Wouldn’t it be great if, on your first conversation with a pupil they said to you: ‘I have dyslexia; this is how it affects me… and I’d like you to help me by…’
The likelihood is though, that dyslexia isn’t even mentioned! Why? Often because they don’t associate the fact that dyslexia may have a bearing on learning to drive, and also because they may be embarrassed.
How many pupils have you taught with dyslexia?
Whether it be due to the factors mentioned above, or simply that they don’t even know that they have dyslexia, the likelihood is that it’s more than you realise! If you are experienced in this area, then you will be adept at picking up the ‘signs’, which then leaves you with the decision… Do I ask them outright, or do I just teach in an appropriate way to help? This is a question that will depend on the individual circumstances. But what if you aren’t so experienced in this area? This article is going to explain what dyslexia is, and share some of the most common issues that you may witness.
What is dyslexia?
The word ‘dyslexia’ comes from the Greek prefix ‘dys’, meaning difficulty or malfunction and root ‘lexis’, meaning language. There are two types of dyslexia:
- Developmental Dyslexia is the name given to the condition whereby children may be born with a language dysfunction or experience some developmental delay in processing language and acquiring written language skills.
- Acquired Dyslexia occurs due to damage to the brain which can be caused by cerebrovascular accidents such as a head injury or a brain tumour.
Which way is left again?!
Many learners, but especially those with dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties experience confusion between left and right. This is somewhat problematic when learning to drive!
The traditional strategies include the following:
- Showing pupils left and right, with your own hands, and asking pupils to point, whilst saying `this is left’ `this is right’.
- Small stickers on the steering wheel or mirrors, marked left and right.
- Some learners learn with a watch and bracelet, remembering which is on which hand.
The issue with these, and all other methods, is that they have to be repeated EVERY time! There is another method, however, which only takes ten seconds at the start of the lesson (done during the cockpit drill) which will ensure that pupils don’t muddle up their left and right. It may look bizarre, but don’t be fooled! It’s highly effective and used by many instructors and their pupils.
Take a look here:
Dyslexia affects people in different ways, so not every person is going to demonstrate exactly the same traits. However, the following common ‘issues’ are good indicators of dyslexia, and if you encounter them, then this may help you to identify that someone may have dyslexia. In a later article, I’ll share some great techniques to help combat these issues.
A sequencing problem – Sequencing information in the correct order can be very difficult for dyslexic learners. This can apply to things such as MSPSL (or whatever method you use!) Many learners will perhaps put a signal on before a mirror check etc., however, this may be much more frequent with a learner with dyslexia.
A difficulty in motor integration – Motor integration is the ability to use fine motor skills (body movements) and this can be an issue for dyslexic learners. You may witness un co-ordinated movements (although this is more likely to be a trait of dyspraxia)
A weakness of short-term memory – Dyslexics often have problems with short-term memory, (in other words, their ‘working memory’). It can therefore take longer for dyslexic learners to ‘encode’ information for effective storage and retrieval into the long-term memory. However, once the learner gets the information into their long-term memory, it is usually secure. The problem with retrieval of this information is not stupidity or lack of cognitive skills but is usually caused by slower processing skills.
This short article is intended as a brief introduction to dyslexia; watch out for part two where we pass on some great techniques to help your pupils with dyslexia.
Diane Hall 2021 – L of a way 2 Pass
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