By guest author Sharon Roberts
Dyslexia can be considered an invisible handicap as its symptoms are not readily seen. Often we think of it as just a reversal of letters or as a reading problem. But the reading problem or reversal of letters are only two symptoms of dyslexia. Other symptoms can include visual distortions in sequencing or spacing, distortions in hearing and distortions in the sense of balance and movement. Common labels such as ADD, ADHD, central auditory processing, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, expressive language disorder, etc. (there are numerous labels) are all related to dyslexia itself.
Not all those suffering with dyslexia have or manifest all of the symptoms, and the number and intensity of these symptoms can also vary with the stress and upsets of day-to-day living. As a result, you will not find two dyslexics alike, or one day your dyslexic loved one is on the top of his/her game, and the next he/she flounders.
The talent of the dyslexic, the ability to alter their perceptions, is responsible for strengths in creative areas, athleticism, or interpersonal skills. But this ability is also responsible for the handicap. We have all experienced perception distortions and these can be artificially produced. For example, if you have been spun around on a chair for a few minutes, and get up, you will likely feel dizzy and unbalanced. Nothing in fact in the room has changed but for a moment your mind is attempting to resolve a conflict of information. For the dyslexic, distortions do not have to be artificially created. They can do that with their mind, and will do this readily when confused.
Dyslexics are often above average in intelligence and for this reason some can disguise their weaknesses with a variety of coping skills. This is why many do okay in elementary school but begin to struggle in high school or college and university. For example, he or she may do okay with basic math but in high school struggle with algebra. They may read and recognize words in reading material but may not be able to apply what they know. Dyslexia can also affect other areas such as having difficulty remembering and following directions. They could have poor time management skills, be terribly disorganized or compulsively neat to compensate for their confusion. Whatever the child or adult struggles with, it is important to understand why this is happening and link it with their ability to alter their perceptions.
Dyslexics are mainly visual spatial thinkers. They learn best hands on. What this means is they find it difficult to think with words and sounds. Most reading/teaching methods involve a word/ sound approach. Word thinkers often do well academically as a result . Word thinkers also think sequentially, whereas the dyslexic’s approach is more global, non-sequential. Dyslexics see the big picture and miss details, while the word thinker attends well to details. So dyslexia is not necessarily a “broken” brain, in my opinion, but is often caused by not being taught in a way that is compatible with their learning style. So what may be needed is an alternative approach to teaching such students so they can excel like their fellow students. Many of the programs offered still use forms of repetition and drill and sounding out. The most positive progress in solving my own loved one’s dyslexia has been the Davis Dyslexia Correction Program, which seemed to complement his learning style.
Sharon Roberts is a licensed Davis facilitator. She discovered the Davis method for treating dyslexia while seeking to help her dyslexic son. You can read more about Sharon and Dyslexia Resources Canada here: http://www.dyslexia.ca/p-program-facil.html