By Kaelanne Jordan
The Executive Chairman of the Dyslexic Association of Trinidad and Tobago (‘the Association’) has said that she does not blame teachers, but the training institutions as educators do not possess the skills, they need in recognising the symptoms of dyslexia in the classroom.
“They don’t know about dyslexia; they don’t know about what dyslexic students need and they can’t just know it without being taught it…”
“But as teachers there is growth…so do make yourselves aware…teach a little differently, doing pictures on the board instead of just words…mix it up,” Cathryn Kelshall said during a ‘Succeeding with Dyslexia’ seminar for parents and teachers, October 26 at the Arthur Lok Jack Global School of Business, Mt Hope.
Kelshall advised teachers present, if they have a child who’s failing in reading to get the parents to contact the Association. She assured the Association has teachers all over Trinidad: Blanchisseuse, Moruga, Matura, Siparia, Point Fortin and Guayaguayare.
Meanwhile, neuropsychologist and researcher Dr Tim Conway has said for years the Association has been trying not only to work with the Ministry of Health but also the Ministry of Education (MoE)
He told parents and teachers: “It’s going to be more coming from you in helping empower them to know that they need to work with us because we’ve had multiple attempts to make progress…and we’re not making the progress…that traction is not happening…so please join us to make that happen.”
There was active engagement during the Q&A segment with one parent asking how parents can help the Association in changing the marking schemes to the SEA, CSEC and CAPE examinations. She observed that most dyslexic children cannot spell and will “never be able to spell properly”. “What can I do to change that?” she questioned.
Responding to the question, Kelshall said that the Association has approached the MoE about spelling. She mentioned that the Ministry’s response is that “Spelling is a very small percentage of the mark”. She continued: “And our response is that small percentage is what is going to make the difference…But we have a lot to do…but go ahead and write letters, push, push, because we’ve certainly been pushing since 1990.”
Established in 2004, The MoE’s Student Support Services Division (SSSD) delivers an array of psycho-social support services to students which include specialised services for children with moderate and severe Special Educational needs, behavioural issues, clinical issues and career guidance.
Referring to this, Kelshall said while the school is supposed to refer the child to SSSD, there is a lot of paperwork involved and schools seem to be a “bit reluctant”.