Asome is trained in the Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) approach and is an Associate Member of the Australian Dyslexia Association (AMADA).
Currently working at Bentleigh West Primary School in Victoria, Asome screens students in their first year of school, and provides learning support before they begin falling behind in class.
Technology, she says, plays a large part in the process.
“…it allows [students] to express themselves when they otherwise might not have been able to,” Asome says.
“So, I mean, often these students are struggling if they can’t get it onto paper but they’ve got the ideas or they’ve got the verbal skills but the spelling is holding them back.”
Asome has a number of favourite apps and tools for dyslexic students.
“We use IReadWrite a lot, which is a fantastic one because as you start to type it predicts the word they are going to write and has a speech function as well, so they can tell a story,” she says.
“Another really good … one is Easy Spelling Aid, which we often use with the kids to edit their work,” she adds.
“We then use some of the decodable text, so for the younger kids we’ve got the decodable Little Learners and The Fitzroys [Fitzroy Readers book series], as books on the iPads.
“And I guess probably the biggest one we use is probably the Nessys, Hairy Phonics, Hairy Letters, Hairy Words, Chimp Foods all the Nessy apps are researched for students with dyslexia and reading difficulties, so we know they’ve got research behind them and evidence behind them.”
Asome began her career in a language unit in the UK, and later moved to Singapore where she worked as part of the learning support department, helping the three to seven-year-olds with early intervention.
She says it was a natural progression into her current role screening Prep students for phonemic awareness.
“We know that if we get in early there’s a bigger chance of them reaching levels, whereas if we leave it to beyond Year 3 it’s hard to fill those gaps,” Asome explains.
“…And then the older students or new students to the school, I work alongside the teachers, in their teacher planning, in coaching and taking some lessons, helping develop curriculum documents, so it’s a pretty varied role really.”
Asome now has a daughter with dyslexia, which she says, spurred her on in her quest to empower these students.
Gazing into the future, Asome is excited by what school might look like in 20 years’ time.
“I guess the technology will have completely changed in 20 years … I guess a lot of it will be technology-based by that point, particularly for the older kids.
“I guess it will be more individualised for them, particularly the struggling students …I mean the speech to text function wasn’t around when I started teaching, so that’s already massively changed, I’m sure that will keep developing as well.”
Sarah Asome will be speaking at the National FutureSchools Expo in Melbourne on March 23-24.