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Elizabeth Manson

How things have developed since I did my specialist teacher training with SPELD Blenheim in 1977.

Our task was to help those with Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD), and those who live and work with them. This includes those with dyslexia.

Dyslexia, the school principals of that time decided, was a poor teacher’s excuse for not being able to teach reading. An ex-reading specialist said to me, “Do you really think that you read with your brain?” It took until 2007 for dyslexia to be officially recognised. Many of the other specific learning areas are still not recognised.


In 1984 my family moved to Palmerston North where Janice and David Durbridge were the moving forces in the organisation here, as well as nationally.


The Durbridges were also looking at the importance of diet, - beware of trans-fats they told us! Their knowledge enabled my family to get help for our son when he had numerous health issues which the medical profession said they couldn’t help.


In 1996-97 we organised seminars about recognising and helping those with ADHD. Five hundred people attended each session! Some came from other provinces- even Auckland!!


Our work in this area had the national organisation of SPELD telling us we were overstepping our brief. As at least half the people who phoned us asked, “Is this where we get help for ADD?” we formed our own helping agency – hence SPELADD.


It was soon after this time we became aware of a group of people who had great anxiety and poor social skills as well as Attention Deficits. So our teacher training courses and tuition started to include those with High Functioning Autism, (Asperger Syndrome).


SPELADD looks at the whole person, from what they eat to how they move, feel, hear and see and how they cope with learning and developing their self-esteem and social skills. All these improved abilities for the child, and parents learning advocacy skills, means a happier family and a happier community.


                                  Elizabeth Manson

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