If you read only ONE book…

If you read only ONE book…

If there is only one book to read on dyslexia, its this one. Its amazing!

I read this book on holiday shortly after my daughter was diagnosed and it literally changed everything for me.

It breaks down the traditional view that “dyslexia is simply a reading impairment” but goes on to explain that its “a different pattern of brain organisation and information processing that creates strengths as well as challenges”.

I understand with greater clarity all of my daughter’s challenges that simply baffled me previously – her quick understanding of concepts but even quicker ability to forget them, her ability to read a word correctly at the start of a page and not recognize it at all at the bottom of a page, her struggles with writing and the disparity between her spoken word and comprehension and her reading, to mention a few. This book explains them all!

The book gives a very honest and truthful account of the challenges and realities of dyslexia which can seem daunting, especially as there are chapters on every stage of life from early education right through to dealing with dyslexia as an adult (just proving that this is a lifelong thing). For every stage though, there are practical tips, tools and ideas on how to provide support.

What is most encouraging though is the underlying positive message – that the dyslexic brain has many many advantages. It explains that there are four areas of dyslexic reasoning: Material; Interconnected; Narrative and Dynamic, MIND, that enables dyslexics to excel in various fields to amazing effect. It encourages you to observe and identify these strengths early and to support them.

I love that the back of the book has this caption: “What links Winston Churchill, Alan Sugar, Richard Branson, Keira Knightley, Jamie Oliver, David Bailey, Will Smith and countless other high achievers in a huge range of fields?”

Having read the book I understand better what dyslexia is and I appreciate that it will be a challenging journey. What I was not expecting to feel after reading the book is excitement. I am encouraged that there is light at the end of the tunnel and I’m excited about the possibility that if I can just see beyond the bad spelling and handwriting, that I may indeed spot an emerging talent waiting to break free.

How amazing is that?

If you’ve not read this book – run out and get it. You will read it and may even feel a tad jealous that you are not dyslexic!




The Square root rule

The Square root rule

I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading about dyslexia and came across an absolutely amazing book that has just changed my whole understanding of dyslexia. Its called The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain

There are some many insightful chapters about the nature of the dyslexic brain including one that explains how difficult it is for dyslexics to undertake procedural learning i.e. learning how to do something, and learning it to the point where it is automatic, so you know how to do it instinctively.

The authors, Brock Eide and Fernette Eide, have coined something that they refer to as the square root rule based on lots of research.

The rule essentially gives the following guide: it takes the square root longer to learn something if you are dyslexic than if you aren’t. So if its takes 10 hours for a person without learning difficulties to learn something, it would effectively take a dyslexic 100 hours to learn the same task. Sobering!

I practically shouted “Aha” loud. You see now I understand even more deeply why spelling patterns are a challenge, why times tables are a challenge and indeed why concepts come quickly to my daughter and then seem to disappear just as fast. Indeed, now I fully understand what is meant when they say repetition is the most critical of the learning strategies.

I understand also that my daughter is not pretending and also, that the concepts will eventually stick. We just need to keep at it.

The art of patience

The art of patience

Ok, so I’ve had one of those weekends where I’ve really struggled with patience. Everything seemed challenging: reading, writing, behavior and by Sunday evening, I was at the end of my tether. I sent my daughter to her room just so I could have a break from it all. I know, not stellar behavior on my part.

I really wanted to write about patience today and how it really is a struggle sometimes.

I went searching for inspiration online – I thought I’d find some quotes that would lift me up and boost my spirits as I prepare for the week ahead. Here is a little selection of what I found:

“Patience is not the ability to wait but how you act while you are waiting”  Joyce Meyer

“Patience is the gift of being able to see past the emotion” Rodney Williams

“A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regret” Anonymous

There were many more such quotes and they served not to lift me up, but to make me feel even worse about myself! On greater reflection, I guess what I am really seeking is some tips of how to be more patient.

So with greater clarity I consulted the web again, this time searching sites such as Lifehack, Dailyworth, Mindtools and even Oprah. I found lots of articles and lots of wisdom. I summarize my favorite takeaways (please note, I have ignored patronizing advice such as “enjoy the moment” as this does not work for me in my tense situations with my daughter):

  • Breathe – seems the age-old advice of taking 5 deep breaths or counting to 10, is still top of the list when trying to invoke patience.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. Love this one!
  • Look at the big picture – ask yourself “will this matter to me next week? Next year? In 10 years time?”
  • Stop demanding perfection of yourself. You are only human. Amen to this one!
  • Keep a journal – write it out, in detail and in Technicolor. Apparently this is very therapeutic.
  • Practice active and empathetic listening (if you can in the situation).
  • Practice patience everyday – apparently you can become “better” at being patient by practice. So walk home the long way some days, stand on a longer queue at the supermarket or perhaps sit through an excruciating TV programme/football match – whatever you don’t like that your partner loves.
  • And if all else fails, zone out.

A final little tip from me: if you are into meditation checkout Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world– it’s all the rage at the moment. Alternatively, checkout the app “Headspace” which you can download on the App Store.

Here’s to a more patient week.














Times Tables Challenges

Times Tables Challenges

Retention of information is a challenge for my daughter. She picks up concepts really quickly, particularly maths concepts, but then forgets them in record time too!

So typically, this is what happens:

She learns a new concept, I celebrate the fact she took record time to understand the new idea, faster than her peers even (yay!), we do practice  questions, she answers all the questions flawlessly – Job done. A week later I present her with a question from the topic and she stares blankly at the question and at me. “Have we done this topic Mummy”? she asks.

I’ve read and understood that retention is a challenge for dyslexics and that learning for them involves repetition, more repetition and even more repetition.

As we well know, this makes learning times tables a near on impossibility. We’ve tried everything – books, apps, practice sheets etc. She learns and she forgets.

Someone recommended singing timetables to me. So I searched amazon and there they were. The music is a bit cheesy and the voices a bit odd, but they seem to be working. We’ve learned 5’s and 3’s   so far. I’m encouraged. Its super early days, but I’m hoping this will be the solution. We’ve got 10 more tables to go.

Wish me luck – I will keep you all posted.

Try them out, these are the ones I have.



Think Different

I love this amazing advertising campaign that Apple launched in 1997.

Steve Jobs was famously very dyslexic as is Johnny Ive, the legendary designer of the Mac, iPod, iPad and iPhone.

I think its amazing that such creative and inventive individuals were dyslexic and still managed to contribute so wonderfully to technology and indeed shaping the world of consumer electronics. Very inspirational for children struggling with the challenges that comes with learning differences such as dyslexia and dyspraxia.

I love this “Think Different” campaign as the message is all about celebrating people who think different. A wonderful message for our little ones.


Focusing on OUR journey

Focusing on OUR journey

For me, open school evenings come with a sense of dread that starts slowly, but then grows over the course of the day.

As parents you have the wonderful opportunity to see your child’s classroom, to leaf through their books and to view the artwork and writing pieces that line the walls.

My child’s work is hardly ever on display. On the contrary, the handwriting wall is covered with perfectly formed cursive writing, all neatly presented on the page with finger spaces, capital letters, punctuation and all beautifully spelt. My heart sinks when I mentally compare these amazing pieces of work to the work I see day in day out at home: badly formed letters, poorly spelt words and an absence of punctuation. How is it that we are still where we are after all the work – the multi-sensory activities, the daily practice, the hours of extra work with a specialist SEN tutor?

I move on to see the books that the other children are reading and I fight back tears. Not here. Not now.”We have made progress”. The words come tumbling into my head and I say them out loud to myself under my breath.

When I get home, I rush to dig out my daughter’s writing from several months ago and I compare it to now. We have made progress, we have. The letters are sitting on the lines, the letters are better formed, we actually have some finger spaces (finally), some of the “tricky” words are spelt correctly and I can actually make out what it says.

We HAVE made progress!

Putting the two writing samples side by side was incredibly satisfying. It was evident in black and white that she has made a lot of progress. Yes, its been painfully slow and loads of work, but we are getting there, she is getting there.

I try very hard to focus on our journey, to think where we’ve come from and what we have achieved, no matter how small. My daughter’s journey will be different, its very clear. But the comparison to others just does not help us on our journey. She will get there, it will be slow and tough and there will be tears but by goodness, I’m sure she will be a better person for getting there.

Whenever I hear a child my daughter’s age read aloud or glimpse their writing or the books they are packing away in their book bag, I go home and I look at our journey so far and I rejoice in what we’ve achieved and I am so very proud of her, my special child.

Dyslexia is real

Dyslexia is real

Welcome to Special Child. For my first ever blog post, I thought I’d share this quote that I came across online. I thought it was packed with so many truths.

I love quotes. Sometimes you just need a little lift, a little reminder of what you already know, delivered short and sweet. I’m going to find and share many such quotes. We all need a bit of a lift from time to time.