What ridiculous misconceptions have you heard about dyslexia?
What ridiculous misconceptions have you heard about dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a learning advantage which most schools cannot yet accommodate.
Books that are formatted for people with dyslexia are difficult to find. When I was creating the Dyslexic-Friendly Book List for beginning readers (http://dyslexickids.net/_Book_List_.html), I went page-by-page through thousands of books only to find 100 books that were suitable for children with dyslexia. The rest were too difficult to read. Most publishers seem to be completely unaware that their books are not accessible to a large percentage of the population. However, there are some exceptions.
Barrington-Stoke books in the U.K. (http://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/) and Stoke Books in the U.S. (http://www.stokebooks.com/) publish books that are designed for students who have difficulty reading.
Stone Arch Books uses a special font that is easier to read, as well.
Several of the classics have been published in the Open Dyslexic font and are available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_2?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Mr.+Laurence+Francis+Harrison&search-alias=books-uk&sort=relevancerank
Audio books are always a good option, as well. Here are 10 sites to download free audio books: http://dyslexic-kids.tumblr.com/post/34754008086/10-sites-to-download-free-audio-books-if-youre
Textbooks in audio format can be found from a few sources, from Learning Ally to Amazon. http://www.nysl.nysed.gov/tbbl/textbook.htm
Today’s topic is stress. Here are some quotes from the articles below that I want to highlight:
Stress “can create deficits in a child’s intellectual abilities, crippling the capacity to learn.”
“Research has found that neurons in the brain of a chronically stressed individual may have fewer and shorter dendrites (pathways for sending information). This deficiency impairs communication with other dendrites, reducing the brain’s ability to process information effectively.”
“Frequent symptoms of stress such as low impulse control, difficulty concentrating and irritating behaviors often match the definition of A.D.D./A.D.H.D.”
Most children with dyslexia are under a constant state of stress in school. We are struggling with almost every subject because almost every subject requires us to read. After dealing with that stress for so many hours each day, we want to go home to a place that makes us feel at ease.
Unfortunately, those who care the most about us and our futures are sometimes the ones who cause us to feel the most stress: family, friends and tutors. They worry about us, and they want the best for us. However, especially as young children, we can feel the weight in the room every time the topic of dyslexia comes up. We know the people who care about us are stressed and we know that we are the cause of their anxiety. That leads us to feel more stressed (and guilty), we have more trouble concentrating on learning, and we all end up in a vicious cycle.
It may seem impossible, but loved ones need to find ways to lower their stress levels if they want to help students lower their stress levels. If your child sees that you are not at all concerned, the extreme pressure to perform will be lessened, providing the child with the ability to remain calm and allow their brain focus on learning.
By the way, the attitude that everything will be fine should not be an act; you should believe that everything will, in fact, be fine because it will be. Your child has tremendous advantages over his or her peers that may not be immediately apparent due to the limitations of the traditional systems.
Never view dyslexia as a learning disability. Instead, view it as a learning advantage that the schools are not capable of handling at the moment. Make sure your child sees you adopt that approach in all of your dealings and communications with others. Let your child know that there’s no doubt he or she will be able to overcome the difficult aspects of dyslexia – it’s just a matter of when and how, and whether he or she will get to use some fun gadgets (assistive technology) along the way.
Everything will be fine. No worries.
We’re continuing on the topic of self-esteem today. As many of you pointed out yesterday, it is imperative that a child be given adequate time and opportunities to discover his or her talents and passions. As students who are struggling to read, we need something that makes us feel successful and special. We need something that makes us feel proud.
When I was young, my passion was Legos. I could spend hours building elaborate designs. My parents kept me well-supplied in those building blocks, and they even took me to Brickworld and other Lego conventions. Today, my passion is computers and other tech devices. I even built my own computer from scratch, and I design games for the XBox.
For my sister, also dyslexic, the passion was birds. It still is. At just 14 years old, she is an incredibly talented ornithologist who is well-known in the field and in high demand. She travels across the state teaching classes and giving presentations on behalf of several organizations, including the Audubon Society, Department of Natural Resources, Raptor Rehabilitation Centers and other organizations. She writes books, helps design apps, and so much more.
While we were pursuing our passions, we discovered that in order to learn more about them, we would have to learn to read, no matter how difficult that would be. Magazine articles, books and websites about our passions required us to go through the excruciating effort of reading, which gave us the necessary motivation to try to read better.
Yes, we could have spent more time on the reading assignments rather than spending time on what some would consider trivial pursuits. However, if your self-esteem is low, it is difficult to concentrate on your work, especially something as painful as reading. I would argue that pursuing a passion, developing talents, and building self-esteem are as important to a child with dyslexia as the reading exercises.
I would like to hear your thoughts. Have you, as a child or teen with dyslexia, discovered your talents and found your passions? Has it made a difference? Do you have enough time to pursue them? Or are the homework and tutoring assignments taking up all of your time?
Video of the speakers at the 2013 Dyslexia Symposium hosted by Dyslexic Kids and the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Speakers include: Kristin Baxter from the Dyslexia Institute of Indiana http://www.diin.org/, Laurie Gray from Socratic Parenting http://www.socraticparenting.com/, Kris Lill from the Allen County Public Library http://www.acpl.lib.in.us/, and Scott Forsythe from Dyslexic Kids http://dyslexickids.net/Welcome.html.