Past Meetings

At CDA we have been lucky to hear at our Open Meetings from a range of experts on the ways in which dyslexia can impact on those who are born with the condition, and also those who a trying to support a friend or family member with dyslexia.

This page catalogues past meetings and gives useful links to presentations and other relevant material kindly provided to us by our speakers


Monday 18th March 2019 – ‘ADHD – just a way of excusing the behaviour of naughty small boys’

Presented by: Garret Smyth


We’ve mostly moved beyond the reflex responses of “they need more discipline” and “they need more time in the great outdoors”, but there are still a lot of misconceptions about ADHD (Attention Deficit & Hyperactivity Disorder) and who can have it. Male, female, child and adult – anyone can suffer this developmental disorder, so it can be inattention, distractibility and hyperactivity for all the family! The odds are that a percentage of you reading this have it without knowing.

Garret Smyth, founder of the central London adult ADHD support group (now meeting three times a month) will be talking about ADHD, how it is diagnosed in children and adults, what it is often mistaken for (a lot of things), its comorbidities (such as dyslexia), ways of treating and managing it and his personal experience of being an adult (and child if he can cast his memory back that far) with ADHD.

Tuesday 5th February 2019 – ‘Listening Books’

Presented by: Abbie and Claire from the Listening Books charity


For many people with dyslexia, books can be daunting.  As a processing disorder, dyslexia doesn’t affect intelligence, but the effort involved in decoding words means that books can become too complex to properly enjoy.  Audiobooks could provide the answer.

Listening Books is a charity which provides an audiobook library for people who find reading difficult as the result of a print impairment like dyslexia. It has over 7,000 titles in its library, including bestselling titles from authors including J. K. Rowling, George R. R. Martin, Lee Child, David Walliams, Jacqueline Wilson, and many more. Listening Books supports the National Curriculum from Key Stage 2 to A-Level and has a huge range of fiction and non-fiction titles for both adults and children.

During the talk the two speakers, Abbie and Claire from Listening Books, showed how easy it is to borrow audiobooks online, and how the postal CD service works. They brought information about free memberships in Croydon!

Tuesday 6th November 2018 – ‘Diagnostic Assessment for Dyslexia / SpLD’

Presented by: Ged Balmer – Educational Psychologist


The popular and quirky speaker, Ged Balmer states on his website that he provides ‘advice, assessment and an independent opinion’. After over a decade of teaching in state schools, Ged qualified as an educational psychologist, working for the local education authority in a London borough for 25 years. He now works in private practice, specialising in carrying out diagnostic assessments, with students from 6 years of age, for a range of SpLDs, including dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, as well as for exam access arrangements.

Having worked as a local authority EP, Ged is familiar with SEN Procedures. He has contributed to SEN Tribunals, both as a LEA Tribunal Officer and as an independent psychologist. He will also clarify previous educational psychology reports!

His talk will describe the nature of and areas covered by the psychometric assessment as well as the importance of certain underlying abilities for success with literacy. He will then explain the aspects of literacy assessment and talk about ability/achievement discrepancy. Ged will welcome questions about any of his areas of expertise – this should be a valuable and entertaining meeting for parents and teachers.

Tuesday 2nd October 2018 – ‘Dyslexia and Vision

Presented by: Professor Bruce Evans


Bruce Evans is an optometrist who is both a practitioner and an academic. He owns and works in an optometric practice in Essex. One of his academic posts is Director of Research at the Institute of Optometry in London and one of his main areas of research is visual factors in dyslexia/specific learning difficulties.  Professor Evans highlights the controversial link between sight problems and dyslexia. He points out that visual problems will inevitably sometimes co-occur with dyslexia but argues that problems with sight are not usually the main cause of dyslexia. “Evidence suggests that visual stress occurs in one in five people with dyslexia,” he says. “Most people with dyslexia don’t need visual treatment but eliminating any visual symptom is clearly going to be helpful.” Visual problems can cause eye strain, headaches, or visual distortions, which may make learning to read difficult and discourage those affected from prolonged reading.

In his talk, Professor Evans will explain the main visual problems that can co-occur with dyslexia, how visual difficulties are detected through optometric assessment, and how visual problems associated with dyslexia can be treated. This is Bruce’s second visit to CDA and we look forward to an informative meeting.

Saturday 2nd June 2018 – ‘THINKALINK!’

Presented by: ‘Sir Linkalot’ aka Andy Salmon


Our annual family event was a high-octane, fast and furious, fun-filled presentation with lots of audience participation! Thinkalink is a fun and easy way to remember any fact, with the focus being SPAG, i.e Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar.

‘Sir Linkalot’ (aka Andy Salmon) showed how hilarious ‘links’ can be used to remember how to spell any word; it will take the students from mixing up letters to spelling even the most difficult words!

There were 2 sessions of THINKALINK! and they were held in the regular Children Will Shine sessions.  Children Will Shine students were encouraged to bring a parent / carer along to this session with them, as this is a learning strategy which involves everyone!

To see Andy in action, type ‘Sir Linkalot Vimeo’ into a browser – it shows how engaging he is and how great linking is for students’ self-esteem.

Andy has written a couple of books, packed with a 1000 links to get you started and a simple guide to creating more of your own. He will bring copies on 2 June.

1st May 2018 – ‘10 ways to negotiate support for dyslexia in schools’

Presented by: John Hicks


After his daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia and visual stress, John realised that he is also neurodiverse.

He left the world of sales and marketing and moved into the SpLD world. He is passionate about mental health and dyslexia especially for young people as well as assistive technology for study skills.

John works part time for a company that has a text to speech software product that is great for young people studying (see

John has trained as a life coach and is now training to be a therapeutic counsellor. He writes several blogs which support parents whose children are dyslexic – he has 650 followers on Facebook.

He has recently brought out his first E Book ‘Ten ways to negotiate support for dyslexia in schools’!

After the presentation, John provided the following link to the powerpoint slides he used:

To download pdf books, John recommends the following site:

Tuesday 6th March 2018 – ‘Comprehension is key for life and learning’

Presented by: Amanda Glenin (OCR Level 7 Dip SpLD)


Whether you need to sign important paperwork, follow written instructions, understand subject content at school or simply read for pleasure, accessing and understanding words and text is a vital skill.

Our speaker Amanda is a ‘Specialist Dyslexia Teacher’ and she discussed and explained some of the links between dyslexia, reading and comprehension. She explored the subsequent impact this can have on an individual’s self-belief, attainment and ability to make good progress despite excellent effort levels with reading.

 During the session, we found out more about the theory and models of reading and she covered teacher techniques used to help with comprehension. Finally and probably most importantly, Amanda gave practical methods and some strategies that can help improve reading skills and investigate other ways to overcome this barrier for dyslexics!

Tuesday 6th February 2018 – ‘Assistive Technology to Support People with Dyslexia’

Presented by: Gill Hudson


The speaker was Gill Hudson, Head of Account Management and Training Services at iansyst, a leading Assistive Technology (AT) supplier.

Assistive Technology is used to support a wide range of disabilities including Specific Learning Difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia, enabling those affected to learn, communicate and lead independent, productive lives.

iansyst states that ‘a good piece of technology will empower a disabled individual to work on a level playing field in school, work or their personal life and can greatly increase their self-confidence.’

Gill’s understanding of difficulties faced by those with SpLD means she is very familiar with the main groups of software that support those with dyslexia. However she says that not everyone who is dyslexic needs every type of technology.

Gill’s talk was interactive; she demonstrated the latest technologies available and answered questions about AT.

 Tuesday 7th November 2017 – ‘Self Fulfilment with Dyslexia: a Blueprint to Success’

Presented by Margaret Malpas

Margaret Malpas, MBE, is the author of ‘Self-Fulfilment with Dyslexia: a Blueprint to Success’, published earlier this year.  At the meeting, she talked about her book, which is based on the ten characteristics that underpin success for adults with dyslexia and contains life stories from inspirational people.  It is also a ‘how to’ so anyone can learn to develop the success qualities from the book.  

Margaret campaigns for a dyslexia friendly world.  She is Joint Chair of the British Dyslexia Association; she represents the BDA on workplace matters.  In 2012 she set up the Dyslexia Adult Network, bringing together charities involved with adults with dyslexia to collaborate on promoting governmental change for adults with dyslexia.  Margaret used to be an entrepreneur, setting up a sizable and successful human resources company to prepare for professional examinations. 

Margaret’s book can be purchased at Amazon or in any major bookshops.

Tuesday 3rd October 2017 – ‘Coping with Exam Stress’

Presented by Catrin and Vicky Cox

Catrin Cox is a recently retired primary school Head Teacher.  During her career she was a classroom teacher and SENCO at six primary schools prior to the headship.  Catrin has a teaching degree and a diploma in specific learning difficulties.  Her talk was about how parents can enhance their children’s self-esteem.  Her talk was supported by the following handout:

171003 – Self esteem

Catrin’s daughter, Vicky, is currently the Director of Operations for her family (or stay at home mum of two boys).  Both her sons are showing signs of specific learning difficulties.  Previously she worked for 9 years within the NHS on various projects and programme management.  She has a BA in Social Policy and Public Sector Management and an MA in Health Studies. Vicky gave tips on managing stress and performing to the best of your abilities in an exam.  Her talk was supported by this handout:

171003 – Exam stress

Tuesday 2nd May 2017 – ‘Effective and fun strategies to support struggling spellers’

Presented by Geraldine Lacey

There was a short AGM at the start of this meeting.  This was followed by a presentation by Geraldine Lacey.

An experienced and well-qualified specialist teacher, Geraldine Lacey was until recently Deputy Head of the Croydon Literacy Centre, where she taught children with dyslexia and other severe literacy  difficulties.

During her talk Geraldine explained the processes involved in learning to spell and possible difficulties some children encounter. 

She explored a range of practical approaches that overcome the difficulties while at the same time injecting some fun in the learning process.

In addition to teaching, Geraldine was an Advanced Skills teacher working with teachers in schools in an advisory capacity. She is well known in local schools for talks she has given on different aspects of SEN and literacy to SENCos, teachers, TAs, NQTs and whole school staff. She is now an independent consultant and still passionate about raising awareness of literacy difficulties and how to overcome them

Saturday 17th June 2017 – Code Club

Open Meeting at Central Library, Katharine Street, Croydon, CR9 1ET

Our annual meeting for families held at Central Library.

Primary age children sampled the Code Club, run by Croydon Tech City experts.

The children’s library now has a permanent tech facility for the community, a dedicated and branded “Tech Zone”.

Tuesday 7th March 2017 – ‘Dyspraxia Workshop’

Presented by Moyna Talcer

Moyna Talcer is a Consultant Occupational Therapist; she specialises in Dyspraxia, Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Sensory Processing Difficulties and has Dyslexia herself.

The workshop covered – the possible causes of dyspraxia; how it presents, including strengths and challenges; what can be done to help; specific strategies for handwriting and school work; strategies for older people including practical solutions; where to go if you suspect a person has dyspraxia. (Dyspraxia can co-occur with dyslexia.)

Tuesday 7th February 2017 – ‘Challenging the perceptions of ‘disability’ and an insight into enabling technologies’

Presented by Adam Hyland

The speaker was Adam Hyland, who is a passionate and inspirational advocacy campaigner for ‘Diversity and Ability’.  ‘DnA’ is a social enterprise which supports people with disabilities, including dyslexia, in education and the workplace.  For more information about DnA look at



Tuesday 1st November 2016 –  ‘Understanding maths difficulties for learners with dyslexia’

Presented by Julia Rowlandson

Our speaker, Julia Rowlandson, looked at the overlap between dyslexia and maths, and the areas in which a learner with dyslexia encounters difficulties.  The definition of dyscalculia was considered and the relevance of functional maths.  Strategies to help were explored and current assessments and useful websites included.

Julia has many years’ experience in the world of dyslexia and education: as Deputy Head of More House School, a specialist school for boys with specific learning difficulties; as Education Director of Barrington Stoke, publisher of high interest, low reading age books for reluctant readers; as a tutor/assessor for the OCR level 5 Diploma course in Specific Learning Difficulties.  Julia is a member of PATOSS, an Associate Member of the British Dyslexia Association and is co-director of USL – Understanding and Supporting Learning  She is a Trustee of the Shannon Trust which aims to ensure every prisoner is a reader by implementing a peer mentoring scheme across the prison estate.

Tuesday 4th October 2016 – ‘Dyslexia and Co-occurring Difficulties

Presented by Dr Amelia Roberts

Dr Amelia Roberts is a Deputy Director of SENJIT, at the Institute of Education, part of University College London.  Amelia used her considerable knowledge and experience of special educational needs to lead a discussion and answer questions about living with Dyslexia and co-occurring difficulties.  One of Amelia’s former pupils, Sam, now in his 20’s and a graduate, attended the meeting with Amelia and talked about his personal experiences of growing up with severe dyslexia, dyspraxia and OCD.

Amelia recommended the following websites during her talk:

Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants (MITA)

SPLD online guidance

Online Guidance on the SEN Reforms – The Dyslexia-SpLD Trust

Monday 20th June 2016 – ‘The Magical Quest’

Open Meeting at Central Croydon Library

Croydon Dyslexia members with their children, pupils from the Croydon Literacy Centre and members of a local Young Writers Group were all invited to this meeting.
During the session, the youngsters wrote a collaborative story, ‘The Magical Quest’. assisted by Jilly Henderson-Long.  Jilly, whose brother is dyslexic, writes poetry and children’s books.  She runs creative writing courses and in 2012 she set up and still runs the successful Addiscombe Young Writers group for 6-11 year olds.

Here is the finished article:

Tuesday 2nd May 2016 – ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic

Presented by Margaret Rooke

There was a short AGM at the start of this meeting.

This was followed by a talk by author and writer, Margaret Rooke about her latest book, ‘Creative, Successful, Dyslexic’.  Margaret’s book can be purchased at Amazon or in any major bookshops.

Twenty-three people from the arts, sport, and business worlds spoke to her about how dyslexia affected their childhood, how they were able to overcome the challenges and use the special strengths of dyslexia to achieve great success in adulthood.

Margaret interviewed celebrities including Darcey Bussell, Eddie Izzard, Sir Richard Branson, Meg Mathews, Zoe Wanamaker, Richard Rogers, Benjamin Zephaniah, Steven Naismith, Lynda La Plante, Sir Jackie Stewart and Sophie Conran. 

 At the meeting there was a chance to see Margaret at work! She interviewed Loyle Carner , a rap artist from Croydon who is dyslexic.  Loyle has already this year played tours in the United States and Europe and is developing his career as a rapper. He performed at Glastonbury last summer and was one of the artists nominated to be the BBC Sound of 2016.  His first album, Yesterday’s Gone, was released in January 2017 and nominated in July 2017 for the 2-17 Mercury Prize.


Tuesday 1st March 2016 – ‘Dyslexia and Memory’

Presented by Sarah Beard

Sarah is a Specialist Teacher, Assessor and Lecturer in Dyslexia.  Sarah runs Dittas Limited, an OCR Training Centre and a consultancy, diagnostic assessment and tuition service for schools, businesses and individuals, based in Keston. Dittas Ltd is a partner in the PAPAA award for Assessing for Access Arrangements. Dittas Ltd also offers tutoring and touch typing.

160301 – Memory & Dyslexia Presentation

160301 – Memory & Dyslexia – 6 approaches to memory improvement

Tuesday 2nd February 2016 – ‘Exam Access Arrangements’

Presented by Cathy Evans

Cathy Evans is a current qualified Specialist Teacher and Assessor, holding an Assessment Practising Certificate, and a member of PATOSS.
Cathy provides assessments for Exam Access Arrangements, for schools as well as privately commissioned.  She has taught and assessed numerous dyslexic students during the past five years and has helped raise awareness of the barriers facing these learners.

160202 – Exam Access Arrangements

Tuesday 3rd November 2015 –  ‘Post 16 choices for dyslexics’

Presented by Stephanie Taylor

Stephanie Taylor is a Senior Learner Employer Advisor for Hawk Training Limited, a provider of education and training programmes for Post 16 learners.

151103 – Apprenticeship Presentation 

Tuesday 6th October 2015 – ‘Family Support that works’

Presented by:

Two local families, each with a young person who is dyslexic

Rosie, an adult who is dyslexic / dyspraxic and her partner.

Each family talked about the impact of dyslexia / Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD); how difficulties have been supported and the effect of the support; self-esteem; family dynamics; things they might have done differently; top tips.  An important part of each family’s presentation were the comments made by those with dyslexia about the effectiveness of the family’s / partner’s support.

Rosie, has her own blog which she uses to campaign for greater awareness of her hidden differences: ‘Thinking Out of the Box’

One of the families presenting also provided the following handouts as they had found them useful during their own endeavours to support their dyslexic child:

151006 – Palmar Reflexes

151006 – Poorhand

151006 – Right Brain v Left Brain

151006 – Upside-Down Brilliance

Tuesday 5th May 2015 – IT for Dyslexics

Presented by Caroline Bateman

Caroline is a learning technology consultant who is dyslexic and has 3 dyslexic children who has recently set up Achieve Now

150505 – Instructions to switch on speak icon in Microsoft

150505 – IT for Dyslexics

More information about CDA?

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 0333 111 00 66 (evenings and weekends until 9pm)


Registered Charity No. 289947 (A member of the British Dyslexia Association)