Monday, 23 December 2013

Why Do We Dyslexics Confuse Those Who Need To Understand Us? by Dyslexia Dublin © 2013

Recent times has seen a raising of awareness due in part to  the announcement of new technology backing up what many researchers and practitioners, myself included, have thought for many years, that dyslexics have a high and often higher than average IQ.  But where does this leave us in that all important academic setting?
As each and every year passes we understand far more about the brain, how varied they are and its development in the early years.
Learning during the years of neuro-plasticity (childhood up to early adult) is so important, we have all referred to children’s brains  as  sponges and, yes, they can soak up information at this early age, providing the information is fed to them correctly in the style they require to consume the information that’s being presented.  We so often fail to figure this out and indeed many teachers are left bemused as to how we can talk so expertly on something that happened recently and yet we can’t take information down from a whiteboard… you could even put up the very content that was being spoken about by the students and you might as well stare into space. When will they realise that content of a lesson has nothing to do with the lack of retention… it’s the way its delivered, that is where the problem lies.  However, we can go on to be taught kinesthetically at any age, with the proper literacy intervention, which is great news for those adults with dyslexia.
Indeed  William James (Psychologist) shared his thoughts on plasticity and went on to suggest that the brain was perhaps not incapable of change as many had believed  back as far as 1890., he wrote, "Organic matter, especially nervous tissue, seems endowed with a very extraordinary degree of plasticity." Extract from his book The Principles of Psychology.
And more recently we have heard about creativity and dyslexia from Dr. Sally Shaywitz and her husband Dr. Bennett Shaywitz.  She originated and championed the “Sea of Strengths” model of dyslexia, which emphasizes a sea of strengths of higher critical thinking and creativity surrounding the encapsulated weakness found in children and adults who are dyslexic.
So, when we have such a wealth of knowledge backed by technology, is the message failing on occasions to get across to those at the cutting edge of academia?
We even see many support teams that work in afterschool with children, using the same techniques and deliver resource in a very similar fashion to that during the school day. Children very quickly lose their confidence and if this is not checked will continue into adulthood… so, at this point, we need to move to a one to one situation and allow them to benefit from multi-sensory tuition where we can bring them up or ahead of their peers, before we immerse them back once more into a peer group where they can survive and partake in study.
We must realise that this is a manageable lifetime association, it will not disappear but we can work with it and control it (do we drive a car or does the car drive us?).
Parents are not fooled by what they hear from school anymore.  You only have to take a look at the reports… ‘He fails to engage, wanders off into a world of his own. Needs to improve. Well below average’…English Teacher. Then, under that comment, comes ‘He excels really, inputs into the class.  He is an asset, above average and I would expect on this performance to see him with an A grade in his exams’… Geography Teacher.
Do they not look at each other’s comments and maybe just maybe think why?  Do they talk to each other about this?  I see this all the time with students I work with.  So, if not, why not?
Don’t look at the children for answers to these questions.  By all means use their insatiable appetite and high IQ to develop them in the way that they have learnt so far, albeit self-directed learning.  I see this all too often and there is no other explanation than the student gains a high proportion of knowledge through self-motivated learning.  It’s also worth mentioning that dyslexics will never lie down, due to their own self-belief, and are known as three dimensional thinkers… they will get there eventually.  Why not help them get there sooner?
I don’t want to sound patronising, but this is far from rocket science for professional people to work out.
Even politicians seem to miss this one… perhaps it’s because many of them sailed through school being taught in the almost singular linear style, which suited them; but we need to have a far greater holistic approach if we want to solve the problem.
Why we are so far down the academic table?  We need to take a long look at the many other education authorities, curriculum developers, exam bodies, politicians… not the children.  It’s far from them failing Maths and English, it’s us that are failing our children… the very people that are trusted with this precious life and should be doing far more to ensure accuracy and a much higher qualified school leaver.  Stop looking at averages and indeed quoting the high achievers. We like to say we are an inclusive society… are we really? Talk is very cheap, we need to act… and act now!
Written exams are only a means of seeing who has the best memory at that time, whereas practical exams show us who can actually do the job (vocational)… many right brained (dyslexics) fair far better in this type of setting.
Next time you see a child yawning or looking out the window don’t believe they are lazy, lethargic or uninterested… they could well have a learning need going unnoticed.  Try a change of theme (kinaesthetic, practical exercise) and notice how quickly they engage.  If you don’t, then they will continue to develop through self-directed learning.

As I said above, it’s not rocket science… change is far from insurmountable.

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