According to science and my experiences having dyslexia, reading is hard and complex. Our eyes perceive images that connect to the brain to decipher these images. Then, they are computed and compared to recognized learned patterns of letters and languages positioned into the right order. Then, we have to place the words in an organized direction as we read and then comprehend it all. Now comes dyslexia, where a neurological disorder causes us to have trouble corresponding those images. A mismatch occurs almost like an optical illusion, when letters or numbers are present. As the normal process is short-circuited, as we read letters and the infinite variations and try to place a reason behind them. Then, this flurry of words needs to be sorted into words and then into sentences. Since, what we perceive becomes jumbled up. Basically, it is just harder for us to do this, and takes longer frustrating parents, teachers and ourselves.
Dyslexia according to research, affects up to 20% of students and covers over 80% of learning disabilities. The cause is unknown, perhaps genetic. This is a neurological disorder, it has nothing to do with the desire to or not to learn how to read nor is it a bearing on your parenting or the teacher's abilities. And to put away any scams out there, it can’t be cured; however, it can be managed and even turned into an asset.
What to look for
If you suspect your child either can’t learn to read or is having trouble writing words correctly or consistently, or is a “slow learner,” or becoming very behind, then this is the time to have them assessed. Talk to your pediatrician and get referrals. There are many programs, many are free. In California, we have the “Regional Centers.” Be proactive and see what eligible services your school or district or state can do. In Method Schools, our customizable curriculum and tutoring will automatically help your child in school and a few helps I will list in the next blog post will make their home and educational journey a winner.
Dyslexic children and adults will struggle to read effortlessly, will not be able to spell simple words and struggle or learn a second language, but it is possible. Ironically, people with dyslexia manage to become some of the best authors as they see more in words even when we can’t see the words well. As we are visual and creative thinkers with above average reasonability, and images are our friends. And we can learn to explain the image to tell a better story like Agatha Christie who had dyslexia as does Dav Pilkey, Stephen J. Cannell, Rick Riordan and Steven Spielberg. We are not alone, so has John Lennon, Ludwig van Beethoven, Steve Jobs, Jay Leno, Whoopi Goldberg, Keanu Reeves, Richard Branson, Pablo Picasso, Magic Johnson, Mohammed Ali, Henry Winkler, Lewis Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Graham Bell, John F. Kennedy, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and George Washington to name a few who struggled with dyslexia. So, if your child has it, they are in good company.
What is Dyslexia Like?
I had a student tell me once, “when I read something, it is like looking through a kaleidoscope.” As we read, we see letters as backward, inside out and or upside down and or bunched together. So, instead of cat, we get tac, or atc or tca or x%z. They can even appear completely backward. Sometimes, we can’t describe what we see, it looks like, well just a mess. And, the text will seem to appear to jump around on us. It is annoying.
As we read we can get sick, and we are not faking it. This will have tired us out, cause headaches, stomachaches, and nervousness. We have a hard time distinguishing letters that look alike, like, b and d or p and q, or w and v, or an o and c and e, or an S and a 5 and so forth. We also have a hard time to connect the sound of the letter to the letter, like saying L or W. Sometimes we can’t even understand them.
We Can Do It!
Dyslexia is a disability and it is not! It is a learning difference! Your child is much brighter than average, perhaps a genius. But wait, there is more. This is not the end, but a bright beginning. They will succeed with your help, and can be a university professor or a doctor or, well, there is no limit, when they get a handle on it. Well, you can skip the spelling bee. The key is your nurture and willingness to work at it and get them the help they need. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
For a school that has a curriculum that is intuitive with great considerate teachers, and has helped my son and can help you and your child’s success, look here:
Dr. Richard Krejcir is an Author, Researcher and the Director of a nonprofit that does educational training in third-world countries. He is also a Homeschool Coordinator at Method Schools and an instructor in a STEM program and a father of a son with autism.