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Reading Together

It’s Time for a Change

Reading Connects Us, Deep Reading Empowers Us


'There comes a point where we need to stop just pulling people out of the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they're falling in' Bishop Desmond Tutu


EarlyDyslexiaScreening.Org - ReadUK: Help Us Make Dyslexia Screening Free for All as Part of a National Early Intervention Project 

Screening 3 and 4 year olds for Dyslexia

Alarmingly, one in four children (73%) in the UK are currently unable to read proficiently by the time they leave primary school, signaling a critical need for enhanced educational support and early intervention strategies. Data Source

Get Involved

Early Dyslexia Screening, a Community Interest Company, is spearheading a vital initiative to introduce early dyslexia screening for 3 and 4-year-olds. Studies involving brain measures, such as electroencephalography or magnetic resonance imaging, have shown that the brain characteristics of individuals with dyslexia can be observed as early as infancy and preschool, especially in children with a genetic risk for dyslexia. Our mission is to ensure that early signs of dyslexia are detected promptly, providing 'learners of concern' with the support they need to thrive academically and emotionally in their educational journey. To aid this cause, we invite you to contribute through our crowdfunding efforts, which are crucial for the deployment of resources and tools necessary for early diagnosis. Stay connected and informed by subscribing to our newsletter, which will provide updates and information as they become available. We also encourage professionals interested in early childhood education and literacy to contact us, as your expertise is valuable in enriching our community network, Village in the Cloud, which plays a supportive role in this important work. Together, we can make a significant impact on the lives of young learners.

"With the existing focus on 'explicit and systematic reading instruction,' we seem to have lost sight of the fundamental reasons: early engagement with spoken and written language, and the pure joy of getting lost in a story of one’s choosing. It's time for change." — Emma Hartnell-Baker

Why Screen 3 & 4 Year Olds for Dyslexia?

Reading in Tent
Reading in Indoor Tent
Reading in Library

Early Intervention and Support

  • Timely Help: Early identification allows for timely intervention, which is critical in helping children overcome the challenges associated with dyslexia. The earlier the intervention, the better the outcome for reading skills and overall academic performance.

  • Tailored Educational Strategies: With early detection, educators can implement specific teaching methods and accommodations that cater to the unique needs of each child, enhancing their learning experience and effectiveness.

Reducing Future Learning Difficulties

  • Preventing Compounding Struggles: Children with undiagnosed dyslexia often face compounding educational difficulties as they progress through school. Early screening can help prevent these compounded issues by addressing the root of the problem before it escalates.

  • Building Foundational Skills: Early intervention helps in building crucial reading and writing skills that are foundational to all future learning. This sets a strong educational foundation and prevents the gap in academic skills from widening.

Enhancing Self-Esteem and Social Skills

  • Positive Self-Image: Early diagnosis can help prevent the deterioration of self-esteem that often occurs when children struggle with undiagnosed learning disabilities. Knowing that they have a specific learning challenge, rather than feeling they are not capable, helps maintain their confidence.

  • Improved Social Interactions: Children with dyslexia might withdraw socially or exhibit frustration in school settings. Early intervention can alleviate these social and emotional difficulties by providing them with the skills needed to interact and communicate more effectively with their peers.

Long-Term Educational and Career Outcomes

  • Academic Success: Children who receive early support for dyslexia are more likely to perform well in school and pursue higher education, as they have been equipped with strategies to manage their learning disability.

  • Career Opportunities: By addressing learning challenges early, children are better prepared for future careers and are more likely to explore a wider range of opportunities that require strong literacy skills.

Why Reading for Pleasure Matters

Almost all children are capable of learning to read quickly and easily: what matters most is if they want to read. 
Early Screening and Intervention play pivotal roles in fostering this desire by identifying potential obstacles early on and implementing supportive measures that make reading a more accessible and enjoyable experience.

Enhancing Cognitive and Emotional Development

  • Language Skills: Improves vocabulary, grammar, and writing proficiency.

  • Critical Thinking: Encourages analysis and deep understanding of complex concepts.

  • Empathy and Emotional Intelligence: Engages with diverse perspectives, fostering greater empathy and emotional understanding.

Boosting Mental Health and Well-being

  • Stress Reduction: Acts as a mental escape, reducing anxiety and stress levels.

  • Mental Stimulation: Keeps the mind engaged and active, which can help delay cognitive decline.

  • Emotional Resilience: Reading about various human experiences can provide emotional coping strategies and resilience.

Cultivating Lifelong Learning and Curiosity

  • Knowledge Expansion: Exposes readers to new ideas, cultures, and philosophies.

  • Innovation and Creativity: Inspires creativity and can motivate readers to pursue new hobbies or creative endeavors.

  • Lifelong Habit: Encourages a habit of reading that can provide continuous personal and educational growth throughout life

Reading a Book

Joyful, Playful Learning Experiences 

Experiencing Playful, Intuitive Discovery

Exploration rather than instruction : brains learn more easily when activities are experienced as play.  
Our screening and intervention are designed to capitalise on this natural curiosity, transforming what could be daunting challenges into engaging, playful activities that not only teach reading skills but also build a lifelong love of learning.

DALL·E 2024-04-20 21.42.37 - A realistic illustration of a toddler sitting under a large o
DALL·E 2024-04-21 15.43.18 - An Asian toddler girl sitting comfortably in a cozy, warmly l
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Who Are the Founders of EarlyDyslexiaScreening.org ?

Emma Hartnell-Baker, known as the Neurodivergent 'Reading Whisperer,' holds a Master's Degree in Special Educational Needs and spent the early part of her career as an infant teacher. She was responsible for hundreds of preschool-aged babies, toddlers, and children while managing day nurseries. Her 'Outstanding' dedication to the care, education, and welfare of children did not go unnoticed, and she was appointed by OFSTED as an inspector of EYFS.

Emma also spent time at the other end of the education spectrum supporting permanently excluded teenagers. It was then that she realised the correlation between illiteracy and behaviours not deemed acceptable by schools. She studied dyslexia and moved to Australia, where she was initially appointed by Education Queensland as part of the Behaviour Advisory Team. She saw firsthand the impact of failing to teach children to read and spell quickly and easily.

 

To help prevent this, she left to support teachers in figuring out better solutions within neurodiverse classroom settings. Fairly uniquely, she videoed sessions and shared their journey together. Pretty soon, she had a growing following, and more and more teachers started to implement her speech sound mapping strategies, exploring 'pictures of speech sounds.' The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach is still used across the country, with teachers reporting outstanding literacy outcomes. An important element is the dyslexia screening undertaken in term 1 of reception and differentiated instruction, with every child taught as if they are dyslexic.

 

When COVID hit, she could no longer travel and divide her time, so she focused on doctoral research at the University of Reading and the launch of The Reading Hut. After supporting so many schools and training over 10,000 teachers over ten years, she had discovered certain patterns and statistical trends apparently undiscovered by researchers and wanted to gather empirical evidence. She also delivers training for PATOSS with Dr. Grace and is currently developing, through The Reading Hut Ltd, the first one-screen AAC device for non-speaking children who cannot yet read and spell with grant funding, as an Innovate UK winner.
Connect on LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/neurodivergent-reading-whisperer/

Please view info relating to training with Emma Hartnell-Baker and Dr Grace Elliott on the PATOSS web site 
 

Dr Grace Elliott - bio here soon - in the meantime please view info on PATOSS 

Why Screen and Intervene Early?

It’s useful to consider what dyslexia is and how it is defined.
 

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) defines dyslexia as "a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterised by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge."
 

The good news is that 'gifts of dyslexia' don’t go away when reading becomes easy, just the mental anguish faced when reading and spelling is difficult.

The teachers I trained in Australia who were allowed to screen for dyslexia in term 1 of reception/prep and teach as if all children have dyslexia (and have dyspraxia and are autistic), report that all exceed expected levels phonological awareness and subsequently reading and spelling, and there are no requests for dyslexia assessments as they move up the grade levels.

If there is an assumption that dyslexia is purely about decoding and encoding, what does that data suggest? And the 20+ year research whereby scans of dyslexic brains after intervention scan as ‘normal’—what does that mean? Has the dyslexia gone? (That’s rhetorical)

When the dyslexic child, who could not previously read by sight without conscious effort, as words become stored in the orthographic lexicon, are they no longer dyslexic?

Actually, no. Not if you take a wider view—as we do when considering our neurodiverse classrooms.

What we recognise is that to support all children, we understand their needs and don’t focus on labels. Children who screen as dyslexic at 4 and who are then skilled readers by 6 may still be ‘dyslexic’.

Only around 10-30% of children are not born with brains wired to read—because you can’t read and spell with poor phonemic awareness. It’s one of the things we screen for. And it’s relatively easily overcome, when you know how. Using Duck Hands, Speech Sound Lines and Numbers and giving children a visual hook for the phonemes (that is not linked to graphemes until in a word) speeds this up.

Dr Grace and I—she is dyslexic and the practice manager of the British Dyslexia Association—have partnered to fund and launch a unique free early screening initiative across the UK under our new (not for profit) venture ReadUK. This is not only to understand children earlier but because of the worry we have about how children with dyslexia are taught in UK schools.

Synthetic phonics developers assume all are neurotypical and fail at least 30%, and make it harder for more. Many learn to read but do not want to read. 1 in 4 can’t read by the end of primary. We have the lowest levels of reading for pleasure in almost two decades. They have to sit on chairs with teacher at the front and learn in the same way and at the same pace. Most children do not equate this with ‘play’ and disengage. I would be one of those children. It’s not how I want to learn.

By screening early, we can better support parents and make sure those children are reading before they start school. We can support their dyslexia and celebrate who they are while protecting them from instruction that is not designed for their brains. It’s like trying to play Xbox with a PlayStation in school. Not fit for purpose.

I am unique in that I’ve not only trained thousands but have been specialising in reading and spelling instruction that is effective for ALL learners for 25 years. My work is years ahead of anything out there. I fail no child. All read without conscious effort—the process is no longer ‘manual’. And that is because of my own neurodivergent brain. It’s my gift.

Dyslexia (and being neurodivergent) is profoundly misunderstood—as it isn’t just about reading and spelling. But that part we have covered as we will work tirelessly to make sure no child struggles to read and spell—as we will catch them before the system fails them. It means they can more easily then demonstrate their strengths as everyone isn’t so focused on their reading. They don’t need to be—we’ve (as a team) got that covered. Our long term goal is that all parents - globally - have access to this free screening and support. We may then be in a better position to shift the way our children are taught to read and spell in school. Indeed, maybe they won’t need to learn to read and spell in school. Imagine that.

Emma Hartnell-Baker

#thinkingdifferently #orthographix #dyslexia #readuk

What Do Parents Say?

Parents feel reassured and empowered when their child is offered early screening and intervention, as it provides them with clear guidance on how to support their child’s learning and ensures they have access to the best resources as their child starts school. Stories shared here shortly! 

Proud Mother
Happy Family
Mother and Child
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