At ALTA, we recognise our peers in literacy
education. This week we highlight the work of the Dyslexia Association, a
volunteer organization founded in 1990 by a group of teachers and parents
concerned for their dyslexic children.
The Dyslexia Association supports dyslexics,
parents and teachers, educates the wider community about this learning
difference and trains teachers in methods for teaching dyslexics. The
Association also aims to work with the Ministry of Education towards placing a
specially trained teacher in every school.
In an interview with Anya Aching, a young
person who has been navigating the world with dyslexia, Dyslexia Association Chairman
Cathryn Kelshall uncovers the process from assessment and early intervention, to
Cathryn Kelshall: Today we’re talking to Anya Aching, wonderful
artist who is also dyslexic.
So can you tell me how old you are?
AA: I’m 19 years old
CK: When did you first find out you were dyslexic?
AA: I first found out I was dyslexic in
primary school when I realized that I was having a bit of issues with spelling and
reading and just keeping up in class. So my mom took me to get assessed and
through my assessment, they recommended that I get some early intervention with
Christine David Lewis. So I did years of that.
CK: Wonderful. And in fact, she’s one of
our Dyslexia Association trained teachers. I know that you did very well in
school and all your CAPE exams. You were on the Caribbean Merit List twice. How
did you cope?
AA: I coped with school – and with
everything in general – by creating and by using my art to calm down, just calm
myself and refocus and take my mind off of school, because school is really stressful.
So that’s how I coped.
CK: Did you get any help in school?
AA: Yeah, I got a lot of help. My friends
are amazing. I really thought that I had to keep my dyslexia a secret around them,
but eventually I just told them and they were like, “Okay, cool. Tell me more.”
And I was like, “This is great!”
So I have a best friend, and she kind of
became my aid in school unknowingly. We just kind of gelled and she understood
me and she helped me a lot.
CK: So she helped you with notes?
AA: Yeah, she helped take all my notes and
then after school, she gave me a lot of help, kind of like lessons. But she
made it fun.
CK: What about coping with the amount of
reading you had to do?
AA: She had this thing where if we had a passage
to read, she would make me read a paragraph, and then she would read a paragraph,
and then I would read a paragraph. And if I got tired, then she would just
continue reading and make sure that I was focused and on-task.
CK: What a great friend – and you told me
that your mum also helped you with your reading.
AA: Yeah – my mom did a lot for me.
CK: So you did really well at school. What
are you doing now?
AA: Right now I’m a studio assistant at
CK: Does your dyslexia affect you in your
AA: Yeah, it does a lot. We’re able to use
our creativity in the studio all the time. And fun fact: everybody in the
studio is dyslexic!
CK: So you see that your dyslexia is
positive in your job?
AA: Yes, extremely.
CK: You’ve actually chosen a good job for dyslexics.
So what advice do you have for others?
AA: So I have advice for parents, teachers
and students. So for parents, if you notice your child has dyslexia then I
would recommend getting them assessed and getting some early intervention and
supporting them. That would go a long way.
And for teachers I recommend patience and
providing notes for the students because note taking is really hard. For students
or just kids in general, I would recommend putting your pride aside and asking
for help and don’t be ashamed of it. I used to be ashamed of it, but it’s
nothing to be ashamed about. Also find a support system. You don’t need a whole
group of people. It can just be one person.
CK: So wonderful! Dyslexia and proud – I
love it! Anya can you share with everybody the Dyslexia Association telephone
AA: You guys can call 281-READ (7323).
CK: Wonderful! Thank you so much Anya, for
coming in to talk to us.
AA: You’re welcome.
If you wish to find out more about “inspiring confidence through uniqueness”with the Dyslexia Association, contact
them at 281-READ or firstname.lastname@example.org .