights on the dyslexia journey. We will also be making an Oireachtas Presentation on October 5 to highlight the challenging journey that many individuals face when dealing with dyslexia.
Teachers, parents and adults with dyslexia overwhelming agree that unidentified dyslexia damages self-esteem and mental health, yet access to dyslexia assessment is an ongoing barrier. In our recent members’ survey 54% reported a wait of over 3 years from when difficulties were first noted to a formal diagnosis. Only 15% were able to access a public assessment (either via NEPS or the HSE) meaning the majority had to seek a private assessment. Unsurprisingly, 61% of families report that the costs associated with addressing dyslexia have placed financial stress on their families. The annual financial costs related to managing dyslexia within families (e.g. assessments, tuition, assistive technology) is now €1,756 (based on our September 2022 members’ survey), which is a 23% increase from 2021 figures. For some families the burden is much greater with multiple family members with dyslexia.
Teacher training on dyslexia is also needed. In our recent teachers’ survey, only 6% of teachers felt that their Initial Teacher Education prepared them adequately to address dyslexia in the classroom. 95% of teachers feel that they would benefit from more training on dyslexia identification and supports. 95% of parents in our survey similarly want to see mandatory training on dyslexia for all teachers. There are some great teachers and schools who have invested their own time and money in getting upskilled on dyslexia. However, the education system must ensure that all teachers and schools are properly training and resourced in evidence-based approaches to support children and young people with dyslexia.
Rosie Bissett, CEO of the Dyslexia Association said “We are calling for mandatory teacher training on dyslexia, both Initial Teacher Education and as part of continuing professional development. Dyslexia affects at least 1 in 10, so every teacher and school needs to be adequately informed and resourced. We need an education system which is more responsive and aware of the needs of students with dyslexia. Without a significant commitment to improving teacher training on dyslexia, there is a real risk that the needs of those with dyslexia will continue to go unnoticed and unmet, and so much potential will be lost. Every class teacher needs some knowledge of dyslexia identification and support strategies. Specialist teachers need advanced training to enable them to assess for dyslexia, and to support the school-wide provision of evidence-based teaching interventions.”
Bissett added, “People with dyslexia can have great personal strengths, and also develop other skills as they navigate life with dyslexia, such as interpersonal skills, problem solving, innovation and creativity. Dyslexics add valuable neurodiversity to our schools, workplaces and communities. They have a right to have their dyslexia recognised and to access appropriate supports. Workplaces also need to become more inclusive and open to dyslexia and neurodiversity, providing flexible supports and accommodations to benefit all employees.”
Over the month, the Dyslexia Association of Ireland will be running a number of webinars and courses, and sharing videos on its social channels. Please follow us and join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn this Dyslexia Awareness Month. Click here to download our Support Pack which includes some posters and ideas for events, and other ways to get involved.
For more information on dyslexia visit: www.dyslexia.ie