Making a difference for those with learning differences
In my job I assess people for learning difficulties and help them overcome the negative effects. Each person is unique, even if they are identified as having the same difficulty.
For example, I have seen people with dyslexia who have real difficulty putting their thoughts into words when speaking: sometimes they can’t think of the right word, and sometimes they use a word that is nearly the same. Then there are others who are very articulate and can speak fluently and at length about their ideas, but can’t write them down.
I have also seen dyslexics who are great at maths; although words are a problem, they just love the patterns and problem-solving that are such a big part of maths. Then there are others who have the same problems with numbers as they have with words. They may have a deep maths anxiety that is just as limiting as their anxiety about reading or writing.
In my job I help people to understand their difficulties, but also point out their strengths. There are lots of little “lightbulb moments” when people realise why some things have been so hard for them, and other things have been easy. This is often a time when parents gain insights into their child’s way of thinking. So often there are struggles and tensions between parent and child, particularly over things like homework, forgotten instructions and lack of concentration.
If a person is identified as having a learning difficulty such as dyslexia they have several options for getting help: New Zealand school teachers are gradually learning better teaching techniques to help dyslexic students - you can ask your child’s teacher about this. Schools also have access to specialist teachers who can help in the area of literacy and learning and behaviour (RT:Lit, RTLB). Out of school tuition is an option for those who live close to a provider. Check that the programme offered is making a difference for your child after a few weeks – it may be doing more of what already hasn’t worked.