Dyslexia is either developmental or acquired – it is present from birth and tends to run in families or is acquired later in life through an accident. And most signifi-cantly, dyslexia is for life. Dyslexia then needs to be recognised as more than a childhood disability and while it should not be viewed as an undefeatable impediment to success as clearly there are many highly successful dyslexic individuals, dyslexia’s effects on an individual do not disappear as they grow older.
The majority of dyslexic people have developmental dyslexia and often it is not diagnosed until a person is older. In the UK, half of those diagnosed with dyslexia in higher education are diagnosed for the first time when they are attending university education.
Many dyslexic students have learnt strategies to cope with their academic needs but when faced with the additional pressures of higher education, they realise that they need to face up to their difficulties and seek an assessment.
Subsequently, they find the strategies that are recommended to assist them with their studies very helpful. In November/December 2009 and January 2011, I taught the module: Supporting Adult Learners with SpLD [SALS]. This is an elective module in the Master of Arts in Specific Learning Differences [MA SpLD], which is run in Singapore and validated with London Metropolitan University.
SALS covers diagnosis, analysis of assessment reports and strategies to support dyslexic adults. The strategies shared in the module include: organisation and planning, reading and note taking strategies, essay writing, help with spelling, grammar, examination techniques and the use of assistive software packages such as: text readers; voice activated software and mind mapping packages. The module also requires participants to undertake ten hours of tutorial support with a student in the post secondary sector, that is, with a student who is over sixteen.
The students who have chosen to do this module are keen to work with young adults who have specific learning difficulties. It has also been interesting to see the young adults who have come forward to receive this free tuition from the trainee tutors. It is clear that many young adults in Singapore feel that they should have received help before. It is also clear that many of these young people loath to disclose their specific learning difference as they feel they will be discriminated against in higher education and the workplace. This is indeed very unfortunate and we hope that this situation will improve soon, so that the young people concerned can disclose their specific learning difference without hesitation and receive support to move forward with confidence.
Senior Lecturer in Education Course Leader PGDip: Assessment for SpLD (Dyslexia), Course Leader MA SpLD, Module Leader Supporting Adult Learners with SpLD (Singapore)
University Learning & Teaching Fellow London Metropolitan University
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