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          NO!                         YES!

School’s back!

And it’s Staff Development time!

Last week I was privileged to take part in an in-service led by Rhonda Filmer. Rhonda is the Principal of Twice Exceptional Educational Consultancy. She is passionate about quality education and, in particular, the needs of students who are both gifted and learning disabled.

We learnt last week, that gifted students can also be affected by the above two learning disabilities and how it is as important to identify and support gifted students with these issues as it is to identify and support the average and below average student.

But first let’s look at some statistics:

The “Report to the Hon Bill Shorten, Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Children’s Services” presented in 2010 by the Dyslexia Working Party has made a distinction between “instructional casualties” and “people with dyslexia”.

There will always be some children who find it hard to read, not all are dyslexic. There are children who need and respond to ‘’systematic and explicit instruction” implemented early in their education – they are the “instructional casualties”. People with dyslexia are those 5-10% who are not helped by this systematic and explicit instruction. They need more support of a different kind. Dyslexia cannot be cured, but people with dyslexia can be assisted to function more comfortably.

Gifted people who have learning disabilities like dyslexia experience even greater frustration than others. They know that their intellectual capacity is greater than they are able to express in reading and writing.

We, as teachers, know it too. We see those students who make the mental leap, who easily make connections. Often they dominate class discussions with insightful comments and additions others have not thought of. But, in time, many of them lose confidence in themselves. They start doubting that they really are as clever as they are. And they clam up…or get noisier…or are happy to accept average marks, when really their intellectual capacity is greater.

It must be exhausting trying to keep up, trying to read, struggling to write. One gifted child said to me one day, “It’s hard to write. I have the words I want to say, but I don’t know how to write them, so I have to find easier words that I can spell.” She can’t get on paper the great ideas she has because she has dyslexia. She has to compromise. We don’t always recognise the giftedness in these children, especially in the quiet ones and the ones that are willing to compromise just to get the work done.

If 5-10% of the population have dyslexia that means you probably have at least one student in your class who is dyslexic, and maybe has ADHD and is gifted as well. Do you know who it is? And what you can do to help?