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James Cottis
"I had the idea during an exam."
 real 28k

Sunday, 9 April, 2000, 01:15 GMT 02:15 UK
Teen dyslexic sets up aid site
classroom scene
Teachers "may not know how to help"
A teenager whose schooldays were blighted by dyslexia is setting up a website to help others in the same predicament.

James Cottis, 18, says many teachers still do not recognise the symptoms of "word blindness" - or, if they do, they do not know how to handle it.

This leaves youngsters like himself without the support they need to handle essays and exams.

So he is launching on 12 April to offer practical advice and to provide a forum to help overcome their sense of isolation.

james cottis
James Cottis: "It should be fun, too"
James was diagnosed at the age of seven while in primary school, and was moved to another school where he had special support.

But in secondary school, James says he did not get one-to-one help when he most needed it - in preparing for his GCSE exams.

"They were more interested in you if you were a star pupil. They didn't want to know you if you were dyslexic," he said.

Last year the annual report on special needs education from the Office for Standards in Education in England said pupils identified as dyslexics early in their primary schools "tend to make better progress" when they reach secondary school.

But it said that in some schools and local authorities pupils had faced delays in being formally assessed - which wasted pupils' time and lowered their confidence.

A feature of the new website will be a list of schools that do provide specialist support for dyslexia teenagers.


James is now doing GNVQ Advanced media studies at South East Essex College in Southend.

"The support I have had has been tremendous," he said.

The college provides him with one-to-one support once a week from a member of its dedicated Academic Support Team.

It notes that his dyslexia has not hindered his ambition, as the dyslexia website project demonstrates.

His tutor, Mark O'Connell, said: "James is an enthusiastic student, and this is exactly the sort of ambitious, independent project students often undertake alongside their course. We wish him every success."

With the encouragement of lecturers he has sought academic advice on the site's content.

But as well as help and a problem page it will also offer a chat forum and web-based e-mail.

"Dyslexic teenagers tend to think they're the only ones in the world who are dyslexic and they don't know anybody else who is like-minded, and one idea of the site is also to bring people together," James said.

For the launch there is an interview with spoon-bending celebrity Uri Geller - a "fascinating person", says James, "very good at mind power".

Dyslexia-Net promises to give 1% of any advertising and sponsorship it gets to the British Dyslexia Association.

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See also:

11 Nov 99 | Education
Dyslexic stopped from suing council
27 Oct 99 | Education
Early detection vital for dyslexia
07 Sep 99 | Education
State schools 'failing dyslexics'
24 Jul 99 | Education
Parents demand support for dyslexics
14 Sep 98 | Education
First dyslexics-only school opens
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