Technology helps kids with dyslexia experience joy of reading, writing

Posted September 15, 2017 09:00:00

Angus Crockett knows what it feels like to be stuck still trying to read instructions when all the other kids in the class have finished their work.

The nine-year-old Harrison Primary School student was diagnosed with dyslexia last year.

“Dyslexia is very annoying most of the time,” he said.

“It’s like if every word was written in a secret code which kids with dyslexia have to try to crack.

“It makes it very hard to do easy things like reading and writing and it takes you longer to learn things.”

Primary symptoms of dyslexia

  • Problems learning the letter sounds for reading and spelling
  • Difficulty in reading single words, such as on flash cards and in lists (decoding)
  • Lack of fluency
  • Reading slowly with many mistakes
  • Poor spelling
  • Poor visual gestalt/coding (orthographic coding)

Source: Australian Dyslexia Association

Since his diagnosis, Angus’s school has been exploring ways to facilitate his learning with an individual plan and useful technology.

“Instead of just writing things up in my writing books, I use my iPad now to help me type up things,” he told ABC Radio Canberra.

“It makes it quicker and neater.”

Angus’s mum Jessica said teachers at the school had also helped avoid confidence-crushing situations.

“He’s not called on to read in front of the class, which can be quite upsetting,” she said.

The Crockett family were able to arrange the majority of testing for dyslexia through Harrison Primary School.

“For a long time we knew there were some significant reading issues,” Mrs Crockett said.

“But we didn’t know if he just wasn’t getting it or whether there was something like dyslexia at play.

“Friends of ours have paid upwards of $2,000 to have the testing done.

“For many it can be really very difficult.”

Can a C-pen help?

Angus is now on a mission to raise $4,000 with the help of a Go Fund Me campaign to buy a set of C-pens for his school.

“The C-pen looks a little bit like a highlighter,” he explained.

“It’s a scanning pen which can read words or whole sentences out loud if you don’t recognise them.

“But they cost $390 each and that’s expensive.”

How does a C-pen work?

  • It’s a pocket-sized, portable device
  • Reads text aloud when the nib is passed over a word
  • Also displays dictionary definition
  • Built-in microphone allows user to record audio and replay it
  • Text and audio can also be uploaded to computer

ACT Minister for Education Yvette Berry said she would be interested to learn more about the effectiveness of C-pens for children with dyslexia.

“ACT schools are provided with funding to purchase things like this,” she said.

“Schools will decide what best meets the needs of children in their own schools.

“If C-pens do meet the needs of children in the way that they can learn, then it is something that school communities should consider.”

Mrs Crockett said parents looking for support or help with diagnosis of dyslexia should contact the Australian Dyslexia Association.

Topics: primary-schools, child-health-and-behaviour, human-interest, computers-and-technology, play-and-learning, education, canberra-2600