Introduction

On the 12th March Dr Neil Alexander-Passe came to speak at the Adult Dyslexia Support Group. The discussion began with Dr Alexander-Passe telling us a little about his background, the books he’s written and some facts and figures revolving around dyslexia.

The Discussion Around Dyslexia

We discussed how dyslexia is perceived and many of the answers were negative. There was a correlation between being dyslexic and the following:

  • Organisation and processing difficulties
  • Learning and comprehension difficulties
  • Self-esteem and confidence
  • Mental health
  • Neurodiversity
  • Problems with reading, writing, spelling and grammar
  • Short term memory

Neil discussed how the issues of dyslexia aren’t openly spoken in classrooms in order to avoid children feeling humiliation or to reduce truancy rates. However, this has also meant that the problem wasn’t getting addressed, nor was their potential being discovered. Learning difficulties rise from 10.8% in primary to 23.3% because problems go undetected at a young age. Parents of dyslexic children will often try to make their children’s homework look “perfect” by correcting the homework themselves before it is handed to the teacher.. This doesn’t help the situation as it means that the teacher will not pick up on the fact that the child needs further help. Inevitably, this would further isolate the child with dyslexia as they have nowhere to express themselves and seek help. It is important to let them find what they are good at and understand the failure of the other subjects and develop resilience.

In the discussion, Neil also mentioned a few statistics. For example, 45.5% of dyslexics were not diagnosed at school and 48% are NOT diagnosed until they reach adulthood

Neil’s Background

Neil went to an art college after school with 5 O levels. Neil went to Art College (university) to gain a BA Hons in Graphic Design and was the start of a 19-year career as a graphic designer in banks, advertising companies, magazine and travel companies. He studied an MPhil, a part-time research masters in dyslexia and emotional coping (1999-2004). This was the start of a transition into SEN (special educational needs). First as a disability employment adviser for Remploy (2010) and secondly training to be a teacher (2010-11). SEN in schools has reduced from 21.1% to 14.4% in UK schools over the last 6 years. (UK National Statistic, 2016) They have changed the way that they record it. Before it was recorded by need and now it’s the provision served. 5 0r 6 % have a need but no help. He mentioned about the postcode lottery as to whether you can get SEND in UK schools. Despite being Dyslexic, Neil managed to overcome challenges. In 2005, he gained an MPhil on researching how dyslexic teenagers cope using measures of self-esteem, coping and depression, leading to a spell as a postgraduate researcher. In 2010 he published his first book ‘Dyslexia and Depression: The Hidden Sorrow’.

He is passionate about understanding the difficulties and trauma many dyslexics face whilst at school. In fact, even when we discussed the meaning of dyslexia. The consensus was that it was a difficulty associated with organisation, self-esteem, and mental health. In 2010 he retrained as a teacher and has worked in special needs in both primary and secondary education. Becoming the head of SEND in a secondary school has meant that he has been able to understand and address different kinds of special needs. He stands for early assessment in schools, as a result, he has presented to MP’s and peers on educational policy.

Neil’s Publications

Neil’s academic books include two edited volumes investigating ‘Dyslexia and Creativity’ (2010) and ‘Dyslexia and Mental Health’ (2012) and a book investigating ‘Dyslexia, Dating, Marriage and Parenthood’ (2012). Nine peer-review papers have been published to date and his latest book ‘Dyslexia and Mental Health: Helping people identify destructive behaviours and find positive ways to cope’ (2015) has been widely acknowledged with reviews by Professors Angela Fawcett, Maggie Snowling, and Neil Humphrey. His 10th book entitled ‘The Successful Dyslexic-Identify the keys to unlock your potential’ has just been published and received reviews from Professors Angela Fawcett and Steve Chin, Gavin Reid and Thomas West.

He has also written fiction books:

  • The Deceitful Dyslexic
  • The Ultimate Dyslexic Battleground
  • The Dyslexic Virus
  • Under the Pen Name of Alex Nile

Dyslexia and Mental Health explore how dyslexia is not just a learning difficulty. In fact, it can result in social stigma in people who lack the support. This can have a negative impact on one’s emotional and mental health. Neil being dyslexic. himself is able to shed light on the difficulties surrounding dyslexia and examines psychological theories such as ego-defence mechanisms and learned helplessness that reveal how people deal with its emotional impact.This book aims to help educational and clinical psychologists, teachers, mental health specialists, counsellors and therapists understand the emotional complexities of dyslexia.

The Successful Dyslexic explores the key factors that lead to success in dyslexic adults. It compares both successful and less successful individuals, allowing parents and teachers to see where there is room for improvement so that they can support young dyslexics accordingly.  These keys include home life, school, career choices, working relationships, coping strategies, traits, unique selling points, and what is considered a success for someone with dyslexia. All dyslexics experience some kind of trauma at school, whether they use it positively and negatively will determine the level of success they experience in adulthood. Theories such as “disability paradox” and “post-traumatic growth” are used when understanding why some dyslexics are in fact very successful, despite the challenges faced. This book details an interview study of 27 successful and 10 less successful dyslexics, with 2 expert interviews, and supported by two large online studies.

The SEN Differentiations is a guide aimed at teachers who are overwhelmed by the negative behaviours of students in lessons and are struggling to assist the students in their learning journey by implementing positive strategies. The author observes that many students have an undiagnosed, underlying learning difficulty. These students struggle to communicate their needs positively hence they do it negatively. As a result, the teachers assume the students have behavioural problems rather than recognise the root cause. This guide is aimed at (non-SEN trained) subject teachers, offering them  ‘quick problem-solving strategies’ to stop learning difficulties/differences turning into behavioural problems.

If you’d like to purchase any of the books by Neil Alexander-Passe or find all the other books he has written, you can do so on Amazon.