When you ask a dyslexic/right-brain child or adult what they “see” in their minds when you tell them to imagine a concrete word such as “car” they will usually tell you they see a picture of a specific car or multiple cars – they don’t see the word “car”. Normally when you ask a left-brain person what they “see” when you ask them to think about the word “car” they will see the written image of the word in their mind, a car or a car and the word. But generally they can visualize the word when they need to.
This is a huge difference between a right-brain and left-brain thinker. Dyslexics have a difficult time trying to learn to read because they see pictures of what the word is, not the symbols of written language that represent the word.
Now let’s take abstract words. To a dyslexic words like “up”, “down”, “when”, “now”, “is” are difficult to learn how to spell and remember if they can’t easily visualize the idea of “down”. They need context so they can come up with a visual image to understand and remember these type of words. You can have a dyslexic practice these words with all the different methods to learn to spell and read that are appropriate for dyslexics along with visualization exercises to pair the meaning of the word with a concrete image in their minds.
One way to have dyslexics practice visualizing abstract words is having the student write sentences using these abstract words in a sentence that represents a clear picture in their minds of what this abstract word means.
For example, go to Google Images, google a word like “down” and you will get many webpages of concepts of what “down” can mean. Have your dyslexic student pick images of “down” that make sense to them, copy the pictures to your computer into a document in a program like Microsoft Word and then on the same page create and write sentences about the picture using the word “down”. The sentences can be serious or silly, whatever pleases your student. Always remember to keep the picture and sentences on one page so that they connect the picture with the word as this will help them remember the written image of the word “down”. This method can be used effectively paired with individual concrete words (animal, place or thing).
Teaching methods for the dyslexic should always incorporate the idea that they see “whole concrete images” best. Dyslexics will often learn how to spell and read words more successfully if they can use their ability to see pictures of the meaning of a word paired with seeing the word as a picture and not several parts and individual letters. For example: instead of emphasis on the letters in the word “d-o-g” they are taught “dog” as a total picture.
More on this another day.
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online