People with dyslexia often see things more holistically. They miss the trees but see the forest. “It’s as if people with dyslexia tend to use a wide-angle lens to take in the world, while others tend to use a telephoto, each is best at revealing different kinds of detail.” Matthew H. Schneps, Harvard University
Dyslexic people excel at global visual processing and the detection of impossible figures. Dyslexic scientist Christopher Tonkin described his unusual sensitivity to “things out of place.” Scientists in his line of work must make sense of enormous quantities of visual data and accurately find black hole anomalies. There are so many dyslexic people in the field of astrophysics that it prompted research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Findings confirmed that those with dyslexia are better at identifying and memorizing complex images. Nessy.com
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia is a neurologically based learning difference. People with dyslexia use different neurobiological pathways to read. Because dyslexia affects 1 in 5 people; people who struggle with reading are considered "at risk of having dyslexia". The “at risk reader” has a lapse in neuropathway development to a lesser or greater degree (dyslexia). As you can see from brain scans, these pathways can be developed through teaching decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling). It is critical in establishing neuropathways that instruction is administered via a direct explicit scientific sequential multisensory approach to fidelity. All students would benefit from this approach; it is critical for students who are reading below grade level to receive specific structured literacy programs from certified interventionists.
What Causes Dyslexia?
The exact cause of dyslexia are unknown. Anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn, it is the teaching approach that is the issue.
What are the Pitfalls?
Most schools do not recognise dyslexia - many children suffer emotional distress and loss of self esteem due to lack of services and diagnosis at public schools. As a result they may start to exhibit behavioural problems. Teachers and school psychologists may say that the child has a behavioural problem or that they cannot focus and this is why he or she cannot read. Please do not be distracted by this - an ADHD or other diagnosis and medication will not help your child learn to read. A child who has difficulty learning to read needs to be evaluated by a educational psychologist for dyslexia and administered a program or approach that is specifically designed for a student with dyslexia.
What percentage of the Population Have Dyslexia?
Yale University states that, on average up to 20% of the population have symptoms of dyslexia. Dyslexia affects people from a diverse range of socio-economic and racial backgrounds.
How is Dyslexia Diagnosed?
There is a specific battery of tests that take about 3.5 hours to complete (click here for evaluation page). It is critical to have a diagnosis in order to get special education services at a public school. Dyslexic students would benefit from a multi-sensory program administered by a trained teacher, they will learn techniques and approaches that will allow them to benefit fully from their public school educational experience and and use these skills throughout their adult lives. Another issue is that some school districts and unscrupulous pharmaceutical companies are recommending medication for dyslexia. Pharmaceutical companies are aware that the majority of children with dyslexia are not receiving adequate services in our public schools and that there is no cure. Medicating children with Ritalin is worth over 9 billion per year to the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. Furthermore, CDC points out that there have been no long-term studies of the side effects of using Ritalin in formative years and that critical guidelines that point to alterative therapies other than medication are not being followed.
What's the Good News?
One thing we know for certain about dyslexia is that this is one small area of difficulty in a sea of strengths. Having trouble with reading does not mean that you'll have trouble with everything. In fact, most kids with dyslexia are very good at lots of other things. People with dyslexia are often very creative, and typically develop some clever skills to help them figure out words and sentences that give them trouble at first. Dyslexics often think of unexpected ways to solve a problem or tackle a challenge. We don't fully understand whether this kind of creativity comes from the extra work dyslexics have to do to succeed at reading, or whether dyslexics are just naturally creative. What we do know, though, is that many, many people with dyslexia, even some who really struggled with reading and writing in elementary school and high school, went on to college, and work in jobs they love.