Dyslexia Action
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HELP! My ten year old cannot cope with school!!!

My 10-year old son is dyslexic and has always hated school. He cried most mornings, most evenings and worried through the weekends and holidays. He was always poorly, had mouth ulcers, became incontinent. We battled the system until Xmas in year 4 when we pulled him out aged 9 after he said he wanted to die rather than go to school. He has improved his confidence but home schooling is not suiting our family and we would like him to return to school. He has trialled a different school for a week now, and the old patterns are returning. He cried after every session there and has now become ill and the incontinence is returning. He describes the work being 'really hard' but they say he is keeping up and is doing ok. He also says he feels dizzy and sick whilst doing the work. They are being lovely, but are unable to offer any specialist support. We do not know which way to turn. he feels like a failure. We feel stuck as we don't feel the system can cater for him, but he is bright and deserves the same chances as his peers. We really do not know what to do next, as we can't face the constant battle of school. Any advice/experiences greatly received please.

28 Replies

When my son was six and a half he said he wanted to go and live with the animals. Although younger, my son also developed incontinence. He pooed and wet behind the settee. He did perceive himself as being different but did not have the language to explain what is going on. Children often cannot find the right words. This impacted on his self esteem and well being. I did not share any of this information because back then I was a social worker and thought my child may be taken off me (my fears).

So this is what I did

I contacted my local dyslexia action centre and arranged for my son to have a full education assessment with an education psychologist and then he started lessons there. I did not offer him a choice about this and as a parent you have a right to take him out of school. The education psychologist also suggested we ask for a full pediactric referral via our GP because he had observed he had symptoms of dyspraxia. We were to find out he had oral and physical dyspraxia.

I contacted my local parent partnership team at KIDS. I believe they only operate in England. The person allocated to our family from KIDS was amazing and he came to talk to me and my husband and he also arranged a meeting with school to plan. Your son should have a school action plan or school action plus plan. KIDS are a national charity and they have satalitte units in England. If you cannot find them ring your local authority.

You need to order the SEN toolkit and the Codes of Practice from the government education website.

Listening books are great.

With all due respect they may be lovely, however, the school and education system is failing your child. The school is not addressing his needs within dyslexia. With the help of the parent partnership team maybe a meeting can be arranged. The school my child attended was lovely, however, you have to be prepared to fight for the resources he needs. You do not have to do this on your own, however, the journey can be very bumpy and frightening. Again our advocate was brilliant and helped us so much from KIDS.

Try to involve your son in sports, music. This will help him with self esteem. Try not to offer him to much choice, just arrange it.

You may want to consider talking to your GP for a full paediatric assessment. Is the reason for the incontinence a medical problem. Your son may be benefit from being referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Team. I am not saying your child is mentally ill, however, he may need help to work through some of his struggles because now they are hurting him.

I hope this helps. U are not alone.

1 like

Thank you so much for all you information - I agree that the system is failing him and I will carry on the fight for help. Thanks for the info about KIDS, I will look into them further. Ironically CAMHS and the continence team signed him off when I withdrew him from school as they felt he would be 'better'. Of course he was better, we had removed the stressor! However I still think he has a right to the help he needs, it can feel a very hard battle on your own.

We are also going to GP to request a full assessment - someone, somewhere must be able to help!

Thanks again, it is reassuring to know we are not alone!


I also got my son refered to CAMHS by our doctor - at first they only spoke to me over the phone - and sent a letter to me saying that I thought he was better and that they were closing his case - I wrote back (to her manager ) and said that she dismissed my son without even seeing him - they reopened his case and we were seen by a lady who came out from Cambridge - the assessment was booked during the school holidays, so they never got to see his behaviour at its worst - (but they have agreed to keep him on the books, whilst he is going through the trangression of starting secondary school.) so we have a back up plan, should he start getting "unsettled" again.


Hi Rich,

I was deeply saddened to hear about how your child feels about school.

I won't repeat the advice given to you in the previous reply but will add to it.

I was a little concerned about advising that you just arrange activities without engaging your child in the process. My experience of being dyslexic and having a severely dyslexic child is that they thrive on feeling in control of their own lives. This has to be done in a very planned and considered way and make them feel empowered and part of the process. For example taking them along and talking to them about what they would like to do and how they can fit into the social setting before hand and most importantly giving them time to think.

It sounds as though school has become a very scarey place for your child and that they are going to need help to overcome that. I would suggest Child counselling, so that they can explore exactly what the problem is and empower your child to make changes for themselves at a pace that suits them. They can also explore where these fears come from and how they can be overcome. This maybe available through CAMS(the child and adolsecent mental health) through referral from your GP. If not there are some private practitioners.

I don't disagree with anything your first reply said but am concerned that school has become the 'monster in the corner or under the bed' for your child and if that is not addressed first, then things will not change easily. Dyslexia action can offer invaluable advised concerning their learning and also CPD to the school once they are ready to return.

As a child and adolscent therapist, I would recommend therapy first, so that your child can move forward theyselves positively. Also this will take some of the pressure off your family and support you in making informed decisions about what next, if someone else is giving your child additional emotional support.

If you have any difficulties accessing therapy the Institute Arts in Therapy and Education ( just google IATE) has a list of practioners countrywide, who are all trained to the highest level and have undergone stringent checks (CRB's etc). Please blog again whatever you decide, it will help others too in the same situation, as you are not alone and neither is your child.


Again, thank you for your reply. I feel that for my son, you are totally right about him needing to feel in control of what happens to him. He says he feels panicky at school as he has to do things when and how they want and if he needs a break to help his 'brain think' he's not able to do that.

You are also totally right about school being 'the monster under the bed'. He had some basic counselling at CAMHS but he said he just told them what he thought they wanted to hear. It didn't help him cope at school, and they signed him off as soon as we took him out of school, as unsurprisingly, a lot of his stress was removed. Over this weekend things have gone backwards for us, his staring eyes, panicky look and wetting have all resumed. So he is clearly not able to cope alone with what is being asked of him. We feel helpless as parents, as we are just doing our best, and feeling criticised by school and doctors for not 'forcing' him to 'get on with it'

So, having re-read your suggestions, I think we will persue therapy of some sort for him and I am waiting for a call from Dyslexia Action.

Thank you, again it is nice to know we are not alone!


Do ring the BDA helpline as well - 0845 251 9002 - they will be able to support you as well and give advice.


I used Toe by Toe multi sensory teaching method to teach my 12 yr old grandson how to read (and all my following special needs dyslexic students of all ages - including adults) I was just ordinary gran when I started you do not need to be a teacher, if you can read you can teach them... To help a dyslexic person retain the information they are being taught this method repeats the same lesson 3 times in short 20 minutes maximum sessions on 3 consecutive days if possible... e.g. monday, tuesday, wednesday... it does not matter what time of day.. The education system had failed to teach my grandson how to access the carriculum by time he was 12 yrs old and said he was 'unteachable', using the above method he was reading fluently but slowly in 5 months ... including all long words ... but the beauty of the method is that from day one of starting to use it his confidence and joy in being able to understand the sounds different letters make and read the simple sentence were tearjerkingly amazing ..he never looked back .. you do not have to teach the national cariculum to home teach, only teach them skills to enable them to look after themselves and function i.e. the basics . reading writing, cleanliness etc. but also if you want your child to learn a subject you cannot teach e.g. science you can request the local education office/school to allow your child to attend his/her local school each week for those lessons only or a combination of lessons, e.g. if they ok on maths they can do maths at school and go on to do their O levels or whatever ... Also...for dyslexic or other special needs students who are being or got bullied at school you can arrange with the school for your child/children to start school After the other students have gone into classes and to Leave Before the other students leave to enable your child to get home or be collected etc. without having to encounter the bullies... also arrange for your child to go into a 'safe' area at break times which is supervised by a teacher at all times e.g. library or even staff room if necessary. Most of the students I went on to teach did the 'home tuition for reading and maths with me and 'part-time' single lessons -late start -early finish routine for sciences etc.,. most dyslexic student have an higher I.Q. than average and their confidence and potential just need unlocking. for Maths I used the dartboard, ludo, snakes and ladders, dominos in short 20 minute lessons too... and lots of laughter..at home. we did DIY. e.g gardening, market gardening. window cleaning, car cleaning. simple joinery,e.g. putting up blinds, building furniture from kits..taking apart and re-assembling clocks, locks, p.c.s laptops, lamps, electric plugs, etc. business studies, he had his own caravan cleaning business on Saturday mornings and earned £90 so we used that to teach him banking and money handling, working out bank interest, etc. got him a 1 week work experience place with Asda, they were so impressed not only did they extend it for 2 weeks they gave him a money gift at the end of it (not allowed to pay them wages). For a dyslexic person to remember what they are learning I found the repeat 3 times x max. 20 minutes idea worked best whatever the subject. Every one of my ex- students have gone on to bigger and better careers than their former school students. among them there is 1 female marine biologist (u need this if u want to work with dolphins as she did) 1 highly qualified self employed electrician who the local college still want him to take up a post Tutoring adult students, he is also so intelligent he had the choice of career his 1st choice being taking up law and becoming a lawyer - this takes longer so he qualified to be an electrician first to give him an income and he can train for his law degree on open university in the meantime .. there is no bounds to what all your dyslexic children or even adult educationally challenged loved ones can do... most of you are more adept at thinking laterally which uses your brains more and coming up with inventions etc. . e.g. Richard Branson .Dyslexic brains like to keep active they are 'thinking 'how to' brains Keep them active - increase their confidence... teach them things their school mates dont know 'how to' give them a leading start in 'useful skills' department .. employers are short of skillful employees... Dyslexic people are usually more practical workers.... My grandson is now 22 and the only one of all those he associated with at school who got a good well paid job immediately he finished his statutory education with me at 16 the rest have still not got a permanent settled job including those that bullied him at school too. He is highly thought of at work by colleques and bosses,as he is hard working, good time keeper and eager to learn still helpful at all times and popular with customers alike and envied by all his friends, to whom he is kind and caring. I was 60 when I started home tutoring my grandson I am nearly 71 and have retired again for the 6th time and of all the many jobs I have done in life voluntary teaching dyslexic students how to read and achieve has been the most satisfying useful job I have done. Worth more than gold. By the way I am still an ordinary Grandmother with no formal teaching qualification.. just my police clearance. best wishes in all your endeavours and every success hope some of this helps you all.


Beroflower - you are an inspiration to us all! You clearly love children and see the best in them! Your words have really helped me to put things in perspective, as I was feeling the injustice of it all, of having a child that doens't fit the mould.

We have played many board games (he loves being the banker in monopoly!!!) and I have taken him on outings which would not have been possible if he was at school. (We went to Wimbledon on finals day and the Olympics and he even managed the tube!)

REading your wise words have helped me to understand that educating a child is more than reading and writing, but lifeskills too. We have been struggling to get him to sit down and read, but he is LISTENING to the 5th Harry Potter book and can't get enough of it. LISTENING BOOKS charity is a lifesaver - not too expensive to join and hundreds of books to borrow on CD.

We are trying to decide whether it's worth one more fight with the authorities, or whether we admit defeat, and put the energy into nurturing him ourselves.

Thanks again, I will let you know what happens.....


am so pleased I was some help ..don't forget you can count your time at Wimbledon, Olympics etc. as tuition time for your LEA assessment visit .just get your son to write or type or verbally record his impressions,experiences, difficulties he encountered. did he like etc... and the typing, writing of counts as part of his English, Typing, Computer, Recording lesson too.

.do try the home tuition + part time or single subject later start,- early finish plan for formal school tuition for subjects you wish your son to get formal qualification suggest that to the authorities, see how it goes, or ask the LEA to get an assessment done and see if you qualify for private tutor funding... if you dont ask and ask firmly you do not get...

arming yourself with the knowledge of your sons rights so you know what the authoritie are supposed to supply and support you with goes a long way to getting it... when they know you are well informed . be assertive, calm but firm... quote from the government literature or take a copy along highlight the sections you need and insist it is their duty. If you decide to give it a try and it does not work out right you can always go back to full home tutoring.

If you do full home tutoring you and your child will be free of the constraints of the classroom and authority except for the checks as I am sure you have enjoyed that already... tip..does dad or you or any, relatives, friends, or aquaintances have a skill they could teach your son over the next few years that would give him a better chance of getting a job . e.g. woodwork, etc. Note: anyone other than the childs parents have to have Police clearance check and best mention it to your LEA officer (don't know what they call the clearance they do these days u need to ring the local police enquiry office) I have police clearance but always made a point of having a parent or relative of the child stay with us in same room when I taught other than my grandson one to one anyway, some I taught online via messenger or the Mike and kept a copy of all I said to the child and have a parent at other end in room too.

Explain the following to your son and get him to draw a simple diagram how the following 2 brains work differently but in the end the same.

The Brain is a Muscle .. the more it is used the stronger it becomes .. the healthier it stays and the quicker it works.

If it is not used the muscle cells die quicker. rather Like the difference between a 'skinny man' and a 'strong muscle man'

Dyslexic brains are fully functioning and not damaged they can take in the same information other fully functioning brain do.

the memory boxes are simply wired on the opposite side to the majority.

How the Brain works.: -

Information goes into the processing half of our brains to be processed and is then passed across to the other side to the memory boxes to be put in the appropriate slots, If information is not sorted out first it cannot be stored in the right boxes, and sometimes gets thrown out. (like sorting letters at the Post Office Sorting department) Ask your local Royal Mail sorting office if you can do an educational visit to watch them do it- very interesting).

In the dyslexic brain the memory box and processing sides are wired on the opposite side to most brains. the information is sent to the memory box first for processing, which it cannot do so...

the memory side then gets confused and rejects it or jumbles the information up and manages to store it in the jumble box, that is why on recall it comes out as jumble.

In order to retain the information correctly it has to be 'trained' to send it over to the processing side to be sorted out correctly and be sent back.

this has to be done in short sessions to give it the extra time the brain needs to do all this extra work and send it over for processing in the correct order.

processing side then sorts it out and sends it back to be stored in the memory boxes.

Now because the memory side is used to storing only jumble it has to 'make new boxes' to store the 'unjumbled information in'

to make sure the information is retained the has to be repeated 3 times at least so it gets put in 'a new unjumbled box' instead of the 'jumbled' on.

thats not all...

Memory recall has to go through the same 3 way sequence

a dyslexic brains' recall is usually slower. it reads slower not because its lazy or stupid but because it has 3 actions to perform before the information is passed to the 'verbal out' box instead of just the 2 actions of other brains.

again think of letter sorting.. if a postman puts a letter into-

1. the wrong box, he has to

2. -take it back out and

3. put it in - the right box..

but who is to say which is the 'normal' brain... neither is damaged

Both brains have the same end result..

1.both take in information, 2.processes it, 3.stores it 4.recalls it.

We all take in information,

1. by sight, 2.by hearing, 3. by seeing, 4.by touch, 5.by taste. 6.by smell, most memory recall is done by 'photos' .when remembering what we have stored we 'see' the information in picture form.

just 2 different methods of working... but the same result.. both can and do learn the same information just by different ways.

Because the Dyslexic brain has a special way of working and has to work harder to process and store everything it is a 'stronger' brain muscle.. does more 'thinking' and usually works better especially in subjects such as inventing or practical skills subjects.


I look forward to hearing of your future successes and I know you will have lots, every day we achieve something... however small...

Kindest regards.


Hi Beroflower did your grandson have plenty of friends, when you decided to do this. My child has problems joining clubs. I just dont know which way to go. He has been to three schools already and two were private. Will schools allow children to do part- time schooling in High School? How many exams do they have to sit can I request that he only takes a number of them. You have any more advise to give me please do so. My daughter has also been assessed with dyslexia and dyscalculia. Thanks Pearl


p.s. I do know how to do paragraphs etc. but am now sight impaired and can barely see, writing or typing takes me a long time if I attend to paragraphs etc. i get the article in a terrible mess and sometimes loss the whole of my item pressing wrong keys, it is easier to just touch type without the paragraphs... . I am an aging grandmother you see.


Hi Rich72 (again) I forgot most important point..when home tutoring it does not have to be done set hours or minimum hours or in a set place... so you dont have to be tied to the house.. if schooling is causing you difficulties with working hours for instance... you can do the teaching lessons after or before you go to work etc over the weekend .. it does not have to be 9 to 5 x 5 days a week... but do keep a copy of all you teach... you can take your children out into town while you are shopping as part of their education.. to the cinema.. as part of the education... to the theatre... ..especially swimming... for exercise as a games lesson.. ten pin bowling - as exercise in maths.and social mixing... the out and about lessons record them all they are all education teaching children to be competent to find their way around, shop, travel, communicate with people, socialising.. etc. the theatre and cinema are cultural education i can go on and on... but do remember to keep the ticket stubs...times, days, etc.. you dont have to stick to 'set authority holiday weeks either' we used to spend a whole season at the coast in my caravan 6 months .. the LEA officer did her assessment end March and beginning of Sept so i could do that and keep my grandson away from the bullies.. and you must get the child to write a short article on what they saw, what they learned.. etc.. and save these in a file so when the LEA officer (you get your own allotted and they are marvelous and helpful) comes to do the check you have the evidence to show you are teaching them lifes essential skills. fit the teaching in with your family life style and working committments there are no set hours for home schooling .. fit in any pre-arranged single or half day, 1 full day at school for any set science lesson or a private tutor can do it too if your child is school phobic, in with the rest of your special timetable. it is great fun . fitting in education with family shopping and outings cultural places.. just make sure you have your LEA HOME EDUCATED PASS with you at all times.. i photocopied ours and kept one in my handbag for each individual student in case they forget theirs. .contrary to popular belief - It is not compulsory for children in the UK to go to School.....It is only Compulsory to be 'Educated' in the basics of life. so that is why it is not compulsory to do the national carriculum...so you can teach children at home but it is compulsory for you to arrange it with the Local Education Authority as it is compulsory for them to check every few months (3 to 6) that you are in fact actually teaching the child the compulsory basics and the child also has to have an official LEA 'pass' that is best to be carried at all times when out and about to produce to the police who will stop you or your child if on their own so they do not get carted off to the local school for 'truancy', local police do Your child can go to grans when u working gran can do the reading or any or lesson it does not have to be just you... just keep the evidence and get your child to write about what hes learned he can use pc to type it (that's an additional lesson you can record too) or you can get a dictation stick and the child can record it verbally, you are then allowed to type it for them provided you keep the recorded evidence till the LEA Officer has checked it... by the way for the projects the child does at home they can be saved and assessed for an ASDAN award this is in place of formal O levels. etc. so when they go for jobs later they have valid LEA certificates to produce to show their achievments. The Toe by Toe book website is toe-by-toe.co.uk phone; used to be 01274 598807 email: sales@toe-by-toe.co.uk its by Keda & Harry Cowling, I have no connection with the book other than my genuine independant recommendation it is so good an aid for dyslexic teaching I got my grandsons LEA authority to issue all dyslexic students in every school in our area with one and as far as i know the school authorities still use them. phonetic teaching is the best they only taught phonetically when i was a girl.. IMPORTANT PASS IT ON.. DO NOT TEACH DYSLEXIC OR INFANTS ABC e.g. A as in aye B as in bee That is what confuses them .. teach them a as in apple.. b as in bird. c as in cat. etc. d as in dog. e as in elephant. etc.. not ABCDEFG HIJKLM NOPQ RSTU VWXYZ. a b c(k) d e(gg) f (fish) etc. think told you all important stuff now... if u want any more info/questions about school authority etc. do another post i be happy to help or ask your LEAspecial needs officer they will be happy to give you all the home schooling information i am sure... don't take no for an answer from the school authorities.. study up on your rights and use them like I did once they know you know what your are talking about they back down..if they dont do it voluntary go to top of the ladder ...tip.. nowadays that is where I start time is too precious ..... Managers kick the buts of those down below quicker as managers do not like being disturbed...let me know if this help you... kind regards ...


Hi Rich72

I m so sorry to hear about the problem that you have with your little boy. I have an eight year old boy that has been struggling with school for a long time. I could see when he was in Year 2 that he was experiencing problems in school but according to them he was fine at school. When he started school at the age of 3yrs and 3 months (in Wales) he couldn t speak properly. I asked if we could delay is start but were told no as he would have lost his place. Looking back I should have told them where to stuff their place. My little one would cry everyday going into school. I broke my heart leaving him there. He attended a Welsh school. I started reading up about dyslexia and I could see a lot of my son s problems in the information that I was reading. I contacted the Education Department and asked if someone could come out and assess him. I didn't t ask the school I took the bull by the horns. The Dyslexic Advisory Teacher came out 3 months and confirmed that he was dyslexic. I also took him to see someone privately. He was put on school action and suppose to have weekly help which didn't happen. After his second assessment he was put on school action plus and the school SENCO was to give him three sessions a week. Again this didn t happen. After a lot of fighting with the school we decided to look around for a different school for him. We took him out at the end of the summer term and I felt a massive relief as we walked out of the school gates. On his first day at the new school as parents we were very apprehensive he was nervous too but to see him now is absolutely fantastic. I park the car and he runs in happily. Where as our Sundays used to be spent watching the clock we now enjoy the day. He still gets trouble sleeping but I think that's how he is going to be. He is a very special child and we will do everything possible for him to get the best education.

Good luck x


thanks for sharing your experiences with me. It's so sad that children have to struggle in school still, when dyslexia is a known problem for so many.

I am so glad you're little one is more settled - how did you go about choosing a different school? Is it a specialist dyslexia school or just more sympathetic?

Well done for fighting and continuing to fight for your child - they deserve it!


After years of special needs reading lessons and private tuition, I discovered Toe by Toe book when my son was 9 years old. He was reading like a 6 year old but within 3 months he could read like a teenager. Since then I have recommended the book to dozens of other parents who have all successfully taught their children how to read :) It is based on repetition, Keda Cowling, saw that this worked and science has since proven her theory right coz it takes 3 times to get the information into the long-term memory.

I have researched dyslexia for years trying to 'cure' my son and please be assured that it is NOT any sort of brain damage, unlike autism or asbergers, it's just 'poor reading' which Toe by Toe can sort out :) Do not give up! Do not rely on the schools either!!

Buy it off ebay for £20-£25. Full instructions are on each page and boys love the competitive nature of it.

Please let us know how you get on with it, as he is the prefect age for this book.

I love Toe by Toe as it saved millions of tears in my home, and saved our lives :)

Give it a go, you will not be disappointed :)

Good luck to you.


Thanks joybird. Our son's tutor started toe by toe and it has really helped him - it's a fantastic resource! Although it has helped, the school is slow at continuing to use it, and he is becoming overwhelmed with keeping up with the other children.

He likes the competitive side of it, and it's beauty is the short periods involved - it really only is 5 minutes a day, which is not too hard!



Hi Rich72

When we started thinking about changes schools we took a lot of different topics into consideration. As he was in a Welsh school we could see that he was struggling with the introduction of English in Year 3. We weren t prepared to see him suffering anymore. We took the advice of the Dyslexic Advisory Teacher that works with the Education Department. She gave us a tremendous amount of advice and support. Have u been in touch with your local Advisory Teacher. We visited four schools altogether and we went with the school that she advised us. Apart from the teacher they also have three classroom assistants to help them and they do Read Write Ink daily not like three times weekly in the old school. We visited the school on a number of occasions before deciding but as soon as you walk into the school there is such a positive feeling it is fantastic. Plea keep in touch maybe we could

help one another out.



thanks - i didn't even know there was such a thing as an advisory teacher at the Education dept! I will contact LEA today to find out.

HAve ordered a Hank Zipster from library and look forward to trying it. All these children are special and deserve to feel special and not stupid.....


Forgot to mention the Henry Winkler books. They are easy reading and my little boy can relate to the character Hank Zipster the world s greatest underachiever. Sorry I meant please earlier on.


Did you get in touch with your Local Education Department?


As a parent of three children, two of which have Dyslexia and a Dyslexic Husband I can relate to the problems you are experiencing. Please ensure that your son is properly assessed by an Educational Psychologist as this is most important. Your son I believe reports feeling sick and dizzy when working. It may be useful to have him tested for Irlans Syndrome, which is often associated with Dyslexia. This causes head pain and feelings of motion sickness . My Daughter suffers this and although diagnosed at an early age with Dyslexia, was only tested for Irlans Syndrome when she applied to University. She had been backwards and forwards to Doctors all through her childhood, but this was never picked up.

The problems that I experienced were in the Private School Sector, rather than the State Sector. I was lucky that I found an absoloutely brilliant school, that was very experienced with Dyslexic children. It did however, come at a cost.

Please do not give up hope. It will be a long hard journey and you must be persistant, take advice from the experts like Dyslexia Action. They will help you with advice and support.

My son was written off at seven years old by a Headmaster who liked to think that Dyslexia was an excuse for low intelligence, he even refused to accept the report by the Psychologist.

Twelve years on and this boy who was deemed a hopeless case, was awarded the Akroyd Scholarship for Yorkshire and has just completed his first year at Corpus Christi College Cambridge where he is reading for a BA in History. This is the same boy who at seven years old did mirror image writing and was taunted and bullied by the other kids because he was different. All it takes to turn the situation round is a teacher who is willing and able to give the correct support - not learning support but Specialsit Dyslexic Support and your son's confidence will grow and he will start to enjoy the bright new world that will open up to him.

I hope this story will help you to see that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

With my very best wishes for a brighter future.


Hi Rich72

Most people here have been in similar positions and I am not going to repeat the already great advice but I will outline my own battle that will hopefully give you strength.

As parents we will fight to the death for our children and I am no different. Two years ago I battled my sons school and I won that round I am about to embark on my next battle. To get your son what he needs you have to be single minded and have the hide of a rhino, the school will tell you they are doing everything they can but they are doing the minimum they can get away with.

Contact your local parent partnership, mine in the midlands were brilliant and gave me support, advice and helped me focus on what we needed for our son, they also provide someone who will listen and make you feel that you are not being crazy or unreasonable which is so important.

You already have the diagnosis which is more that me, I am about to start that battle now, but 2 years ago when my son was in year 2 we had already been fighting the school for 18 months (since he was in reception) as we knew that reading, phonics were not connecting. Where we are fortunate is that unlike the majority of dyselxic children our son has an exceptionally good memory and it is this that has got us this far. We had his reading age and spelling age independently assessed and they came out below reception, so we began to fight, the school were reluctant to get any outside agencies involved as this cost them money and it takes up their resources but we dug in.

Eventually they got specialist teaching services to assess our son and they can to the same conclusions, that Joe was over 2 years behind in his reading and spelling, however in the other tests that they did, verbal reasoning, spatial awareness, general knowledge, maths and intelligence he scored higher than some adults, the school said that he was behind because of behaviour issues in that he would not behave in class (only in literacy lessosn though) but if it was maths, ICT or Art he could happily sit there all day, and the school said that because of his behaviour he had missed the important building blocks of literacy. So he the school were advised to teach him as a dyslexic child as he showed dyslexic tendancies but that they wanted to reassess in 2 years (this is just after Christmas this academic year) to see if he still displayed dyslexic tendancies. This is the next battle to get that reassessment.

What you need to do is get the GP, CAMHS etc to support you and with the dyslexia diagnosis try and get him statemented by the local education authority, we have a statement for our son which states he has to have 10 hours 1-2-1 support for literacy, a statement is a legal binding document and the school MUST stick to it. We also threatened to take the school to court as they were breaching our sons human rights, as it is the right of every child in this country to have an education and by denying him support for his literacy they were denying him access to the curriculum. You have to be prepared to fight, don't expect the school to do this for you as they don't want to. You can apply for a statement yourself, go to your local education department website and get the forms fill them in and send them off, which I applied the school said there was no point me wasting my time as he wouldn't get a statement, but we did without having to appeal as we had independent assessments and other medical documents backing up our claims, you actually have a diagnosis for dyslexia, by applying you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. One final thing that I would also suggest sending is a recording of your son talking about how he feels and what he sees as the problem, my son said he was stupid, and that made him feel different to everyone else as they could all read and he hated being this way and he just wanted to hide. Nothing is more powerful than their words, use them. My son is anything but stupid and thought he is only year 4 can solve year 6 math problems for fun and knows so much about the natural world it is amazing, all children have a talent and it is just finding that talent.

We also pay for additional 1-2-1 support by a local provider who have worked wonders with our son and they teach him in a way that suits his needs and abilities and what he is interested in. We never got to the other anxiety/health issues and my heart goes out to you, but don't give in, make them deal with this as that is their job.

Good luck with this and if you need any further information you know where we are.


I would recommend that you take your son to an optician specialising in children's eye problems and have him tested for scotopic sensitivity and/or visual stress, also convergence problems. My daughter had similar feelings of sickness and dizziness when learning to read, also headaches. (I'm familiar with the tears and not wanting to go to school - very upsetting for all concerned!) She was diagnosed with scotopic sensitivity and convergence problems and given exercises to do, and a coloured overlay to put over book pages to reduce glare. This helped a lot and she went on to learn to read ok. If you have a diagnosis from an optician it might also help with getting extra help for him at school. Other things which helped, I think, were lots of outside play, throwing stones into rivers, climbing trees etc - it gives them a rest and reminds everyone that reading is not the only thing in life!



In april 2011 i withdrew my then 9 year old from primary school to home educate due to huge problems. Like your son, my son couldnt cope at school was ill, suffered anxiety and more illness. He was unable to read, write and was making no progress at school. School was unco-operative, late with decisions on how to help and my son was on the verge of a mental breakdown. My son was seen by camhs due to them thinking he had aspergers syndrome as he was hugley phobic about school. His symptoms eased once home educating.

Home eduacating my son for the the last 18 months has helped to re-gain some confidence and i used this time to research ways of getting further help in getting a diagnosis. I have since managed to have my son diagnosed as severley dyslexic with him being at the profound range for memory and processing. He has also been diagnosed as irlen syndrome and being dyspraxic and having hypermobile finger joints which affects his writing ability. This cost me £450 for eduactional pyschologist and £300 for irlen diagnosis but even though it has been tough my family helped me with funds for daignosis. every penny and ounce of effort was worth it!

In july 2012 i applied to the LEA to begin the statmenting process as my son has expressed a wish to return to school as he loves science. But i knew that unless he has significantly more support the same pattern would return. Surprisingly they have pushed this through really quickly.

The lea were difficult at first but he has now been granted a statment of special educational needs and a transistion plan that has suprised me. The way in which this is working is that he will be able to attend a home and hospital referal unit for 15 hours a week while support is being addressed anxiety managed and liason with the mainstream primary school. They will then slowly re-intergrate him back into primary school in stages. Regular reviews are stated in his statement and i have had many meetings regarding monitoring and how this process will develop.

I am informed that as his hours increase gradually they will review the support required and the statement will be ammeneded accordingly. I had parent partnership help me liase and manage meetings so i know exactly where i stand and know that my sons needs are addressed accordingly.

It has been a manic, demanding and exhausting 18 months but i have done in 18months what the school failed to do in 4 years despite my concerns. So now he is set to start at a unit and then transistion to a primary school he likes and then secondary school in september this year.

New start and hes surprisngly upbeat about it ! now hes got an explanation and he got to choose the school.


There are still a few places left on the FREE parents conference in London on March 2nd. Book on bdadyslexia.org.uk/conferen... This is a day of talks and workshops held by Dyslexia Action, BDA, Helen Arkell and other partners to help parents with their children's difficulties .


Please would you look at our 'yes we can read' website. It is a manual, which anyone who can read can just pick up and use to teach someone from 8 to 80. All you have to do is read the general instructions in 15 minutes or so. No training for the coach is required. You just have to be able to read. An 11 year old boy taught his dad to read. Prisoners are teaching fellow inmates. The homeless in Westminster who can read are teaching fellow homeless people in their hostels. Year 11 students are teaching year 7 students with limited or no reading skills, and they have now reached their chronological age in reading! Please look at the videos you will be inspired. One-to-one is the key. It works, I promise you.


thanks for this - I will have a look, I had not heard of it before. It may come in useful for some older children who I tutor. thanks


Thank you rich. It works with anyone from 8 to 80. In Brune Park secondary school the year 11 students are teaching year 7 pupils and they reach their chronological age on completing Yes we can read from a very low base indeed. Please take a look at the video on the website. It is made by the students themselves and is very inspiring. One of the learners, Leon, finished the book and immediately began coaching his best mate, who has now also finished the book and reached his chronological reading age ( previously age 5).


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