Dyslexics don’t See Words in their Minds, they See Pictures

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.

How right-brain and left-brain people think about a word

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.

Karen Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

10 thoughts on “Dyslexics don’t See Words in their Minds, they See Pictures

  1. Having struggled with dyslexia as a young child I can honestly say that it is not easy. I can remember many times looking at things I had just written and questioning whether or not they were correct. Still tonday I am constantly questioning everything. I think the real challenge is keeping your kids in the game, its so easy as a child to get frustrated with failure and the desire to give up is so strong. Lets face it, no one ever wants to be faced with failure day in and day out and for a child suffering from dyslexia going to school is just that! My recommendation is to do whatever it takes to identify what it is that your child is good at in school, so as to keep him motivated to do what is more challenging for him. School was so much easier for me when I realized that maybe I was ok at math and suddenly not everyone in the class was better than me at everything in school. Also, if you think its hard as a parent just imagine what your child is going through.


  2. Pingback: Florida boy makes miraculous recovery after being shot in the R hemisphere of head

  3. Hi, I have found a way to control my dyslexia, that’s kind of a side note.

    Anyway I’m writing because I don’t have any reading problems anymore and I’d like to know what words are hard or impossible to visualize for a dyslexic person. I’m asking this question because I want to write a book for dyslexic people and kids.


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