It seems like I learn something new every time I talk to someone with dyslexic issues. During this past holiday season I spent some time with Wil, a son of one of the co-authors of DYSLEXIA VICTORIA ONLINE. He is an adult now and a very successful welder and metal fabricator with a large construction company in California. He had to deal with many problems as a dyslexic child but with his mother’s assistance he succeeded in school and now he is not only successful but also confident of his abilities. We were talking about how he is able to fabricate complicated metal projects so well because he sees the finished product in his head before he has even started. Now this is an example of what many professionals call “seeing the big picture” or maybe an example of a problem solving skill at it’s finest level. I have heard of people who do this very well and usually these examples are rather commonly mentioned as “learning strengths” when talking about people who are dyslexic or right brain predominant. It was the next two observations that I found so fascinating.
We were talking about his musical interests and how frustrating it was for him to learn how to play a guitar in school. When the music teachers tried to have him learn the musical notes as written on a page he couldn’t do it. The notes appeared all smooshed together and every time he tried to study the notes they appeared different, even on the line of notes that he had just read. What did work for him was when a picture of the parts of the guitar was drawn showing where his fingers should go in relation to the frets and the strings. So just like we have said lots of times in our blogs, on our website and in our books, these students need to see a real world image of what they are working with. I found this interesting because it is another example of how the dyslexic brain can process information and that it is so very different from the left brain. As interesting as that was the next observation was even more so for me.
A couple of years ago, while editing an early book in the website, I saw a hand drawn picture of Goofy, Scrooge McDuck and one of the nephews. It was drawn by Wil when he was about 11 years old. At the time I didn’t really pay much attention to it. It was drawn well but what I must have missed about the drawing that makes it interesting is that he drew each drawing without lifting his pencil off the page. I remembered this drawing when we were talking about some of his recollections of his school years. He said to me that when ever he drew things on paper he actually traced what was already on the page. I didn’t understand what he meant so he explained it to me like this. When he thought about what he wanted to draw, he first saw the complete image in his mind. Then when he looked at the blank sheet of paper he saw that image on the paper. All he needed to do then was use his pencil to trace over the lines of the drawing that he already saw on the blank paper. Absolutely fascinating.
The point I’m trying to make here is we can only understand and appreciate what a dyslexic student is going through when we get a better idea about what they actually see or perceive when they are given information. Yes, sometimes they have difficulties when they are expected to do tasks in a manner we think makes the most sense. Problem is, sometimes what makes sense to us doesn’t make sense to them but they can get there anyway by using their own processes. We need to meet these people halfway, we need to hear what they say and listen to what makes sense to them. Many times they find the solution to tasks when we just stop insisting that our preconceived notions are the only way to get a job done.
Just goes to show that we can all learn something new if we are willing to really listen to others.