A book review by Marion May

Dyslexia: A Complete Guide for Parents and Those Who Help Them (Second Edition)

By Gavin Reid

  • ISBN (Paperback) 978-0-470-97373-8 ISBN (Hardcover) 978-0-470-97374-5
  • 216 pages/267 pages including appendices and index
  • Available at some public libraries and Chapters: Paperback $41.26, Hardcover $117.95, Kobo EBook $32.99
  • Note: Second Edition (published in 2011) by Wiley-Blackwell
  • First edition was published in 2004 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

An essential A-Z step-by-step guide on dyslexia

Tip: A necessary read if you’re considering a learning assessment for your child

I was number nine in line for the Ottawa Public Library’s next available copy of Dr. Gavin Reid’s, Dyslexia: A Complete Guide for Parents (First Edition). With the school year well underway I wondered a) how many parents in Ottawa might be questioning dyslexia in their children and, b) what made Gavin Reid such a sought-after author and expert on the subject of dyslexia. Being a former tutor of teenage students who struggled with literacy and now, a tutor with The Open Door Educational Services, I was curious to tap into Dr. Reid’s nuggets of wisdom to better understand my students learning challenges and empathize with their parents’ frustrations in seeking help. When my copy finally arrived, I devoured it within a few days and could easily understand its popularity.

The title says it all…

Just like the title promised, it was a complete step-by-step, chronological guide written specifically for parents about dyslexia, and includes: how to spot the early signs in very young children, how to get a useful assessment to achieve school accommodations, what to look for in research and learning aids, how to successfully collaborate and communicate with educators and professionals and how to support children with dyslexia through to adulthood.

Written in plain language in a logical, easy-to-reference format—with a short summary at the end of each chapter—it was easy to see why the book was in such high demand. I should also mention that, in addition to being a well-educated and highly-respected educational psychologist on dyslexia and learning disabilities worldwide, Dr. Reid is also a parent to a young man with special needs. I found the empathetic tone of his writing and respect for the reader’s situation to be very refreshing, offering the reader a sense of hope without being preachy. In supporting a child with dyslexia, he promotes advocacy with a healthy dose of collaboration and enlightenment.

Naturally, it comes as no surprise that Dr. Reid published a second edition in 2011 entitled, Dyslexia: A Complete Guide for Parents and Those Who Help Them. Having read the entire second edition, I am pleased to report that he has expanded the chapter on obtaining an assessment, added more information on the assessment tests and why they are conducted, expanded the resources section, updated the research and included a chapter entirely devoted to dyslexia’s effect on self-esteem and emotional development. Best of all, on the “About the Author” page, I was pleased to discover that Dr. Reid is now based in Vancouver, Canada.

About the Author:

Gavin Reid, is an independent educational psychologist based in Vancouver, Canada and a consultant to a number of organisations and charities worldwide. He is the co-founder and director of the Red Rose School for children with specific learning difficulties in Lancashire, UK and was visiting professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada. Previously he was Senior Lecturer at Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh. He is the author of 25 books including Dyslexia: A Practitioners Handbook (4/e 2009), Dyslexia in Context: Research and Practice (2004) and Dyslexia and Literacy (2002). He has run seminars for parents on dyslexia in over 60 countries and is also the parent of a young man with special needs.

“Collaboration is the key and communication is the means”

In the Preface of the second edition, Dr. Reid writes that he extended the title to include ….and Those Who Help Them, because “it is important that parents should not be seen as separate or isolated. Collaboration is the key and communication is the means. Parents and teachers need to work as informed partners and that is the thinking behind extending the title.” For me, being in the “Those Who Help Them” category as a Reading and Spelling Remediation Tutor with The Open Door, I couldn’t agree more! Having read through the psychological assessments for my students and recommendations for remediation, I found Dr. Reid’s guide to be very helpful in discovering why certain tests are conducted, what the outcomes reveal and how I can be a more effective tutor in addressing the deficits and strengths of my students.

While I found the entire book to be very helpful in explaining dyslexia, related learning disabilities, latest research, successful teaching methods, accommodations and advocacy, Chapters Three, Nine and, the Appendices offered information I had not come across in other books about dyslexia. Information such as: assessment criteria, a human portrayal of self-esteem in learning, practical lists of psychological tests—and why they are conducted—and commonly used terms by educators and psychologists. For parents and helpers trying to navigate a learning path for a dyslexic child or student, this is very practical and necessary information for the journey ahead.

The importance of an assessment and what it should contain

In Chapter 3, Finding out if my child is dyslexic, Dr. Reid begins the chapter by stating that “this is one of the most important chapters of the book.” I couldn’t agree more! In this chapter he explains why an assessment is important, who should assess the child and, the role of parents and professionals such as classroom teachers, educational psychologists, specialist teachers in the assessment process. He goes on to explain what feedback parents should expect from the assessment and what crucial information the report should contain. For instance, under the heading “Understanding assessment reports”, he explains that the report should contain a list of the tests conducted and what learning challenges they are looking for.

In the Appendices of the book, he has generously provided a list of the psychological tests normally done and what strengths or deficiencies they reveal. Appendices Two to Four include further information on, programs recommended for remediation, criteria for learning disabilities under the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) published by the American Psychological Association, and more information on sources, resources and organizations for help. Appendix Five provides a glossary of terms for learning disabilities and learning styles mentioned throughout the book.

Self-esteem and its role in the learning process

Chapter 9, Self-esteem and emotional development, focuses on the emotional needs of children with dyslexia and how parents can identify and support these needs. He outlines in a timetable format, what a typical day for a dyslexic student might look like, and the frequency of recurring failures from forgetting to set the morning alarm to failing a class math test at the end of the day due to number reversal problems. We begin to understand how these little failures can add up and affect a child’s self-esteem. Following the time table, he offers hope by describing simple, small steps that parents and teachers can take to support a child with dyslexia to avoid these daily failures. He goes on to discuss the importance of self-esteem in learning, how low-self-esteem can affect future learning and other areas of school life, the importance of positive feedback for self-esteem and motivation, the role of emotional development and emotional literacy in successful learning, the importance of student engagement and ownership as a motivator and the hidden effects of dyslexia that may not be obvious but can be veryreal.


From Chapter One, What is dyslexia? through to Chapter 13, Issues for parents to consider, and the abundance of information contained in the Appendices One to Five, I would highly recommend this book to parents, teachers and “those who help” children with dyslexia. It will give them a full empathetic understanding of dyslexia, a sense of hope in creating a positive, solution-oriented learning path—and beyond—for their child or student. Most importantly, it gives the reader a sense of empowerment to successfully advocate for their child or student.

Other books published by Gavin Reid available at Chapters include:

Dyslexia: A Practitioners Handbook Paperback|Mar 21 2016 $54.95

Dyslexia in the Early Years: A Handbook for Practice Paperback|Feb 21 2017 $29.95


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