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If there is no support group in your area, you might want to start one. In order to find members, ask friends and school personnel to announce your plans to people who might be interested. You might place ads in the school and area newspapers. Perhaps even a local radio or TV station would help out.





Any good program is preceded by good publicity. If you raise the level of enthusiasm, you will raise the level of attendance. Therefore, if you wish to present a program on learning-differently students for your club members, you need a plan of action.


o      Ask for a short speaking slot at all the general meetings that will precede your program. Feel free to read bits and pieces of Students Who Learn Differently Overseas to your audience to whet their appetites.

o      Publish part of the report in your newsletter. We are happy to send any requested sections via email so you don't have to retype, or you can download directly from the Internet ( You might like to summarize the report. One rep wrote, "A statement that we received this report did nothing to arouse interest, whereas a 1 ½ page summary did get some response. I expect to hear more."

o      If it is all right with your club, go out into your community and invite interested persons to your presentation. Host country as well as international schools might be interested as well as any support groups in your area. You might also consider inviting host country officials who are involved in the juvenile justice system. Outreach into your community will strengthen both your club's and FAWCO's image, and your club members are more likely to respond when they hear your information presented in different ways and in different locations.

o      The amount of the video you will be able to show will depend on how much time you have been allotted. The video itself runs for 70 minutes, too long to show in its entirety at a general meeting.

o      You want to be sure to leave time for questions, especially if you have invited a guest expert.

o      You could offer to show the rest of the video at the end of the meeting to those who are interested, if that is a possibility, or make other arrangements for viewing the remainder at a later date.


To introduce your program you are welcome to use any of the information in Students and any part of the speech which was given to introduce Addendum 2001 to the Luxembourg Conference, which is reprinted below:





"What you do to children, they will do to society." Karl Menninger
(1899-1966; famous American psychiatrist)


Learning differently, the condition described by such buzzwords as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, hyperactivity and attention problems, is your problem. It is not just the concern of learning-differently students and their families and their teachers and their school and eventually their employers. It is your personal concern and your personal financial consideration.


What do we know about learning differently? Well, there is a lot we know and a lot we don't know. One of the things we do know is that these students are not stupid. They are also not dumb, they are not lazy, and they are trying hard enough. What don't we know? We don't know why some brains are "wired" differently than others, why otherwise perfectly healthy, intelligent individuals are not responsive to many conventional teaching methods.


In order to receive a diagnosis of being a learning-different or LD person, the individual must be of normal or above normal intelligence. All of the senses, like sight and hearing, must register in the normal range, the person must not be suffering from any emotional or mental disorder, and the person must have had the opportunity to learn. In other words, LD students look just like the majority of their peers. Because of this, LD is often referred to as a "hidden disability." Others, however, have referred to it as a hidden gift. There are always two sides to the coin. But for our purposes today, we will only be looking at the problem side.


It is precisely because it is hidden that most of the problems occur. If you break your leg, you are automatically given special consideration, even by strangers. They open doors for you, make sure that you have a place to sit, maybe even fetch something for you to rest your leg on. But when people can't see your problem, they are inclined to think that one does not exist. And when you are unable to perform like your peers, you are found to be at fault. In school, you aren't listening hard enough or you're not paying attention. And to make matters even worse, there are some days when you can respond to conventional teaching methods, when you can do well on a test, when you are organized and everything seems to fall into place. This is what is known as "performance inconsistency" and it is a very real problem for LD people because it leads others to assume that you really can do it, you're just not trying hard enough.


So all this is very interesting, but how does it affect you? Neither you nor any of your family members have any LD problems of which you aware. Although you might be surprised. Studies are showing that as much as 20% of the population, 1 in 5 people, are people who learn differently. I personally think it's closer to 1 in 4. But because LD people are bright, or even very bright, they often develop compensatory techniques on their own that see them through most tasks.


But what about those who can't, or those who are not taught how? What happens when you take individuals of normal or above normal intelligence and legally force them into an environment for 16 or 18 years where they cannot succeed or only succeed poorly?  What happens to these individuals' self-esteem when they are constantly told that it is their fault that they are failing?


Experience shows that they will find ways they can succeed, and they will engage in activities that make them feel good. Unfortunately, these ways are often socially unacceptable and even sometimes criminal. Feeling good can be found for some in drinking too much or taking drugs. Recent research in the US found that 52 % of a sample of prisoners was dyslexic. In the UK, studies have shown that 70 to 80% of inmates were. An astonishing 91% of residents screened at a drugs and alcohol rehabilitation center were found to be dyslexic. The probation officer, Wally Morgan, who conducted the study, found the resulting feelings of inadequacy and rejection were the underlying cause of their addictions.


Therefore, you can perhaps now see where your personal and financial concerns are evident. Surely you are concerned about your personal safety and that of your loved ones as you walk the streets, and when you leave your homes unattended, theft might be a worry. As Mr. Morgan wrote, "If we can give dyslexia a much higher profile, if judges and lawyers, prison officials and teachers can acquire a better understanding of it, if people would realize that dyslexia in not an excuse but a reason, we would quickly see a significant reduction in offending."


Financially, think how your tax burden might be lightened if we could more than cut the prison population in half. Think of the additional savings if we could help prevent drug addiction and alcoholism. And think how these savings would not only be financial.


Remember, you can make a difference both to your personal well-being and that of others by helping to educate your community so that it might direct its priorities in the most constructive directions.


As Margaret Mead, the noted US cultural anthropologist, noted: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world: indeed it's the only thing that ever has."





The following organizations provide information about new and established groups (See Useful Addresses for contact information):


1.     The European Children in Crisis booklet, Children with Specific Learning Difficulties, is an excellent example of the information that might be contained in an area guide.

2.     You will want to create a brochure or flyer that you can leave with schools, relocations agencies and churches. Examples could be requested from established support groups (See Useful Addresses.)

3.     Some of the larger groups are able to put out a newsletter.

4.     Parents United in The Netherlands provides a description of a PTA-based support group.

5.     Dyspel in Luxembourg has a chart which indicates the types of activities performed by support groups.






There are any number of organizations online that offer support to anyone involved with the education of the LD learner.  However very few of them are truly international in scope.  Two that do are presented below:


A non-profit organization was registered in Brussels, Belgium, in August 2000 under the name Dyslexia International Tools and Technologies (DITT).  Since then the organization has shifted its focus somewhat and now goes under the title of simply DYSLEXIA INTERNATIONAL (  They focus now on sharing expertise.  Below is a description of the current association which was supplied by Judith Sanson, Chair of the Board of Directors: 


·       Dyslexia International, asbl, has a special position in representing dyslexia on the world stage.  It was recognized as a non-governmental organization in operational relations with United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO)in October 2006.  This means that it represents over 500 million people at risk of marginalization world wide - in all five UNESCO regions: Africa, the Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe and North America.


·       In organizing the first World Dyslexia Forum that took place at UNESCO Paris February 3-5 2010, each ministry of education of all 193 countries was invited to send their teacher training delegates to best practice in the teaching of reading and writing: science, good teaching practice reported by specialists from Arabic-, Chinese-, English-, French-, Russian- and Spanish-speaking regions of the world and ICT.  All these presentations are filmed and available free from the Dyslexia International website.


·       We do not sell advice or materials.  It is widely recognized that lack of teacher training is the biggest barrier to literacy. Our e-Campus will offer authentic, scientifically grounded materials for teachers free of charge. 


·      We work with teams of recognized international experts including the BBC, and all our productions are overseen by distinguished professors and researchers who make up our Scientific Advisory Committee.


Dr. Ian Smythe has extensive international experience in the field of LD learning and his current work can be seen at .  What follows are excerpts from this site:


Ibis has build its reputation around development of lasting solutions in the field of literacy support which include inspiration, innovation and imagination. We use a combination of internal expertise and an international network of colleagues to provide input into project in over 40 languages in the three key areas of:

·       Literacy resources

·       Innovative software

·       Contextualized training

o      Ibis helps develop and deliver training for teacher and other literacy related professionals, each designed to suit the local needs. This has been carried out in many countries including Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Denmark, England, Egypt, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Romania and Sweden.


Dr. Smythe also has an online publication, Dyslexia Projects Newsletter, which offers a wealth of information on such topics as upcoming conferences, new technologies, and free downloads.  Should you wish to subscribe, contact him at .






Support groups can engage in a range of activities from educating the public to support of individual members.  Below are just three additional possibilities:


·       Lobbying: Some support groups keep track of pending legislation in their host country. Sometimes members are asked to or volunteer to testify before ministers or legislative committees when laws concerning education are up for discussion. Support groups also lobby schools and teachers in an attempt to bring about greater understanding and more facilities for the learning differently student.


·       Adult Education: The Association for Children & Adults with Learning Difficulties (See Useful Addresses), a host-country based support group in Ireland, notes that they have been given a grant from the E.U. under the Horizon Program to run a course in information technology for adults with dyslexia who want to get into employment or become self-employed.


·       For the Students Themselves: Children learn well from each other, and support groups for children themselves could lead to an exchange of coping techniques and strategies.







The FAWCO Foundation Special Challenges Fund


Some of you might not be aware that the FAWCO Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Federation, offers financial support, currently in the form $3000 for the parent of a student, 5 – 15 years of age, with special challenges whose mother is a member of a FAWCO club.  Go to

to view the current description and requirements for this award.


If you type “awards for students with learning disabilities” into Google, you will find a number of scholarships available specifically for LD learners.

Platinum Partner

Clements International's Expat Youth Scholarship


Now in its third year, Clements International's Expat Youth Scholarship is a unique contest exclusively for expat students who spend their childhoods moving between different countries and cultures. The 2011 Expat Youth Scholarship is open to students ages 12-18 of any nationality who have resided in a foreign country for at least two consecutive years. This year's theme asks participants to create a video explaining their favorite thing about their host country and its culture. A total of $10,000 in scholarships will be awarded to six students in two age categories. Visit for more information. This year the entry deadline is May 13, 2011. [1]


Currently Clements, an expat insurance specialist, is supporting the FAWCO website as a Platinum Partner.


Yes I Can! Awards


Created by Council for Exceptional Children, these awards recognize the accomplishments of children and youth with exceptionalities. Thousands of children and youth have been recognized since the program’s inception in 1982.


Nominations for the 2013 Yes I Can! Awards are now open!

The deadline is is Oct. 19, 2012.


CEC will select 21 winners for their outstanding achievements in:
School and Community Activities

But everyone is a winner! Each individual nominated for the Yes I Can! Awards will receive a certificate of accomplishment.


Eligibility Requirements
Candidates must be 2–21 years of age when they are nominated.
The nominee must have an identified disability.
Each candidate may be nominated in only one category.
International nominations are accepted.
Posthumous nominations are not accepted.

For complete information, go to .



Students Who Learn Differently Overseas


by Susan van Alsenoy, AWC Antwerp




Page created 10/29/99 EvE. Last updated 03/01/11 SvA.




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