Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Like feathr.

Reading and writing have never been Jack's strong points at school. He keeps up just fine but he works quite slowly compared to other types of work, like math. It's never been much of a concern because he's still toward the top of his class, the quality of his work is near perfect it's just notably slowly produced. The teachers, as well as us, have always just put it down to Jack's tendency toward perfectionism.

Earlier this week Helen stated that Jack had some news on the reading and writing subject. Jack informed me that he'd been given something to help him with his reading, a couple small coloured overlays, red and yellow.

Jack is thrilled. He says it's making reading much easier, the letters are much clearer and he can read much quicker. Since having received these he's seems to have soared to the top of the class. He's now reporting that he keeps finishing first, or is the only one who finished. He told me that read a 32 page book yesterday.

So, it's looking like Jack is possibly dyslexic. It's still a tad early to say for certain. With him being so young it could just be mistaking a lack of focus as Irlen Syndrome. The problem is that if you ask a six year old child if the letters are hard to see they'll pretty much just say yes. If out put coloured paper in front of them and ask if that's better they'll just say yes. So the diagnostic process can be somewhat challenging. But being that dyslexia is hereditary and I'm dyslexic, two of my brothers and my father are as well, so the odds are against him.

There isn't a problem with him possibly being dyslexic, my only concern is that from now on we'll have to deal with endless teaching enabling plans and teachers that treat him like he's a little slow. Dyslexia is largely considered a learning disability and as soon as you label a child as having a learning disability, the safety scissors and circles of paper come out. It can be a frustrating world to find yourself in especially when you're every bit as clever, if not cleverer, that everyone else in the class and you know it, yet the teachers still declare you lazy, or vacant, or thick headed.

Irlen Syndrome is easiest described as an eye problem. Due to the way the brain processes visual information coming in from the eyes, distortions can appear making reading difficult, or impossible. Irlen Syndrome is not exclusive to dyslexics, in fact the association between them is not accepted by many. I don't suffer to much from Irlen Syndrom myself, only with certain colour schemes or when I'm tired I see shadows or bars over the text. I just have virtually no reading comprehension at all and reading just wears me out.

So we'll keep an eye on how Jack gets on over the next few months and try to get better idea of what's really going on. Until then I'm happy that his enthusiasm for reading and writing seems to have been renewed. He'll be be allowed to bring his overlays home shortly, which he's also excited about, and we've ordered some of our own overlays, I'm also going to install iOverlay on his iPod. I really hope that we can help him learn to enjoy reading rather than letting him grow to dread it like I did, we're going to do everything that we can.

You can find out more about Dyslexia and Irlen Syndrome on those links.

Sunday, 29 September 2013


Jack now has a homework box and this weekend it contained one homework. Jack is less thank thrilled with the idea of having even more work to do at home, we make him practice reading and math.
The homework assignment is for him to write some information about owls.

Jack flying a Harris Hawk
Jack was a little apprehensive about this assignment until he spoke to us about it. Then we reminded him of the many photos we have.

As a family we know a lot about birds of prey. We've seen all types of birds and are quite well versed on their strengths of weaknesses. As a family we know lots of specialist facts about raptors, for instance an owl will have eye colour to match it's most active times, owls with black eyes are nocturnal, yellow means active during the daytime (diurnal) and orange for dawn and dusk (crepuscular). They have very little control over their feet, they can basically grab on to something and that's it. This creates a problem known among falconers as sticky feet, where when the bird is taking flight its feet don't always let go properly right away and the bird sticks to the branch or glove for a moment. Owls also can't move their eyes.
Orange eyes.

Just like dogs, different species of raptor have different personalities. Eagles seem to be quite stubborn and grumpy. They only like one person to fly them and they generally don't like that very much. I saw a golden eagle boycotting her perch at the end of a flying session during which his falconer had with withheld the rewards due to a poor performance. Vultures can be quite thuggish. Every time we see a vulture we hear about how it's recently been beaten up by another (usually a female).

We've seen an eagle that liked to be scratched just so on the back of his head, (birds don't normally like to be touched) and a condor that moulted only the feathers on one side rendering himself completely flightless. We met a snowy owl who had a real crush on one of the falconers who looked strangely like Daniel Radcliffe and a Lappet-Faced Vulture that turns his face pink with excitement at the mere sight of a particular falconer.

We probably go to four or five raptor displays a year.

For quite a while we were considering acquiring our own raptor but decided against it in the end.

So after some reminiscing Jack and I jotted down three facts and popped in pictures of his favourite owl, the Northern White Faced who has the most amazing defence mechanism ever. Jack received an extra point for his work.

I don't need your stupid perch.

A melanistic Barn Owl, one of the rarest birds in the world.

Little did Jack know, that owl just pooed on him

The Northern White Faced Owl.