Dyslexia has become a dirty word, and I don’t know why. Schools are generally not equipped to deal with it. Parents are frustrated because their child is smart…but still can’t read, write, or spell. All too often, parents and teachers just resign themselves to loving their child or student and give up on thinking that therapy might help. But it can.
The journey to treating dyslexia is multi-faceted. First, the brain must be dealt with. New neurological pathways can be built that will help the dyslexic student send messages between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Schools primarily deal with the left side of the brain. Most dyslexic students are right-brain dominant, and a long day at school is overwhelming and torturous for them. Often, the corpus callosum, the bundle of nerve fibres separating the left and right hemispheres of the brain, serves as a barrier instead of a bridge. With consistent work, that barrier can become a bridge, and the dyslexic student becomes a “whole brain learner”. That is what it takes to succeed in school! We know more about the brain now than ever before, but few people actually use it in an academic setting.
But dealing with just the brain alone won’t cut it. The next thing you must do is strengthen visual and auditory skills. If a student isn’t “hearing” correctly, information cannot be comprehended. If a student cannot “see” correctly, he/she will place numbers and letters in the wrong places, often reversing them or placing them in incorrect places. The student skips lines while reading and guesses at words instead of sounding them out. This, of course, leads to poor grades as well as academic and life failure.
Next, memory building must be attacked. Most dyslexic students have memories that are astounding. They can remember a Christmas dinner from five years ago and recite a movie word for word. But ask them to remember what 5 X 7 is, and they stare at you blankly. But, it is possible to teach dyslexic students how to hold non-meaningful information in their brains so they can use it for academic purposes. Remembering a movie won’t give students a good grade, but knowing multiplication facts is crucial to passing math courses.
Regular academics are not enough for the dyslexic learner. If the dyslexic student could learn in a traditional manner, then he/she would be reading, writing, spelling, and have excellent grades. We need to teach our dyslexic students academics by “touching”. Most dyslexic students learn by doing – not by seeing or hearing, so a different approach must be taken with these students! And that different approach involves touching letters, words, and using cross-lateral motions to help them learn. And learning should be fun!
If you suspect your child is dyslexic, don’t despair. Step-by-step, the dyslexic student’s learning gaps can be filled in and the brain can be wired for learning and life success. And never forget, dyslexic students have gifts. They are usually perceptive, bright, and have above average intelligence. So many of our famous, creative, talented people are actually dyslexic and have so much to offer the world!
Just keep in mind that dyslexia won’t go away. That is why you need to enjoy the journey of your dyslexic child’s discovery of strategies to help him/her succeed in academics but in life as well.