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Olympia Publishers (

Print ISBN: 978-1-905513-60-4 Listen

Digital ISBN: 978-1-905513-60-4, Publication Date: 26th August 2008 ‘A Useful Dyslexia Handbook for Adults’ was created by Catherine Taylor. At first glance, the title offers no obvious cryptic meanings.Listen
However, when reading on it becomes evident that just like the title, the book’s strength is in in its simplicity.  In saying that, the title gives little justice to how incredibly ‘useful’ this ‘hand book’ truly is.Listen

In the preface of the book, Catherine gives an overview on her extensive background in working with adults with dyslexia. Her experience offers a back-drop to the passion that has driven her to write this book.Listen
By this she makes her intentions clear; she is determined to bridge the gap of understanding, not only for those with dyslexia, but also for those without it and may not understand it.ListenShe makes purposeful efforts to dispel the societal labels such as dyslexia being an “excuse”. In doing so, she is aware of the emotional boundaries that can inhibit learning for an adult with dyslexia and she addresses these.ListenThis is reflected in her wish to help a “wider range of people”. Nonetheless, I just can’t help but fall in love with her humility and grace in her dedication “For all the dyslexic people I’ve met over the years.  While I was teaching, I was learning.”Listen

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The book’s divided into topic-focused chapters. She employs an informal style of writing using colloquial language, simple sentence structure and emotive language. By doing this, she’s not just informing the reader, but also inviting them to engage in the subject.Listen
I appreciated this personal quality which made it very accessible. I often felt as though I was in primary school, sitting on the floor and listening to one of my favourite teachers with a gentle manner.Listen

She invites readers to approach the book with a “beginner’s mind”, throwing away any pre-conceived ideas about dyslexia and normalising it by demonstrating that anyone can have dyslexia, irrespective of their background or who they are in society.Listen
By doing this, she makes it clear that the effects of dyslexia are actually hidden; behind the scenes. Indeed, she made a point by saying that people with dyslexia tend to work “harder than their peers” (p.18).ListenThis sets the tone to get more intimately involved with the concepts of dyslexia, thus Catherine states that the book is “not intended as a technical manual”.ListenI love that she writes that the book is aimed at those passed the age of “compulsory” education, meaning that she is offering an opportunity for growth, as well as learning (p.20), if you wish.Listen

Catherine’s approach is very balanced; whilst she offers guidance, she is by no means authoritative. When describing dyslexia, she specifically highlights that it can be amongst anyone and affect people in different ways.Listen
In addition to talking about the science behind dyslexia, she also places importance on the psychological impacts such as “low confidence and self-esteem”. ListenWhilst this may not necessarily be what dyslexia is, it certainly contributes to the learning difficulties individuals with dyslexia face.ListenThus, she asks the reader to be sensitive to the individuals’ needs so that approaches can be tailored to their specific needs.Listen

Catherine’s chapter on ‘Reading and Spelling’ was something I loved reading. She replaces the alphabet with symbols and essentially creates an alien language.Listen
Moreover, she complicates matters by consistently introducing new rules. She then heightens the difficulty of the task by introducing ‘exceptions’ to the rules.ListenThis unorthodox approach is highly effective in giving the reader a chance to experience what difficulties someone with dyslexia can face.Listen

Catherine’s ‘Self-Help’ chapter is a wondrous and very helpful source of information that I wish I had come across before. There are so many simple and practical tips around technology, study and reading.Listen
Her “look, cover, write, check” technique for reading is indeed simple and easy to remember. Catherine’s background as a teacher truly shines in the way she engages the reader whilst also offering a caring attitude.ListenShe did not take away from the fact that reading is a struggle, but rather encourages “easy readers” or children’s books as simply a good technique for improvement.ListenI was very impressed with this book, and Catherine’s efforts to educate and promote understanding towards dyslexia should be applauded. The book is well-written and accessible.ListenShe need not hope her efforts will reach people, because anyone reading this will find her interactive approach very insightful.ListenI do wish Catherine were my teacher in primary school, but what is good is that with this ‘Useful Handbook’, she can be everyone’s teacher.Listen

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