Gill is redefining the learning curve for dyslexics

Gill Woon finds new ways to help sufferers achieve their potential BY Features Editor Bridget Galton WHEN Gill Woon s son was diagnosed with dyslexia, she set about learning all she could about how to help

Redefining the learning curve for dyslexics

Gill Woon finds new ways to help sufferers achieve their potential

BY Features Editor Bridget Galton

WHEN Gill Woon's son was diagnosed with dyslexia, she set about learning all she could about how to help him.


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Years later, 14-year-old David is progressing well at school - and Woon is using her knowledge to help scores of adults and teens experiencing similar learning difficulties.

"I have always been interested in how people learn effectively and want to make learning fun and interesting. Although I had a very successful educational career, there are lots of people, including my son, who didn't.

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"I want to help them overcome their difficulties and give them the joy of learning that I had when I was at school," says Woon, who worked for years training civil servants and is now a qualified learning coach.

Woon, who lives in Bickerton Road, Archway, says children with learning problems such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia classically show dramatic behaviour changes once they start school.

"Whenever a beautifully-behaved child suddenly becomes a bit of a monster at school there is often something like dyslexia going on.

"As soon as my son started school we realised he had problems with writing and his behaviour changed. I couldn't understand why our son wasn't interested in books and was having problems with the teacher.

"These kids are not stupid. They realise they are different and things are not working for them. Because of the stress and anxiety created, they either withdraw and daydream or become disruptive."

Woon compares such youngsters to a filing cabinet containing information that "you just can't access".

She says unfortunately schools struggle to harness that ability in the learning environment and extra tuition is needed to ensure they don't fall too far behind or become disillusioned with school altogether.

The first step is getting the youngster diagnosed. She took David to an educational psychologist who diagnosed him with dyslexia - impairment of reading and spelling - and dyscalculia - a problem with maths and symbols.

"With extra tuition he is doing well - although his handwriting is awful and he still has trouble with his times tables."

Woon works with students mostly outside school in

one-to-one sessions.

She uses two different therapies. Seeing Spells Achievement - uses the techniques of personal development tool Neuro Linguistic Programming to help youngsters visualise what they are learning.

"The education system is based on apprehending things visually. People who learn visually are effective learners and this therapy teaches people how to visualise better."

The second, the Raviv Method, involves physical exercises to help develop new neural pathways in the brain, targeting specific areas used for reading, writing, spelling, memory, concentration and focus.

Woon adds that parents should remember that dyslexic children have normal intellects and can be gifted in other ways.

"Very often these children have superb ability to see things in the round - they are artistic, creative, lateral thinkers. They will get the answer to something but they can't say how they did it because methodology to them is problematic."

bridget.galton@hamhigh.co.uk

o Dyslexia spectrum symptoms include: Being disorganised, not distinguishing left from right, struggling to read a map, difficulty learning to read, complaining of pages in books appearing to move or look fuzzy, mixing letters up, difficulty learning rules or sequences, struggling to recognise symbols, trouble with memory and concentration.

One exercise Woon carries out to improve students' concentration is making them walk in a figure of eight around two stools while continually keeping eye contact with a TV programme at eye height one metre away for 20 minutes.

Woon charges £30-£50 an hour for tuition. For further details go to coach.works@ blueyonder.co.uk.

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