Helping people deal with dyslexia

THEY say there is a book inside each and every one of us and the rule of thumb is to write about a subject close to our hearts.

Catherine Taylor of Norland has written about a subject that she is not just passionate about, but knows inside out - dyslexia - and the response has been amazing.

Catherine, a grandma five times over, has spent a big chunk of her life working in the teaching profession in Calderdale helping youngsters and adults with dyslexia. It would be fair to say she has transformed many of their lives because in the 1980s when she first started helping small groups with reading and spelling problems, hardly anyone had heard of dyslexia and there was little written material around to help teachers like her.

Times have changed however, and these days health professionals and educationalists are pretty keyed up on the subject. Catherine, who now works as Dyslexia Co-ordinator at Calderdale College, still feels there is room for improvement however.

This has prompted her to write a simple, no frills book aimed at adults with dyslexia, their relatives, partners and friends, to explain why they are having problems and what they can do about it.

A Useful Dyslexia Handbook For Adults has only been in bookshops and on line for a couple of weeks but the feedback has been phenomenal. "Reviewers have been giving it five stars and it seems to be selling well which is fantastic. The publishers have done an excellent job of getting the book into all the big shops and sites such as Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith and Borders," says Catherine.

She believes the book is proving popular because most others on the subject tend to be very technical. "Most sufferers and their families want to know two things - what is causing the problem and what they can do about it."

She says the driving force behind the book was to reach out to help as many people as possible. "So many dyslexic people remain undiagnosed and have no idea how their lives can be turned round. We supported about 120 learners with dyslexia at Calderdale College last year and many of the students we see have been struggling with their difficulties for years. A high proportion realise there is a problem but don't know what it is. This can be very frustrating for them.

"As youngsters, people may have been told they were lazy or stupid. Failed by the education system, they are often low in self confidence and self esteem. Dyslexia has no links with levels of intelligence and many sufferers are extremely bright, creative, orally articulate, ingenious and highly successful in their own spheres," says Catherine.

"It's incredibly rewarding to see people gain in confidence and achieve their potential. You can see the light pouring in."

She is so happy with the response to her first book, she is now on with a follow-up book on spelling, which she says will be suitable for dyslexic learners. She has also had her first novel published, by the same publisher, and it goes into shops anytime. Not bad she says, for a 56-year-old.

l A Useful Dyslexia Handbook for Adults is published by Olympia Publishers and costs 5.99.

Fact file

Dyslexia is a neurological condition that affects reading, spelling and writing.

It can affect short-term memory, organisation, spoken language and motor skills.

Between four and five per cent of the British population suffer from the condition.

It occurs despite normal intellectual ability.

Famous sufferers include Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Sir Winston Churchill, Sir Richard Branson, Agatha Christie, Hans Christian Anderson, Tom Cruise, Cher, and Orlando Bloom.

The British Dyslexia Association helpline is 0118 9668271 or visit www.bdadyslexia.org.uk.


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