Dyslexia in Australia
Dyslexia is estimated to affect some 10% of the Australian population
This may be a conservative estimate as many individuals are left unidentified in the Australian population. In other English speaking countries (first language) the figures are estimated to be up to 20% (UK, Canada, UK).
It may be safe to say that dyslexia affects 1 in 5 when including the continuum of mild to severe dyslexia ADA
Findings from Canada state that 80-90% of children in learning support have dyslexia.
‘Dyslexia is the most common cause of reading,writing and spelling difficulties’
In Australia the term SLD (Specific/Significant Learning Difficulty/Disability) or LD (Learning Difficulty) are still commonly being used interchangeably and as an umbrella term for a variety of difficulties which may or may not be dyslexia.
Dyslexia is best understood as a persistent difficulty with reading and spelling. Classroom and support teachers can be trained in effective teaching practices which will not only help the student with dyslexia learn but all students can benefit by direct, explicit and systematic multisensory instruction. Understanding and meeting the needs of dyslexia and related reading difficulties demands thorough teaching methodologies in reading and spelling. An understanding of the development and acquisition of oral language and written language (reading,spelling and writing) is required and many general classroom teachers would benefit from specialised language training.
Improved Teacher Training in Reading & Spelling Instruction:
The ADA believes that schools are in the forefront of being able to identify, assist and reach students with dyslexia and related challenges. Schools need access to quality professional development in the the area of language and literacy research. Improving general classroom teacher’s knowledge and skills improves their ability to reach and teach all students in their educational care. Schools also require further professional development in what obstructs and or impedes the acquisition of written language for some children and to understand the scientific basis of reading research to educational practice.
Dyslexia and the Law in Australia:
Dyslexia is recognised in Australian under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) and under the Human Rights Commission. The issue with schools is that dyslexia needs to be recognised under the special needs section in every Education Act in Australia. The Australian Working Party (2010) produced an excellent document “Helping People with Dyslexia: A National Agenda” which outlines key recommendations. The ADA supports this worthwhile document. The and the governments written response to the working party clearly states that dyslexia is a recognised disability in Australia.
Definition of dyslexia:
ADA have adopted and adapted the International Dyslexia Association’s defintion of dyslexia:
ADA’s definition: “Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterised by challenges with accurate and/or fluent single word decoding and word recognition. Difficulties with spelling may also be evident. These challenges typically result from a deficit in the phonological and/or orthographic component of language. These challenges are often unexpected in relation to other strengths, talents and abilities. The ADA do not relate dyslexia to IQ since reading and IQ are not correlated.
Dyslexia can remain a challenge throughout life despite mastery of language and literacy concepts; even with the provision of effective evidence-based classroom instruction. Secondary issues may include challenges in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience and these can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge. Dyslexia, if left unidentified and or unassisted, can cause social and emotional troubles.”
The ADA strongly supports early identification and access to a well trained teacher who can provide evidenced based instruction, that is based on a direct, explicit, structured and systematic language approach. This type of approach suits all children, in all classrooms, therefore it is an inclusive approach to the teaching of reading, spelling and writing.
Teacher training: link