Dear Mr Piccoli My daughter’s journey through the education system has been traumatic at best and abusive at worst. She has dyslexia and t...

Sara's Red Letter

00:44:00 Dyslexia Australia 0 Comments

Dear Mr Piccoli

My daughter’s journey through the education system has been traumatic at best and abusive at worst. She has dyslexia and the education system has failed her miserably. 

As a parent of a child with dyslexia I feel totally abandoned by the education system and have no confidence in their ability to teach our little girl to read.

It has been such a difficult journey.  I found myself faced with a situation where the very people I thought were the experts in teaching my child were not able to identify that she had a learning disability although all her school reports identified that she was behind in literacy and numeracy.  When I explore with her teachers how to best support her learning and help her to catch up the strategies they gave me were not helpful for a child with dyslexia if anything they only caused more angst.  The word dyslexia was never suggested to me as a possible issue. I made the decision to move my daughter to a smaller school in the local area hoping this may help.

After some research and some reading I was the one who identified that my child may have dyslexia so I organised a WISC test so as I could rule out the issue being around intellectual capacity and to identify other possible causes.

I found it difficult to find someone to assess my daughter and made several phone calls before coming across someone who told me that they could give my child an assessment. What this person actually assessed my daughter for was Irlens Syndrome, which has nothing to do with dyslexia and only confuses an already confusing issue when people you think are professionals tell you it is!  Not surprisingly my daughter was diagnosed with Irlens Sydrome after an extremely brief and expensive assessment with tests that anybody would have found visually stressful and I was encouraged to purchase a pair $500 glasses and place an order immediately. 

When parents are in a position of watching their child in emotional pain every day and struggling for years with a school system that fails them they are left in a very vulnerable position and will look to anyone who sets themselves up as a someone who can help them.  After I did some more research I felt very betrayed by this professional and with the assistance of my daughters current year 3 teacher I located someone who was able to conduct a pre-assessment and Tiera was diagnosed as someone with a moderate risk of being Dyslexic. In total contrast to my pervious experience with the Irlens assessor this person recommended that I not pay $500 for a full assessment, as I would need to do this again before my daughter started High School. Instead this professional suggested a pre-assessment, which would give me a pretty good indication and the strategies that I needed to help her. 

My biggest issue is that despite numerous attempts to get the right support for my child I was not able to do this through the public school system.  The school did put some strategies in place but they were not evidence based. The more research I did the more I began to understand that the gap between evidence based research on how best to teach kids to read and what was actually being taught in the classroom was very concerning and made no sense to me.

I am now paying privately for multi lit tutoring, which has been the one thing that has created the pathway to reading for my child. It was not until she started this that she began to make gains in her reading. To add insult to injury the school tried to take the credit for this – unbelievable.  Not only did the new principal do his best to undermine the only thing that has helped my daughter his “I know best” attitude was nothing short of offensive.  I am also now paying fees for my daughter to see a psychologist to help her work through her anxiety and trauma that the school system has left her with, she is 9 years old. 

I now know first hand that the majority of teachers in our schools are inadequately trained to cope with the needs of the dyslexia child.  I also know that my daughter’s previous school was unwilling to look at what they could do to best meet my child’s needs, there was no shifting them from their historical ways of teaching and what was implemented was pure rhetoric. I know that the education system is not equipping their teachers to implement the learning’s from evidence-based research to teach our kids how to read and I know that these learning’s are what my child needs. I have seen the evidence of that. 

I am now paying for my daughter to attend a private school that teaches her in a way that fits with her needs. After starting her new school two weeks ago her anxiety literally disappeared over night.  I want to see an education where our children can thrive not just survive.   I want to see an education system that supports a child to feel safe not full of angst and traumatised every day that they attend school.  I want to see an education system that is innovative and that supports evidence based learning not a system where kids are able to get to year 6 and can still not read. I want to see a system that is inclusive of all children’s needs not just the ones that fit the square. It can be done. The system as it currently stands is simply just not good enough.

Yours Sincerely

(mother of a dyslexic child)