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  • Posted by Jemma Brown
  • 16 Mar 08, 4:26 PM

New research out suggests that one in five school children are showing signs of learning disability and 55% of children ‘failing’ their SAT’s are showing ‘symptoms of developmental learning problems’.

This story caught my slightly spastic eye mainly because I did reasonably OK in my SAT’s exams considering the majority of them were not in an alternative format and for the majority I received no extra time allowance.

I really hope this is something that has changed now. back then roughly a decade ago when I took my year 6 SAT’s my biggest worries about them was how much my back was going to hurt after spending too much time with my face mere centimetres away from the desk trying to read the standard size print and whether I managed to finish.

Also there is a huge amount of controversy as to whether I am dyslexic or not, let’s get things straight I have never actually been tested.

Throughout my school education I was informed that my lack of understanding when it came to English and my complete inability to spell was because I am partially sighted. Even now at college level I am told that my issues with spelling and proof reading my work are because of my visual impairment; they put it down to my inability to recognise word patterns, this however does not explain my complete inability to remember what someone asked me to do 5 seconds ago or my complete and utter lack of any form of organisation.

I have even in my time been told it’s not possible to be VI and dyslexic; it’s not possible to test someone who is VI for dyslexia.

This is complete rubbish it is apparently a little bit trickier to test someone who is VI but it is possible.

My parents were so frustrated with being fobbed off by schools and colleges that they once rang the RNIB to get the record set straight, and the RNIB confirmed that it is possible to be VI and dyslexic, Hurrah! but still no one would test me.

Now Dave is blind and dyslexic and I have several other friends and acquaintances that are.

It really makes me wonder what other people are going through. I cannot be the only disabled person in this situation struggling to get recognition for an additional issue, I worry that professionals see disabled children as having one disability and blame that for any other problem that occurs. Yes visual impairment does cause a few problems when trying to learn things like shape and distance but cannot necessarily take all the blame with other things I find difficult to learn.

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  • 1.
  • At 06:36 PM on 16 Mar 2008, Simon wrote:

Im a mature student who have times when I cant even pick up a book! Im dyslexic.. but for me the best thing invented was the computer with spell check!
anyway I wish you luck in your future.\


In the United States, some states apparently have laws that PROHIBIT diagnosising a deaf child with dyslexia or other specific-area learning disabilities for the purposes of obtaining accommodations at school for them.

Part of this seems to be rooted in a serious misunderstanding of the criteria for diagnosing dyslexia, etc. (in the US dyslexia is strictly a reading disability and distinct from ADHD, though the two disorders can certainly occur together; apparently one of the criteria for dyslexia is that it should not be "Better explained by" another disability such as deafness.

But this is not supposed to mean that you can't diagnose dyslexia etc in a deaf person at all, it simply means that you have to be careful to rule out other causes for the difficulties that are seen. There are, in fact, deaf people who are diagnosed as having dyslexia or AD(H)D, though diagnosis may often not occur until after they get to college or otherwise passed through the school system.

(At Gallaudet University, they have psychologists who specialize in testing for ADHD or dyslexia etc among deaf students of all ages. But not all psychologists have that expertise or realize that it is possible to contact Gallaudet University for advice on the appropriate tests and adaptations.)

Another reason for this delay in diagnosising additional disabilities among deaf children (and I imagine among blind children), at least in the US, I think is the assumption that the child already has an individual education plan (IEP) so why do they need any further diagnoses, services, etc.?

But whoever came up with that logic can't have thought it through. For example, not all deaf students are automatically given extra time on tests, but may need that if they do in fact have dyslexia or ADHD etc. If you're not able to formally diagnose the additional disability then it becomes harder to justify why the relevant/appropriate accommodations need to be in the IEP.

Have you checked out the information and services offered by the DRT via

  • 4.
  • At 10:33 PM on 18 Mar 2008, Elle wrote:

It works both ways. Other disabilities can prevent a diagnosis of dyslexia but a diagnosis of dyslexia can a diagnosis of others. Particulary where the boundaries between learning/developmental difficulties start to blur and in fact one compensates for the weaknesses of the other. I know from personal experience.

For those that don't know, the assumption that people with dyslexia can't read or spell is inaccurate. There are many forms of dyslexia, including difficulty processing and sifting infomation. And not all of the people with it require additional time in exams.

  • 5.
  • At 11:52 PM on 18 Mar 2008, Annie wrote:

Hi jemma
I am very interested in what you have written I am dyslexic I also have cerebral palsy. It seems to be difficult when you have one established condition. Problems are constantly attributed to in my case cerebral palsy. I was diagnosed will dyslexia almost 11 years ago and now have an MA I was in special school for 15 years where anything more than physical issues are largely ignored I got a good support package when I went to college and uni. I think this was more due to cp than dyslexia. Some people I have met have subjected that the spelling and reading problems I have may have been worsened by an utter lack of basic education. I have made some progress and have learned to use a computer which helps a lot but does not remove my need for the support of another person. I have only read a bit about blindness and dyslexia. This has been mostly related to ‘brail dyslexia’ I had always wondered if I would have been able to reed brail better as I rezoned it used a different part of the brain but have never been able to discuss it properly with anyone. I use tinted lenses and talking books these days. I also have VI friends who I think are dyslexic but have been told there is no test so thinks for the info.

Ghotit ( offers unique writing and reading online services for people who suffer from dyslexia, dysgraphia or people who are not native-English speakers. Ghotit’s first service is an online context sensitive spell checker.

What people have to say:

My god I have been look for this for all-my life, help that understands me. I write with a dictionary and thesaurus and some times cant even find the word looking for. I could not hold back the tears from the emotion then when I worked out how helpful this spellchecker will be for me.

• i really like it and i'm so glad i found it!! it will really help with my homework etc and my teachers wont get angry at me annymore!!

• Thank you for contacting us with your product. I tinkered with the spell checker for sometime this morning, entering common mistakes that our dyslexic students (and ADD) students make in spelling. I must say that I am extremely impressed with your product and would certainly like to further evaluate it with our students over the next several weeks.

• that spell checker is SO good, its actually waaay better than microsoft because it tells you the reasen why you are usuing the correct word. i really like it, its really good!!

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