Dyslexia still misunderstood in Midlands

Nearly a quarter of the people surveyed in the Midlands (23 per cent ) believe dyslexia affected your ability to tell colours apart, according to research published this week.

The Association for Higher Education Access and Disability (AHEAD ) revealed this data at a conference on dyslexia in NUI Maynooth last Wednesday where the issue of dyslexia in mainstream education was addressed.

The research data reveals a degree of ignorance and uncertainty in relation to dyslexia.

Though 82 per cent of people in Leinster agree that dyslexia affects your ability to read and write, some 44 per cent did not identify dyslexia as a disability and 24 per cent think it affects your ability to drive a car.

One in three people believe that dyslexia can be cured, while one in five (20% per cent ) think there is nothing you can do to offset dyslexia.

The conference was opened by the Minister for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, John Moloney TD and featured UK dyslexia expert Dr Chris Singleton and Professor Tom Collins of NUI Maynooth.

“We simply have to bring a better understanding of dyslexia to teachers, lecturers, tutors and the Department of Education,” said director of AHEAD, Ann Heelan.

“The culture that exists now is the same ‘chalk and talk’ and text-based system that has been in place for decades and it doesn’t help students with dyslexia, whereas experiential learning is beneficial to all students.

“One of the biggest challenges for people with dyslexia is getting the people around them to acknowledge and understand that dyslexia is a disability.

“In the past, people who had trouble reading due to dyslexia were often dismissed as being stupid. That attitude is changing, but so is the incidence of dyslexia.

“Bigger classrooms will only make it more difficult for teachers to spot students who may have dyslexia”.

The research data shows that attitudes are changing, particularly with younger people.

Whereas 60 per cent of people over 55 say they do not know anyone with dyslexia, that figure drops to 37 per cent for people in the 15 to 24 age group.

Dyslexia is believed to affect one in ten people in Ireland – over 400,000 people – and half of all people surveyed say they know someone with dyslexia.

Speaking on behalf of the Dyslexia Association of Ireland, the organisation’s CEO Rosie Bissett said:

“Dyslexia has grown in the information age. In the past, the workforce was occupied with mainly manual labour, but now in a time where text documents and computers dominate the workplace, more and more cases of dyslexia are emerging.”

“There is an assumption that dyslexia means low intelligence, but this simply is not true and there are many people with high IQs who have dyslexia. A survey in the UK indicated that 80 per cent of entrepreneurs have dyslexia – people like Richard Branson and Daniel Bloom.

“Their skills include creativity and lateral thinking and these are skills that employers need.”


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