Sydney Dyslexia

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Creativity for children

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What a great initiative to re-start our children’s creativity!
Instead of plonking them in front of TV sets, computers or the X Box… create a cardboard box and have fun. If you miss the boat, meaning your children are too old, a great opportunity is missed and often it’s a battle to disconnect them from electronic devices. How can we compete with the graphics of an already made universe on screen, when there never was a link made to their internal creativity, imagination and innovation.

In all my clients I see a big difference between those who are connected to their devices and those who are connected to their internal brilliance. One feeds on the innovation of others who have created these games and the other becomes a creator of their own world.


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It doesn’t have to make sense to you…

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I just love this! It reminds me of my eldest son, who used to do this with his car collection, lining them up along the 

stairs and along the living room floor, spending hours playing that way  – and he is not on the spectrum.

When he was older, he started to line up his pencils or order them by sizes, colours or whatever he chose to do.

It occurred to me at that point to ask him if there was a reason for it, to which he replied that it helped his brain

to be more orderly. He is a very academic young man and I am sure this way of sorting the environment helped him.

Has anyone had a similar experience?


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Brain Science and Dyslexia

Brain Scans Show Dyslexics Read Better with Alternative Strategies

– By Abigail Marshall

Scientists studying the brain have found that dyslexic adults who become capable readers use different neural pathways than nondyslexics. This research shows that there are two independent systems for reading: one that is typical for the majority of readers, and another that is more effective for the dyslexic thinker.

NIMH Study of Dyslexic Adults

Researchers Judith Rumsey and Barry Horwitz at the National Institute of Mental Health used positron emission tomography (PET) to compare regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) among dyslexic and nondyslexic men. The dyslexic subjects had childhood histories of dyslexia and continued to show some symptoms related to reading, but their overall reading ability varied. For some word recognition and comprehension tasks, the dyslexic men scored as well as or better than controls.

Research correlating brain activity with reading ability showed an intriguing inverse relationship between reading ability and cerebral blood flow patterns. For nondyslexic controls, stronger activation of left hemispheric reading systems, including the left angular gyrus, corresponded to better reading skill. For dyslexic subjects, the opposite was true: the stronger the left-hemispheric pattern, the poorer the reader. In contrast, increased reading skill for dyslexics was correlated with greater reliance on the right hemispheric systems.

The researchers explained:

“The rCBF–reading test correlations identified a region in/near the left angular gyrus as significantly related to level of reading skill within both groups. These correlations were uniformly positive for the control group and uniformly negative for the dyslexic group, indicating diametrically opposed relationships in the two groups….within the control group higher rCBF was associated with better reading skill and that within the dyslexic group higher rCBF was associated with worse reading skill, or more severe dyslexia.”
The researchers observed a similar pattern in the right hemisphere, in an area near the right angular gyrus. In the right brain area, the dyslexic men had higher activation levels than controls during the word reading tasks, which correlated positively to improved reading ability. For the nondyslexic control group, such activation pattern was negatively correlated to reading ability.

Comparison of Reading Outcomes among children followed since kindergarten

A team of researchers led by Sally Shaywitz at Yale University has confirmed that dyslexic individuals who become good readers have a different pattern of brain use than either nondyslexic readers, or dyslexics who still read poorly. The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to evaluate brain activity among 20-year-old dyslexic men and women selected from a group that had been followed since kindergarten. All the dyslexic subjects had a history of severe reading impairment in early childhood. However, while some of the students continued to struggle with reading throughout their school years (“persistently poor readers”), others improved by their high school years, becoming accurate readers with strong comprehension skills (“accuracy improved readers”).

Dyslexic subjects from both groups as well as non-dyslexic control subjects were asked to perform reading tasks involving phonological processing (non-word rhyming test) and ascertaining meaning (semantic category test). During the non-word rhyming test [“Do leat and jete rhyme?], both dyslexic groups showed less activation of the left posterior and temporal areas of the brain as compared to the control group. However, the dyslexics who were improved readers also had greater activation of right temporal areas and both right and left frontal areas.

For the semantic category test [“Are corn and rice in the same category?”] the persistently poor readers showed brain activity very similar to the nondyslexic control group, despite the fact that their reading performance was significantly impaired. Like the control group, the persistently poor readers activate left posterior and temporal systems. In contrast, the improved dyslexic readers bypassed this area entirely.

This research suggests that for dyslexic readers, the left brain areas associated with phonetic decoding are ineffective. While a non-dyslexic reader finds such pathways an efficient route to reading, the dyslexic reader essentially becomes entangled in a neural traffic jam. In contrast, dyslexics who bypass these mental pathways, relying more on areas of the brain involved in nonverbal thought and in analytic thought, are able to become capable readers.

 

These brain imaging studies show that teaching methods that may work well for a large majority of schoolchildren may be counterproductive when used with dyslexic children. Teaching methods based on intensive or systematic drill in phonemic awareness or phonetic decoding strategies may actually be harmful to dyslexic children. Such teaching might simply emphasize reliance on mental strategies that are as likely to diminish reading ability for dyslexic children as they are to improve it, increasing both the frustration and impairment level of dyslexic students.

Davis Theory and Methods

Davis Learning Strategies® and Davis Dyslexia Correction® emphasize a creative, meaning-based strategy for acquisition of basic reading skills. Children (and adults) use clay to model the concepts that are associated with word meanings at the same time as modeling the letters of each word in clay. At the primary level, these methods provide a route to learning to read that seems easier for students with dyslexic tendencies than traditional instruction. Among older dyslexic children and adults, these methods routinely lead to very rapid progress in reading ability.

Scientists know from other studies that the right brain hemisphere is where the mind connects written words to their meanings, and that it is where creative and imaginative thought takes place. Modeling words in clay can help build the mental pathways that brain scan evidence shows to be crucial for reading development among dyslexic students.

 

Read more: http://www.dyslexia.com/science/different_pathways.htm#ixzz35eHywpZs


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Maths and Dyslexia

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What has Maths to do with Dyslexia?

Dyslexia, being defined as a difficulty to process the written word – has nothing to do with difficulties with Maths…

however, the mindset that is responsible for the confusion with words has everything to do with confusion to comprehend Maths – often concepts of Maths, understanding Maths problems and the basics.

So yes, it is important to upgrade that mindset and make it easier to get the basics of arithmetic. 

 


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Art and Autism

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Isn’t it brilliant?

Painting by Amir Bai. Amir is deaf and mute and communicates through sign language. He lives at Kfar Ofarim, ALUT’s village for people with autism in Ramat HaSharon. (courtesy)

Read more: Looking for the next Picasso at Israeli autism event at UN | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/looking-for-the-next-picasso-at-israeli-autism-event-at-un/#ixzz3549V3aP9 


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Why are children so ‘oppositional’?

How is ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) officially categorized?

“It’s not unusual for children — especially those in their “terrible twos” and early teens — to defy authority every now and then. They may express their defiance by arguing, disobeying, or talking back to their parents, teachers, or other adults. When this behavior lasts longer than six months and is excessive compared to what is usual for the child’s age, it may mean that the child has a type of behavior disorder called oppositional defiant disorder (ODD).

ODD is a condition in which a child displays an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, hostile, and annoying behavior toward people in authority. The child’s behavior often disrupts the child’s normal daily activities, including activities within the family and at school.” (from Web MD/Mental Health)

Below is the inspiring answer from another Davis Facilitator, Fionna Pilgrim, to the question of a mum who is anxious and worried about her teenagers wilfulness, anger,  stubbornness, and lack of observing house rules.

Sounds like your typical teenager?

We have seen that many clients, dyslexic or ADD/ADHD or with other learning difficulties are experiencing a high level of anxiety, frustration and stress – and as a result, being oppositional isn’t a surprise. If that behaviour is reserved for their loved ones only, they are not likely to receive the popular label of ODD – not that it matters either way. It is challenging for everybody involved and I like Fionna’s  response to it.

“We accept that these are bright kids. They have been placed in a situation where they can’t do what the others do really easily. It’s as if they have been set up to fail.  They may have been called stupid and/or lazy and mocked by their teachers, exasperated when they can’t “get through” to them as they expected, who believe they have the best methods available and will implement them to get the child reading and who also experience a similar sense of failure to what the child feels when it doesn’t happen -leading them to  blame the child. They may have been taunted and mocked by by other kids. They will be aware that their parents and family have been concerned -this may have been expressed as frustration and anger, with exhortations to “just work harder”. School may be a nightmare for them, filled with confusions leading to disorientation and physical discomfort.

Some may respond by being class clown -most will learn that, if they act-up enough before it’s their turn to read, they’ll get sent out. Inevitably they carry a lot of anger: anger at the system, at the teachers, at the classmates, at the parents who put them there and at themselves because they are the stupid one that made it happen.

I have seen children like this taken out of school to be home educated and it can take a year or more for them to “de-school” -particularly those 11+, who are already experiencing pre-adolescent breakdown and the disruption of adolescence.

I would say that defiance and opposition is a healthier response than depression and self harm, though that may not be far away. It is a way of taking some control over their own lives.

There are probably lots of concepts that would help and, if there is motivation to do a programme, or if they can be led into it and gain security that someone really believes they are the boss and will treat them with the respect they should always have had: i.e. “you’re [client] the boss -but it’s not a dictatorship”, then these previously essential old solutions may drop away. Particularly if parents can recognise how unreasonable everyone’s behaviour to this child has been and talk that through; and if the child -that we know is bright -can to understand that nobody is perfect and that we all get scared when the world seems to go pear-shaped.

Western society is no longer set up so that children are seen and not heard and do as they’re told unquestioningly. Personally, I find this a much healthier situation, but it comes with challenges.”

Isn’t it a lot more positive and useful to look at the behaviour from this perspective – shifting your paradigm to get another angle.