Dyslexia and support available through EHCPs

I recently visited the Helen Arkell Dyslexia Centre in Surrey, a specialist centre offering assessments and services for children and adults with Specific Learning Difficulties, to provide training on Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs).

Helen Arkell is an impressive centre that can provide assessments, advice on access arrangements for exams, Dyscalculia screening assessments, Educational Psychologist assessments, specialist tuition and courses for children, parents and professionals. It is a great resource base providing books and literature on Dyslexia, a shop where specialist books and learning aids can be bought and is a hub for professionals with a wealth of knowledge.

The British Dyslexia Association estimates that 1 in 10 people in the UK have Dyslexia, 4% severely. That is a significant figure that can lead to a huge problem if not picked up early on. Being able to spot the signs and request an assessment is key.

Help is available through an Education, Health and Care (EHC) needs assessment and an EHC Plan.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a lifelong Specific Learning Difficulty that mainly affects the skills involved in information processing and is characterised by problems in accurate and fluent reading and spelling. It is usually an inherited condition and occurs independently of intelligence. It can come with various degrees of difficulty and can affect several aspects of learning, all of which can impact a child/young person’s (CYP) learning and development of life skills.  

A good indication of the severity of dyslexic difficulties can be gained by looking at how the person responds to personalised and directed intervention.

Other related learning difficulties

Dyslexia often co-occurs with related conditions such as:

  • Dyscalculia – difficulty with numbers
  • Poor short-term memory
  • Problems concentrating and a short attention span including ADHD
  • Poor organisation and time-management
  • Dyspraxia – physical coordination problems

Indicators to look out for:  

Preschool children

  • Delayed speech compared to peers
  • Speech problems such as difficulty pronouncing long words and jumbling up phrases
  • Little understanding or appreciation of rhyming words

School children

  • Problems learning to sound out letters
  • Problems with spelling e.g. inconsistent and unpredictable
  • Putting letters the wrong way round e.g. ‘b’ instead of ‘d’
  • Slow to read and visual disturbances whilst reading e.g. words moving or blurred
  • Answering questions well orally but difficulty writing the answer
  • Difficulty carrying out a sequence of directions or learning sequences
  • Slow and poor handwriting

Teenagers and above

  • Poorly organised written work and planning essays
  • Avoiding reading and writing
  • Difficulty taking notes or copying
  • Poor spelling
  • Struggling  to remember things and meet deadlines

How to get help

If you think your child may have Dyslexia or other related difficulty, you should first discuss your concerns with the school Special Educational Needs and Disability Coordinator (SENDCo). The SENDCo should work with you to put some support in place. This should involve an assessment, planning, delivering and reviewing the support. Parents should be involved in the process. If, despite the additional support, the problems remain or if you cannot see sufficient improvement, you or your child’s school should ask the Local Authority (LA) to conduct an EHC needs assessment. You and/or your child’s school will have to provide evidence of your child’s difficulties and additional support that has been put in place.

The benefit of an EHC needs assessment is that the LA will conduct a full holistic assessment which should result in a fuller understanding of your child’s learning difficulties and the support required to meet their needs. The assessment may result in an EHCP which is a legally binding document setting out the support that the LA must ensure is delivered. The EHCP will also name a school that the LA believes can meet your child’s needs. The named school must accept your child and, if it is an independent school, the LA must fully fund it.

The EHCP is reviewed annually and parents can appeal to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal against the content of the Plan if they disagree with the description of their child’s difficulties, the amount or type of support and/or the school named on the Plan. They can also appeal if the LA refuses to conduct an EHC needs assessment or if they refuse to issue a Plan following the assessment.

The LA should apply legal tests when making decisions around the EHCP. Unfortunately we see many LAs making blanket or local policy decisions that show little application of the law.

We are specialist Special Educational Needs solicitors who can help with the EHC needs assessment process and with an appeal to the SEND Tribunal. Get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can assist. 

I am so happy at the outcome, I don't think we would have had such a comprehensive service from any other law firm, and you took the worry away...I do not regret a single second of the whole process, apart from the bit before you got involved. 

James' mother, Boyes Turner client

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