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Dyslexia: Thinking outside the box

By Christine Swiderski

REGION- Dyslexia. What is it and how does it affect how you think when you have it?

Dyxlexia is complex a complex condition affecting both children and adults. Dyslexia may affect several different functions, including auditory and visual processing. Visual dyslexia is characterized by number and letter reversals and the inability to write symbols in the correct sequence. Auditory dyslexia involves difficulty with sounds of letters or groups of letters. The sounds are perceived as jumbled or not heard correctly.

A related condition, dysgraphia, refers to the student’s difficulty holding and controlling a pencil so that the correct markings can be made on the paper.

When interacting with dyslexic individuals, it is important to remember that learning to spell a word correctly is not an indicator of intelligence; it is simply knowledge. In fact, dyslexic students rely on incredible coping skills to overcome their limitations.

Several well-known high-achieving dyslexic people include:

Charles Schabb, Ernest Hemingway, Jennifer Anistion, Alexander Graham Bell, Cher, Tom Cruise Lenoardo Da Vinici, and Steve Jobs. Patricia Polacco, a Michigan resident and world renowned author, wrote a book called, “Thank you Mr. Falker.” The book deals with her struggle as a dyslexic. You can enjoy an online reading of the story at storylineonline.net.

Unfortunately there are a lot of educators that do not recognize dyslexia. They incorrectly believe the student is not applying himself.

‘Educators need to be aware [of dyslexia]. The educators may not be applying themselves. Not all educators are equal because they are not willing to work with the student,’ said Denis Fitzgerald, retired teacher and principal.

Carole Fitzgerald, a retired school teacher, recalls a student that struggled for years before a teacher identified dyslexia as the underlying obstacle to his learning.

‘I remember having one student in a meeting who had other learning disabilities,’ she said. ‘I told his mom, ‘Your son is the most dyslexic student I have ever had.’ She said, ‘That answers it; no one has ever told me that.’ I thought wow, what a shame this child has struggled not knowing what the problem is.’

When the educator recognizes dyslexia, he or she can use teaching techniques that will work for the student.

‘We have learned so much over the past few years,’ said Carole. ‘The theory of teaching is when you present a subject, you should present it many different ways. Written, visual, audio, graphic demonstration, all on the same subject to enable the student to grasp the subject. Repetition is key. Kinetically, standing up to demonstrate it physically, sing in a song reinforces the subject.

There are a couple of systems recommended for teaching those with dyslexia. Ogemaw County Literacy Council incorporates the Barton System, which was influenced by the Orton Gillingham System. These are multi-sensory, direct, explicit, structured and sequential programs.

You can contact Ogemaw County Literacy Council at West Branch Public Library or visit them at ogemawliteracy.org.

You can contact Christine Swiderski with comments or ideas for other articles at csfreelance@outlook.com

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