Dyslexia means, “Trouble with words.”
During my teacher training, the term dyslexic was used to describe a person with normal intelligence for whom traditional teaching methods were not working.
Here we use it to describe difficulties with reading, writing, spelling and mathematical symbols.
Many terms are sub-sectioned off from the umbrella label – dyslexia, such as dyspraxia, ADD, ADHD, visual-spatial learners, central/visual/auditory processing disorder, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and so on.
Although these labels are usually regarded as being separate from each other, the symptoms can result from the same cause: “disorientation.”
Common Characteristics Of Dyslexia
Most dyslexics will exhibit 10, or many more of the following traits and behaviours. These characteristics can vary from day-to-day or minute-to-minute.
The most consistent thing about dyslexics is their inconsistency.
You can find out more by reading this detailed article on the common characteristics of Dyslexia
Causes of Dyslexia
There are several factors which cause dyslexia.
The ability and predisposition to think in pictures.
This visual thinking is a lot faster than thinking with the sounds of words,
(typically 32 pictures per second as opposed to 100-200 words a minute.)
It shows in the higher intelligence, creativity and problem-solving abilities that picture thinkers exhibit.
These pictures are realistic and 3-dimensional.
Individuals can quickly imagine what objects look like from all perspectives, front, behind, above and below, at will. While this ability is not in itself a problem, when a person uses it to understand 2-dimensional symbols they become confused.
It is easy to confuse b for d or p or q by looking at it or imagining it from different perspectives.
It is easy to become a creative speller, use incorrect word order in a sentence, or show illogical thoughts by disordered sentences or paragraphs within an essay.
It explains some dyslexics tendency to muddle words like on/no, how/who, was/saw.
Because dyslexics think so fast, they write much slower than they can think, so miss out parts of the story and become frustrated with the process.
As picture thinkers read, they have a movie going in their imagination.
At one end of the scale, a child may never manage to find this movie at all as they are stuck attempting to find a picture from the abstract 2-dimensional letters on the page.
These children remain stuck on early readers indefinitely.
Others find the pictures and begin to advance but slowly in fits and starts. With words like brown horse jumps white fence green paddock, the movie is clear.
When they come across words like the over a and into there are no pictures.
Typically they skip over or substitute these words.
This causes the movie to blip like a poor quality VCR or scratched DVD; too many blips and the video jams.
Often we hear phrases like “This is dumb/stupid/boring,” because the movie has stopped and there are no pictures in their heads. They can’t understand what they have just read.
Behaviours for dealing with the confusion
Eye rubbing, hair pulling, fidgeting and other strategies have helped in the past but don’t always work.
These behaviours are the third factor – dealing with the confusion and result in dyslexia.
Consequently, dyslexics learn a raft of tricks to help them get by.
They spend their days putting their mind through hoops, working many times harder than others to achieve less output.
We often see this with children with good language skills who appear to start well at school and then begin to falter, as the tricks which helped them initially become overwhelming. They often daydream as they wait for the feeling of confusion to disappear.
When learning becomes painful, avoidance strategies come to the fore.
We see the class clown, the most helpful child, the quiet head-down approach or the naughty child who prefers to be known as silly rather than dumb.
These solutions and defensive behaviours disable a person’s ability to learn.
How to teach Dyslexics how to read
When teaching reading, a phonetic method is often used.
Dyslexics, however, are less likely to think with the sounds or shapes of words. They are more likely to think with pictures or mental images in a creative and multi-sensory way that benefits from a hands-on learning.
Because they don’t think with sounds of words, it is very hard for them to learn by sounding out. That is why phonics often fails with this group of learners.
The Davis methods have been developed to utilise the picture thinking ability of dyslexic individuals.
During the 30-hour program, clients are given “tools” and exercises to identify and control confusion, address and eliminate the sources of confusion and allow a relaxed state of focus to be used for learning.
These strategies quickly replace the old ones as they bring success and improved self-esteem to the student.
If you are interested in discussing your own situation why not contact us today.