A former student of Maple Hayes Dyslexia School, who says the school “saved him”, has written a book to help dyslexics in their university studies.

Dr Adrian Wallbank, a Teaching Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, has published Academic Writing and Dyslexia: A Visual Guide to Writing at University to help dyslexic students cope with the rigours of higher education study.

Basing it on the unique “icon” system of teaching devised by Dr Neville Brown, the founder of the Lichfield-based specialist independent school for children with dyslexia and specific learning difficulties, Dr Wallbank’s book offers a visual approach to academic writing and composition specifically tailored to the needs of dyslexic students in higher education.

“The high demands at university and the sheer amount of reading and writing requires increasingly sophisticated coping mechanisms,” he said.

“The book very much takes inspiration from Dr Brown’s methodology that I learned at the school and I start where his approach leaves off, looking at structure and patterns of writing. I’ve also developed a system of visual icons and prompts.”

Dr Wallbank joined Maple Hayes at the age of 14. He had been educated by private tutors at home for 18 months after suffering a nervous breakdown, anxiety and depression because of bullying at his local secondary school in Polesworth, Warwickshire.

“I was in a real mess,” says Dr Wallbank, who was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of eight. “When I moved from middle school to high school, I was put in the bottom stream - I was pretty hopeless in every subject - but because I was a shy, quiet individual, I was bullied and I left after half a term. Maple Hayes was the lifeline I needed to overcome my school phobia and dyslexia. It saved me.”

When he left at the age of 17, he studied A-levels in English, Geography and Sociology at Burton Technical College before going to Staffordshire University to read English. After attaining a First, he was awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant to go to the University of York to do a Masters.

He then went to the University of Warwick, where he completed a PhD in English literature, specialising in late  eighteenth-century literature and intellectual history.

“When I graduated from Staffordshire University, I knew I had two goals: to do a PhD in an English language-based subject, to prove I could do it, and to help people by teaching, just as I had been helped by Maple Hayes. Basically, I wanted to pay back that debt.

After teaching English literature, he moved to Royal Holloway where he is Programme Leader for Academic Writing and Communication in the Centre for the Development of Academic Skills.

“I want to help students because I know they can excel if they have the right help,” added Dr Wallbank. “I hope the book helps them to do that.”

For more information about Maple Hayes Dyslexia School visit: dyslexia.school.

PR by Reeves PR agency in Birmingham

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