How do Dyslexics go from having a Learning Difference to a Learning Disability

When I talk to parents with children who they suspect have Dyslexia I generally hear the same story. Problems with letters, numbers, counting and words when they were four or five. They couldn’t print well but often very artistic especially for their age. Sometimes they started talking later than other children and had speech difficulties such as lisps, mispronunciation of words more than other children, couldn’t remember simple words so would say “thing-a-ma-jig”, “whatcha-ma-callit” or use the wrong word. But they were also intelligent and quick learners with other skills and knowledge such as building things with legos, athletics, art projects, singing, dancing, telling stories, remembering events or movies in extensive detail or making observations about things that is way beyond their years. They loved to learn, asked endless questions about everything and were excited about going to school.

When they enter school they continue to have problems with letters, phonics, words, numbers, arithmetic, and other linear sequential skills such as memorizing the alphabet or counting in the right order. They also have difficulties with instructions so they don’t always understand what the teacher wants. As each year passes there is less and less emphasis on singing, dancing, drawing, painting, making things and physically demonstrating all new concepts. Their excitement to be in school begins to dissolve and is replaced with frustration, confusion, fear, anger, sadness and physical distress such as headaches, stomach aches and throwing up. Their self-esteem drops and they begin to doubt themselves.

Teachers become frustrated with them not understanding what they need and their classmates start to tease them because they can’t spell or read and they print poorly.  Right brain dominant children ask the same questions over and over and when they read out loud they can take forever, mispronounce everything, and can’t sound the words out.

School becomes a scary place and they will often feign sickness to stay home. Some children will have anxiety attacks at the mere thought of going to school.

As each grade passes, their problems and anxiety deepen. Dyslexics as right brain dominant thinkers are generally very empathetic and intuitive so they become keenly aware of the distress and fear their parents are feeling for them and  the frustration or outright hostility their teachers and classmates are expressing towards them in the classroom. They get farther and farther behind the class, convinced they are stupid and eventually shut down when learning things in class they are really good at such as science, math, building things or making up a story orally.

By grade four or five their learning difference has become a learning disability and these students are can be experiencing depression and other psychological issues.  I have had several parents tell me their children were saying they wanted to kill themselves when they were in the third or fourth grade.   Junior and high school is a nightmare as the school work becomes more difficult and demanding and they don’t have the ability to read a lot of  books for their school subjects. Less and less of their schooling uses concrete real examples – the emphasis is on abstract learning and requires students to do endless worksheets, written tests, reports and essays. Little of their schoolwork requires or allows a physical demonstration of the subject (3 dimensional structures, posters, drawings, play, dance or videos),  to show understanding and knowledge – mostly writing.  Eventually these students become a large percentage of our school’s dropouts.

So can this picture be different for a Dyslexic student? Of course it can. Let’s rewind this story back to the beginning.

  • When our right brain student enters the school system the school tests them and other children  for reading readiness.  Some children, especially Dyslexics are not mature or developed enough for reading in kindergarten or grade one. When children are significantly younger than other students in their grade, a difference of six months or more in age is enough to severely affect a child being able to keep up with the class.
  • Then determine the students who learn letters, phonics, words, numbers and sequences easily (word to image thinkers or left brain dominant) from the visual students. Visual or right brain dominant thinkers are image to word thinkers. They need to learn in whole complete and concrete concepts (images)and connect them to words. Complete understanding of letters, words and numbers comes more slowly for them.

These students are then broken into classrooms that teach to these two very different groups of learners  –  classes for strong left brain learners and right brain learners. Multi-sensory, hands on physical demonstration style teaching would be high priority in both classes but mandatory for all subjects for the right brainers throughout their school years.

The right brain/dyslexic students would be given more time to learn how to spell and read utilizing teaching methods appropriate for right brain learners such as colour to learn letters, numbers and arithmetic and making letters and numbers with modelling clay
(Ron Davis – The Gift of Dyslexia).

There would be emphasis on starting with sight reading and syllables (word families) which right brain dominant students learn more easily at the beginning.

Teachers would  encourage these students to ask their questions and use stories and pictures to explain everything. They would respect their need to not just learn information in a rote manner such as the steps to solving a division problem but would prioritize making a concept real by demonstrating what division is (subtracting in groups as opposed to multiplication which is adding in groups). This can be done with groups of candy, objects, pies, etc) so they understand what division is before doing the steps. This gives the big picture and meaning behind division.

Special attention would be paid to giving extensive practice learning to print to help address Dysgraphia, a common issue for Dyslexics, screening to see if they have Irlen Syndrome (distablized text) and learning style (auditory, kinesthetic or visual). Once these issues are determined then accommodations would be put in place.

Computers would be given them in the early grades with the use of the many programs available that would help them with their schoolwork. Some teachers will say this is unfair to other students in a class who don’t have a computer. If the Dyslexic student is not able to complete school work in the same fashion as other students who don’t have problems with reading and writing then the Dyslexic student is simply “leveling the playing field”.

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There are many different ways to make a right brain dominant and Dyslexic student’s school experience successful and exciting to prepare them for their future.

For more ideas I have provided some links:
Dyslexia Victoria Online
http://www.dyslexiavictoriaonline.com

Gifted Children (Visual Spatial Learners)
http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/Visual_Spatial_Learner/vsl.htm

4D program in New Zealand
http://www.4d.org.nz/school/

Neil MacKay (noted Dyslexia expert)
http://www.actiondyslexia.co.uk/

Chat with Sally Shaywitz (another Dyslexia specialist)
http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/LD-ADHD/859-overcoming-dyslexia-a-chat.gs?page=1#2

British Dyslexia Association
http://www.bdadyslexia.org.uk/

Also you might want to check out the page on our website about suggested books to read:
http://www.dyslexiavictoriaonline.com/otbowere.html

And our blog is:
https://dyslexiavictoria.wordpress.com/
You can sign up to receive new blog entries on the left side of the main page of the blog at the top where it says “Email Subscription Rants and Raves from the Right Side”

Cheers!
Karey Hope deGraaf
Dyslexia Victoria Online Co-founder
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

“WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?” Dyslexia Victoria Online is introducing videos on Dyslexia Awareness, Teaching, Accommodations & Resources

We are introducing a series of videos about Dyslexia awareness, teaching and learning strategies, accommodations, computer programs and resources for children and adults. If you are interested please email us at: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca”.

We are also planning to have some webinars and involve people in the discussion portions of the webcast.
We welcome you to join us!

Cheers! Happy New Year!
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Making White Boards with Different Colored Backgrounds for Dyslexics and Irlen Syndrome Sufferers

We have found a common problem with the Dyslexics we assess and tutor. They often have an issue with black text on a white background. The text is not stable so they have difficulties looking at and reading anything that is written on white. This includes white paper, computer screens & “white” white boards.  The name of this condition is Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome or Irlen’s Syndrome. Below is a quote from an Irlen’s site http://www.readingandwriting.ab.ca/irlen.htm#Irlen


What is the Cause of Irlen Syndrome, and Why do Colors Help?

    “Although the exact cause of Irlen Syndrome has yet to be established, it has been shown to be a visual-perceptual problem, most likely originating either in the retina of the eye or in visual cortex in the brain. The following is a hypothetical explanation, based on current research into this syndrome.

   In the visual system, there are two separate visual processing pathways, the Magnocellular, or Fast, and the Parvocellular, or Slow.  The Fast pathway does not see colours, and is responsible for discerning movement, depth, and high contrast images.  The Slow pathway determines colour, fine details and resolves low contrast images.  The Fast pathway is also responsible for inhibiting the slow pathway when the eyes are moved, so that the image of what was previously being looked at does not persist.  It appears that in people with Irlen Syndrome, the Fast pathway is disabled to some extent.  This seems to affect the ability of the Fast pathway to inhibit the Slow pathway, which in turn results in images persisting when the eyes are moved. As a result, the brain perceives overlapping images. In severe cases, when the brain tries to interpret these images, it perceives images that aren’t there. The individual may “see” letters moving on the page, blurring, or forming strange patterns. In less severe cases, the misperceptions do not occur or may be suppressed, but the brain expends more energy in processing the images than is required by most people, resulting in headaches, eyestrain, and/or fatigue. These problems generally get worse the longer a person tries to read, or do other visually intensive activities.

    Bright lights, fluorescent lights, or glossy paper will often make the problems worse, as the extreme contrast will increase the problem of persistent images.  Irlen Syndrome manifests itself most strongly when reading words or music, because of the repetitive patterns on the page. When the eyes scan across the page, the patterns of words on the page and persistent images will jumble in a manner that is difficult for the brain to interpret properly. In the Irlen Method, the individual is assesed with a wide array of colour filters, singly and in combination, to find the most suitable colour.  The colour filters appear to act by blocking some of the light which would normally activate the Slow visual pathway, in effect taking over the inhibitory role of the Fast pathway, and thus appear to reduce or eliminate the persistent images.  The filters stop the confusing signals from being sent to the brain, and the individual will see the page more normally and easily.  This treatment may also be helpful to individuals who experience other related problems, such as faulty depth perception or night driving difficulties.”

“White” white boards are often very difficult for Dyslexic students. The boards are a great tool for mind mapping, drawing out explanations of new concepts for them, brain storming and more visual/kinesthetic teaching methods which are ideal for Dyslexics. The whiteness of the board however for Dyslexics experiencing Irlen Syndrome can be very difficult for them to see writing on.

We have been looking for products to make non-white boards for home, classrooms, and personal use. We have found a chalkboard paint in many different colours and a sealer that goes over paint and creates an erasable marker board. Perfect for creating a background surface that is the student’s Irlen colour.

Hudson Chalkboard Paint (www.hudsonpaint.com)

Walls Love Ink Sealer (www.wallsloveink.com)

Check out their websites and ideas.  We found all kinds of possibilities on their sites and googling images for chalkboard or white board projects.

Also I found a recipe to make your own chalkboard paint in any colour your want on Martha Stewart’s blog.

Custom Colors How-To

Start with flat-finish latex paint in any shade. For small areas, such as a door panel, mix 1 cup at a time.

1. Pour 1 cup of paint into a container. Add 2 tablespoons of unsanded tile grout. Mix with a paint stirrer, carefully breaking up clumps.

2. Apply paint with a roller or a sponge paintbrush to a primed or painted surface. Work in small sections, going over the same spot several times to ensure full, even coverage. Let dry.

3. Smooth area with 150-grit sandpaper, and wipe off dust.

4. To condition: Rub the side of a piece of chalk over entire surface. Wipe away residue with a barely damp sponge.

http://www.marthastewart.com/271574/custom-color-chalkboard-paint

So we are going to start making small chalk and erasable boards for our Dyslexic Irlen sufferers, 24″ x 30″ non-white erasable or chalk boards or as big as needed, paint entire walls to really great creative. Dyslexics are extremely inventive so they will probably love a project like this and a great background to work on schoolwork!

Cheers!  Happy Holidays!!
Karey Hope deGraaf
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