How to Teach Dyslexic Students Fractions

My husband, Howie and I were tutoring a Dyslexic 9 year old girl a few months ago. She was having difficulty understanding fractions.  The method her teacher was using confused her. The exercises our student was working with set problems up this way:

The problem with these two dimensional diagrams is they are as abstract as the numerical image 1/4. For a Dyslexic student including the little girl we were working with these both meant nothing to her. They are symbols for something real – portions or parts but the child does not know that.

My husband, Howie is the math person between the two of us and went to work showing her physically what these two dimensional abstract images meant. He started with oranges. When demonstrating math concepts with real objects always make sure you have one whole of the object being used as you show the parts. If there is no complete object in view a Dyslexic child tends to lose the concept being taught.

Use several examples of fractions of things until they start to understand what the concept of a fraction is. They need to connect the abstract language of math with the concrete ideas it represents.

Now let’s go back to the exercise with the squares. Once Howie had our student understanding he was talking about parts he took two pieces of paper and drew a four part  rectangle on both of them. One piece of paper was coloured yellow. He cut this rectangle into four pieces. The first piece of paper was blue ( she had Irlen Syndrome and blue was the best colour for paper and acetates for her – see our website for informationIRLEN SYNDROME & DYSLEXICS ) so that her ability to see the paper clearly was not an issue – text on white paper is hard to see for those with Irlen compounding problems with learning fractions. Then he started to put one or more of the yellow pieces on the blue squares talking about whether they were one, two, three or four quarters. She got it immediately and actually moved onto adding fractions that session. She left with a smile on her face and her mom felt relieved. She was also able to do the exercises using  two dimensional squares for school and understand what she was doing so her answers were correct and not guesses.

What was accomplished with this process was filling the needs of a Dyslexic requiring meaning and connection to what is real. Dyslexics don’t easily follow sequences well and anything they learn has to be fully understood. They will generally not follow how a square divided up in portions on a flat piece of paper means because it doesn’t connect to anything real to them. Provide physical demonstrations, connect them to the diagram and now you have meaning.

So when you are having difficulty teaching Dyslexics to connect the dots of a concept make it real and then connect it to abstract written languages such as words, arithmetic and math. We have also found this helps kids who do not have Dyslexia.

Cheers!
Karey Hope
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

Dyslexic Children have Difficulties with Instructions

I had an interesting chat with a mother about her son and her belief that he might be Dyslexic. During our conversation she talked about his difficulties with instructions in his classroom.

One situation she mentioned was a classic example of a Dyslexic child misunderstanding instructions.  The child’s teacher wanted the grade one students to draw a picture of themselves. Our mother’s son drew a picture of the student sitting beside him. The teacher was upset with him and said he didn’t listen to her instructions to draw a picture of himself. The boy said the teacher had told them to “draw what they see” in reference to a self-portrait. Dyslexics can be very literal, especially when instructions are not clear and he followed her incomplete instructions “literally” because he had no other context, experience or information to follow. She was  confused by his answer – he said he “drew what he could see” which was the boy next to him; he obviously couldn’t draw himself because he couldn’t “see himself”.

The teacher’s instructions were very abstract, incomplete and conflicting for a grade one Dyslexic child. On one hand she is saying to draw a self portrait (“what is a self-portrait?” the child is probably wondering) and then she says “draw what you see” while talking about drawing pictures of themselves.  The only context he can connect to at this point is drawing pictures of people. She might have said “draw a picture of yourself as you think you look” and then this Dyslexic grade one student would know exactly what she meant.

The teacher’s use of the word “self-portrait” is abstract and then adding the idea of “draw a picture of how you see yourself” or “draw what you see” is above the development of an average six year old’s mind. Most of the children would probably respond to the part of the teacher’s instructions about drawing a picture of themselves but not focus on “self-portrait”  or “draw what you see” because they wouldn’t understand those “big picture” concepts.  Left brain dominant learners are more logical and sequential and will focus on the details they understand and can follow which would be a picture of themselves.  The Dyslexic child is a deep complex thinker however, thinking in the “big picture” and trying to follow her overall concept and its meaning.  This will probably be difficult because it deals with understanding what a psychological view of oneself is. This idea would be above the level of most six year old children. Dyslexics are always looking for the context and deeper meaning in instructions and these children can often see several possibilities. So he might not understand a “self-portrait” and ” draw what you see” in regards to how he sees himself visually or psychologically. He would more likely focus on the only “big picture” idea he could comprehend in the teacher’s directions which would be “draw what you see” in reference to a portrait or picture of a person and that would sensibly be his neighbour.

Another example of a Dyslexic child following directions literally was a seven year old boy we assessed.  We asked him to copy over a dotted letter and he started to trace the dots but not tracing the letter. He “literally” did what we asked.  Then we made our directions more clear and showed him what we wanted.

So if you find your Dyslexic child does not understand what you are saying or asking then maybe you could try to be more complete and clear with your words or ask the child what they think you meant so you can correct what they have confused. I believe practice of this type of clarity with words will help to avoid misunderstanding that can be beneficial in any situation with anyone.

Cheers!
Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

How a Teacher can Help a Dyslexic Student Learn Effectively in the Classroom

“There are many strategies a teacher can implement in the classroom to help a Dyslexic student do well and understand the different skill sets such as spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic and  time. Most of these suggestions are beneficial for any student but especially important for Dyslexics.”

* If one or both of a child’s parents are Dyslexic the odds are 50% their children will be too. Dyslexia can also skip generations from grandparent to grandchild. There is a gene that indicates Dyslexia. Visit the article CAUSE OF DYSLEXIA ON CHROMOSOME 18 which we have quoted on our website from the Indepentent.co.uk

* Help right-brain learners (Dyslexics) understand their thinking and the learning differences from left brain thinkers (big picture and concrete images versus abstracts such numbers, letters and words). They will understand they can be taught how to use their processing style to their advantage for success in school.

* Help Dyslexic students discover their personal learning style (auditory, visual or kinesthetic) and teach them how to use their strongest sense to process information and perform  new skills with greater understanding.

* These students think in wholes: spelling whole words, thinking in whole words, whole chapters and stories, whole lessons, whole assignments and whole concepts. Their school work should  reflect this focus on wholes. Breaking a word into individual letters and sounds is not the best way for these students to learn how to spell them.

*Skills or information taught with steps over a series of days, without a preliminary overview or “Big Picture”,  can be very difficult for Dyslexic students to follow and comprehend. The constant memory loss of information covered over several days is one way a Dyslexic can be labelled as having “short term memory loss”.

An example is teaching the process of long division using brackets,  often taught in steps over a number of days. Without an overview explanation of what long division is or what it is used for the sequence or set of steps of a long division problem becomes very abstract.  The average student is taught to follow them and they will have a correct answer.

A Dyslexic student needs to understand what is happening in these steps and why the answer is right otherwise they won’t understand why they need to do long division. Dyslexics and right-brained thinkers need to see the whole process and its meaning at the beginning of the lessons.

* Try to complete a lesson at one sitting. An incomplete lesson is entirely lost on them. If this is not possible, then provide a written summary, extra time during the same day to answer the student´s questions or find ways to teach the complete lesson in one sitting, or give them the start and ending first and then fill in the middle.

* Dyslexic students can be identified as early as 6 years of age. Their struggles with school work are noticeable when compared to the rest of the class along with their above average intelligence.  It is very important to identify them early.  If this is delayed and they are being taught with methodologies that work well with left-brain learners they can lose a lot of ground, get behind in class and have difficulty catching up.

* Studies have shown that Dyslexics tend to be above average to genius level in intelligence. It is not uncommon for gifted children to have Dyslexic issues. Often this can make it difficult to identify them and they can be regarded as “lazy and not living up to their potential”.

* These students think and reason starting with a fact or conclusion and analyze the parts that prove or disprove the conclusion. They need to see the “forest before the trees” with everything they are learning and processing. Just as many essays are based on analyzing a stated conclusion.

*Always design your questions and assignments around a given conclusion or fact. Dyslexic students think in concrete wholes, that is, they work backwards from a conclusion or fact to fill in all the parts. “Top/down processing.”

“Top-Down Processing: Top-Down Processing is also known as “large chunk” processing and states that we form perceptions (or focus our attention) by starting with the larger concept or idea (it can even be the concept or idea of an object) and then working our way down to the finer details of that concept or idea. If you’re the type of person who learns new ideas and concepts (or forms impressions) by starting first with the high-level aspects and then working your way down to the fine details, then you’re a top-down processor.”   ~ quoted from AlleyDog.com

*Do not give them open-ended questions that involve abstract or incomplete instructions.

*Do not base the student´s marks on spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Errors in assignments should be corrected for them. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are very abstract concepts for them that the right brain does not easily process and cannot visualize them as concrete images. If these errors must be corrected before a student hands in an assignment  then permit someone else to edit the mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation. Parents are often helpful in this.

* Look for ideas, not clerical errors. Getting ideas down on paper is much more important than fretting over spelling, grammar and punctuation.  If they do not achieve what they are capable of  they soon become depressed and give up. Using recording devices to get their ideas down are a great tool.

* Their ability to use the correct grammar, punctuation and spelling forms may or may not improve with age, depending on the their ability to understand these concepts  and the type of teaching methods the Dyslexic student receives.

* They ask a lot of questions and they need them answered. Without these answers they can be paralyzed in the classroom and can’t proceed with their school work. Answer the student´s questions as often as possible, but keep your answers very short, clear and specific. Be precise. Do not repeat your answers unless the student asks you to do so. Then answer only what the student asks. Long explanations, different approaches, wordy definitions, or abstract thinking are all very tiring and difficult for these students who are looking for a concrete answer.

* Do not criticize your students for not paying attention or being lazy. If they look like they are daydreaming, they may be learning by listening or they can no longer understand the lesson and are trying to cope with the situation. They are actually working hard to understand what you are saying. Sometimes the student has already solved the problem and is thinking about other solutions or aspects of the problem.

* Instead of long, written assignments, turn these tasks into projects that involve all the senses. These could be done on any large piece of coloured paper they could add real objects, pictures, drawing, sketches, photos, words of explanation and an oral report. The Dyslexic student learns best doing projects that involve seeing, listening, discussing and using their hands.

* Help facilitate a Dyslexic student who has been assessed for their best colour for dealing with reading issues caused by reading black text on white paper. This can be accomplished by using coloured plastic overlays over printed text, a similar colour on their computer background and coloured paper for their worksheets and other school materials. Many times we have seen great changes in a students reading speed and comprehension just by changing the colour of the paper they are working on or by placing a coloured transparent acetate over a worksheet or page of a book.(Refer to information about Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome)

* Encourage these students to expand and use their natural right-brain traits and talents such as: artistic abilities in different mediums, researching topics for projects. Some are proficient and exceptional at arithmetic and mathematics and yet other Dyslexics can have great difficulty with arithmetic and math. Most Dyslexic individuals show good leadership abilities,  problem solving skills, have wonderful imagination and terrific story-telling skills. Many have natural mechanical abilities, are talented athletes, possess photographic memories and show a strong  logical sensibility. They can be assessed to discover their natural talents, interests and hobbies.

* Teach the students how to put individual parts in a sequential order. The right-brained student needs to be trained in sequencing skills by using concrete materials and visual procedures such as the order of letters in words. This can be accomplished by using mind maps to show them how to find the parts and their order in the “big picture”.

Eg: The seasons of the year could be printed in big simple letters on a large cardboard sheet with pictures of what the weather is like during those seasons, special holidays and day-to-day life such as school and summer activities. The mind map concept can be taken further and add the months of the year that fall in each season. This type of visual can help a Dyslexic anchor what “seasons of the year” means, what order they come in and how they are spelled. Many teenage Dyslexic students we assess still don’t know the seasons or months of the year let alone their order.

* Mind maps should be used for all subjects. Dyslexics understand many concepts more completely when  presented in mind maps and diagrams. The computer program, “Inspirations” is ideal for this. An example of a mind map created from the “Inspirations” program is shown below:

* Writing notes from the board can be very difficult so placing a Dyslexic child close to the front of the classroom or giving them notes pre-printed can be very helpful.

* Many Dyslexics need to read the beginning, then the end, and then the middle of chapter stories and best followed up with a movie of the book. Presenting the end of the story after the beginning gives the Dyslexic the “big picture” and their comprehension of the story increases. Some Dyslexics do not like this approach and prefer beginning, middle and end.

* Arithmetic, math, the concept of time, money, clock faces and measurement are very abstract and difficult ideas for Dyslexics but if concrete images and physical demonstrations are used to explain them they will catch on quickly. They should not be discouraged to count with their fingers or use other aids such as an abacus. The Dyslexic student may never be able to work arithmetic or math problems without these aids. These students also do better with drawing out a word problem rather than trying to work the details of the math equation from the text of the problem.

* They will always want to know the schedule for the day and will point it out if it changes.

* They can become obsessed about one subject so if this can be used in any school work at all it will help them learn the new skill sets. We had one boy we assessed who loved volcanoes. He could tell you all about them and spell difficult words like; magma, mantle, eruption. But he could not spell; then, would, other, into.

* Some Dyslexic children who are displaying ADHD behaviours are possibly suffering from frustration, confusion and fear. They don’t understand what is going on in the class, they want to desperately and they are humiliated by their peers. Their inability to sit still and focus can be due to exasperation. More than one mother has told me her child was suicidal and they have been as young as third grade. We are not saying a child does not have ADHD, we are suggesting medical testing should be done along with examining the school background and emotional state of the child for other factors.

* And speaking of being wiggly and talking out in class; Dyslexic children tend to be very connected to experiencing the world through their senses and don’t sit well to focus quietly on their schoolwork. They want to feel it, see it, touch it, smell it and hear everything. They experience life in the present – the past and the future belongs to the left brain.

If you can integrate movement and other sensory experiences consistently into the classroom they will be avid learners. Sitting, listening and writing for long periods of time can be almost impossible for them. More schools are starting to introduce accommodations in the classroom such as chewing gum, squeeze balls, plastic straws to tap instead of pencils and getting up and moving often.

* If you have a Dyslexic class clown try letting them have 5 minutes of stand-up comedy if they agree not to disturb the class for the rest of the day. This was the answer for my Dyslexic son in grade four who came up with the idea. I ran into his teacher a few years later and she said she still used this with other class clowns. Dyslexics are often very quick mentally and verbally and will use humour to deflect attention away from their learning problems and negative attention from their fellow class mates (Jim Carrey, Robin Williams, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg to name a few).

* Dyslexics need a reason for everything. If you want them to stop a certain behaviour, don’t just say “no” or “stop”. Tell them why it is inappropriate. They respond well to a logical explanation.

* Many Dyslexics have a terrible time with being on time and completion dates. They live in the present and do not comprehend a schedule easily. Team up with their parents to work out a schedule for their schoolwork. They could have a white board at home with homework dates that the parent could help them remember.

They respond well to colour. Give them an agenda done in colours. Red could mean hand in “tomorrow”, blue could be the “end of the week”. This could be written on their white board at home. The colours could be updated daily on their calendar for consideration of their home work due dates.

The other side of the spectrum are Dyslexics who are obsessed about schedules. This is what we have found to be typical, nothing in the middle. Either they can be on time and sometimes obsessively or not at all. We have found working with a Dyslexic student on schedules can help them build a lifelong skill.

* These students are reality based because they think in whole concrete images they can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. All abstract materials should be related to something they can see, feel, touch, hear or smell.

We have parents tell us that the teachers their children had that were focused on multi-sensory teaching methods, lots of movement and projects were usually their Dyslexic child’s most successful  and happy years.

* Dyslexics have great difficulty with letters and phonemes without the presence of the whole image of the word and an image or picture that relates to the word when learning to copy and memorize words. Most Dyslexics have difficulty understanding what letters are individually. C – A – T are three sounds that don’t mean anything when sounded out separately. “CAT” however brings up the image of a cat.

* Help these students understand how to ask for guidance to verify the direction of instructions. Dyslexics are spacial thinkers and very aware of the concept of three dimensionality. Mentally they can be anywhere in the world in their minds at any time – this creates directionality problems.

For example they have difficulty understanding right and left or tying their shoes. An illustration would be to ask them to point to the “back of a chair”. They will wonder if you mean the back of the chair where they lean their backs on or the “back” behind the chair. This problem occurs for them with many instructions they receive during the day in a classroom.

* Try to assist them in focusing ideas and organizing a large body of work. Know they need special training in writing procedures and gathering tools such as note-taking, note making, outlining, clustering or mind map information, using pictures, diagrams, drawings and composition procedures.

* Recognize their abilities to think emotionally, intuitively, creatively and “big picture” and incorporate into class work.

* Be sympathetic with their fears of being ridiculed when reading out loud, oral discussion and being able to follow written directions. One way to help with reading out loud is to give them a passage to practice reading at home and then reading it aloud in the classroom when they are comfortable.

* Recognize they may excel in oral discussions and group projects.

* Recognize they may be a good organizer and excel in leadership skills if they are not suffering from a loss of self-esteem.

* Dyslexics should be allowed and encouraged to use laptop computers in the classroom. Printing or writing is usually agonizing for a Dyslexic student. They generally have Dysgraphia to some degree so writing can affect their comprehension, their ability to write notes from the board, and complete an exercise or test on time.

Another option is using a scribe (a teaching assistant who writes a student’s words or answers down for them in the classroom).

* Dyslexic students should be allowed to use assistive technologies such as computer programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking, Kurzweil, TextHelp Inspirations.

* Dyslexics should be given more time to complete class work and tests or do them orally. The purpose of their completed schoolwork is to be sure they understand it and having to write their answers can effect their ability to convey their knowledge of the subject. Written formats can make it impossible for them to print their thoughts and answers adequately when they are usually very articulate speakers. Recording machines can also help with getting their ideas and answers saved and then typed or hand written.

* Dyslexia changes from a Learning Difference to a Learning Disability when a child cannot learn in school due to inappropriate teaching methods and having become frustrated, exhausted, humiliated and despondent. When a child loses their self-esteem and begins to believe they are “stupid” they are filled with “self-limiting beliefs”. They shut down and can no longer learn many new skills in school in a normal and timely manner – if it all.

If you have questions about teaching Dyslexics please email us at: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca

If you would like to learn more about our methods and purchase our teaching materials please go to our website: www.dyslexiavictoriaonline.com

Dyslexia Victoria school program

 

 

 

Cheers!
Karey Hope
Founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online
Karey and her daughter, Gen VanBebber. Gen was assessed for Dyslexia in Grade Two back in the 1980’s which started the two on their journey to understand Dyslexia. Gen has overcome all of her issues and is a successful business woman and mother of three children.

Summertime is a Great Time for Dyslexics to Catch up for School

Summer is coming up quickly. For a lot of people this is a great time for getting away from it all and probably the last thing a parent or child wants to think about is extra “school work” during this break.

All students should continue to read and practice their skills learned in school to be prepared for the upcoming school year.  Children can lose ground over the summer when not practicing and have to catch back up when starting school again.  This is particularly true for Dyslexics. We often have parents worry about how far their Dyslexic child falls behind over the summer. Sometimes it can be  extreme and drop as much as one or two grade levels.

The summer can  be a great opportunity to practice reading, spelling, printing and many other subjects due to the parent and child having more free time to devote to it or getting appropriate tutoring.   We also suggest the best time to get an assessment for Dyslexia is at the end of the school year or early summer because then the parent has a chance to use an appropriate teaching approach to prepare the child for school in the fall. This can make a world of difference for the struggling Dyslexic student and can help them achieve success in the following school year.

We have put together a summer program for Dyslexics with some of our teaching manuals for parents, tutors and teachers. We provide information on what Dyslexia is and how to understand and teach a Dyslexic. Included is our “Fourteen Steps to Teach Dyslexics how to Spell and Read”, “Mind-mapping for Dyslexics” and approaches to learning arithmetic/math concepts. Can be a great start for school!

Click on the link below and it will take you to a page on our website where you can view the program.

Dyslexia Victoria Online Summer Dyslexia Teaching Program

Happy trails;
Howie deGraaf

Howie deGraaf - Dyslexia Victoria Online

“THE SILLY BOAT RACE 2009” OR DYSLEXICS TAKE OVER THE WORLD

The best thing to do is watch the video first then read the blog, go ahead I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that neat?! The actual event is a fund raising event for a large child support association called “Nanaimo Child Development Centre” or “NCDC” in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. The purpose is to gather funding for the NCDC and their great programs. Businesses and associations register a team who enter the various segments of the race. The grand prize is a trophy and the knowledge that you have helped kids. Here’s another cool part though, the “boats” have to be assembled at the park, the build must be done in 4 hours AND all the parts must be recycled goods and the “boat” must have nothing but human power. No engines, no electricity. So you will notice lots of shovels and brooms made into paddles. Notice the boat in the video that has the paddlewheel? That’s me with the red hat and my son and my business partner, Karey Hope. The same Karey Hope who is the Dyslexic founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online. In fact the entire project was done by members who are either Dyslexic or really, really right-brained like my son and me.

I have mentioned the Vancouver Island Dyslexia Association (VIDA) in previous blogs but here is a brief recap. This association is located in Nanaimo and I am a board member. Most of the board members and the founder are Dyslexic. The association has an informational website and holds general meetings once a month, as well, they are building on their parents support group. About 6 ago months we became aware of the Silly Boat race and decided it would be a good opportunity for VIDA to get some exposure to both the media and the general public. Our information booth in the local park and the boat itself certainly did attract lots of attention.

Leonardo Davinci is DyslexicOkay now you have a quick explanation of what the video is about. Our entire boat project was devised, planned, built, disassembled and rebuilt at the beach by Dyslexics. And I will tell you why I think this is so important. Normally when an association or business or corporation, or whatever, decides to embark on a big project there will be lots of discussion and planning and more discussion and more decisions and generally lots of inertia to overcome. One to the strengths we mention when we talk about Dyslexic individuals is their ability to see the “Big Picture” or how to problem solve or how they think outside the box. In the instance of this project the solution, which was actually the entire design and build of the boat, was already figured out by the 2 designers of the boat before we could even start to make the committee that was supposed to be in charge of the project. The two “J’s” who are both proudly Dyslexic, an aeronautical engineer and scientist had the boat built in their minds and brought a scale model of the boat to a meeting months before we had even registered for the “race”. The inspiration for the boat came from another famous Dyslexic, Leonardo da Vinci, that’s why the boat was named the “Leonadro da VIDA”.

This was the first time we had ever entered this event and even against other entries who had been there on previous races we almost won, not only our individual race but the whole event. If you watch the video closely you will see we were actually pushing another boat in to the shore when it turned in front of us and we locked “hulls”. In fact they weren’t even paddling for the last part of the race.

We were invited to come again next year and the plans are in the works for that. We already have plans for a “Leonardo da VIDA, Mark 2”. The new boat will be more streamlined, have a bigger paddlewheel, a four person drive system and faster. We need to find some recycled paint so we can make it more colorful. Yes it was lots of fun for everybody involved and for the public who attended and we certainly hope we helped NDCD with our efforts.

Later in the year we will produce a longer video that will have a full story about the build and the brilliant Dyslexic people involved.

Happy Trails!
Howie deGraaf
Editor for Dyslexia Victoria Online
www.dyslexiavictoria.ca
or email me at: degraaf@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Brad Elder – an Eloquent Dyslexic Spokesperson

Recently I was looking up some specific info for a client from our book “Assessments and Evalutions” for Dyslexics.  My mother and partner, Jan Turner put this book together outlining and detailing our methods for assessing for Dyslexia.  When I was going through the book I noticed an introduction that I had never paid attention to before.  It was an excerpt  from a Dyslexic gentleman named “Brad Elder” from one of his webpages about being Dyslexic.  I was fascinated, called Jan and asked her about him.  Jan said he and she had communicated for  awhile a few years ago about Dyslexia.  They had ideas in common and differences of opinion which she found really interesting.  She said he was a really fascinating  man to talk to in regards to Dyslexia, what it is to experience it and how to work with it.

I decided to track down his webpages and I found his home page and then other ones connected to it. I also Googled his name and found more.  I also found many commonalities in our beliefs and approaches to Dyslexia and his list of sources are helpful and his view of  the experience of  Dyslexia is very moving and enlightening for those trying to understand how it feels,  how to deal with it and to realize as Dyslexics we are not alone.

So I have quoted part of his home page and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I strongly suggest you go to his other webpages and review Brad Elder’s information and sources.  Also, I am trying to find a good email address or phone number for Brad.  If anyone knows how to contact him, please let me know.  You can email me at: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Thanks!
Karen Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Brad Elder  and Dyslexia

Brad Elder and Dyslexia

So here is my tail.

Sorry but its a little cluttered.

by Brad Elder

I have left this un spell checked so that you can see my world a little better.

Like I said this is really hard to put into words.  Hard on the emotional level.  But I think it will help me to do it.  And I hope it will help you.

Ok,  where to start.  well I was diagnosed in the 6th graid.  That really helped!!!  It was the single biggest event in my life.  Suddenly there was a name for my problem.  I wasn’t lazy, or didn’t cair, or was………  what ever they called me that week.  It was like the unevers was lifted off my sholders.  I think I know what it must be like to slowly sufficate.  I don’t know really how to describe it to you but i’ll try:

Imagen that nobody could see their hands.  Everybody in the world.  Nobody can see anything from the elbo down.   Also assume that everybodys  hands work just like thay do right now today.    Now what if your hands didn’t work like “the normal hand”?   What If you didn’t have any fingers?  Everyone else can type, turn keys, scrach an ich, dress them sleves, tie there shoes, and feed them sleves.  Every one but you.  No one can see why you can’t “Do what everyone else can”.  You don’t know  why you can’t do what “normal” kids can.  You just know you can’t.   you walk and talk just like every one else.  there is no way to see an obvous reason why you can’t do it.  Adults don’t know.  How could they.  All they can see is a kid that isn’t doing what they were told to do.   And they lable you lazy, slacker, rebbel, and what ever they can come up with…….They my even point you out to your class mates and tell them not to be like you.

Rember You Have NO Idea Why You Can Not Do What The Normal Kids Do.

None.

All you know is that no matter what,  nomatter how hard you try,  you just can’t do it.   You will,  as your only choise, beleave the adults.  You must be lazy.  You must really be a slacker.  How could anyone be as worthless as you? the other kids susceed.  They must be trying.  You, there for, are not trying.

I want you to stop here and think about this senario.  Where does a Child go from here?  where does a Child go when they KNOW, becaues everyone tells them, they beleave with all there heart,  they are worthless?  Who does a Child turn to when everyone (even your parents) give up on you?

I really  want you to think hard about that.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?   YOU HAVE NO REASON TO DOUBT WHAT ANYONE IS TELLING YOU.  YOU HAVE NO ONE TO TURN TO.  NO ONE IS TELLING YOU ANY THING POSITIVE ABOUT YOUR SELF.

This was me at ten years of age.  I wanted to die.  Not because I was depresed (though I’m shure I was) but because I was imbarsed to be alive.  I was imbarsed for my parents,  for my sisters, for my teachers.    I loved them all and respected there openions.  After all they could do what I could not.  How could anyone deserve the burden of putting up with me?

Don’t you quit!!!

How are you going to get help?  no one, not even you know the truth.  you have no fingers!!!  thats it.  Nothing sinester about your behavior.  you just don’t have any fingers!!
Your only chance will be if someone actualy sees you.  and says to them self “what a nice kid.  shurly if they could have tied their shoe thay would have.  I wonder why they don’t?”  If your luckey they will have heard of a handy cap called “nofinger” that has symptems like yours.  And they will sugest that you get testing.

To parents reading think about this.  How can a Child get help if the parents don’t want to help?  “My Kid Is Normal!”  “Not My Son!!”  “My Daughter Is Just Quiet”.  the world cann’t help unless you allow it.  I don’t know what self centered fears parents have about children,  But try and rember “a rose by anyother name would smell as sweet”.  your child is alive and suffering and is a rose by any name.  Any help you can give them will help them bloom.  Many of my friends in the LD classes I have through out my life never were alowed to sucesed because their parents refeusd th help.

Don’t you quit!! (eather of you)

Now suppose all the politics required in getting parents, teachers and famly menbers involved come togeather and you are going to get tested.
You probably won’t know or cair about whats going on.  You have spent 10 years being told and fearmly beleaving that you are just dumb and lazy.  And lord knows you have seen your shair of tests.  The test is a new fangled machane that takes a picture of your hand and can see what we can’t.  after the test you are shown the results and have them explained to you.

BINGO!!!!!
you are not lazy.  you just don’t have any fingers!!!!!!!
Of corse no one could tie there shoes if they didn’t have fingers!!!
Of corse no one could dress them selves if they didn’t have fingers!!!
Of corse no one could type if they didn’t have fingers!!!!!!!
Of corse!!!!!!!!

I hope that helps you under stand.   I finaly knew why I couldn’t tie my shoes.  There was a reason.  and it wasn’t because I was lazy!

I really got mad after that.  I was mad at all my teachers.  mad at everyone who was trusted with my life and failed!  I soon (longer for others) forgave them all as They  did’t know anymore than I that there was aproblem (execpet that they did’t lisson to me.  But who lissons to a 10 yr old who doesn’t do what he is told).  I thought that that was it!  I’d  just show the teachers “look here are my test results, look no fingers!  I can’t type.  but I can tell you the answer.”
well that didn’t happen. All, most all, of them didn’t buy it.  and a few were determind to show the class and the world that I was a faker.   My math teachers were indeferent.  They didn’t cair about it at all. and they didn’t change anything.  but at least they didn’t fight me.  a few of my english teachers realy let me have it.   I couldent rember the alphibet, (and still can’t!!) but had to sit in on recesse and after school to look up the spelling of words.

Now if you have no fingers how can you type?   how comical would it be if you were held in the class room during recess and after school because you didn’t finish or didn’t do your typing corectly?  I wasn’t laughfing then and can only find sad hummer in it now, but that was my life in the sixth grade.  Dyslexiecs generaly can’t spell or do math because we revers letters and numbers.  I still (as you can see) can’t spell. K through 12th grade and I was punished for not being able to spell through it all.  Just as if I had no fingers and was being punished for not being able to type.  The logic behind it is insane!!!  I was going to flunk remadal english in the 6th grade.  remeadial english is nothing but spelling. its the spelling class from hell.  my teacher would make me stay in from recess and after school EVERYDAY!!!!! correcting the spelling on my test.  How do you spell a unknown word?  you look it up?

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