How difficult is it to live with dyslexia?

Continuing the conversation on homework in schools, High Noon looked into life with the disorder

Homework can be a contentious issue within households as it is - add in the pressure of a condition like dyslexia, and it can become a living nightmare for children.

'Dyslexia' is the general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that do not affect general intelligence.

Caller John McDaid spoke to George Hook on High Noon today, explaining that the spectrum when it comes to the severity of dyslexia is extremely broad.

"My three children were all diagnosed with different levels of dyslexia," he said. "As parents, we did the usual - we researched everything, and we got in to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland."

McDaid explained that homework can be quite traumatic for students with dyslexia, particularly reading exercises, as students struggle to make out letters in words.

His children are now grown up, and the condition did not affect their career prospects. His first son secured a degree in Business and Law - an achievement made possible thanks to the Dyslexia Association of Ireland.

His daughter is a primary school teacher in England, while his youngest son has just completed a degree in Sports Science.

"The groundwork was done through the support of the association, teaching them strategies and tactics to learn how to read. We learned that writing subjects is the best way to learn something, because your brain retains it better."

McDaid criticised the lack of state support currently available to students with dyslexia.

"To get the disclaimers, you have to get a psychologist's report. To get that report, you have to pay for it. You're then put into a queue. When they get through that, they get a waiver on their English and grammar. They're exempt from Irish, and they don't have to do a third language."

Helping people with dyslexia to learn

Sara Haboubi is the managing director of Quantum Leaps in Offaly. The company provides multiple services in the world of personal, professional and educational development, at individual and organisational levels. 

She told High Noon it's about approaching learning in a completely different way.

"It's understanding what dyslexia actually is," she said. "For most people, when they're in the classroom and they're not learning the way their peers are learning, it can look like there's something wrong with them.

"What we look at is their strengths - what they're actually good at, and where their talents lie. And for most people with dyslexia, it's their visual processing system that is far superior than their phonological system.

"Unfortunately, most reading and writing is taught through a phonic system [...] So we come through a different door in the brain."