Monday, February 24, 2014

Dyslexia Symptoms & Solutions

I spent the weekend watching Susan Barton's free online video series.  You can watch them here... Dyslexia Symptoms & Solutions.  When at this site, click on "Start Here" next to Barton's picture and it will take you to the videos.

I learned some new things and reviewed many old things.  Dyslexia Symptoms & Solutions is broke down into four parts.  The first part, What is Dyslexia?, is the longest at approx. one hour and twenty minutes.  It was a lot of review for me regarding what constitutes dyslexia and where it comes from.  When Ruben was first diagnosed with dyslexia, I did a ton of research and wrote this Dyslexia 101 post based on my findings at that time.

Part two, Classic Warning Signs, held some new information for me.   In this segment, Barton spoke not only about dyslexia, but also about dysgraphia.    I learned that children with dyslexia often also have dysgraphia.  And, that dysgraphia never comes by itself.  It's always accompanied by another condition, such as ADD, autism, cerebral palsy, etc.  However, most commonly it's paired with dyslexia.  Barton gave a list of dyslexia and dysgraphia warning signs.  She also cleared some common myths regarding the two.  Dyslexia is not reading backward!  It is difficulty with language including oral speech, auditory processing, reading, spelling, and written expression.

In Reading Mistakes, part three of the series, Barton shares how to check a student for dyslexia.  She suggests some typical reading mistakes dyslexics make reading from a word list and from stories.  She stated people with dyslexia don't actually read what is on the page.  They read by shape and sequence. Barton gave a quote from Dr. G. Reid Lyon, a Distinguished Professor of Education Leadership and Policy at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a Distinguished Scientist in the School of Brain and Behavior Sciences at the University of Texas, Dallas.  He said, "Phonemic Awareness is the core and causal factor that separates normal readers from disabled readers."  So what is Phonemic Awareness?  It's the ability to hear and manipulate sounds within a one-syllable word in your head with no print.   Barton states Phonemic Awareness is an essential part of pre-reading and that phonics won't work if you do not have it. 

Part four, Gifts & Solutions, tells about the profound strengths dyslexics have in areas controlled by the right side of the brain.  Since people with dyslexia have a 10% larger right hemisphere, it makes sense that they would be extraordinarily talented in one or more of these areas: art, athletics, music, people skills, mechanical skills, and 3-D visualization.  Folks with dyslexia are often very sensitive, highly intuitive, extremely curious, creative, global thinkers.

Barton went on to list teaching strategies/programs that won't work for dyslexics.  She also listed teaching strategies/programs that do work.  Of course, an Orton-Gillingham based system is the key.

One thing I disagree with Barton on is handing a calculator to an elementary child who is having trouble learning their math facts. Other than this, I think Barton is spot on. 

The total series takes about three and a half hours to watch.  If you suspect your child or loved one is dyslexic, I highly recommend making the time to watch this series.  Barton gives you many gold nuggets that may help clarify your child's struggles.  Dyslexia is a very teachable disability with the Orton-Gillingham method and a well trained teacher/tutor using this method as designed.  It can make a world of difference.  Ruben is making great gains at the Children's Dyslexia Center.  I am so excited with his progress!

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