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Neil MacKay
Dyslexia Friendly Strategies & Support

Dyslexia Difficulty or Difference?

Welsh Dyslexia Project Winter Newsletter December 2005

The accepted view of Dyslexia as a specific learning difficulty may have been a major cause of under achievement among students and low expectations among teachers for the past two or three decades.

A learning difficulty implies that something is "wrong" with the learner, leading to a focus on identifying weaknesses rather than celebrating strengths. This, in turn, can result in a emphasis on remediation by specialists rather than resolution by aware class and subject teachers. One inevitable consequence of this has been to focus on a school's special needs provision, placing responsibility for remediation on the SENCO and diverting attention away from the mainstream classroom which is, after all, the place where dyslexic students spend most of their time. Acknowledging SpLD as a Specific Learning Difference, however, places the focus firmly on the way all lessons are planned, resourced and taught and on the way teachers are supported through school policy, practice and ethos. Now real opportunities are available for an emphasis on inclusive mainstream strategies designed to empower all learners to be the best they can be, especially if we reject those wordy, cumbersome definitions of Dyslexia and, instead accept it as
"A specific learning difference which may cause unexpected difficulties in the acquisition of certain skills"..........................  

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I had no previous experience working with students with special educational needs which is why I came to your seminars. So I just thought I'd write to say how engaging and informative your seminars were. I attended 'dyslexia as a learning preference' and 'notice and adjust strategies for a busy classroom'. You made me aware of so many little tactics that can make the running of the classroom that bit more exciting but wholly educational at the same time.
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