A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the book launch of Veronica Bidwell‘s new book, The Parent’s Guide to Specific Learning Difficulties: Information, Advice and Practical Tips.
The book launch, hosted by the Kensington Dyslexia Centre, included a marvellous array of London’s top SEN specialists, headteachers, SENCos, Educational Psychologists and parents. It was a great opportunity to discuss the many virtues of the book as well as a chance for me to reconnect with old friends and colleagues from my days working as a dyslexia specialist in schools.
The general consensus was that Veronica’s book is very welcome and much needed addition to the SEN list of books available. In fact, I would go as far as to say that anyone teaching children, and any parent with concerns regarding their child’s learning, should have a copy of this book.
Not necessarily intended as a book to read from cover-to-cover, this book is a fantastic ‘go to’ book to dip in and out of for information on Specific Learning difficulties.
In the first part of the book, Veronica gives a clear and concise description of each specific learning difficulty by chapter including: Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Auditory Processing Disorder, Specific Language Impairment and Visual processing Difficulty. For clarity, each difficulty is described in separate chapters, but many of these difficulties can co-occur, so it is most helpful to have the broad spectrum of difficulties in one book. The book is written in an engaging, personable style, without jargon and long-winded explanations.
In the second half of the book, Veronica offers practical advice and teaching tips for both parents and teachers on a variety of areas including tips for reading, spelling, writing, handwriting and maths. The final sections tackle areas such as building and maintaining confidence and motivation giving advice that is reassuring and entirely practical; even advising parents on how to approach school staff with concerns about their child.
The numerous case studies included make the book engaging and personable; offering real insight into the processes, recommendations and journeys that several children have experienced. Parents may recognise certain traits and attributes in their own children and feel more confident about approaching their school for appropriate action and support. As Jackie Murray, Principal Educational Psychologist at Fairley House School, comments, “If parents could spend a week with an educational psychologist asking every question they could think of, the result might be this book!” and I couldn’t agree more. By demystifying and unravelling the complexities of specific learning difficulties this is an empowering book for parents.
According to the British Dyslexia Association, dyslexia affects around 10% of the population. If we include the myriad specific difficulties that can co-occur with dyslexia, it is clear that as educators, we all owe it to the students we work with to be fully informed and aware of these difficulties that could be affecting the way that they learn. And as well as being aware, we must be adaptable in our approach and sensitive to these children’s needs. This book is an essential tool in our teaching bag of tricks.
Sarah is a dyslexia specialist and Senior Consultant at Osborne Cawkwell Educational Consultants, providing the link between parents, Educational Psychologists, schools and tutors on SEN related issues.
Veronica Bidwell and Sarah Cox