Saturday, November 29, 2014

Dyslexsia: Supporting Writing Difficulties - Call Scotland

Call Scotland has released this marvelous poster, entitled Supporting Writing Difficulties.

A step-by-step guide in the form of a question and answer ‘checklist’ helping you to identify problems and suggesting a range of practical technology focused solutions to support pupils with writing difficulties.

You can download a PDF version here.

CALL Scotland’s Vision

Every child / young person in Scotland with a disability or additional support needs has the curriculum materials, the Assistive Technologies (AT) and/or Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tools they may need, and the support to use them effectively, to participate effectively and fulfill their potential through learning and achievement.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Scotland: Farming with Dyslexia

The inaugural meeting of the Farming with Dyslexia Working Group, led by NFU Scotland, took place earlier this week.

Chaired by the Union’s Vice President Rob Livesey, the group was established to ensure that Scottish farming stakeholders recognise the needs of dyslexic crofters and farmers in the most appropriate way.

Representatives from NFU Scotland, the Scottish Government’s Rural Payments Inspection Directorate, Forestry Commission Scotland, Dyslexia Scotland and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) along with four farming and crofting members of NFU Scotland who have dyslexia attended the meeting on Wednesday (3 September).

Steered by NFU Scotland, this group was borne from the recognition that dyslexia is a real, but often hidden, issue among the farming community.

With some 25 per cent of agriculture students at SRUC receiving support for dyslexia, it is believed this heritable condition is more prevalent within the farming sector than previously thought.

However, due to stigma and poor understanding, it can remain undiagnosed and can be problematic for those dealing with communications, regulation and form-filling within the agriculture industry.

The Union recently launched a campaign to raise awareness of dyslexia amongst the farming community, whilst engaging with the Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and SRUC to see how joint work can be undertaken to better recognise the issue and support those affected.

NFU Scotland Vice President Rob Livesey commented:

“Today’s meeting was a constructive one and a sound starting point for those keen to recognise the impact of dyslexia within our industry and what action we can take to help their situation.

“I believe we have a great bunch of people with vision and determination to make a difference.  The contribution from those within the working group will be crucial to the success of this initiative.

“It’s now clear to myself and others that there is no one size fits all approach to helping those with dyslexia working within Scottish farming. However, there is a commitment to proactively help those that have or suspect they have dyslexia.

“As a group, our first objective is to continue to raise awareness and build on the work that we have started. The next task we have is to attempt to remove the stigma attached to dyslexia. We strongly believe as a group that there is huge potential to tap into the talent that dyslexic people in our industry have and help them recognise their own potential for the benefit of all.

“That ambition can be underpinned by engaging with all stakeholders to ensure the needs of those with dyslexia are taken into account and that all communications and regulations are available in a format appropriate for those with dyslexia.

“As a result we will be embarking on a campaign in the next few months to address those stated aims.”

Note to Editors

  • The three key objectives agreed at the first meeting of the Farmers with Dyslexia Working group were:
  • Raise awareness of dyslexia to reduce the stigma and promote the abilities of dyslexic individuals which are of great benefit to the agriculture industry
  • Engage with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders to ensure measures to recognise dyslexia among the farming community are appropriate.
  • Ensure systems of communication with regulatory bodies are more accessible for dyslexic farmers and crofters with a choice of delivery options
  • A photograph of the working group is available on request, by contacting Bob Carruth: or by calling 0131 472 4006.
  • NFU Scotland launched a campaign to get better support in place for farmers and crofters who have dyslexia in July to ensure there is suitable support in place to make the day-to-day running of their businesses easier and more efficient when it comes to form filling and communicating with farming organisations.
  • The campaign has received the backing from former racing driver Sir Jackie Stewart and the Union has been working with Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland and SRUC throughout the campaign. For more information visit:

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Embracing Dyslexia - Video

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading, writing, and spelling despite having at least an average intelligence.

It is estimated that 15 to 20 percent of the population is dyslexic but most are never identified or diagnosed and left to struggle their entire life.

We know how to fix the reading, writing, and spelling issues that dyslexics struggle with. But there is a tremendous roadblock in the way and it is there because our governments, schools and educators are simply misinformed about what dyslexia is or they have no information at all.

By carefully weaving together interviews with parents, experts, and adult dyslexics, "Embracing Dyslexia" tackles the issues surrounding dyslexia like no other documentary film has before.

Parents share emotional stories of their anxiety and frustration over failing to understand why their children were struggling with reading, writing, and spelling and the life-altering impact the word dyslexia had on their lives.

Adult dyslexics courageously open up and speak candidly about their dyslexia, sharing their struggles and successes they have had in school and in their adult lives.

Experts define what dyslexia is, illustrate why early dyslexia screening for all children is vital, and share how effective tutoring, classroom accommodations, and fostering the natural strengths dyslexic's possess can take them from experiencing failure on a daily basis to believing in themselves and knowing that they can be successful.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Fragile-X Syndrome (FXS): Spaced training improves long term memory

Prominent characteristics of the syndrome include an elongated face, large or protruding ears, and low muscle tone. 

Credit: Wikipedia

Research on mice with Fragile X syndrome (FXS) suggests that multiple, spaced training sessions can enhance learning and long term memory when longer, continuous sessions do not.

Christine Gall and colleagues at the University of California Irvine tested mice with FXS on their ability to remember objects and locations and found that multiple training sessions, with 60-minutes breaks, allowed them to perform as well as healthy mice.

The research appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

FXS is the most common cause of inherited intellectual disability. Previous studies have shown that mice with this condition have a problem with synaptic signaling in the hippocampus, which affects their ability to create long term memories.

Christine Gall
Gall's team wanted to see if they could create a training regime that would help overcome synaptic signaling problems and enable mice with FXS to learn normally.

They knew that individuals tend to learn better when trained in short, spaced trials rather than a single, long training episode, so they tested whether spaced training would help FXS mice.

The researchers tested the mice on object location memory (OLM) and novel object recognition (NOR).

To test OLM, they placed a mouse in a chamber that also contained two identical objects.

They gave the mouse time to examine the objects and remember their locations, and then removed the mouse. When the mouse was gone, the researchers moved one of the objects.

They then returned the mouse to the chamber. If the mouse spent more time exploring the new location than the old location, it was a sign that it had remembered the original location.

NOM testing involved replacing one of the identical objects with a different object, without changing its location.

Mice that spent more time examining the new object showed that they had remembered the original object.

After undergoing five minutes of continuous training and being removed from the chamber for 24 hours, wild mice recognized that one of the objects had moved or been replaced, but FXS mice did not.

However, when the researchers divided the training into three 100-second trials, with 60-minute intervals between them, the FXS mice performed about as well as the wild mice.

Gall's team examined hippocampal tissue from the mice and found that control FXS mice had problems with the activation of ERK1/2, a kinase needed for memory encoding.

Spaced training corrected this problem and restored proper signaling between synapses.

More information: Spaced training rescues memory and ERK1/2 signaling in fragile X syndrome model mice, PNAS, Ronald R. Seese, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1413335111

Monday, November 3, 2014

Children with dyslexia might also be having difficulties with social skills

A reluctance to do any reading may be a classic sign of dyslexia, but there may be other tell-tale signs that can raise a parent's concern according to Joanna Dunton of Bangor University's Miles Dyslexia Centre.

Speaking ahead of Dyslexia Awareness Week, (3- 9 November) Language Therapist Jo Dunton explained that children with dyslexia might be having difficulties with reading, spelling and writing, but also with social skills, and with other seemingly unrelated areas.

"It could be that a dyslexic child may be particularly prone to forgetting things or being rather disorganised," explained Jo Dunton.

"Because of the challenges facing them, children with dyslexia may appear withdrawn or lose interest in school work, or might want to avoid going to school and, research has shown, could often be bullied or socially isolated due to their difficulties."

"These differences can lead to low self-esteem, especially if the child doesn't understand why they're having to struggle to do things that other children seem to be able to achieve with ease."

"Recognising the problem can be extremely helpful, as can setting things in place to help the dyslexic child overcome the particular difficulties facing them."

However dyslexia is not all negative, many people with dyslexia have great spatial or 3D awareness, and many go on to be engineers.

Places such as the spy HQ GCHQ have dyslexics ranking among their staff as does space agency NASA, so the sky's the limit!

If you think your child may be facing difficulties with reading, writing or any educationally related problem, then the first port of call should be the school" she told reporters.

"However, here at the Miles Dyslexia Centre we're always willing to speak with parents and advise them and can provide consultation sessions for parents and children."

Jo's Top Tips for Parents:

  • Talk to your child - discuss their day or their feelings. Vocabulary has been shown to have a major impact on developing literacy skills.
  • Look at the whole person rather than focus on your child's difficulties. Encourage then to get involved with things that they are good at as this will help build self-esteem.
  • Don't let homework become a battle ground. Little and often is more effective, reading one page or practising one word is better than nothing at all.
  • Spelling practice can be done with a whiteboard or with plastic letters. Try to find a way to make it fun.
  • Reading does not always have to be from a book. Perhaps use sets of word cards to make sentences, play matching or pairs games. Don't let your child view it as a chore that has to be done.
  • Out shopping- ask your child to read out the shopping list or the signs around the store. We are surrounded by words, use them as resources.
  • Talk to the school about any concerns you may have. Working together with the school can lead to a more coordinated response to any difficulties.
  • Self-organisation can be a key difficulty leading to forgotten books, kit, pens etc. Encourage your child to develop a routine. Is it swimming tomorrow? – Get the kit ready tonight!
  • Encourage the use of memory joggers such as checklists, 'to do' lists or school planners. Perhaps a large chalkboard or whiteboard could be used as a family planner.
  • Remember reading and spelling are skills, and, like any skill, they need lots of regular practice. Footballers, swimmers and tennis stars also have to work hard to improve their skills!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Dyslexia: The Discover Dyslexia chart

SHARE the Discover Dyslexia chart from WebMD