Today (October 6th 2016) is International Dyslexia Awareness Day.
I have to confess, I always get a great kick out of watching peoples reaction when they tell me that they are dyslexic. I always say back to them ‘Hi Dyslexic, I’m Elaine’. Usually they’ll look at me like I’m half mad (and to be fair – at times they may have a point) and say ‘no – I have dyslexia’, to which I reply with ‘great, show it to me!’. With great patience they will explain that they have it in their head but I’m not to be swayed with that argument; I want to know where in their head they have it. ‘In my brain’ they practically shout at me but I’m like a dog with a bone on this one, I want to know specifically where they have it and how do they know that they have it and when do they know that they have it!
Usually, they are usually only aware of dyslexia when they have difficulties with reading, writing or spelling. The rest of the time they are completely unaware that they are doing dyslexia. That is my point – you are not dyslexic! Dyslexia is something that you do!
Dyslexia is a pattern that you run and because it is something that you do naturally, you are really unaware of it. You are unaware of all the wonderful abilities dyslexia brings to you because it’s just a part of you. People who do dyslexia can be incredible problem solvers and innovators. They are fantastic with machinery and engineering. They are amazing crafts people, golfers, builders and snooker players because they can see angles and potential in lumps of rock and clay.
This incredible ability though, is not a great strategy to run when reading, writing & spelling. The ability to move & manipulate images in your head, means that you can also do this with words & letters. Words & letters however, must remain visible, be still and keep their shape in order for us to read, write and spell. So a person who does dyslexia needs a different strategy to be able to do this with ease.
Most of the emphasis and testing in school is based on reading, writing and spelling. Children who do dyslexia tend to view it as a bad thing to have. School never really rates kids on art or music or how kind they they are, so for a child who very creative but struggling with literacy, their self confidence can be severely dented.
In school, the curriculum is taught with a massive emphasis on phonics – even though English is not a particularly phonetic language. It works reasonably well for most children but for others it doesn’t. They need a completely different strategy. One that compliments their natural abilities, rather than shoehorning them into a size that doesn’t fit. Yes if you push hard enough, they can squeeze into phonics, but they will be hobbling along for the rest of their lives.
A visual strategy, such as the Hummingbird Learning Method® where they learn to control their images, works like magic for people who do dyslexia and indeed for anyone who struggles with spelling. The beauty of a visual strategy is that it works for every language as it doesn’t depend on sounds, so the student’s Irish, French, Spanish, Japanese, or any other language also improves.
So remember – Dyslexia is a wonderful gift to have! It is just not the best strategy to run when reading, writing or spelling. Dyslexia is simply something you do – it’s not who you are.
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month