“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Albert Einstein

Most people think of dyslexia as merely a case where there is confusion with identifying letters properly. Sadly, many formally educated administrators and teachers are also ignorant about Dyslexia. A lack of knowledge about Dyslexia causes many children to suffer in classrooms worldwide. Dreams are deferred. Shame is rampant and greatness goes unrealized.

Many families are clueless about Dyslexia, its cognitive challenges, individuality and great gifts. For these reasons, brilliant students are cast aside because of their perceived inability to learn within our fast paced, “I needed it last week,” world.

 

The International Dyslexia Association states, “as many as 15-20% of the population as a whole have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, writing or mixing up similar words.”

In Dyslexia I Can See What You Do not See
Milan Sahara Sioux gazes up at the sky. (Photo Credit: Lisa Fatimah)

Dyslexia is often labeled as a disability, disease, disorder or a form of retardation. It is not. It is a brain type. It is brilliance, yet wrongly defined by those whose vision is limited by timed standardized tests, so called best practices, and the latest, greatest curriculum craze.

“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

In 2004, a top business school in England sent out a press release with the headline: ‘Entrepreneurs five (5) times more likely to suffer from dyslexia.’ Its subheading went on to ask, ‘What makes sir Richard Branson, Sir Alan Sugar, and Sir Norman Foster special?’ To this list I will add Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali and Micro-Sculptor, Willard Wigan. They are Dyslexic Diamonds.

 

For many years it has been my pleasure to work with children who have dysgraphia, dyscalculia and dyslexia. As a Multi-sensory Bilingual Learning Specialist, I teach English language development and conversational Spanish.

Like all children and adults, no two students are alike. Dyslexia is not caused by a single gene. Actually, no one really knows where or how the Dyslexic brain type is formed. While many commonalities exist, no two talented dyslexic scholars are alike.

Unfortunately, today many professionals still see Dyslexia as a “disorder,” with great focus on an individual’s¬ inability to remember letter symbols for sounds, rapidly memorize facts, organize written and spoken language, complete math computations, comprehend longer reading assignments, and in some cases, learn a foreign language on “grade levels” in alliance with their age.

Brock L. Eide, M.D., M.A., and Fernette F. Eide, M.D., experts in neuroscience propose that Dyslexics are good at what they do, not in spite of their Dyslexic processing differences, but because of them. I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly.

Just what are dyslexics good at and in what areas do they tend to excel? Almost all excel in their areas of interest when supported by their schools. They pursue and train in areas that appeal to them. These areas include; entrepreneurs, engineers, pilots, designers, artists, electricians, carpenters and captains of industry among others.


How do you teach children with dyslexia?

• BELIEVE they can and are learning.

• Reduce the affective filter in the classroom (make it inviting).

• Understand that one size does not fit all students.

• Provide one-on-one instruction or smaller class settings of no more than 8 -10 students.

• Use a great deal of multi-sensory instruction (visuals/auditory, kinesthetic-tactile, engagement) to enhance memory and learning.

• Use systematic, structured language approaches.

• Larger fonts for reading and math assignments and plenty of white space.

• Use word banks and patterned vocabulary lists.

• Color code parts of speech in instruction and example. Encourage and model, model, model how and why we use highlighters.

• Accommodate and modify lessons (positively).

• Audio books are extremely beneficial.

• Extra time to complete tasks is critical.

• Alternative assessments.

• NO scantron or “bubbling” in tests.

• When directives are given, list the information on the whiteboard. (Speak and show.) “Turn to page 53.”

• Use Assistive technology.

• Include music, art, dance, sign language and drama to bring lessons to life.


Just as we are unable to see all phases of a plant’s germination with the naked eye, so too is the process of a Dyslexic learner. The flowering is in process and the roots are strong. Children with Dyslexia will excel in their own time.

*Source: The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L. Eide, M.d., M.A. and Fernette F. Eide, M.D.

By Lisa-Fátimah

As an Orton-Gillingham trained Learning Specialist, Lisa-Fátimah specializes in designing multisensory English and Spanish language development lessons, modifications and assessments for traditional and Dyslexic students. Lisa-Fátimah’s radio shows highlight the primacy of girls’ education, bilingualism and world language acquisition for a global audience.  Email:[email protected]

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