E801: Action 3.1: Your Understandings of Dyslexia
1. My current ideas: I think that dyslexia is a connection problem in the brain and that it is not just reading and writing but sequencing and short term memory problems. I believe that the term 'neurodiversity disorders' is the best one to cover Aspergers Syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia although I am not sure that Tourettes and ADHD also fit into these disorders. I can recognise similar patterns with all of the first four.
I feel that there is a high degree of over-diagnosis in higher education and that is leading to problems with some lecturers disbelieving all students who present with dyslexia and so many tend to be reluctant to provide any assistance.
2. Lecturer 1: Well, I do think there are a few students with dyslexia but it's getting ridiculous. In my first year tutorial group I have six of the nine students using dyslexia stickers. It can't be right that they all have dyslexia. I can't do my job if I cannot point out grammar and spelling mistakes. I am supposed to be helping them to learn the material and also preparing them for future learning or work. They would never hold down a job presenting work the way they do to me and it is frustrating that I can't be trusted to be a professional and encourage them to improve their work so they will be able to hold down a job in the future.
Lecturer 2: There are students at this university with problems in spelling and grammar but I tend to think that it is more to do with the schooling they have received than from any specific disability. It's interesting that the ones from good local schools and private schools do not seem to have the same problems. I am happy to put information on the VLE before the lecture but I am not spending time and money on printing handouts on blue and green paper. If the slides are there in advance they can print them out just the same as any other student.
Third year student: I have dyslexia. I suppose I look at it as a problem because it is always causing me problems in uni. Work seems to take me longer than my friends cos I can't seem to work out what the essay title wants and I end up researching the wrong things then it all clicks in and I have to start again. I used a tutor for a while but it was useless as it just takes up even more time. My spelling isn't too bad now but I still have a lot of problems with short term memory and sequencing problems. My reading is too slow for uni work. Those are the things people don't realise, lecturers I mean.
First year student: I have dyslexia and it means I can't keep up with the work. I think it is a brain problem, something to do with connections between my eyes and my brain. My spelling is awful and I am struggling with the load of reading they are giving me. I have coloured glasses which stop the text dancing around but I am still so slow.
PhD student: I do still have dyslexia but I manage by myself now. I think that it is a genuine problem in my case but I get fed up of all the students who use it as an excuse nowadays. I do not declare it most of the time now as people do not always believe it exists. I also think that hard work can cure most of the symptoms although it still exists underneath. I was appalling in junior school and struggled in senior school but my parents got me some private tuition which helped me through the work. I know my reading is still slower than my mates but it just means that I am more selective in what I read. I write notes and lists everywhere to help my organisation and make sure I do not forget anything.
- Everyone believed that dyslexia is being overdiagnosed
- The majority mentioned organisation, reading, spelling, memory
- Everyone saw it as a problem and discussed it using a medical model of deficiencies
- One person saw it as an ocular problem
- Two people thought that the symptoms, at least, could be cured with hard work
- Both lecturers came across as very frustrated that they were being prevented from doing their job by political correctness.
4. I was surprised that the lecturers were so honest even though they were being recorded. I think that this may come from the sheer sense of frustration that they are experiencing.