Dyslexia

For 13 year old Ben, the basic skills of reading and writing have always been a struggle.

Like many living with dyslexia, letters are scrambled and words are blurred.

His mother Julie first noticed problems with his speech when he was just 18 months old, by kindergarten Ben was far behind his classmates. When Julie spoke to his school she was told the problem would fix itself. It's a common story.

"They also said he wasn't trying hard enough he could do better he wasn't concentrating and sometime later they even told me that I was a helicopter parent and I needed to stop hovering over my son and let him learn." But Ben fell further behind and became increasingly frustrated and distressed.

Finally in year 4, he was diagnosed as dyslexic. It's a condition which affects an alarming one in ten Australians. It should be easily picked up early in a child's school life but - all too often - it goes unrecognised and untreated.

"There are many children not being identified in Australian schools due to a lack of understanding of what dyslexia looks like and what does it look like in the classroom." President of the Australian Dyslexic Association Jodi Clements. "Once we trained teachers and given them the awareness they say oh that's what I'm looking for a child who struggles to read accurately yet has good verbal skills."

Tanya Forbes's husband and son are severely dyslexic. She was so concerned about the lack of knowledge in schools, she decided to make a documentary for teachers on how to recognise and teach dyslexic kids. "Children need the teacher to be the instructor to be up in front of the classroom to explain things and work through concepts and the eventually guided practice where teacher is assisting the students. Individuals with dyslexia use a different part of their brain than non-dyslexics so we know they learn differently so they need to be taught differently."

To be rolled out in schools across Australia, the documentary is being supported by Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne whose interest is personal. Dyslexia runs in his family, his twins Eleanor and Barnaby live with it. He admits teachers aren't equipped with the right skills. "I would like to see specific dyslexia awareness training in the undergraduate degrees that people do in universities or teachers colleges. Because they should be aware and see the signals of dyslexia very early in the piece."

Ben Mavlian is about to start high school and although his reading and writing have dramatically improved he is years behind his peers, something which could have been prevented. Tanya says "It can be done I've seen it in my own son he was identified early with severe dyslexia yet he is reading and writing and doing really well and I just wish every child in this country has that same opportunity."