A FORMER teacher who campaigns for dyslexia awareness after her son was diagnosed with the condition has called for more work to identify children with literacy difficulties.

Frances Mercer, 67, from Blackburn, is a former science teacher at Fulwood High School, Preston, and is chairman of the North East Lancashire Dyslexia Association.

Her son Christian, 30, who also works for the charity, has overcome dyslexia, along with dyspraxia - a related condition causing co-ordination difficulties - to gain a Master's degree in applied biology.

The pair travel around schools throughout Blackburn and the Ribble Valley to give information and help in identifying and helping dyslexic children.

Their organisation has now been named Charity of the Year by Sainsbury's in Clitheroe, thanks to this work.

Computers have made life much easier for dyslexic children, with a range of packages designed to help children improve their reading and writing, but Mrs Mercer said there were still problems in spotting the difficulties.

She said: "In some respects, we have come a long way, but now that all schools take their own responsibility for spotting dyslexia, and they often have so many other problems to identify in children, dyslexia is still being missed for some children.

"It's a developmental condition and it usually can't be properly diagnosed until a child is about eight years old, so the eight to 11 years are when we should be really looking for this - before they get to secondary school and are even more difficult to engage.

"It's all about family support and by helping parents and schools understand the child's difficulties, these children can be re-motivated and really get their literacy back up to scratch.

"We are a very small charity but we are able to link with bigger organisations to really make a difference."

Mrs Mercer became involved with the charity through Christian, and re-trained as a specialist teacher for children with dyslexia late in her career.

Mr Mercer said: "I always struggled particularly with reading at school. But I've tried all sorts of different techniques over the years to help me - everyone finds different things helpful.

"Obviously I've had a lot of support through the Dyslexia Association and used their specialised revision techniques, like putting things in spider diagrams, that are simple but really effective.

"I was lucky that my condition was spotted early but lots of children don't get that."

l To find out more about services from the North East Lancashire Dyslexia Association, call the charity on 01254 230756.