The gift that is Dyslexia
Dyslexia is about to become ‘the issue’ in teaching. I guess its about time, the first instance I had of it was an English teacher explaining the basic idea to me back in the early 1990s! She was ahead of her time. (Mrs Young, Hirst Park Middle School, Northumberland)
So, I recently had reason to purchase a number of books on the subject of dyslexia (I’ll get to the reason why later).
Two books that I have found enormously useful in understanding the concept of dyslexia:
- ‘Understanding and Managing Dyslexia – For Dummies’ from Wood/Cochrane Publishing (ISBN – 9780470741320)
- The Gift of Dyslexia (Why some of the brightest people can’t read and how they can learn) written by Ronald D. Davis, Published by Souvenir Press (ISBN: 9780285634121)
- BBC article about training for teachers: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/8109554.stm
- Dyslexia in action: http://www.dyslexiaaction.org.uk/
Both excellent books! And if you want to jump ahead of the dyslexia advice that schools are about to get from government they are easy to read but very detailed!!
So, I thought i’d use this update of the blog to highlight some of the key findings of the books, and pass on some of the important information about dyslexia.
I always feel as if there seem to be a million conditions out there; one for almost everyone, and if you wanted to be cynical you could say any lazy kid can pick from the list, ADD, dyslexia, ADHD and so on and say ‘I can’t learn coz I’ve got…’ and I’m sure in some cases some clever little devils have cottoned on to these and try it on.
But lets face it, most of us can tell real from fake.
But is dyslexia just a lazy kid, who can’t spell?
Or a kid who never picked up the basics and just keeps making the same mistakes?
Well, as I’ve thankfully found out, its neither!!
Dyslexia could be described as a state of mind, a condition which allows one to look at this world differently, from a unique perspective.
And in fact, far from being a hindrance to productivity and success, it can be a key factor in achieving things in life.
But you have to learn what dyslexia is, and then how to ‘master’ it! But once you have ‘mastered’ dyslexia you’ll discover a healthy respect for it, and in fact you might even be envious of the abilities it can give someone.
One thing that has impact on skeptics is to list some of the people through history who are known to have been dyslexic – notice i don’t say ‘suffer from dyslexia’ because when you master it as an ability rather than a liability you don’t ‘suffer’ from it, you benefit from it!
So, got your attention now?
Ready to ask the big question…How do they do it???
Here’s is the theory behind dyslexic thinking:
‘Multidimensional thinking’, sounds like something from Dr Who but I assure you it’s not, and more so it makes perfect sense.
Dyslexic thinkers have a number of key abilities, and although not all dyslexics display all of these abilities they are still considered to be the most common and key abilities that dyslexic people share.
Now, that’s a nice list but it does need further explaining to get the point across, so I shall try and share the wisdom of the books and websites I have looked at.
Stepping back from dyslexia as the only thought process, on has to consider that there are two types of thought process;
- Verbal thought process – thinking through sounds and words
- Non-verbal thought process – thinking through images
(dyslexics use non-verbal)
For example, a dyslexic person hears a word, and pictures it in their mind in order to make sense of that word. So things like dog, cat, car, house all easy to imagine in the minds eye.
However, ‘and’ ‘a’ or ‘their’ are impossible to imagine, and so often these are words skipped over by a dyslexic when he or she reads to them self or most commonly when reading aloud.
When dyslexics do meet such difficult words Davis suggests that they become disorientated, but that rather than be put off by this disorientation it can be made a strength, as it is the disorientation which causes them to shift their perspectives, and offers them alternative view points. Making them more “perceptive and imaginative than the average person.” (page 20 if you look it up)
I don’t want to quote the books at you, the aim of this is to share some of the information which is most interesting and perhaps inspire interest in discussing dyslexia, or reading the book your-self.
In reading Davies book I was struck by one suggestion about dyslexia, which I would share with any child or adult who suffers low self esteem as a result of the difficulties of dyslexia, and the stigma attached to the way it manifests its self (poor hand writing, poor self organisation, slow reading etc).
Da Vinci was dyslexic, his ability to imagine in his minds eye more than he could explain with words allowed him to envisage the submarine, and the helicopter 400 years before the engines that could power them were even invented!!
On that alone I would never right off a student who struggles to read, has poor handwriting, or sits in my class daydreaming.
Why should I? just a couple of months ago I was assessed and discovered I am dyslexic – which made so many things suddenly make sense!
And as for the book, ‘The gift of dyslexia’ It really makes one see the benefits of this, instead of the drawbacks, its aim is to inspire a mastery over dyslexia, because …“when someone masters something, it becomes a part of that person. It becomes part of the individual’s thought and creative process. It adds the quality of its essence to all subsequent thought and creativity of the individual.”
In short – dyslexia can be a gift!
The inspirational book, I would recommend to teachers, people with dyslexia and other interested parties: The Gift of Dyslexia (Why some of the brightest people can’t read and how they can learn) written by Ronald D. Davis, Published by Souvenir Press (ISBN: 9780285634121)