Dyslexia (Wrestling with an Octopus) by Beth Beamish
Beth Beamish is a woman on a mission. A mission to assist others living with dyslexia - either themselves, or someone they love. Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects a significantly higher proportion of the population than you may initially think. Up to 17% of the population have a diagnosable form of dyslexia; however, in a more damning statistic, only 5% are given the appropriate support that they need. That means that a huge proportion of those who struggle with dyslexia are either undiagnosed, or unsupported.
In an interesting form, Beamish chooses to write directly to the reader whom she names DIANE (Dyslexia Interested And Needing Explanation) giving the book a conversational tone. And this tone continues throughout meaning the book isn’t full of technical jargon or scientific exploration into the causes and brain activity. Instead, the book focuses on the multitude of options that are available to students who live with this potentially debilitating condition thus removing them - and their family - from that depth of despair. This book is designed to empower those sufferers to be their best.
At times the writing is, by her own admission, a little corny. Some jokes along the way are well placed and effective while others don’t quite hit the mark. As a long term teacher this added a significant amount to the Dyslexia arsenal that is brought out to support students. It seems many of the traditional methods could do with a bit of a shake up, or at very least a rethink.
The whole concept of the Octopus alluded to in the title is how Beamish imagines the learning difficulty itself. It’s tentacles have many sides and approaches but all work under the guise of the central octopus. It’s a fitting analogy for the message that she is portraying.
For each section there is a top tip and top hint for supporting those with Dyslexia, but more than that, there is the anecdotal evidence of what has worked for her and her family. Those struggling may find solace in first of all knowing that someone else is going through the same as them, but also the information of where to find help for their specific need. In this way Beamish is a trailblazer, leading the way for others to find similar support.
Overall, this is not a technical manual for those wanting to know more on the specifics of brain function when affected by Dyslexia. Rather, it is a guide for the day to day challenges that come along, and a light at the end of a tunnel for living and thriving with Dyslexia.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Publisher: Merits, RRP $24.00