One of our suggestions for the parents of Dyslexics we work with is being sure their kids are physically up to the job of school. They have to work a lot harder than other students that don’t have the same issues with reading, spelling, writing and other school skills. All kids need a good night’s sleep, proper food and exercise but with the mental effort a Dyslexic has to exert to learn and produce in the classroom is like the difference between walking and running. Properly pacing yourself, you can walk all day but if you had to run as fast as you can all day you wouldn’t last an hour. Dyslexics are pushing their mental limits everyday. Sometimes succeeding, some days not at all.
They are coping with using the right hemisphere of the brain to spell, read and write that generally focuses on other things – the left is the language center. They are often also having issues with Dysgraphia, Irlen’s Syndrome, dominant left ear, left/right confusion, understanding instructions and basic arithmetic, concept of time, measurement, how to make a list, remember it and follow it and many other problems.
To make their day more productive and less tiring:
1. A good night’s sleep: You can help to ensure this by avoiding caffeine drinks such as soda and the energy drinks that are full of it. Hours of video games can keep their brain’s overstimulated and making it difficult to fall and stay asleep. Going to bed at an appropriate time for their age regularly is also important. Many children are getting no where near the number of hours of sleep they need.
2. Starting the day with a good breakfast: Many children go to school with no more than a sugary cereal or sweet to start their day. Protein and the right complex carbohydrates are very important to give them long term energy and the ability to focus and pay attention. A healthy breakfast for a Dyslexic would have foods like peanut butter, meat or eggs, fruit, vegetables, milk of some kind such as cow, goat, soy or almond and multi-grain breads or cereal.
This should be followed with healthy snacks and a lunch during the day to help a Dyslexic student maintain their energy and stay alert. These should include protein again such as protein bars, nuts (almonds are great) and fruit or raw vegetables.
3. Water: We all need enough water during the day to function. Too often children are drinking highly caffeinated drinks which dehydrates the body. Giving them filled a water bottle for school and encouraging them to refill it during the day is very beneficial. If students don’t drink enough water they can experience headaches and lethargy. The link below for an article on Naturo Doc is very helpful for how much water to drink in a day and how water affects your body.
4. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D: There is a lot of conjecture about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D but from research I’ve done but it seems worth checking into.
“As omega-3 fatty acids were being discovered to have major roles in cell membrane signalling, brain development and functioning, scientists were also finding some differences in the genes, brains, visual, auditory and balance systems of those with dyslexia compared to those without.” ~Dyslexic.com
Vitamin D is also an unproven benefit for Dyslexics but some researchers believe it does help:
4. Simple sugars: Sugar is not good for anyone but for a Dyslexic, it can be another straw towards breaking the camel’s back. Fruit is a better choice.
“Too much sugar
A double-blind study of dyslexic children found that a diet high in sugar caused more erratic eye movements than a sugar-free diet. Researchers at Yale University gave 25 healthy children a drink containing the equivalent amount of glucose found in a can of Fanta. The children’s adrenalin was raised to over five times their normal level for up to five hours afterwards. Most of these children had difficulty concentrating and were anxious and irritable.” ~http://www.dyslexia-parent.com/mag38.html
5. Exercise: Exercise is helpful for everyone including Dyslexics for mental clarity. Often a lot of emphasis focuses on having them sit at a table doing repetitive practicing for spelling, writing and reading without incorporating breaks for exercise or in the daily activities. Also there is mounting evidence that exercise that involves balancing helps a Dyslexic use other parts of their brain more effectively. Here is a link from parents who incorporated exercise and how it helped their Dyslexic children with a program called DORE:
“The Best Thing We Ever Did! – I have a daughter and a son who were diagnosed with dyslexia four years ago, after much deliberation about the cost and geographical problems (we lived 2000km away from the nearest DORE (DDAT) centre, we decided we could not not let our children down. The best thing we ever did was put our children on this program. Yes it was difficult getting them to do their exercises most of the time, but we persevered and saw some changes within the first few weeks of the program, particularly with attention span initially.”
If anyone has other suggestions for increasing mental clarity and stamina for Dyslexics, please add your suggestions.
Thanks for listening:
Karey Hope deGraaf
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online