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Dyslexia Awareness Month – Tom’s story

Colorimetry glasses supporting dyslexia

Before the month of October is out, I wanted to share Tom’s story. I’ve been meaning to share it all month but time really has flown. A little like the past nine months.

Tom was diagnosed with dyslexia after what seemed a considerable wait. And it was really.

Dyslexia has been mentioned numerous times over the years. But, in Tom’s primary school they don’t test until the child is in year 3. And everything was building to the test. The reality is the real time funding costs to schools in our area means the resources have been stripped, affording the time to test children for dyslexia removes a teacher from a classroom or an LSAs time to support.

In the end I felt like I’d had to stamp my feet more than I would have liked to have Tom tested. It might not have made any difference. It might just have been Tom’s turn next, but I felt stuck between a rock and a hard place.

As you might know, the potential for Tom to be medicated during school hours to support his ADHD was not possible until the school had completed testing associated with learning difficulties. It was hugely frustrating given both compound the other.

My five for a Friday - Llangrannog

I have never doubted the support available from Tom’s school. Blasphemed about the shortage of expertise – yes. I’m a parent of a child who needs support.

And getting Tom’s diagnosis was testament to this. Following Tom diagnosis in February SENCo took the time to talk me through the detail. The comedy of Tom being tested on being able to tell the time, simply to refuse the test on the basis he can’t tell the time. He’s nothing but true to his word.

I spoke about my mum’s suggestion about seeing whether colorimetry was a potential approach to support. I was a cynic where this is concerned, already convinced Tom would choose green because it’s his favourite colour.

After the Easter holidays Tom returned to school with a coloured overlay. In double pink. Proving that this was about letters being clearer not a fashion choice.

Colorimetry overlays

Unfortunately it would remain clear that Tom’s ADHD would play its own part. That Tom would play with his sheet rather than utilise it if he wasn’t closely supported. And close support… did I mention funding cuts… wasn’t something which could be relied on.

Knowing that the overlays were making a difference where focus could be given. And knowing that overlays couldn’t support Tom’s writing or laptop needs. In the summer holidays we returned to Cardiff University’s Colorimetrists for glasses.

Colorimetry glasses

On Tom’s first day back at school I received a text. Tom’s teacher was poorly and his teacher from his previous year was stepping in.

Honestly, my heart sank.

I had wanted a clean start for Tom. He had struggled so much in the previous year and I had hoped we could have a year of him wanting to go to school.

I explained this to a school mum as we walked to the playground. And looked like a complete madwoman as my child ran full force towards to me asking me to speak to his teacher.

I questioned whether I had read my text correctly.

But yes, his teacher was explaining to me and showing me Tom’s writing ability. That all this could be achieved, in lieu of hours of one-to-one support, by a coloured lens in a pair of glasses.

And yes, it’s rubbish. Colorimetrists, overlays and glasses comes at a cost which needs to be met privately. The difference this can make to a child, that this could mean a reduction in support in the classroom could be immense.

In Tom’s case, it’s not that straightforward. ADHD still makes him a bit of a troublemaker (he’s not a troublemaker!!!). Appreciating that he has dyslexia isn’t everything. But it does make some of his responses so much more understandable.

Can you imagine if you were looking at a whitescreen in class with a load of writing that you couldn’t see for the jumble and jumping of letters, as every bit of your brain was asking you to consider a multiple of other noises and senses.

My brain doesn’t function when I receive a document typed in Arial (let’s not even mention Comic Sans…).

Yesterday, Tom and I were home alone whilst Tony took Seren and Seb camping. We set off for a ‘whatever you want’ dinner from the supermarket.

Tom picked out some Match Attax cards. I went to look at the books. Tom joined me. And picked out a book he wanted.

Oh my world.

I have waited forever but never expected this day.

Tom wanted me to buy him a book.

It could have been anything. I would have said ‘yes’.

So ‘Diary of an Awesome Friendly Kid’ came home with us.

And yes, I got to bring the awesome friendly kid home too.

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