Categories
Events

International Expert in ICT and Inclusion Carol Allen to visit Australia in August 2018

All students struggling with literacy should be supported appropriately with both evidence-based intervention as well as effective accommodations. Accommodations ensure that students have access to the curriculum and can participate in the classroom. Carol Allen has exceptional knowledge in the area of ICT and its effective use to support students experiencing literacy difficulties. She will be sharing this knowledge in a series of interactive and valuable workshops across Australia in August.

Please contact your state SPELD for more information via the website links provided below.

PERTH

Workshop for Parents – Tuesday August 7. For more information, go to https://dsf.net.au/Professional-Learning/carol-allen-parent-workshop/

Workshop for Teachers – Wednesday August 8. For more information, go to https://dsf.net.au/Professional-Learning/carol-allen-full-day-teacher-workshop/

BRISBANE

Workshop for Teachers – Friday August 10. For more information, go to https://www.speld.org.au/view-event/creative-literacy-to-support-inclusion-for-those-136

SYDNEY

Workshop for Teachers – Monday August 13. For more information, go to https://speldnsw.org.au/news/creative-literacy-teacher-workshop-with-carol-allen/

MELBOURNE

Workshop for Parents – Wednesday August 15. For more information, go to https://speld.secure.force.com/apex/EventDetails?Id=a170I00000XicMlQAJ

Workshop for Teachers – Thursday August 16. For more information, go to https://speld.secure.force.com/apex/EventDetails?Id=a170I00000XiccKQAR

ADELAIDE

Workshop for Teachers – Saturday August 18. For more information, go to http://www.speld-sa.org.au/workshops/term-3-2018.html

Download a PDF flyer

Categories
Conference Events

2019 Language, Literacy & Learning Conference – Keynote Speakers announced!

The team at DSF are absolutely delighted to announce the six keynote speakers for the 2019 Language, Literacy and Learning Conference. All six speakers are exceptional – and the conference is shaping up to be an event not to be missed! Be sure to register your interest in the conference on the website.

 

Download this flyer (74.04 kB).

Categories
News

Identifying Dyslexia in the Early Years

Parents and teachers often report feeling overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information currently available, and widely circulated, on the topic of dyslexia. Views on everything from the causative factors, the most effective interventions, the reported advantages, and even whether or not dyslexia exists, are widespread and frequently contradictory.

One area that promotes quite passionate commentary, and clearly divergent views, relates to the age at which a Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) in reading (commonly known as dyslexia) can be diagnosed. An analysis of this commentary suggests that a popular misconception associated with the identification of dyslexia (and other SLDs) is that they cannot be diagnosed until eight years of age. This ‘myth’ has prevailed in the wider community despite the circulation of extensive information explaining why this belief is incorrect.

Children can be diagnosed with dyslexia well before they turn eight if they have struggled with the acquisition of skills in reading (and spelling) for an extended period of time despite the provision of high quality instruction and appropriate intensive intervention. This will be explained in greater detail a little later in this article.

Another ‘myth’ associated with the diagnosis of dyslexia is that it can be identified through a simple screening process or via the completion of a checklist. This is simply not the case. In the event that the screening or checklist is reviewed remotely (i.e. by someone who is not assessing the child face-to-face) then the results of such an ‘assessment’ should be discounted.

The definition of dyslexia recognised by the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), AUSPELD, the NICHD (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development) and DSF suggests that dyslexia is:

  • Neurobiological,
  • Characterised by poor reading accuracy and/or fluency,
  • Often associated with phonological (and/or orthographic) processing difficulties,
  • Unexpected in relation to the amount of effective instruction and intervention provided, and
  • A contributing factor to low levels of vocabulary and general knowledge, as well as poor reading comprehension.

This definition is also in line with the diagnostic criteria for a specific learning disorder (in reading) outlined in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM 5) (see table below).

As is evident from this definition, Dyslexia is viewed as a persistent and enduring difficulty acquiring and developing reading and spelling skills. Consequently, it can only be diagnosed once a child has been provided with reading instruction of sufficient quality and duration, that the fact that they are struggling to read accurately and fluently is viewed as surprising.

 

How is Dyslexia diagnosed?

Specific Learning Disorders (SLDs) occur in the areas of reading (dyslexia), written expression (dysgraphia) and mathematics (dyscalculia). They are considered to be one of a number of developmental disorders and are diagnosed through:

  • A review of the individual’s developmental, medical, educational and family history,
  • The results of standardised testing across a number of domains including academic achievement (e.g. reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension / spelling / written expression, etc.); cognitive processing and cognitive ability; and,
  • An evaluation of how well the student has responded to a minimum of six months’ intervention targeted at his/her area of weakness.

In the diagnosis of dyslexia, it is important to establish that the student has received intervention designed to improve skills in reading (accuracy and fluency), for a minimum of six months. The inclusion of a well-designed structured, synthetic phonics program (such as Sounds~Write, MiniLit, MacqLit or Reading Mastery) would generally be expected.

In most cases the assessment will be carried out by a psychologist, with knowledge and experience in education. The written report should provide information outlining the likely functional impact for the student in the classroom and also offer clear recommendations for both intervention and accommodations.

 

At what age can a diagnosis of Dyslexia be made?

Many schools screen children prior to year one (aged four, five and/or six) to identify the students at risk of ongoing language, learning and literacy difficulties. Early screening, conducted by the classroom teacher or a speech pathologist, is of enormous value but its purpose is not to identify students with dyslexia. Its purpose is to identify students in need of early intervention and support and to ensure that steps are taken to put this in place as quickly as possible. At this stage the emphasis is often on building the foundation skills necessary for successful literacy learning.

Once structured reading instruction commences – usually in Foundation / year one – there may be some students who continue to struggle despite the early support provided. These students will require explicit, intensive instruction to avoid falling further behind their peers. With this level of intervention, most students will make excellent progress but in some cases a more individualised response will be necessary.

A comprehensive assessment may be of value to assist in determining the profile and needs of the student. It may also be of importance to determine whether the student has a language impairment (speech pathologist) or learning disorder (psychologist) and, more importantly, to identify and recommend appropriate instructional and resourcing strategies.

In the event that a child is assessed for a possible Reading Disorder (Dyslexia), consideration is given to the quality and consistency of early reading instruction, in addition to the nature and duration of any intervention specifically targeting the development of reading skills. How well the student has responded to at least six months of intensive (either small group or one-on-one) intervention in reading is of central importance in the diagnostic process (see Criteria A below). Given that at least six months of intensive, targeted intervention needs to have been provided, it is unlikely that dyslexia can confidently be diagnosed until mid/late year one (assuming all diagnostic criteria are met).

Diagnosis using the DSM-5

CRITERIA A

Ongoing difficulties in the school-age years learning and using at least one academic skill (e.g. reading accuracy/fluency; spelling accuracy; written expression competence and fluency; mastering number facts). These difficulties have persisted and failed to improve as expected, despite the provision of targeted intervention for at least six months. This intervention should be recognised as evidence-based and delivered by an experienced and qualified person.

CRITERIA B

The difficulties experienced by the student will be assessed using standardised achievement tests* and found to be at a level significantly lower than most students of the same age. Sometimes students are identified with a learning disability even though they are performing within the average range. This is only the case when it can be shown that the student is achieving at this level due to unusually high levels of effort and ongoing support.

CRITERIA C

The difficulties experienced by the student usually become apparent in the early years of schooling. The exception to this is where problems occur in upper-primary or secondary school once the demands on student performance increase significantly. For example – when students have to read extended pieces of complex text or write at a more sophisticated level under timed conditions.

CRITERIA D

Specific learning disabilities will not be diagnosed if there is a more plausible explanation for the difficulties being experienced by the student. For example – if the student has: an intellectual disability; a sensory impairment; a history of chronic absenteeism; inadequate proficiency in the language of instruction; a psychosocial condition; or, not received appropriate instruction and/or intervention

*Standardised achievement tests are tests that have been developed by experts and trialled with large numbers of students to check their validity. They are only delivered by practitioners who have been trained to use the tests and score and interpret the results achieved.

All four criteria must be met for a diagnosis to be made and the level of severity is determined as being mild, moderate or severe.

 

Final Comments:

It is certainly possible to identify a student at risk of literacy learning difficulties from as early as four or five years of age and it is important to do so. Early identification provides schools and allied health professionals with an opportunity to intervene early and prevent, in most cases, long term difficulties. It is, however, not possible to confidently diagnose dyslexia until sometime after the student has been provided with both systematic reading instruction and appropriate intervention. This could be as early as year one but is dependent on the criteria related to Specific Learning Disorder diagnosis being met. It is always important to screen and intervene first – and assess and diagnose second.

 

For more information:

Understanding Learning Difficulties: A Guide for Parents shares information about dyslexia and other learning difficulties and can be accessed online for free.

Understanding Learning Difficulties: A Practical Guide provide principals, teachers, school psychologists and speech pathologists with a greater awareness and understanding of the significant impact learning disabilities can have on students, and to outline the most effective remediation and accommodation strategies available to them in the classroom. The guide is available to teachers through Scootle.

 

This article was written by:

Mandy Nayton
AUSPELD President, Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation WA CEO / Educational and Developmental Psychologist

Gemma Boyle
Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation WA Senior Psychologist

Note: this article was taken from The DSF Bulletin – Volume 53 (Winter 2017).

A printable version of this article can be downloaded here.

Categories
News

Why we support the Year 1 Phonics Check

Read AUSPELD’s submission supporting the national Year 1 Phonics check recently sent to all State and Territory Education Ministers…

Last week, state and territory education ministers met to discuss the proposed Phonics Check – a 5-7 minute “Check” of student progress. AUSPELD (The Australian Federation of SPELD Associations) supports the implementation of the Phonics Check in Australia because of its potential to identify students at risk of literacy failure. The reasons for this support are outlined in a letter sent to the Ministers prior to the meeting. Please read – AUSPELD Letter to Ministers – Support of the Year 1 Phonics Check

 

Categories
News

The Guide is Online!

VERY exciting news! The new AUSPELD website Understanding Learning Difficulties: A Guide for Parents is now on-line at www.uldforparents.com! The website contains a wealth of information for families, educators, allied health professionals and others about how best to support students with learning difficulties. The information can be accessed easily using the inbuilt text-to-speech function available across all pages of the website. The strategies and programs recommended are practical and evidence-based. There are great videos across the website (and more will be added over time). We hope you find the website useful and informative.

Categories
Events

Language, Literacy & Learning Conference – registrations now open!

Registrations for the inaugural Language, Literacy & Learning Conference are now open!

Literacy, Language and Learning Conference logo
Registrations now open!

The Language, Literacy and Learning Conference will provide a wealth of information on the factors influencing the successful acquisition of skills in both language and literacy. This event has been made possible through the collaboration of AUSPELD, DSF Literacy Services and the International Dyslexia Association (IDA).

Date: 30th March – 1st April 2017
Time: 8.45am – 4.00pm
Location: Perth Conference & Exhibition Centre
Website: literacylanguageconf.com

Please visit the conference website to find out more or to register to attend. Discounted registration fees are available to those who register early. In addition, all members of state SPELD organisations and IDA are entitled to an additional discount.

 

Register today!

Categories
Advocacy News

AUSPELD President Awarded Order of Australia Medal

Mandy ResizedAUSPELD is extremely proud to announce that AUSPELD President Mandy Nayton was awarded an Order of Australia medal on June 13th for her service to education and to those with learning disabilities. Mandy has spent much of her career investigating and introducing strategies designed to improve children’s literacy and is currently the chief executive officer of the Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation in Western Australia, as well as the president of AUSPELD. The Medal of the Order of Australia is awarded for exceptional service in a given field. This acknowledgment of Mandy’s dedication to the area of literacy and learning difficulties is richly deserved and a significant marker of the importance of AUSPELD’s essential national role in the advocacy and support of children and adults with learning difficulties.

Categories
Advocacy News Other Research

Two New Guides from AUSPELD: Understanding Learning Difficulties

Understanding Learning Difficulties: A practical guide

A comprehensive, evidence-based reference of strategies to assist students with learning difficulties.

This booklet, in conjunction with the enclosed CD, is designed to provide principals, teachers and school psychologists throughout Australia, with a greater awareness and understanding of the significant impact learning disabilities can have on students, and to outline the most effective remediation and accommodation strategies available to them in the classroom.
The CD contains a copy of the Guide plus a wide range of effective resources and strategies, all of which can be saved and printed for use throughout the school.

To purchase a copy of the guide please visit our resources information page.

Understanding Learning Difficulties: A guide for parents

Many parents or carers notice that their child is struggling at school but are unsure about the steps they should take. This Guide is designed to answer some of these questions. It has been developed to provide parents and carers with current information about the nature of learning disabilities and to offer practical guidance on the most appropriate identification and support.

To purchase a copy of the guide please visit our resources information page.

Categories
News

AUSPELD makes submission to Senate Inquiry

Recently, AUSPELD contributed a submission to the Senate Inquiry into current levels of access and attainment for students with disability in the school system, and the impact on students and families associated with inadequate levels of support. A full version of AUSPELD’s submission can be downloaded below.

Public hearings will be taking place in various cities around Australia. For more details regarding the public hearings please visit the Department of Senate Website

Download AUSPELD’s Full Submission

Categories
Advocacy Literacy Media News

Congratulations to Jackie French; Senior Australian of the Year for 2015

jackie-frenchAUSPELD extends congratulations and accolades to Jackie French for her well-deserved award of Senior Australian of the Year on Australia Day. Jackie has been a long term supporter of many of the State and Territory SPELDs and has already done so much to encourage and support Australian children and adults with learning difficulties. She is an inspiration to so many, and, as a person who has experienced first-hand the challenges of attending school with dyslexia, is able to speak from the heart about the importance of providing effective support and encouragement to all students.

{gspeech}We look forward to working with Jackie in 2015!{/gspeech}