Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. Having the condition doesn’t mean that a person’s intelligence is affected, but it can be very challenging. The NHS say that a person with dyslexia may:
• read and write very slowly
• confuse the order of letters in words
• put letters the wrong way round (such as writing “b” instead of “d”)
• have poor or inconsistent spelling
• understand information when told verbally, but have difficulty with information that’s written down
• find it hard to carry out a sequence of directions
• struggle with planning and organisation
But people with dyslexia often have good skills in other areas, such as creative thinking and problem solving.
Alais Winton was only diagnosed with the condition during her second year at university, but she is an excellent example of those positive abilities. “I had a lot of difficulties at school and I had to come up with all sorts of strategies”, she told me at her new home in Haverfordwest.
Many people give up under the weight of those difficulties, but fortunately for thousands affected by the condition, Alais Winton is a very determined woman who has ordered her knowledge into a form that benefits other sufferers.
“There is a lot of information out there, but I couldn’t help feeling it would be better if it was all in one place. I had been gathering up that information, developing strategies, working out what helped and what didn’t for years. I was like a magpie. I took up every class, from Anatomy, to Car maintenance and found ways to be successful.”
Can you tell me more?
“Dyslexia often means being labelled as lazy or stupid and people lose confidence. They need advice that really works. We all have different learning styles. If we work out how best we learn then we are working with our strengths to overcome our difficulties.”
Alais goes on to describe some of the strategies that have worked for her including using toy cars to work out stopping distances when taking her driving test, and making signs as visual memory aids. She passed her driving test first time.
“For some people the best way for them to learn is through drawing, for some its more physical, like dance. For some it’s simply being hands on. Everyone benefits from working from their strengths.”
And Alais has certainly benefited from working from her own strengths. Her determination and courage have meant that she has mastered everything she set out to achieve, especially when told she shouldn’t even try.
“Actually”, she laughs, “there is one thing over which I had to admit defeat .”
Apparently learning the violin was that one ‘failure’. However, no one could accuse Alais of being a quitter. She gave 6 years to trying to master the instrument before “putting the violin in the roof.” as she calls it.
“It just made me all the more determined to achieve other thing.”
Told she would never teach, Alais became a tutor at Pembrokeshire college for 16 years . She was able to support many young people with their own dyslexic challenges. Similarly her first book, Self Help Guide for Teens with Dyslexia was another triumph.
“ It took me 18 months to write, but I was determined. Ideas for the book kept me awake at night. I wanted something aimed at young people , because I could find nothing out there to really help them.”
The first book was a great success, winning an award and being translated into Italian. Alais received a message soon after from an Italian women saying that before she came across Alais’s book, she had decided to give up teaching. It was just too difficult! The book inspired her to continue.
Following the success of the first book , the publisher requested a second, aimed at a slightly younger age group.
“I had begun tutoring younger people by then and had a wealth of information to pass on.”
People will also find a quiz in the second book Fun Games and Activities for Children with Dyslexia, that helps determine those learning styles that are so useful.
So what are you working on at the moment?
“I am tutoring and co-writing the third book with a young dyslexic boy. It is taking the form of the diary of a dyslexic teen.”
What do you do in your spare time?
“I grew up in Haverfordwest , leaving for a while to study Drama and Dance at University in North Wales. I had to change course because of kidney problems but after I completed my humanities degree I returned to Pembrokeshire. Having lived here now for 22 years, I have a lot of friends and family that are very important to me. I sing with Singing for Fun, which is a very welcoming group,” She laughs, “particularly as I cannot sing. I love the countryside of course. Barafundle is the most beautiful beach for me and you can’t beat the benefits of sea swimming.”
Alais knows that managing stress is essential for dealing with Dyslexia. “When we get anxious, we can’t remember things. I advise my students to visualize being successful. Staying calm is really important.”
I notice that there is a large poster of the Tardis on the wall behind Alais.
You wouldn’t be a doctor who fan would you?
Alais nods, “Massive fan. Tom Baker and then Peter Davidson are my era and I use the Tardis in my books to explain prepositions. I am a huge fan of sci-fi generally. Things like Red Dwarf and Douglas Adams. Despite hating reading when I was younger, for obvious reasons, I loved ‘The Long Dark Teatime of the soul.’
Alais’s determination is a gift to so many young people and it would seem that she is unstoppable. Next on her list of things to achieve is a trip to Tuscany to undertake a cookery course! We look forward to hearing all about it on her return.
As a Dyslexia tutor, Alais offering strategies to increase the learner’s confidence and success in reading, spelling, organisation and much more. Sessions are 1 hour-long. If more than 1 session is required she recommends splitting them up over more than one day. They are aimed at ages 11-16.
The techniques she uses are tried and tested to enable supportive, creative and fun learning which is tailored to individual learning styles. Get in touch for advice on how Alais can help create a strategy to improve your chances of success.
1 Hour session is £30, with discounts offered for blocks of sessions.
Alais will travel to you, but there may be a charge for travel that she will discuss with you.
She also offers one-off sessions available for holiday makers staying in the area.
Alais is also a Face Painter and can be booked via facebook for parties. She plans to be at the West Wales Well Being Show this October ( 2018) where she will be selling her books and will be available to talk with people about Dyslexia.
Alais’s books are available on Amazon and from bookstores to buy.
She can be contacted for advice on Dyslexia. 07749 449 984. Or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
What some people have said about Alais and her methods:
“This is awesomeness and Yoda!” – Cameron (dyslexic client)
“Since meeting Alais my son has gained confidence in his abilities. He now believes in himself, which is showing in his work. Alais is a true inspiration to us. An individual who proves that with hard work and a will to learn dreams are achievable.” – Parent of client
“The service that you provide really engages the young person and keeps them engaged because it is made fun and interesting. As a result of the 8 or 9 weeks that we used the service for, my daughter’s teacher reported that she could see an improvement in her reading in school.” – Parent of client
“Before I met Alais I struggled with my spellings and my reading and did not have much confidence in class. I am now more confident, which has helped me speak more in class, and I now have more friends. I read and spell much better too. Alais is amazing I enjoy her being my tutor.” – Client, aged 11 years
“Alais connected with my daughter instantly, from one dyslexic to another, they really ‘got’ each other. Her creative teaching methods have been inspiring to watch and especially the way my daughter reacts, she really comes alive and enjoys her lessons immensely. I have witnessed her confidence grow and grow as well as her basic skills. I feel truly blessed to have found Alais, she is a precious gem to the teaching profession and to any dyslexic child.” – Parent of client