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Light It Red for Dyslexia

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month.

The gum tree on Partridge St has been lit up red!

SPW is raising awareness about dyslexia during the month of October. We are also celebrating the many gifts and talents that students with dyslexia possess.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects 1 in 5 people.

It primarily affects the skills involved in accurate and fluent word reading and spelling. Characteristic features of dyslexia are difficulties in phonological awareness, verbal memory and verbal processing speed. Dyslexia occurs across the range of intellectual abilities. (Rose Review, 2009)

Dyslexic brains are wired differently, meaning these students can often do things their non-dyslexic peers cannot.

Why is early intervention important?

Early identification is the key to helping our dyslexic students experience success in life.

Over the past 2 years SPW has implemented the Phonics Screen for our Year 1 students. Additionally we screen our Foundation students for Phonological Awareness and Rapid Naming skills and administer diagnostic spelling across the year levels. Weaknesses in these areas are red flags for dyslexia. In depth screening assessments for students identified to be at risk ensures we are identifying students with dyslexia earlier.

The earlier we intervene the more effective the outcomes for our students. This is why we have made it a top priority to change the way reading and spelling are taught at SPW. By providing effective classroom practice and in-class evidence based interventions, all children have the opportunity to succeed. We also support students before school who qualify for intensive intervention through our MiniLit, MacqLit and the Playberry Multi-Sensory programs run by Learning Support.

Using a highly structured language approach that incorporates the use of systematic, synthetic phonics delivered through explicit, direct instruction is critical to the success of ALL our students.

Reading and Spelling at SPW

SPW has implemented a new reading and spelling scope and sequence and have adopted evidence based teaching methods for the teaching of reading and spelling. All children benefit from learning in this way.

We have heavily invested in decodable readers from Foundation to Year 2 this year. These benefit all our early readers, especially our students with dyslexia. By providing reading material that matches student’s phonic knowledge and skills, it encourages success and a love of reading. How wonderful to be able to develop this in ALL our students!

In Years 3-5 we have also provided high interest decodable readers for our reluctant readers. The change in attitude towards reading from these students has been remarkable. They are suddenly able to decode and lift the text off the page and attend to other reading skills such as fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Using assistive technologies such as talk to text and reading apps like Speechify can provide the bridge our older students need for success.

Seeing strengths and celebrating uniqueness

It is important to also highlight the remarkable strengths many students with dyslexia have. SPW has students with physical strengths who excel in sports, have fast reflex and response rates, great dexterity and endurance levels. Many of our students have incredible mental strengths and show persistence, overcome obstacles, and are big picture and strategic thinkers. We have other students who can tell amazing stories, have an incredible understanding of mechanics, electronics and computers and are highly inquisitive.

Our students with dyslexia are often able to visualise in three dimensions and from every angle, see the world in incredible detail, have a heightened appreciation of colour and form and excellent hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. They also can have auditory strengths such as a heightened sense of hearing, well developed vocabulary, an excellent memory for rhythm, beat and tone with music and remember information they have heard with ease.

Our students with dyslexia are often strong communicators, fantastic organisers and skilled at delegating. These students have a bright future ahead when we focus on ability rather than inability.

At SPW we advocate and support the 1 in 5 people living with dyslexia. With the appropriate teaching and support these students will shine!