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a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:36 pm
by ealteacher
I have just been speaking with the man who came to fit my new curtain rail and curtains. Semi-retired now and a self-made millionaire, his one regret in life was, he said, that he was 'severely dyslexic' and had never read a book. He would, he said, do anything if this could be sorted but he knew he was unable to do this because of his "dyslexia".
That was where I got cross, not with him, but with the "dyslexia" machine that locates the causes of reading and spelling difficulties within the individual and not in the environment.
I do not know very much but believe strongly that the right teaching ensures that very very few children are called and call themselves "dyslexic".
We chatted for a while and he described his problem as being not able to spell. I sort of (very gently I hope) challenged his ideas cooked over a long lifetime that he was somehow deficient. Further talk revealed some time lost from school and being 'left behind' by teachers.
Enough said.
What to do??

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 2:24 pm
by volunteer
Teach him. He'll probably surprise you with what he then does.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:11 pm
by ealteacher
Re: "Teach him. He'll probably surprise you with what he then does."
Thankyou for the reply, Volunteer.
Yes that would seem the best thing to do ... except I have a very heavy commitment to caring duties at home and do not want to take on the job.
Also, dare I say it - what if I am wrong and there are people who can never learn to read well or spell even given appropriate teaching. Maybe I am wrong and "dyslexia" as an unsurmountable defect does exist?
Also, this man has had a working lifetime under his own definition of 'severely dyslexic' and there will have built up strategies, defences, etcetera which would be difficult to break down.
Also what if we both failed and it did not work for him reinforcing an already upsetting self-image?

Can anyone recommend a foolproof spelling programme that might help. He defined his problems as specifically to do with spelling as he can apparently read parts of a newspaper.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:03 pm
by volunteer
I suppose the thing that made me say it was the fact that he had said to you that he would do anything to be able to read a book. It does sound a little confusing that he says his problem is spelling but that he has never read a book. My guess is that he can read - but maybe only very simple words that he can work out from some basic "phonics" or words that he does recognise on sight. But insufficient either way to be able to read a book or a newspaper in its entirety.

Toe by Toe springs to mind if he knows another adult who would be his daily mentor ......... if so many members of the prison population crack reading that way, maybe he can?

What area of the country is he? Maybe someone on here would help him if he was willing? He does sound willing though. I just think that someone who is a self-made millionaire despite the reading / writing issue is going to have a very great determination to succeed ..... it's always possible that you are right and there is something stopping him that he will always be up against, but without trying he will never know.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 10:48 pm
by ealteacher
Thankyou Volunteer for your suggestion about Toe by Toe. I believe that his wife might be able to help him with that.
I only know this gentleman cause he came to the house to sort out the curtains, so I know very little about what he can or cannot do other than what he told me.
He lives in West Yorkshire.
thankyou for your help

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 1:19 am
by FEtutor
I feel it depends really on what he wants to do. You can explain the historical context - how fashions in teaching resulted in too many people being diagnosed as dyslexic in the past, but that new research ....etc etc , I'm sure you'd know what to say (or get back to me if you want more ideas).

Then, if you can t take him on yourself , see if he would be interested in working with someone else, exploring the Alphabetic Code and understanding how words are put together, with a view to seeing if this resulted in improvements in his reading and spelling. You don t have to promise that it will, as in all honesty you don t know -all you can do is explain that as an adult who has no doubt developed unhelpful strategies, learning will be harder for him than for a newbie, but that most adults who try a programme of synthetic phonics (those who are voluntary students rather than those who have been referred by someone else) find the work fascinating and helpful.

As for books and stories- what about Geraldine's adult series to get him reading books straight away? They could be used for tutoring by phone if necessary, I should think.

I teach adults in FE, some of whom have been labelled as dyslexic (in the old days I might have been one of the tutors doing the labelling, but I don't do that anymore!).

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:26 pm
by geraldinecarter
Tricia Millar - That Reading Thing - has an incredibly useful and intelligent little book TRT for Teachers - reading and spelling strategies for teachers of teens and adults. It's extremely easy to use avoids the sometimes impenetrable language that we're all guilty of - and I think that it may be a 'hidden' gem. Wonderful value for £6+

THe MRI - mature reading instruction -stories (first 3 of 5 sets x 10 little books) won't be set 'free' until September as I'm busy doing a Tutor Guide, intended for use by teaching assistants, volunteers etc. I'll send you advance of the first Set of the stories if you'd like these.

Otherwise, as someone mentioned - Toe by Toe. It's good value and convenient to use, works for many people (is used in prison a lot) but is not a wholly SP programme and is a bit on the dry - drill and kill - side ; some people respond to this, others don't.

Around 1% are incredibly difficult to teach (I don't think there are researched figures - only loads of anecdotal evidence) but an older person will be more difficult - ~FE Tutor and Jim Curran's wife, Anne, will know all about that .....

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 3:56 pm
by Debbie Hepplewhite
Phonics International might be helpful for both reading and spelling and is usable in the home.

It would also be useful in prisons, like Toe-by-toe has proved useful in prisons - but I never seem to have the time to pursue this potential with so much focus on schools.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:33 pm
Anne thinks that Mona’s set of videos,” Learning with Phonics- The complete lessons”, would be useful for anyone working alone. ... eteLessons

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 7:51 pm
by FEtutor
Forgot to add I agree with volunteer's advice on the need for daily practice: it would give him the best possible start as it would tie in with memory processes and accelerate his progress which would in turn encourage him to continue. The students I see in FE are invariably unsupported and can make very slow progress if they cannot work by themselves in between our weekly sessions and in the holidays. If he has got someone to work with on a daily basis that would be an absolutely enormous advantage.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:32 pm
by ealteacher
Many many thanks for the range of suggestions you have given.
I am going to collate these ideas and references and go to visit the business premises of my curtain man - he and his wife are still doing a couple of days a week and he was keen for me to know when - I think he was really asking for help.
I'll prepare a background account covering as you suggest, FE Tutor, the nature of the alphabetic substitution code, and its complexities, together with a historical account of why he might have ended up with this view of his abilities in this area.
Then I will give him all the references you have kindly given me.

That Reading Thing
Mona’s set of videos
Toe by Toe
Phonics International
Mature Reading Instruction.

I may well offer to work with his wife to enable her to work with her husband.
Geraldine I would be grateful for more information about the MRI books.

It strikes me that this list is very useful and may deserve its own place on the website under a specific heading or is this so already?

Again many thanks to all.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 1:02 am
by FEtutor
If the husband and wife can have a good working relationship with no negative emotions involved, and if you are able to support and advise them, I think that will be an excellent solution.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:41 am
by volunteer
Are they on the internet? If so you might be able to give them somewhere to look at each option together. For example, the reviews on Toe by Toe on Amazon are as enlightening as visiting Freda Cowling's own website.

I agree with you that it all depends on which method will help them work best together (if working with his wife is a solution they would like). I'd say that Toe by Toe is probably a pretty good method for not causing arguments. It's a very cut and dried thing following the rules in the book. Of course he might find it dull, and it is giving no "real reading" practice, but if he gets through it pretty quickly by working daily it will very soon open doors into real reading.

Maybe they could write into this website with any issues they have during the learning process? It would be interesting in both directions ........ you might have to wipe these posts first though!!

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:17 am
by chew8
Aren't we rather getting away from the fact that this man's main problem seems to be with spelling? Having paid particular attention to spelling when I taught young adults for 22 years, I suspect that there is at best only a slim chance of improving this adult's spelling enough for him to be really confident.

Jenny C.

Re: a "dyslexic millionaire"

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 11:35 am
by volunteer
It's not really very clear from what he told the OP. He said he would give anything to be able to read a book, and could read part of a newspaper only. He also said that spelling was a difficulty and blamed the reading problem in the spelling. It was puzzling.

I'm interested that you feel it would be verging on impossible for an adult to improve their spelling. Can you tell us more? At what kind of age do you think it becomes too difficult?