Friday, December 5, 2008

Polly's Dyslexia Plea

Not that long ago, when I should have been outside in the shed making Christmas Cards I received a copy of an e-mail from the Dyslexia Association of Ireland which had been forwarded to me by a friend. I will be attending the Annagharvey Farm's Christmas Food Fair, so it is imperative that I get this job done and don't let the side down. I was invited by the managing director of the company; which in my book is something of a priviledge!

The importance of my relationship with the DAI is that I work as a volunteer adult youth leader with Scouting Ireland. As one might imagine I come across children of different ages and abilities in the course of this work and have been lucky enough to have encountered one or two children who have been diagnosed with dyslexia. One of whom is my youngest son LB.

Since his diagnosis, thankfully it is a mild case of Dyslexia for which he has been able to compensate extraordinarily well; my not-so little boy has grown in many areas. He hasn't just become longer, although without a doubt this is true; but he is generally better rounded as a person and has become much happier within himself.

Having struggled to read to an acceptable standard and found himself to be extraordinarily poor at spelling this child all of a sudden took off; like a bullet. He's always loved books and has looked after them well from a young age; confident in the knowledge that his parents and Grandmother would delight his imagination from the myriad of entangled patterns held on each printed page.

Earlier this year he started to read what should have been a very exciting book, sadly in the five months preceeding the month of May he'd struggled to read barely a quarter of the book he'd received at Christmas. By the end of the same month He, himself and no-one else had digested each and every word of the remaining three-quarter's of the volume and started on the next in the series!

What had kick-started his interest in reading for pleasure no-one really knows; although I suspect it was sheer determination and the relief of knowing that he is not stupid. Dyslexia is not something that affects the stupid, but it doesn't prevent someone with undiagnosed dyslexia from feeling stupid. While a diagnosis is not always easy to obtain, an understanding of the different types of learning can be imparted from an early age; that is assuming the primary teacher's in the childs life are able to recognize this need.

Unfortunately, in today's modern and affluent society it can be virtually impossible to attain a diagnosis of this different style of learning. The National Educational Psychology department are overstretched and underfunded resulting in up to three children receiving assessment a year; dyslexic children often don't fall within the appropriate parameter's.

LB is one of the lucky one's. Having recognized the signs early on I pushed every button until eventually I was able to manipulate the system in LB's favour; the result is that we attended a psychologist for the best part of a year. What made us super lucky was the fact that coincidentally her speciality happened to be Dyslexia!

I truly believe that LB being lucky enough to be assessed informally and formally by this professional is what has made the difference to his life. In a variety of ways she was able to instill into his tortured soul an enhanced sense of self esteem which in turn made it easy for him to accept the fact that his learning needs are slightly different than his peers. Last term he excelled himself in completing his term papers and despite some amusing phonetical spelling errors came second in his class.

Unfortunately though, LB is the exception to the rule. Not all children with Dyslexia have been recognised as such, those that have have been held back by the disbelief of their primary teacher's and care giver's or maybe their condition is much more pronounced than LB's. Regardless, The Dyslexia Association of Ireland need your support to make special teaching resourses available to these children.

Currently; the four years teacher training offers just ONE HOUR's tuition on the subject of one of the most common special learning needs diagnosed in this country. Our children deserve more than that; they deserve to have access to specialised teaching suited to their individual learning needs at a pace that they can sustain.

Please support The Offaly Dyslexia Group in our quest to secure these services. If you are able to offer support, in terms of time or financial help please contact me to discuss this as soon as possible. However, if you are unable to do so there is still a way that you can help us get this group up and running so that these services do become available sooner rather than later and that is to purchase DAI Christmas Cards.

  • Patrick Kavanagh - a snowy scene of Kavanagh canal-side.
  • From All of Us - a fun and modern greeting with Santa and snowmen.
  • Magical Christmas - a fairy sprinkling magical Christmas wishes.
  • International Greetings - children holding hands around the world.
  • Silent Night Around the Tree - children singing Christmas carols.
  • Merrion Square - an artistic snowy impression of Merrion Square.
  • Christmas Tree - a colourful Christmas Tree with greetings in many languages.
  • Ha'penny Bridge - an artistic snowy scene of Dublin's Ha'penny Bridge SOLD OUT
  • Merry Christmas - Santa Claus with a star-light Merry Christmas greeting.
  • Christmas Cheer - Christmas greetings from a group of lovable penguins.
  • Peace - a simple colourful card, with a peace dove and Christmas star.

There are 12 cards and envelopes in each pack.

Cost: €7.00 per pack.

Postage: €1.50 per pack.

DAI Christmas Cards can be purchased from The Offaly Dyslexia Group; there are some lovely designs which can be admired by downloading the PDF catagalogue.

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There isn't enough to go around within the state education schools and without funds we will not be able to put on regular tailored workshops suited to each child's individual needs. With funds raised that's where the DAI and The Offaly Dyslexia Group will be able to help, but if no-one helps us; we won't be able to help these children who are currently being ignored by the state.

Please let me know if you're interested in helping us provide the necessary help that these children so badly need; leave a comment in the comments box or send me an e-mail.

Thanks for sharing your time with me!

Polly Pierce

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