Help for Dyslexic Adults wanting to improve their Writing and Grammar

How to help Dyslexics improve their grammar and writing skills

How to help Dyslexics improve their grammar and writing skills

We are often asked for suggestions to help adult Dyslexics improve their writing skills such as spelling, grammar and organization of ideas. There are lots of helpful methods and accommodations. Here are a few ideas.

For Dyslexics it is often important to see examples and reasons for learning any new information or skills rather than just following step by step instructions.

  • For spelling and grammar you could try going to a local college and take a course(s) on “technical writing”.  A technical writer is:

“a professional writer who engages in technical writing and produces technical documentation. The Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators has defined the profession as preparing information which helps users…

“Technical writing involves the creation of useful documents that can be clearly understood by readers. Good technical writing clarifies “jargon” presenting useful information that is clear and easy to understand for the intended audience; poor technical writing may increase confusion by creating unnecessary jargon or failing to explain it. While grammar, spelling and punctuation are of the utmost importance to technical writing, style is not; it can be sacrificed if doing so increases clarity, which is considered more important to the genre.”  ~wikedpedia

Technical writing is geared for occupations such as online help, user guides/manuals, white papers, design specifications, system manuals, project plans, test plans. This type of writing is a great place for a Dyslexic to learn grammar and structure in writing because the style is very specific, concise and not “flowery”.

College level technical writing  courses  are a good resource for learning this writing style. I would suggest taking a least two or more of these courses to work towards proficiency in this writing technique. Creative writers will take repeat courses in creative writing to practice, be critiqued and develop good writing skills to improve their stories or poetry. Dyslexics can also take online courses but I think the classroom can be very beneficial for feedback and hands on attention which is important to Dyslexics.

Because technical writing is for documenting information and instructions it can also be good practice for a Dyslexic learning to create a sequence of steps leading to a conclusion which is very difficult for many “big picture to details” Dyslexics.

Before taking the course try to find a teacher who is a “big picture” thinker.  Interview them or talk to other students who have taken their courses. Questions to ask: Does the professor use “mindmaps” to lay out lessons, favour explaining the “whys, whats and how”, gives lots of examples of the writing assignments, and uses big picture teaching methods. REMEMBER:  if they teach in a step by step sequential manner a Dyslexic will often be lost and frustrated.

If a Dyslexic takes one course they might have found it somewhat or very confusing – unless they get a very right-brain thinking teacher who thinks like them. They shouldn’t give up. The first course will help with the big picture of the technical writing style and the next and maybe third course will probably work well for the Dyslexic student wanting to learn how to write well. I realize this is a lot of dedication and most people probably don’t want to do more school but it will help tremendously.

  • Another great way to practice good grammar and writing style is with public speaking. There is a website by a Dyslexic professor who discovered public speaking and it changed his life. I would check it out, maybe contact him for suggestions and find a course on public speaking. It will also help massively for a Dyslexic’s work in communications with people. His website is:http://publicspeakinglosangeles.net/
  • Learn to mind map which will help with all facets of a Dyslexic’s work life and help them  write better. Tony Buzan’s website is great for information:

http://www.tonybuzan.com/

  • There are computer programs available to help a Dyslexic improve their writing and spelling by using spell and grammar check software. For example:

http://www.ghotit.com/

http://www.gingersoftware.com

  • Dragon Naturally Speaking is speech recognition software. You speak, it records and prints the text on your computer screen. This program helps a Dyslexic turn their thoughts into text. Often Dyslexics are very articulate but cannot write because they lose their ideas in the effort of trying to remember proper spelling and employing the physical action of handwriting or typing.

One thing to remember – part of the process with speech recognition software is training it to a person’s voice. This is done by using a head set with mic and reading a passage out loud that the software provides in the program. There are a number of reading choices.

The problem with this method is Dyslexics have difficulty reading aloud so the program will not train properly to their voice. The program cannot recognize their words when the Dyslexic reader hesitates, mispronounces or says the wrong word. The answer is to download and print the reading sample they chose.  Make sure to increase the size of the font and double space it. Then practice reading it in a normal voice until they are not hesitating or mispronouncing words. I wish I had a quarter for every parent of a Dyslexic student or adult Dyslexic who told me the program doesn’t work for them and gave up on it. They don’t realize the need to practice saying the passage aloud so the program gets a clear impression of their voice.

If you have something to share that you have found works for Dyslexics improving their spelling, grammar and writing I hope you will add it the comment section.

Thanks for your interest!
Karey Hope deGraaf
Dyslexia Victoria Online

Karey Hope deGraaf of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Helping Dyslexics do their Homework

School is starting and for parents of Dyslexic students all the worries for their children’s education become a daily concern again. Homework is always a big one.

Dyslexic children use more areas of the brain to process language tasks than the average reader therefore they expend more energy – 5 times more! 

“…according to a new study by an interdisciplinary team of University of Washington researchers…to explore the metabolic brain activity of six dyslexic and seven non-dyslexic boys during oral language tasks..
~The dyslexics were using 4.6 times as much area of the brain to do the same language task as the controls,” said Richards, a professor of radiology. “This means their brains were working a lot harder and using more energy than the normal children.”~  ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 1999)

So when a Dyslexic child comes home from school the last thing they want to do is homework. They are mentally and physically exhausted from 5 times the exertion as a other students, frustrated with not understanding what they are learning and humiliated by impatient teachers and cruel classmates. If they have Irlen Syndrome which is common with Dyslexics (see info on our website: Irlen Syndrome and Dyslexia – Dyslexia Victoria Online) they can be further drained  experiencing stomach and head aches, dizziness, irritated eyes and other physical ailments of Irlen. Dyslexics can also experience a lot of discomfort from sitting in a desk all day and other issues that torment Dyslexics.

Parents of Dyslexic students will often set up a homework environment that they believe will help their child focus on their homework. Their good intentions however can actually make it more difficult for their child to get their homework done. Some considerations to think about to create a “dyslexia friendly” atmosphere:

        • Let them have a break before starting homework after school – exercise is a great relaxer and way to de-stress rather than sitting down in front of the TV. They could ride a bike, go for a walk, play some kind of sport, play with their friends, etc. before settling down to their homework. The break can work wonders.
        • Give them a protein snack after school to give them energy – protein bar or drink, raw nuts, peanut butter crackers, boiled eggs for example. No sugar as it can make them over-stimulated and then they crash when the sugar wears off.
        • Make sure they have all their homework. Dyslexics tend to have difficulty organizing themselves. They will forget to bring their homework home. Ask the teacher if they could have a handout with the assignments listed and remind the student before school is out to gather their work to take home. Dyslexics often forget even with the best of intentions. This is not deliberate or lazy.
        • Make an arrangement with the teacher to let you know about big projects and their dates for completion. Dyslexics often have a terrible time keeping this information together also. My Dyslexic son had great difficulty remembering his homework. The teachers and I tried everything. Finally I got one teacher to communicate with my son’s other teachers and send home a list of all his homework for me. It worked and eventually as he grew up he got better at organizing his work. Of course this was a very thoughtful teacher. Teachers generally don’t have time for helping a student this way but it can’t hurt to try to get cooperation.
        • Help them with a list of what they have to do. Remind them what to do next. As I mentioned before – organization is tough for Dyslexics and needs to be understood, tolerated and supported. Write the list on a whiteboard or big piece of paper.
        • Create star charts for homework assignments, chores and tasks that need to be done such as getting ready for school. Rewards for completing these charts is a great incentive for a reluctant, disorganized child. You can even take photos of them doing the chore or task and adding them to the poster. A picture is always “worth a thousand words” – which is the Dyslexic way. Here are a couple of examples – one you can purchase from amazon – the other is a free download.

Homework Chart

          • Another reason to have the teacher make a homework handout for the Dyslexic student is they often cannot copy notes from the whiteboard easily and cannot get it all written down.
          • Establish their learning style (auditory, visual or kinesthetic). Everyone generally has a dominant sense for learning and processing new information but Dyslexics especially respond well to teaching approaches and environments that take their best learning sense into consideration.
          • A multi-sensory teaching program strongly based on physical  hands-on demonstrations for all lessons is effective for all children  but especially Dyslexics. They think in images first and then words therefore they need a concrete example of what they are learning to understand and process new information.  They do not learn sequential step by step methods easily if at all so everything should make sense to them first.                                                                  If they are visual learners you also want to use movies, posters, painting, drawing, etc. Auditory students like to be read to along with a demonstration and kinesthetics do best using movement.
          • To go along with learning style consider the physical environment.
            • Do they need the room dead quiet or music, TV or white noise (beach or jungle noises for example)? A set of headphones with the right background music or white noise works great at home or school. I have parents get teachers permission for this accommodation and usually they get their approval.
            • Do they need no one including animals in the room or do they prefer the activity?
            • Do they need to stand a lot, walk around and work on a white board or lay down and roll around on the floor while doing their school work?
            • Do they need something in their hand(s) like a worry ball or  playdoh? Some kids do well with tossing beanbags around while practicing spelling words or facts for tests.
            • Keep their working area clear of objects. Dyslexics tend to get distracted by stuff on the table or desk they are working on.

The way to determine what the best working environment is talking to your child about what feels right for them and observe when they are on task and when they are not. Everybody learns differently so the conditions that compliments their thinking style is going to be much more beneficial than just sitting at a table in total quiet – unless of course that works for your child.

I often work with a Dyslexic students moving or playing with objects in their hands. The parent wants them to stop. The student however will be understanding and remembering everything we are talking about. The parent  generally says they have noticed that despite this behavior their child has been learning in the past. The parent thought however they should be sitting at a table or desk and still.

Think about your own situation when learning, concentrating or doing work – what is your best scenario? I bet it is different from other family members.

If you have found any great ideas for doing homework with a Dyslexic child, let me know. Much of what we have learned about Dyslexics is not just from the experts but from adult Dyslexics, parents of Dyslexics and of course Dyslexic children. Dyslexics are after all incredible problem solvers and always have amazing solutions or observations.

Cheers!
Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

2 + 2 equals 22

Karey and I were driving to nearby Victoria yesterday to view the venue we were considering using for our Second Annual full day Dyslexia Awareness Workshop. The one we did last February was so successful we had we were happy to do it again, especially because of all the new things we have discovered since last year.

The drive to view the place took us about an hour so we took that time to sort of roll some ideas around.  Karey and I spend a lot of time researching new techniques to help teach Dyslexics. While doing so we find information concerning studies about Right and Left Brained thinking and related topics. Karey had her laptop open to an article about how the Right Brain and Left perceive information differently. At first I thought this was just stuff I already knew and sure enough, most of what we talked about was familiar to both of us. Then I had an epiphany. Well maybe not an epiphany but I did make a connection I hadn’t thought about before.

As I have mentioned before I don’t consider myself  Dyslexic but I am very Right Brained and as a result I share many views about the difficulty of understanding abstracts with Karey, who is Dyslexic.  Karey mentioned something from the article she was reading about “2 + 2” and how this concept is perceived differently by the Left and Right brain. Can you imagine that, the Left and Right brain can actually come up with different answers to the question: what is 2 plus 2?

The mono-semantic nature of the left brain is consistent with its syntactical and arithmetical functionality. Broca’s area, or the language processing center of the brain, is a complex of nerve cells that structure a thought into a syntactically correct sentence. Broca’s area is predominantly in the left hemisphere, even for left-handed people. The scattered and poly-semantic thinking of the right brain is not very good at producing language or arithmetic. To the left brain, 2+2=4. To the right brain, maybe it is 4, maybe not. The right brain will eagerly search for scenarios in which 2+2 does not equal 4, and might be disappointed when it doesn’t find any.
Brack—March, 2005.
http://neuropolitics.org/Conservative-Left-Brain-Liberal-Right-Brain.htm

To just about everybody it is  well accepted that 2 plus 2 equals 4, but maybe not. One of the things I sometimes point out to people at our workshops is an example of how abstract our English language is. When we print the symbol 2 on a chalkboard or Smartboard we usually say this is the NUMBER 2. It is not the number 2 but rather the NUMERAL 2 and it represents a group of 2 things. Sure this is a tiny little distinction but an important one.  There is a very real difference between a symbol that refers to something and the actual concept described. So let’s look at the equation 2 plus 2.

When you add two groups of two things of course you are going to come up with four objects. But that Right Brain of mine went a different way. If you actually look at what the equation is says, put the symbol 2 and put it with the other symbol 2. So, 2 plus 2 equals 22. Does seem like a little thing to you? Yes it does and most teachers would have hard time accepting the logic of what I just described. So what is my point?

Right Brained individuals and dyslexics think on lots of different levels, they are always looking for connections to ideas. Processes can be improved, ideas can be looked at from different directions and many times a concept that seems pretty obvious to some people are not obvious to others. Right brained thinkers always look for these connections, they can’t help it.

This is a great ability when “out of the box” thinking is required which is often in the real world outside of school. But if a Dyslexic student looks at “2 + 2” and thinks “22” and they can if they misunderstand the instructions, they are marked wrong. Some of these children will bravely argue a point like this and get shut down. This can be confusing to them on one level but can also shut them down in the classroom to the point they start believing they are stupid. In the UK this is called RSI which stands for Repetitive Statement Injury and means if something is said enough times to someone they start to believe it’s true.

Thank goodness for Left and Right brained thinkers; different answers to the same question can just be considered creative.

Happy trails!
Howie deGraaf
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online
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A Typical Confusing Day in the Life of a Dyslexic

I was recently sent a “funny” email. The author  was poking fun at attention issues that older people can experience. What I found so fascinating about this piece is that it describes my life as a Dyslexic as far back as I can remember.

Robert Burns’ poem, “Ode to a Mouse” has a line in it –

‘The best laid schemes of mice and men
Oft go awry,’

Okay, the poem is about other things but taken out of context of the poem, I think it really applies well here.

I always have to write lists and keeping looking at them and marking off those I have actually finished.  And hopefully I don’t get side-tracked making my list look pretty, more efficient, divided up into different types of tasks, on different coloured paper, using many different coloured felt pens to make things stand out, a fancy book to put them, a system to decide when to do the tasks and what order……. sigh…

For example, I took way too long looking for clipart to express visually what I think the theme of this blog entry is. I am always told I can’t just keep it simple. Oh well, this is my life and I love to play with pictures and words.  As do many Dyslexics!

The other problem is I often lose my lists and then I have to make a new one….sigh again…

Anyway here is the email. Let me know, if you are Dyslexic or think you are, do you recognize yourself?

A.A.D.D.- KNOW THE SYMPTOMS…..
Thank goodness there’s a name for this disorder. Somehow I feel better, even though I have it!!
Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. –
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.
This is how it manifests itself:

I decide to water my garden.
As I turn on the hose in the driveway, I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.
As I head towards the garage, I notice post on the porch table that I picked up from the postman earlier.
I decide to go through it before I wash the car.
I put my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the recycling box under the table, and notice that the recycling box is full.
So, I decide to put the bills back on the table and take out the recycling
first.
But then I think, since I’m going to be near the postbox when I take out the recycling paper anyway, I may as well pay the bills first.
I take my cheque book off the table and notice that there is only one cheque left.
My extra cheques are in the desk in my study, so I go into the house to my desk where I find the cup of coffee I’d been drinking.
I’m going to look for my cheques but first I need to push the coffee aside so that I don’t accidentally knock it over.
The coffee is getting cold, and I decide to make another cup..
As I head toward the kitchen with the cold coffee, a vase of flowers on the worktop catches my eye – the flowers need water.
I put the coffee on the worktop and discover my reading glasses that I’ve been searching for all morning.
I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers..
I put the glasses back down on the worktop, fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote control. Someone left it on the kitchen table.
I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV,I’ll be looking for the
remote, but I won’t remember that it’s on the kitchen table, so I decide to put it back where it belongs, but first I’ll water the flowers.
I pour some water in the flowers, but quite a bit of it spills on the floor.
So, I put the remote back on the table, get some towels and wipe up the spill.
Then, I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day:
The car isn’t washed
The bills aren’t paid
There is a cold cup of coffee sitting on the kitchen work-surface
The flowers don’t have enough water,
There is still only 1 cheque in my cheque book,
I can’t find the remote,
I can’t find my glasses,
And I don’t remember what I did with the car keys.
Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really
baffled because I know I was busy all bloody day and I’m really tired.
I realize this is a serious problem, and I’ll try to get some help for it,
but first I’ll check my e-mail…..
Do me a favour. Forward this message to everyone you know, Because I can’t remember who the hell I’ve sent it to.
Don’t laugh – if this isn’t you yet, your day is coming!!

Cheers!
Karey
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

On Being Right Brained and Sequencing

In a previous blog entry, I wrote about my struggles with writing essays while attending university.  The main problem was trying to sort through all the detail in the body of the essay and be able to prioritize, select relevant material and put it in a logical order on the page.  I recently had a similar experience when asked to review a story and write a critique for the author.

I first read the story making random notes, in no logical order; just thoughts and questions about character development, narrative structure, plot etc., as they hit me while reading.  Being right brained and therefore needing a complete picture before even beginning to understand the component parts of the story, I had to read through to the end first and then go back from the beginning to pick up the detail.  I had to know where I was going, what the entire world of the story looked like, before I could really see what worked and what didn’t.  When I went back over my first set of notes, I realized none of it made any sense.  It was as if I had written sentences, torn the paper into fragments the size of each word and then scattered it all in the air.  I didn’t even realize I was doing it.  I couldn’t use any of it so started again.

At least I had the entire story in mind on the second pass.  But I found that the instant I focused on one issue – for example, was a particular character’s development consistent throughout the story? – I lost sight of the other issues while tracking through the story.  So I started writing paragraphs trying to distill my thoughts on each issue.   The more I wrote, the more confused it all became.  Every thought, every sentence took me in a new direction with new possibilities and I couldn’t keep on track with one single line of analysis.

So I started again.  On the third pass, I picked up details I hadn’t seen before.  When I thought something was missing the first and second time and then found it on the third review, I thought something must be wrong with my memory.  Then I remembered that this was the exact problem I had during my education and could solve it using the question and answer techniques I learned when studying accounting and finance.

I broke the story into sections and then did a breakdown of each important event asking specific questions to keep me focused on the relevant issues.  I was then able to answer those questions and write a few words to summarize my thoughts on each event.  When I was looking for consistent patterns, I wrote one word on each line of breakdown and circled it.  I did this for each issue I thought was important.  At the end, I had a set of notes that probably looked like hieroglyphics, but I could look at an entire page at a glance and see the patterns I needed to write the commentary.  After that, it was just a matter of laying it down section by section.

The thing about being right brained is that we can’t sequence easily but we can see whole patterns.  When going step by step, it’s like we’re in a dark forest and the path behind and in front of us disappears with each step we take.  We can’t see where we’re going and we can’t remember where we were.  We need to crane up over the forest, see the entire path, where it curves, where the straight stretches are, where it begins and ends; then we can drop back onto it and find our way.  Sometimes we need a picture of the entire path in our hands to find our way.  The good news is that we can find tools to help us do that.  Mine is asking specific questions that force me to focus and writing my own answers.

Cheers!
Cate Hope
Our wandering right brain writer
For a little background on Cate go to our  www.dyslexiavictoria.ca website page
“About Us”

Dyslexics have Difficulties with Time Management

Time management is very difficult, if not impossible for many Dyslexics.   This is not due to them being lazy, thoughtless or uncaring. Dyslexics are right-brain dominant thinkers and live in the present. The past and future belong to the left-brainers.

A Dyslexic tends not to look at their life in any kind of a systematic way. They are often called “free spirits”, “flighty” , “unfocused” or “easily distracted” .

Dyslexics however are solidly planted in the moment and if they are spending time with you, that is where they are mentally – 100% with you. They may seem distracted as their minds may drift or catapult to a stimulating tangent or many tangents as you chat due to the conversation sparking new and exciting thoughts for them, but they are with you. They can even have difficulty pulling themselves away to another obligation or are willing to cancel everything to spend time with you.

Dyslexics are also intuitive, very empathetic and enjoy counseling others.  They have a passionate desire to problem solve along with an often overwhelming need to help others feel balanced and happy.  They tend to “feel” another person’s emotions and they can and will drop everything to help if they think it is important.

As a Dyslexic in a large family of right-brainers I often find myself in wonderful conversations filled with a wide variety of ideas and laughter with the “righties” in my life and we hate to move on or go somewhere else. Our dinner conversations can easily turn into stimulating all nighters. Dyslexics love to ponder a subject and sometimes have to be metaphorically “dragged away, kicking and screaming”.

Dyslexics will become immersed in problem-solving an issue and have difficulty stopping. I always know I am talking to a right-brained person when they go way overboard helping me when I am at a store, organization, government office, etc. They will keep coming up with other ideas and want to be sure I know all aspects of the “big picture” – people to contact, companies to check out, phone numbers, information that they don’t necessarily need to tell me but can make a huge difference, other options – they can’t stop! – even if they need to get on with their own work .

Dyslexics tend to be perfectionists and will get stuck on some part of their work or project.  They can’t move on till their project is what they imagined and will usually continue to improve it as they go.  The time and schedule will get away from them and they are not finished for their deadline.  This Dyslexic individual is then viewed as a time waster,  not organized,  can’t prioritize or able to stay focused.  One of the problems with getting their work done is they are extremely focused. It is also very hard to stop when a Dyslexic’s imagination and creative juices are flowing. The result of their work however, will generally be well thought out, innovative and more than what was expected of them.

If they are working on a task or project they are totally engaged, being creative, problem solving, excited and having a terrible time pulling themselves away, let alone being aware of “the clock”.  Many of the Dyslexics I have come to know will despair over people not understanding they are getting their job done, they just need more time. Dyslexics live in the “now” and not aware of their schedule or anyone else which often makes them seem as if they are in their “own world”.  My sister gave me a t-shirt once that said “People say I live in my own little world but that’s okay because they all know me there!

I should finish by saying we do tell the people we work with who have a typical Dyslexic’s issue with time management that it is important to try to improve it.  There are a couple of techniques that I have found can work can work quite well:

Using a timer to stay on track with the amount of time spent on a task or a reminder to wrap it up and get ready to leave or move onto another task. This can really help – it’s made a big difference to my personal and work life. But I struggle with the part about stopping what I’m doing.

Dyslexics tend to think of the time for their next obligation or appointment only when that time comes so they will usually be late. My friends used to tell me to show up at 5:00pm for dinner knowing that I would show up at 6:00pm.  I wouldn’t start to think about leaving until the time I was supposed to be somewhere.  I finally figured this one out. If I have to be there at 5:00 I subtract the amount of time I need to get ready and drive or walk there. Then I set my timer and agree with myself that I will stop. I am usually able to stop with in 5 to 10 minutes of the timer going off.

Here are a couple of links for time management info for Dyslexics that you might find useful:

http://www.brainhe.com/students/types/dyslexiaTimemanagement.html

http://www.dyslexia-college.com/schedule.html

So be patient with the Dyslexics and right-brainers in your life, give them a hug and tell them it’s okay because you know they are trying really hard with their lists, schedules, deadlines and keeping track of their “stuff”.  Also noticing and remarking on all the wonderful things that can occur from how they spend their time would also be very supportive.

Cheers!
Karey
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Dyslexic Preschoolers learn Capital Letters easier than Small Letters

We gave a 6 hour work shop recently about Dyslexia Awareness and Teaching Strategies. It’s always interesting what some attendees will get focused on. We were talking about preschoolers and that we believe teaching a child who is already showing Dyslexic tendencies or a right brain learning style should be taught the alphabet very carefully.  They will generally respond well to learning the uppercase letters first and later being taught the lower case in kindergarten or first grade. The reason for learning the uppercase first is the letters are more clearly defined from each other than the lower case.

Nine of the lower case letters contain circles (a, b, c, d, e, g, o, p, q). Four of the letters are the same symbol set in different directions (b, d, p, q). Four of the letters have a “u” shape in them (h, m, n, u). The letters “i”, “l” and “t” look very similar. All these similarities make letters hard to learn for Dyslexics as Dyslexics often have issues with directionality.

“A child with a directionality problem has difficulty dealing with directions of objects in relation to self, such as “to my right,” “to my left,” “above me,” “below me,” etc. Such a child has difficulty following directions on paper-pencil tasks such as “write your name in the top right-hand corner,” “draw a line under the word ______,” and the like. He may also confuse letters like b and d, numbers like 17 and 71, or write backward, from right to left, the letters appearing like ordinary writing seen in a mirror.” ~ Audioblox”

Also the alphabet is a type of abstract concept that Dyslexics have a frustrating time trying to learn because unless the letters are part of a word they don’t mean anything other than sounds. Dyslexics need concrete real images that can be connected to symbols such as words and numerals. “C – A – T” are sounds but do not bring up any images of real things. The word “CAT” however can be imagined.

We have found that if you start a Dyslexic child with the upper case alphabet, in colour and practiced in a modeling medium such as clay or playdoh  they will be able to mentally connect to the letters. Check out Ron Davis’ The Gift of Dyslexia, Revised and Expanded: Why Some of the Smartest People Can’t Read…and How They Can Learn.  The last part of the book uses a number of methods that make the alphabet real and shows how to memorize the sequence of letters more effectively for the Dyslexic. Sequences are very difficult for Dyslexics as the right brain learner thinks in the “big picture” and then the parts. The alphabet is learned by memorizing the “parts” or letters first.

So getting back to our workshop. We had a preschool teacher get upset with our suggestion of studying the uppercase alphabet first. She said  all their teaching materials used the lower case letters first and she insisted the lower case was easier to learn.  The reasons I listed above that make the lower case confusing for a Dyslexic are probably beneficial for left brain learners because they are similar and fewer shapes to learn. The preschool teacher was adamant we were wrong.  This is unfortunately one of the viewpoints of teachers that make it so difficult to help Dyslexic students learn the alphabet, spelling and reading.

Cheers!
Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Dyslexia Victoria Online Update

Finally starting to get recognized.

One of the most difficult things about what Karey and I do is getting recognized as a valuable resource. I know many of you who read our blogs find our methods and opinions to be helpful. Karey and I also know that the many, many individuals we have helped in the last few years also know that our service has been extremely helpful as well. We get emails and phone calls from parents of children we have assessed and made teaching programs for all the time. Every single one of them has told us how grateful they are that their child is now on a learning path that is right for them. These kids are happier with themselves as their school work gets easier to understand.

Teachers at the Pro D day events tell us that our methods are easy to understand and also simple to implement in their classrooms.

What has been difficult though is getting recognized by officials, school officials, literacy group officials, learning disability associations officials, government service providers and lots of others too. If only we could get the parents and teachers and students together to tell their stories to the public. We are sure that more educators, care givers, parents and Dyslexic adults would get a chance to learn that there are new, different methods available to help with Dyslexic learning issues. Well, it looks like that might be happening a little bit right now.

I have been contacting  local newspapers, reporters and TV stations in the general area around where Karey and I live. Last week I actually got a call back. In the city of Victoria, BC  Canada there is a TV news station called CHEK NEWS. Within their  broadcast they have a segment called ISLAND 30. It’s a 30 minute news show dedicated to news events and community events on Vancouver Island, BC. The reporter asked me if we would be interested in being interviewed with one of the parents and child who we helped late last year.

The interview was last Tuesday and was aired on February 4 at 7 pm and again at 10:30pm. You can see the interview on the TV station archives their ISLAND 30 shows for 2 weeks on their website. Go to” CHEK NEWS Victoria British Columbia” Then click on the ISLAND 30 link on the left side of the page. A series of big blue buttons will appear on the bottom of the page, click on the Feb 4 button. The very beginning of the segment shows that interview. It’s short but fun.

For anyone who has read our blogs or emailed us or phoned us or knows anything about us at all you know that our goal is not to drum up business for the sake of getting rich. Our goal is and always will be to educate the public about Dyslexia, teaching strategies and accommodations that work . Dyslexia has a lot of positive attributes, there are lots of ways to teach Dyslexic individuals to read and write and spell, etc.

Maybe this TV coverage will start to get the word out. I sure hope so because we know how easy it is to help individuals with Dyslexic learning issues, we just need to let everybody know as well.

Happy trails
Howie deGraaf
Editor and Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Atten: Dyslexics – fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Only great minds can read this. This is weird, but interesting!…” is an amusing email attachment you will find at the end of this blog that makes the rounds on the internet – but for Dyslexics – this is how they identify words. They recognize the shape and letters of the word; not necessarily the order of the letters except as they say in the blurb below, the first and last letter of the word. Dyslexics tend to rely on this method for reading and this can cause them to read words incorrectly because they are trying to recognize the “look” of the word.

This reading style also creates difficulty for a Dyslexic person’s ability to comprehend and remember what they have read because all their attention is directed to decoding the words they are reading and not automatically recognizing them. This is due to their issue memorizing the correct letter order of words. When many people read the text in blue below they will notice that they feel tired and confused about what they read. This is caused by their excessive effort to decode the words. Their brain can read them but is slowed down by the additional work to identify the words.

Another problem for Dyslexics is difficulty seeing words in their minds. They primarily see images or pictures, not necessarily words. By teaching a Dyslexic how to see the words in their minds and the correct order of the letters besides the first and last letter, their reading fluency improves a lot!

If I ask you to picture the word “car” in your mind, what do you see?  Most people see a car first and then the word if I ask them to think of the letters. Some see the word first and then the car.  Right-brained or Dyslexic people tend to see the car and struggle to see the word, if they can at all.  So think about it; if you can’t see the word in your mind how do you learn to spell and read?

This is actually very easy to do if the Dyslexic is taught to see words in their minds. We are always able to get a Dyslexic child to do this task quickly and easily in an assessment. This becomes an important step for remembering and seeing words and letters in their minds in our teaching process. I love this exercise because the child instantly gets a boost to their self-esteem.

By the way, what colour is your car or cars in your mind? Most people say red. Let me know the colour of your car! I would like to know the psychological or physiological reason behind this.  Does anyone know?

Only great minds can read this
This is weird, but interesting!

“fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.”

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it

Cheers!
Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

<strong>”</strong><strong>Only great minds can read this This is weird, but interesting!</strong><strong>…” </strong> is an amusing email attachment you will find at the end of this blog that makes the rounds on the internet – but for Dyslexics – this is how they learn words. They recognize the shape and letters of the word; not necessarily the order of the letters except as they say in the blurb below, the first and last letter of the word. Dyslexics tend to rely on this method for reading and this can cause them to read words incorrectly because they are trying to recognize the “look” of the word.

Dyslexia Then and Now

I just read Karey’s recent blog titled “Rant of a Parent Supporting a Dyslexic Child” and I just wonder when things are going to change. I mentioned it before that acceptance of Dyslexia in schools hasn’t really been at the forefront of school administrators.  I think it is worth repeating a couple of facts at this point.

The fear and confusion and desperation that Karey felt while trying to get help for her daughter was a very powerful and overpowering event in her life. For people not familiar with Karey’s story you should realize that this fight for her daughter’s right to get appropriate support in school was about 25 years ago. It also occurred in Northern California.

The reason I mention these facts is that we witness the same anguish in parents today, here in Western Canada. At one time I actually believed that the overall schooling in Canada was pretty good. Maybe for the average children it is, just like it might be good enough for the majority of kids in all of North America. What I truly don’t understand though is how the school systems in both countries have so consistently diminished the issues surrounding Dyslexia for so long. In both countries you can find school administrators spouting all kinds of “feel good” statements about “no child left behind” or some other version of this ideal. The problem is the more they say these things it seems the less is actually being done.

Now, Karey and I specialize in helping children and adults with Dyslexic learning issues and we are not familiar with other Learning Disabilities and the schools’ position on them but I suspect they are no better. I invite other professionals to let us know what is being done in the schools for children with issues other than Dyslexia. I would like to know if any progress is being made pertaining to Learning Disabilities at all in North America.

We don’t know how to get superintendants,  principals, school boards or school districts to change their perspectives so Karey and I will continue to help families one at a time. If anybody out there has come up with some magic formula for making vast changes that will quickly help children and adults please let us know.

I hope this was of value to you and we wish you good luck on your journey to further enlightenment about all things Dyslexic.

Howie deGraaf
Editor and Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online