People with Dyslexia Process Differently.

Dyslexia is not just a simple flipping letters around issue. Take for example, a young child with a teddybear. We show a young child that when he turns his teddybear around or upside down, it is still their teddybear. Most children grasp this concept. They even grasp the concept of when “dressing up” the teddybear, it is still their teddybear. In preschool we introduce them to shapes and when we turn a triangle around, it is still a triangle. But when we move to the concept of letters, we suddenly tell them that a d is a flipped around b and that a q is a flipped p and that the letters are not the same. Wow! Children with dyslexia have trouble with this new concept. Their brain processes differently and consequently it has a hard time with this fundamental concept of reading. Moving on to words that sound the same but are spelled differently or words that are spelled the same but mean different things, is even more confusing for those who have dyslexia.

Studies have shown that the brain actually processes the information differently when you have dyslexia.  The persons who are dyslexic, use different pathways, often bypassing the normal pathways. It is almost like there is construction on the regular highway and that the brain built a detour that is longer and more complicated.

Often with dyslexia the letters like to float of the page. When a person then looks at these floating letters in their mind and tries to “put them back” on the page, it usually goes wrong. Because the letters floated in the air, the reference is lost, therefore a p can turn into a b and a m into a w.

This makes it even harder to read. If letters like to float of the page, colored overlay paper can usually retrain the brain. Buy some fancy paper with soft colors such as soft pink, gold, silver, light green, or light blue. Make sure the letters can be seen through it when it overlays on a page of text. Have the person with dyslexia read for a couple of weeks with the overlay on top of all the text. The brain usually rewires itself and the letters stop floating of the page.

Having an iPhone, iTouch, iPad app like eReading: Gulliver’s Travels, allows people with dyslexia to review the story over and over again until they can read the paragraph themselves. The highlighting with the narration builds new pathways in the brain and allows the brain to recognize the words easier. The reader can turn the narration and the highlighting on and off to check to see if they remember the words.

With dyslexia, people often have very good visual memory and processing capabilities. Many dyslexics take advantage of that and use their creative side to visualize different outcomes and possibilities when coming up with a solution to a problem.

The brain is remarkable. When it is lacking in one area, it makes up in another area. Just think about all the many famous people who have dyslexia. For example, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Walt Disney, and Agatha Christie all entertained or delighted us with their abilities to look at the world differently. Politicians such as John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill used their dyslexia to come up with amazing political solutions.

Dyslexia is a gift, not necessarily a curse!

Jolanda Witvliet

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