Little support for dyslexia

COSTLY: Ella Oldham, 5, has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. Picture: Sarah Price
COSTLY: Ella Oldham, 5, has recently been diagnosed with dyslexia. Picture: Sarah Price

LOOKING at Ella Oldham you would not know she had dyslexia and despite being recognised nationally, Medicare and Centrelink do not offer funding to assist children diagnosed with the condition.

Jodi Clements, president of the Australian Dyslexia Association (ADA) said the lack of government funding was one of the many problems parents of children with dyslexia faced.

"There is no Medicare number for dyslexia and Centrelink does not fund dyslexia," she said.

It is an issue which is especially problematic for Ella's mother, Kelly Oldham, who is on a single-parent income. In just two weeks Ms Oldham will have to spend more than $700 to have her daughter assessed and to pay for the colour-tinted glasses she needs to ensure she can read properly. It is a must pay for Ms Oldham who knows first hand the effect dyslexia can have on a child's education. She was diagnosed with the condition at the later stage of her own childhood. But with no government support she will struggle to pay board, food, petrol and utilities with the $200 she had left for the rest of the fortnight. "It's so hard with dyslexia, when I was in primary school I was always behind and I don't want that for Ella," she said.

Ms Clements said in conjunction with the lack of funding, parents could also get caught in the trap of continuous specialist testing.

"Many children at risk of dyslexia are being referred to professionals who are not formally qualified in the identification or educational treatment of dyslexia," she said.

"The ADA are still hearing that parents have spent up to $2000 on testing with no real answers and no school assistance."

She said it was important to have dyslexia identified as early as possible to avoid the secondary affects which included lower self esteem and a dislike of school. Ms Clements encouraged anyone who had a child with a difficultly reading to have them tested by an accredited professional. Anyone wanting more information on dyslexia or to know where to locate a qualified professional can contact ADA by emailing dyslexia.association@gmail.com .