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Becoming a specialist teacher (Dyslexia/Dyspraxia)

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by southpacific, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. southpacific

    southpacific New commenter

    Hi all. Hoping someone can help.
    I am an experienced teacher and am currently considering whether to train to become a specialist teacher in Dyslexia. I am also interested in Dyspraxia. However, I am pondering whether to become a SENCO instead. I know what the senco role involves but I don't know as much detail about what a specialist teacher role entails, particularly in Dyspraxia (does it even exist on its own, for example, or is it part of the Dyslexia qualification?).

    If you are a specialist teacher in Dyslexia/Dyspraxia, could you let me know what the job entails for you? Would you recommend it? Etc. I would be so grateful to hear individual experiences so that I can begin to make this decision. I am in the North West of England at the moment.
  2. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    I've been a teacher of secretarial work for my own teaching life and I've often been asked by parents/teachers of dyslexic children to teach them to type. You won't need me to spell out to you the big advantages this would have for the whole of their lives. My dyslexic students have done really well and often passed their exams with flying colours.
  3. Dodros

    Dodros Star commenter

    I'm retired, but I work voluntarily one day a week in a mainstream secondary school SEN department, where one of the teachers has the specialist teacher qualification. The job focuses on testing students for specific learning difficulties (dyslexia) to determine whether they match the criteria for access arrangements in public examinations. The ability to maintain reliable records of assessments and recommendations is of course a necessity, as the GCSE and A-level authorities do visit schools and inspect examination candidates' documentation to ensure they are entitled to access arrangements such as extra time, readers, scribes, laptops etc. The specialist teacher also has a responsibility to inform subject teachers of students' diagnosed impairments and to ensure that access arrangements become "normal working practice" within the classroom as well as the exam hall.

    In my "neck of the woods", dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder) is diagnosed by the medical, not the educational, services in a specialist hospital/clinic and the results are sent to the school with recommendations for changes in a diagnosed student's normal working.
    Mermaid7 likes this.
  4. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    SENCos now have to complete a national qualification and deal with pupils with a whole spectrum of difficulties.

    I would say the advantage of doing a Level 7 dyslexia qualification is that it can open up freelance work such as doing private dyslexia tuition to all age groups including HE and workplace coaching or setting yourself up as a dyslexia assessor.

    Dyslexia focused jobs do come up in all sectors but my impression is not as often as SENCo jobs as all schools( I think) have someone coordinating SEN.

    Some people do both qualifications - you now need a level 7 dyslexia qualification to do acccess arrangement tests.

    I’ve worked as a specialist tutor in FE and HE and also worked in FE with a whole spectrum of difficulties.

    I now do freelance work together with asssosiate work for universities and a national dyslexia organisation. I’m also doing a PhD though so the work has to fit around that.

    As for dyspraxia, Dodros is correct.

    Dyspraxia is classed as a medical issue in under 16s and referral would be to an OT . However, during an assessment we are advised to look at all types of splds and refer as appropriate.

    We are able to assess for dyspraxia in over 16s as a specific learning difficulty on the basis of how it affects someone’s academic/ job performance

    I really think it depends on where your interest lies and what you want to do in the future.

    I know the learning support funding in FE and HE has been attacked over the last few years and as a result, salaries have dropped in some areas, especially in FE and as well as hourly rates paid to HE dyslexia support tutors.
  5. ABCCBA123321

    ABCCBA123321 Occasional commenter

    Current (and it's very current - we got the diagnosis signed off this month - although it's been no earthshattering revelation - I'd nailed it with my suspicions by the time they were about 3, and school were having the "dodge around the issue gently" conversation with me straight after we started!) route round this area for dyspraxia diagnosis is:

    GP (who'll ignore you unless you brandish a magical schools concern form at them) > Paediatrician > OT assessment > back to Paediatrician who does the final checks to rule out anything else possibly neurological. In the meantime OT seem to pull out the kids they think need more help and put them on their waiting list for sessions there. And yep they're now diagnosing it as DCD not dyspraxia (well ours has it in brackets afterwards) but no one's ever heard of that when you're trying to explain it to them... half of them haven't heard about dyspraxia either but that's another pet rant of mine...

    If you're an adult - there's no diagnostic pathway at all anymore around here - there's a woman at our support group who researches DCD and they're struggling to do some research that needs diagnosed adults (rather than the "oooh I'm so clumsy I bet I've got that" bunch) as no one can get a diagnosis! (The number of tops I have with coffee stains on the chest from me managing to miss my mouth while trying to take a drink tend to make me fall into the "think I've got that" group as well a lot of the time)
    moonpenny likes this.
  6. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Interesting to hear your first hand experience.

    I’ve come across a. few younger children who have had input via an OT at school and who have had a written short report detailing the input but no diagnosis.

    Dr, Amanda Kirby does a lot of awareness and research around dyspraxia and I think she favours the term DCD.

    She has just updated the adult dyspraxia/ DCD checklist/ screener with updated info on how to assess for DCD in adults as a specific learning difficulty.

    As a dyslexia assessor, there is lot of CPD centred around DCD but as I said before, the report would suggest a referral to an OT if the assessor felt there were indicators that a child might benefit from further assessment with an OT. ( for under 16s)

    I can imagine the different pathways to follow could be confusing, especially for parents - I’ve heard a few negative things about Camhs in reference to attention and concentration difficulties or assessing a child further for autism. They are probably overstretched as a service.

    Things in the world of SpLD are permanently being updated and refined or changed such as the term dyspraxia/ DCD or visual difficulties versus visual stress and in order to keep up with it all, you have to continually update your own knowledge based on new information and policy. It takes quite a lot of effort but otherwise you would end up with your practice becoming outdated fairly quickly.
  7. southpacific

    southpacific New commenter

    Thank you all. That's most helpful.
    Can I ask, can one make a decent living as, say, a dyslexia assessor? Or as a dyslexia teacher? One of the pros of becoming senco is that there is clear progression up from classroom teacher in financial terms, which has implications for my pension. It is not my primary motivation but I do have a mortgage and children so I do want to ensure that I can enjoy at least some fruits of my labour!
  8. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    I don’t think there is a straightforward answer to that.

    I built up my assessing very gradually over 12 years. The first few years I didn’t do any assessing privately but did it as part of my job.

    I needed to go part time after a period of ill health and that’s when I started assessing for 2 universities on an ad hoc basis.

    I carried on working part time and also worked one afternoon at Dyslexia Action.

    Around that time, I set up my own assessing business with a website and get regular requests. I also get 2 or 3 Assessments a month through a national dyslexia organisation.

    I know a couple of assessors who are fully booked for the next few months

    I don’t actively find more work as I wouldn’t be able to fit it in.

    As for tutoring there is a lack of dyslexia tutors in my area but I don’t do this at the moment as I am going to be writing up my PhD this year.

    Where you are in the country makes a difference - having a private assessment is expensive for many parents - however the reason they are expensive is because there is a constant need to fund CPD, assessment material, professional membership bodies - I am in 2 of these.

    When you renew your practicing certificate , it costs a few hundred if you include membership of a professional body. There’s also tax and maybe contributing to a private pension.

    Also writing up assessments takes a lot of time, although after many years of doing them, I can get them finished faster than I used to.

    I would say if would be hard to pay monthly out goings straight away - so having a job and gradually building up a private practice is a good idea.

    Because it is a specialist qualification, salaried jobs require people to have a dyslexia qualification which means not everyone can apply for them.

    I am just going off to do an assessment and really enjoy being my own boss.
  9. Sir_Henry

    Sir_Henry Occasional commenter

    Increasingly the work of an Spld teacher is being done by HLTAs and TAs particularly north of the Midlands.
    Mermaid7 likes this.
  10. Sir_Henry

    Sir_Henry Occasional commenter

    I should add that this much to my disgust since they are paid peanuts and expected to do the same level of work.
  11. southpacific

    southpacific New commenter

    Thanks guys. Really helpful to hear others' experiences.
  12. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I think you are fundamentally misunderstanding the situation, there isn't a definition or a diagnosis

    Dyslexia is a common umbrella term for a neurological difficulty that hinders reading and writing, which is a nonsense in the first place, as there are no neurons in your brain for reading and writing, so if part of your brain isn't passing messages along efficiently, then why would it only be reading and writing that is affected? It wouldn't be , of course, so you get into long lists of "other symptoms" but its just a collection of possibilities, no two peoples brains are the same, so there is no one definition of "dyslexia" other than a description of literacy problems that are unusually severe in someone who otherwise performs well in academic exercises.

    And discalcula exists even less! _ there is no area of the brain responsible for what we classify as "maths" so obviously no area of the brain that can malfunction to cause "discalcula"

    As for dyspraxia, its nothing more than poor coordination and propioception. That is all it is. If you have neurological problems that cause this, then it is likely the same neurological problems might be causing other problems too. It doesn't mean those other problems always happen with poor coordination and preconception.

    Its 40 years since I was diagnosed as dyslexic and dyspraxic.

    I have neurological problems that interfere with perception, coordination and proprioception. I say "dyslexic" and "dyspraxic" just to indicate to other people the type of problems I have, but in reality those words can mean so many different things that it means very little.

    In the last 40 years the definitions of these words have each changed more than a dozen times. Particularly upsetting was he silly trend a few years ago to call dyspraxia a form or autism. Its not. It is a symptom, and some people who are autistic have the same symptoms, but no more is dyspraxia a form of autism than a flea bite is a form of chicken pox. :mad:

    What i am trying to say is you are totally wasting your time becoming "specialist teacher for dyslexia" etc. Because it doesn't actually exist.

    What you can be is a specialist in SEND, who diagnoses specific difficulties and can suggest wys to mitigate them.

    But the words are just common parlance for "literacy problems which are neurologically based" and " coordination problems which are neurologically based" thats all,

    ( except the "dyspraxia is autism brigade - they just need to use a different word for the type of autism they are calling "dyspraxic" and stop appropriating one that is already taken)

    There isn't one
    Sir_Henry and Vince_Ulam like this.
  13. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Dunnocks - I am confused,

    You use ther term dyslexia in regards to yourself yet don’t feel others should be assessed with this or DCD...

    Your views might reflect the policy in the schools in your area.

    However, your views are not representative of organisations such as the BDA or Patoss or ADSHE, and those working in FE/ HE would see prompt identification as vital so that support becomes available as soon as possible.

    There has been lots of research on the impact of Splds on a person’s self esteem and that being asssessed can allow a person to understand why they are having the problems they are.

    Following my own dyslexia training, I went on to have myself and my son assessed as I think it is an important step towards understanding yourself more fully.

    In fact, it has been really useful now I am doing a PhD and I have had several reasonable adjustments made as a result which have really helped me.
  14. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    They would not wish to kill the goose which lays their golden eggs.
  15. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    BDA definition of dyspraxia/DCD

    Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD), also known as dyspraxia in the UK, is a common disorder affecting fine and/or gross motor coordination in children and adults. This condition is formally recognised by international organisations including the World Health Organisation. DCD is distinct from other motor disorders such as cerebral palsy and stroke.

    The range of intellectual ability is in line with the general population. Individuals may vary in how their difficulties present; these may change over time depending on environmental demands and life experience, and will persist into adulthood. An individual’s coordination difficulties may affect participation and functioning of everyday life skills in education, work and employment. Children may present with difficulties with self-care, writing, typing, riding a bike, play as well as other educational and recreational activities. In adulthood many of these difficulties will continue, as well as learning new skills at home, in education and work, such as driving a car and DIY.

    There may be a range of co-occurring difficulties which can also have serious negative impacts on daily life. These include social emotional difficulties as well as problems with time management, planning and organisation and these may impact an adult’s education or employment experiences.
  16. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Reasonable adjustments in the workplace can be very important, especially if someone is having difficulties for example, in report writing, admin tasks, meeting deadlines. Having a diagnostic assessment report which confirms dyslexia makes this process easier to access.

    If someone ends up on a performance improvement plan, this can exacerbate the problems faced and quite often ends up with additional stress related problems. In this case, having proof of dyslexia means that person is classed as having a disability and so is covered by the 2010 Equality Act.

    Most learning and health conditions are on a spectrum but being able to use a term which people can understand can be really helpful.

    For example, depression could be seen as a spectrum of difficulties and will affect people in different ways. There is no one fits all solution. However, being able to use the term depression when disclosing a disability, is helpful in the initial stages of disclosure or if someone wants their HR/ manger to know but does not want to disclose further personal details about themselves.
    balletomane likes this.
  17. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I'm not saying that others shouldn't be assessed, just that we need to be realistic about what the terms mean.

    They are an umbrella term for a wide range of symptoms and problems with a neurological basis.

    They are not a diagnosis, in the same way that a sore leg is not a diagnosis, the manifestations can be hugely vaired, and the treatment radically different depending on the situation, the cause , the symptoms, etc.

    So therefore the fighting for a diagnosis, chip-on-the-shoulder attitudes from people who feel hard done by becasue they had to push hard to get a diagnosis, or becasue people don't understand their diagnosis, is all a waste of time, and shows a lack of understanding of the condition.

    No, my attitude reflects 40 years of being an "expert" in this field

    what you don't seem to get is that no organisations retain the same understanding of what these words even mean for more than a couple of years at a time.
  18. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    in other words, coordination problems, that is what it is. DCD ( developmental coordination disorder) is actually a good description, but it is a description of the sympotoms, that is what it is.

    No, the world heath organisation and other international organisations agree that this term is an acceptable word to use as an umbrella term for these types of difficulties.
  19. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    Difficulties which have a neurological basis are not ONE disorder, or two disorders, or 20, or 50, they are for each individual a collection of symptoms, and that is unique to them, and I feel that the insistence that dyspraxia, for example is one thing that you can suspect your child has, and fight for a diagnosis for, is just such a divergence, and such a waste of outrage, and such a barrier to understanding.

    You know if your child is clumsy.

    You know if the clumisness is out of kilter with intellectual abilities,

    that is all it comes down to, clumsy child syndrome, (or clumsy adult!)

    If it crosses a certain threshold, it can get the label, t=but the label is not telling anyone what the problem is, only that there is a problem that causes clumsiness.

    I'm not sying it a useless label, just that there isn't an exact diagnosis, there isn't a specific borderline between dyspraxic and not dyspraxic, the SEND is the same with or without the label, although the label IS a handy catch-all - I'm not saying it isn't

    I'm saying what a waste of time, and what a barrier to understanding and what a way of setting up a child for a permanent shoulder chip, is this attitude that "I suspected it since they were 3, I had to push really hard for a diagnosis"

    The only real value of a diagnosis would be being on the list of conditions for which you are banned from driving.
  20. ABCCBA123321

    ABCCBA123321 Occasional commenter

    Thank you for the thinly veiled accusations that I'm one of those parents who've pushed for some kind of fantasy "diagnosis"... and by "diagnosis" I use the term basically as a neat summary of the likely set of difficulties which my child tends to have - because it's a hell of a lot shorter than sitting there reeling off that she has problems with core strength and stability, fine motor skills, gross motor skills, a complete and total blindspot where spatial relationships are concerned to the point she can't visually see that she's trying to put her t-shirt on like a pair of trousers, her organisational and sequencing skills are at the point multi-step instructions are an issue, the organisation and grammatical structure of her speech is disorganised and she struggles to sequence what she's trying to tell you verbally (she also has articulatory problems of certain speech sounds but we're making real progress ironing that issue out) and her sensory processing is out of whack spectacularly"

    Let's just say it can cut the duration of a parent-teacher SEN meeting down by about 20 minutes if we assume we can shorthand lots of that to a neat little shopping list of difficulties summary of a word/or three (depending on if you go for one term of the other) - both sides of the table know the general type of difficulties likely to be presenting and then we can just focus on discussing the ones that we find more complex or problematic in our specific set of circumstances than others. Same as lots of "diagnosis" that are given for issues that are basically a commonly co-existing set of difficulties.

    And do not EVER use the clumsy child label to describe my daughter - I find it INCREDIBLY offensive and negatively blaming towards her in its connotations.

    I actually knew something was wrong by about age 2 1/2 - 3 because it was the speech that sent me off trying to piece together the puzzle incidentally - it was trying to figure out how she could have excellent understanding of language and understanding of a good range of vocabulary... but couldn't articulate any of it intelligibly (I could understand some of it - but I'm mum and tuned into it) that wasn't clicking into place at all for me. School, totally before I had said anything to them about my suspicions, raised theirs about coordination and spatial awareness and everything else very very quickly - I'd discussed the speech issues but nothing else.

    Most un-chip-on-the-shoulder child you'll ever meet incidentally. Will give anything a go, will give it repeated goes and will do it with a huge grin on her face. Falls over, gets back up, inspects the latest dent in her knee, gets on with it. I fear for the school photocopying budget in terms of her bump note collection though.

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