Monday, October 6, 2008

Polly Nominates EBS

Currently the Educational Building Society is running its Community Fund campaign whereby its members may nominate a worthy charitable cause which will be considered for a grant of €5,000. Only EBS customers can participate in this scheme, ie it must be a customer who nominates the charity. The Dyslexia Society of Ireland is one such cause and from the looks of things we will be acquiring a local branch in the very near future.

Imagine how far €5,000 would go in the provision of equipment for children with dyslexia. Anne who is just eleven years old has recently been diagnosed with this condition and it has been recommended that it is imperative she be allowed to use a lap-top computer to enable her to complete her lessons at home and within school hours. Anne finds it easier to communicate using the written word through a word processor; but the cost of the hardware and special software to facilitate this is prohibitive.

Very recently a friend of mine took one of her five children to see a psychologist; that was Anne. The child had been experiencing difficulties with reading and also in the area of mathematics. For some time both parents had been worried that she may just be a slow learner and have been helping her at home. Recently however she had become quite withdrawn socially; perceiving the world as an unsafe environment which led to further difficulties.

Most people think of dyslexia as being a form of 'word blindness' and associate its difficulties with the written word only. What many people are not aware of is that it has many forms, involving number difficulties, speech difficulties, writing difficulties etc. It is not something that affects those of lower intellectual abilities. In fact; many of our most famous inventor's, artists and actors have been discovered to have this condition.

Until my middle teens the great Leonardo Da Vinci; for instance was revered as little more than a talented artist; until such times as his secret diaries were discovered and eventually translated. Each was written in a mysterious code, which for decades after their discovery remained unfathomable; it turns out that this was in fact mirror writing!

Since Anne was given the news about her diagnosis she has become a different personality altogether; she is confident in her speech and more active in terms of integrating socially with her peers. From having become a socially withdrawn individual, this child has come to understand that she is not stupid. Undiagnosed dyslexics are often perceived even by themselves as being thick.

In a recent report submitted by Anne to her teacher; she describes herself as being confident in the knowledge that she "... is not different; just special!" Her beautiful young face glows with an inner light which had all but petered out at the end of last years summer term; the difficulties experienced with her school work having smashed her self esteem into pieces.

Anne's not the only child in the world to be affected by this condition; which is described by experts as a different set of learning needs or merely a different style of learning. To my knowledge there are at least three such children within my own locality who have only recently been diagnosed and it is very much the thanks to parental concern that these kids have been assessed.

Anne and her peers have been given help and assistance from their parents at home. They are not victims of environmental neglect; rather victims of the system. Their parents do what they can; struggling to help their children reach an acceptable standard only to be told that their children are not bad enough to require help in the schools. This is where an educational psychological assessment comes in. Only with the recommendation of Learning Support or Assistance can the schools offer the services that these children require.

Anne's parents were lucky; they managed to find the €500.00 to pay for this service to be completed. Other less fortunate people stuck their necks out and managed to manipulate the system to their advantage and got similar results. Thankfully their children are now the lucky ones; they will be getting the help they need to turn their lives into serious hopes and dreams which might actually be fulfilled.

In Co Offaly there is currently no Dyslexia Association support available. Children wishing to avail of workshops designed to assist them in their quest for knowledge must travel to towns such as Newbridge, Co Kildare (the nearest at 26miles away), Kilcock, Co Meath or Athlone, Co Westmeath. We intend to change that...

An appeal on local radio last Thursday by a mother whose child has been caught in this trap turned out to be remarkably successful. This woman is a positive force to be reckoned with; she is driven by anger at the system and concern for her child. The response so far has been amazing; with the phone stopping ringing just long enough for her to draw breath in between calls. It seems that she is not alone after all and as we all know there is strength in number's.

There is one more stumbling block in this story; and that is once again down to a lack of funding. Without funding many families would find it
impossible to meet the cost of one hours specialised tuition for their dyslexic child; Anne may be one such child, remember the other four children in the family?

If you are a shareholder or a customer of the EBS ie Educational Building Society here in Ireland please consider nominating what will become known as the North Offaly Dyslexia Association for a bursary of €5,000. These children desperately need the facilities that such an amount could secure; their parents desperately need peace of mind which is hard to find when the establishment or the system is under funded and understaffed.

Nominations must be submitted by Friday 10th October 2008; it is short notice but there is still time to help. With the right sort of encouragement and assistance these bright, articulate children will go on to be functional adults working in all sectors of the employment market...

One of Leonardo Da Vinci's Many Journal Pages

Please help us, if you can...

Polly Pierce

Card Maker & Concerned Parent

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