“Boxing Words” to help Dyslexics Learn to Spell

Gen, my dyslexic daughter who started my search for answers.

Gen, my dyslexic daughter who started my search for answers to understand Dyslexia and how to manage it.

When my daughter Genevieve and my other two children were assessed as having Dyslexia back in the 1980’s I began a long journey to find ways to teach them. The school system in California did not have any programs for their learning difference so I had to look else where for ideas.

Not much was known about Dyslexia at the time but I was fortunate to meet many interesting people in the San Francisco area who were studying Dyslexia and working with children and adults to help them with their learning problems. We tried all kinds of therapy; some worked, some worked a little and others not so much.

One surprising and extremely simple idea was given to me by a teacher from a school called New Horizon School and Learning Center in Santa Rosa, northern California for kids with learning disabilities. I had heard good things about them so I gave them a call. The person I spoke to suggested I bring my daughter in and they would see what they could do to help her (New Horizon provided assistance that provided insight to help me understand my daughter and taught me how to teach her successfully!). One idea she told me over the phone along with some tweaks of my own over the years became one of my best tools working with Dyslexic children.

"Boxing Words" to help Dyslexics learn to Spell

“Boxing Words” to help Dyslexics learn to Spell

Gen, a fifth grader at the time,  was a very poor speller. The lady from the school suggested trying an experiment to show Gen a different way to remember spelling words. She told me to get a yellow piece of paper and print a word on it in large thick letters in felt pen she didn’t know how to spell. Then she told me to have Gen sit looking straight ahead and hold the yellow paper with the printed word up and to the left of her head. Then as she is staring forward she moves her eyes up to the piece of paper. As she is looking at the yellow paper with her body and head sitting straight and eyes up and to the left she looks at the word, says it, and then reads the letters out loud right to left and then left to right (frontwards and backwards). Gen repeats this process 3 times. Then closes her eyes, imagines the yellow paper and word printed on it. She says the word aloud again and says the letters she sees in her mind frontwards and then— backwards!

I kind of scoffed at this but I thought worth a try. I had tried a lot crazier things with my kids. I decided to pick a  long multi-syllabic word because of course I didn’t believe it could work. I put Gen through the process that had been described to me and she did it – frontwards and backwards – easily. There is extensive research on eye movement and what it means as far as  memories and imagining things. However I haven’t found any conclusive evidence on what eye movement means but lots of speculation such as this article: http://www.livescience.com/1473-moving-eyes-improves-memory-study-suggests.html.

The lady I talked to from the school said memory could be aided by looking up to the left. This was back in the 80’s and I don’t know if this is true but what I learned, in my opinion, it is important to have Dyslexics visualize something as a picture with parts in order to retain it. So a word is a complete picture with parts (the letters). The colored paper helps them create an image of the word in their mind by providing a background and the colour helps the word stand out.

Over the years through research and experimentation I have found a way to accomplish memorizing words effectively with this method with a few changes and additions. This method has been called “boxing words” or “word boxing” by some teachers I have talked to over the years. I have been trying to find some information on the net about boxing and this article is as close as I have gotten so far:   http://www.visualspatial.org/files/app2spell.pdf

I describe my method in one of our manuals called “14 Steps to Teach Dyslexics how to Spell and Read”. All the Dyslexic children I have worked with have been able to visualize words this way. Boxing words for DyslexicsThe image here of the word “dog” on the blue paper is how we create  flash cards for “boxing”. This type of practice will help a Dyslexic visualize words in their minds so they can start to retain them. The 14 Steps has 13 other practice methods to help Dyslexics improve their spelling  and reading fluency.

14 Steps to teach Dyslexics how to Spell & Read

14 Steps to teach Dyslexics how to Spell & Read

Try it. If you have difficulties trying to do this exercise, email me at khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca
Karey Hope
Co-founder Dyslexia Victoria Online
Karey Hope deGraaf of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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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?

For more of this entry from Brad Elder please follow this link:

Welcome to Brad (Darb) Elder’s Dyslexia page

Also Google his name Brad Elder for other pages related to him.

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Dyslexia Victoria Online’s Approach to Teaching Spelling to Dyslexics

Dyslexics Learning to SpellSpelling is the most difficult skill for the right brain but it is the most important. More time should be given to spelling and building a reading and writing vocabulary than any other learning skills.

The Dyslexia Victoria Online Approach to learning to spell is through “drawing” words and understanding them in wholes, not in their separate parts or separate letters or phonic sounds.

It provides an easy method for changing the concrete picture images formed in the right brain into letters and words (the language of the left brain) and then sending them to the left brain for use in thinking and analyzing.

Training should begin with using concrete word images that form whole pictures.  The right brain easily understands word images as it sees and understands the world in wholes: whole sentences, whole paragraphs, whole essays, whole stories, whole lessons, whole concepts and whole assignments. The right brain understands word images it can turn into pictures in the mind’s eye.

We start with learning what a concrete image is and what letters represent. Then we work with concrete words from a story that describe strong images familiar to the student such as pictures of a horse, a man, a child, a house, a barn, an animal, and object such as a table, a book, ruler, eraser, car, truck, box, etc. When the pattern of a concrete object, sound of its name and a concrete word image are understood, we move on to abstract words that are needed for putting sentences together such as  and, for, too, which, why, who because, through, under, beneath, second, third, although, however, whole, whenever, rather, everything, etc.

For more information about Dyslexia and our teaching solutions check out our website at: www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

If you have questions we would love to hear your feedback!  You can email me at:  khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Karey Hope deGraaf
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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What Is Dyslexia?

The left hemisphere thinks and expresses ideas in terms of letters, words, and numbers. It coordinates information in a computer-like fashion, giving it structure and sequence. It is linear in operation. Most importantly, it understands abstract words and ideas. It is the location in our brains where verbal language is processed and where about half of the world’s population decodes, processes and produces written language.

The right hemisphere thinks in whole concrete images and pictures.  It does not like to break down words into their phonemes (sounds of individual letters or groups of letters). These only confuse the right-brained person who thinks in whole concrete pictures. Phonetic sounds have no meaning on their own, and cannot be easily processed and stored as images in long term memory. Storing information depends on having all the parts present in a whole context such as the complete image of a printed word or a complete lesson or assignment. Through memorizing whole words the right brain understands what the words are symbols for.

Unfortunately, most of our teaching and learning depends on reading, listening and writing in abstract words and numbers that cannot be turned into whole concrete pictures. The dyslexic student learns very differently from the left brain, and so must be taught differently.

The Dyslexia Victoria Online approach to being right-brained or dyslexic offers alternative teaching methods, insights and explanations for the many learning problems classified as dyslexia. Our most important realization has led us to stop treating it as a learning disability. Our classroom and tutoring experiences, assessment and evaluation program, and our work with parents who are homeschooling their children have shown us that the right-brained student is generally very intelligent, but often held back by a number of learning differences that are overlooked by educational systems.

However, to be able to use these learning traits in the modern world predominantly right-brained persons still need to be able to spell, read, write, and work with mathematical numbers and concepts.

For more information about Dyslexia and our teaching solutions check out our website at: www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

Hope to hear from you. You can email me at: jturner@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Karey Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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Dyslexia is a Learning Difference, not a Learning Disability

In our Dyslexia Awareness workshops we talk extensively about how we look at Dyslexia as a learning difference or style, not a learning disability.  However for the last twenty-five years “Dyslexia” has been used incorrectly as a common term for a wide range of learning disabilities.  I heard one teacher refer to it as an “umbrella” for any type of reading, spelling or writing problem.  If a person can’t learn to spell or read they must be dyslexic.

Another common perception of Dyslexia that irks us is the medical opinion that Dyslexics are broken.  Their brains are wired wrong.  Without this particular wiring we would not have Einstein, Churchill, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, many of the actors in Hollywood, Edison, Jackie Stewart and Jay Leno to name a few. Their “faulty” wiring was part of why they became who they are.

Albert Einstein

Churchill - dyslexic

Leonardo DaVinci - dyslexic

Bill Gates - dyslexic

Richard Branson - famous Dyslexic

Edison - famous Dyslexic

Jackie Stewart - famous Dyslexic

Jay Leno - famous Dyslexic

So when we talk about a different learning style what do we mean?  Let me explain by asking a question.  Do you have a particular innate talent such as being an artist (painter, sculptor, writer, poet, etc.), musician, exceptional athlete, gifted mathematician or scientist, intuitive mechanic that can always figure out what’s wrong, star race car driver, a comedian or maybe a natural orator?

But if you do not consider yourself an artist for example and can’t draw anything more detailed than a stick figure because your brain does not provide you with the ability to draw does that make you broken?  If the highest level of math you ever managed was fractions and percentages, forget algebra, geometry or trigonometry, are you wired wrong?

If you are not proficient with these types of abilities no one realizes or cares.  No one points at you and says you have no ear for music and your singing is like listening to a cat screeching (unless you feel the need to demonstrate to everyone that you can’t sing). But if you are Dyslexic everyone notices that spelling is really difficult for you and that you can barely read or write.  You ask a lot of questions all the time before you get on with a task.  You can’t tell time or read a clock so you have difficulty with arriving somewhere on time.  You misunderstand questions unless they are really specific because you think about everything from many different directions and levels.  You have difficulty communicating because you think in images, not words and sometimes can’t find your words when you are talking so you stumble or say the wrong thing.  People might think you are stupid, lazy or annoying. These issues are hard to hide.  However nobody notices that you are not a gifted race car driver unless you are in a race.

Spelling, reading, writing and number systems were created about 3000 to 5000 years ago (depending on the authority quoted) and learning and working with them are not natural abilities we are born with like talking.  Children are trained to spell and read from a young age by using parts of the brain that have made new connections with each other to accomplish these cognitive tasks.  In Dyslexics these connections are not made the same way as they are in left-brained people who read and spell easily and well.  A Dyslexic brain processes information differently with other areas of the brain and does not respond well to left-brain teaching methods. This can result in problems with spelling, reading, identifying and understanding numbers and other tasks that are related to them.  So if reading,  spelling and numbers are not naturally hardwired into our brains why do we say a Dyslexic brain is broken if it has difficulty performing these skills?

With more and more new information coming from medical and scientific research maybe Dyslexia will finally come to be considered what we believe it is – a learning difference.  Then teaching skills for spelling, reading, writing and arithmetic can be taught in a way a Dyslexic does understand rather than forcing us to use methods appropriate for a left-brained person.

Karey Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online
khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca
www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

Karey Hope - Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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An Apology from Dyslexia Victoria Online

This is not a blog or newsletter or weekly report, it is an apology. We have been so busy doing seminars, workshops, presenting at school Pro-D days and meeting other “Service Providers” that we just have not attended to our website responsibilities. I mentioned earlier that we had begun to partner with Vancouver Island Dyslexia Association and were working to raise awareness of Dyslexia. Well, we are sure getting the word out.

The combination of dyslexia awareness presentations by both VIDA and Dyslexia Victoria Online has proven so popular that we are in demand all the time now. We have also done presentations for private and government service providers. As of right now we are booked up to the end of June.

The wake up call, for me, that we had lost track of our website responsibilities occurred when we were doing a seminar for a group of local Government and private service providers. One of the attendees noticed the name of our website on the brochure we had handed out. This person asked if we were involved in the weekly chats and blogs, “Rants and Raves From the Right Side” and she wondered why the articles had stopped. That kind of made this even more real for me. Our messages are getting out around the world and I found a person in my home town who is reading our information. We will try to be more responsible.

So again, this is not really a blog or anything else other than an apology and we will try harder to get back on track and inform you about what we have learned about the world of Dyslexia.

This video shows some of the news coverage we are starting to get. Woo hoo!

Happy Trails!
Howie deGraaf

Howard deGraaf of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Large Print Books for Dyslexic Students and Adults

Large Print Books for Dyslexics

Today I would like to talk about large print books for dyslexics. When we work with dyslexic adults or children we notice that reading small print is often difficult and tedious like slogging through mud.   They cannot track print on a page or see the individual words and letters.  They see all the text on a page as one entire image and cannot separate one word from the other.

Some dyslexics can read small text, but the process  of reading can be exhausting requiring all their mental energy and concentration to decode the words so comprehension becomes very difficult.  Often the dyslexic will read passages over and over trying to understand what they have read because their brain was concentrating on seeing and recognizing the words and cannot retain the information in their short term memory or move it onto long term memory.

So what can be done to help with this problem? One way is using large print books. They make it easier to see the words separately from each other and from other lines of text. The brain doesn’t have to concentrate so hard on decoding because the pictures of each word can be easily differentiated from other words. Comprehension and memory is improved and reading doesn’t feel like such a hard job.

Many children’s books are set in large print and should definitely be used with dyslexic students if at all possible. There are many websites that sell large print books for older children and adults. You can also find them in bookstores or libraries.

I have provided a couple of websites that I found that also sell large print books. www.largeprintbooks.com and www.amazon.ca/large-print-Books or www.amazon.com/Large-Print-Books

For more information and teaching solutions for dyslexia check out books on our homepage at www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

Thanks for listening.
Karen Hope
Co-founder Dyslexia Victoria Online

Karen Hope, Dyslexia Victoria Online

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