Sydney Dyslexia

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Name it ‘Dyslexia’

I agree with the creators of The Big Picture, Rethinking Dyslexia, when they say, that knowledge about Dyslexia isn’t enough any more. We need action. I have recently been approached by my friend Martin to put forward at petition to the Liberal NSW State Government about Dyslexia and their inability to address the issue in our schools.

Anyone who read the weekend papers couldn’t help notice major articles about our failure to teach literacy and numeracy to a big population of primary students and the push ‘back to basics’: ‘We need a more rigorous phonics-based approach!’ – REALLY? Hasn’t that been the only approach so far? Obviously it hasn’t addressed the issue in the past 10 years of pushing phonics. Do they believe that phonics wasn’t properly taught by our teachers? The article did question the teachers’ knowledge of grammar. I don’t believe we can blame teachers any longer. In my opinion they are putting in an amazing amount of work, dealing with an increasing number of children who are unable to sit through a system, that doesn’t serve them at all – at the same time dealing with more time-poor and frustrated parents, who are equally at a loss on how to help their children.

In my article to the NSW Education Board, I have suggested to have a school for visual learners, which doesn’t mean that we are bunching together all the ‘struggling kids’ and teach them in the same way as before – a system that hasn’t worked at all in the past, as they often distract and copy each other in non-supportive behaviour – but instead supporting alternative visions and approaches (of different people), designed to bring out their huge talents, their creativity and inspire them to contribute to society as only they can – in another word: COOL SCHOOLS.

I guess I won’t hold my breath to hear back from them.

Read a good article:
Taking action on Dyslexia


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A Glimpse into the World of Dyslexia

A Glimpse into the World of Dyslexia
(From ‘the Right Brain for the Right Time’)
According to Ron Davis, all dyslexics have three traits in common:

a) They think in pictures
b) They become disoriented
c) They have a low threshold for confusion

Thinking in pictures gives them a great awareness of their environment, an inherent curiosity, intuition and insight. They may also show a multidimensional approach to learning, a vivid imagination, creativity, giftedness shown in geniuses like Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci, Henry Ford and an endless list of great thinkers, politicians, writers, sportsmen and sportswomen, actors and country or industry leaders such as Richard Branson, Winston Churchill or General George Patton.

Dyslexia is a perceptual talent. Perceiving the written or spoken word in pictures affords much more information. However, the downside of multiple images from multiple angles is the difficulty of reigning that mind in and focusing it onto one thing or one page. Some words fail to conjure up the meaning or picture needed to comprehend what has been read. Most commonly we see reading, spelling, writing, comprehension or math troubles. The same talent has become a liability, especially in schools, where we still educate our young in a mostly auditory manner, not suitable to visual learners.

When picture thinkers cannot make a picture, a part of their brain experiences confusion. Nobody likes that feeling. The mind tries to find an answer, by moving around an object—or the written word—to make sense of it. When looking at an object, viewing it from different sides has often proven useful in the past. However, try to move around a word and all that happens is a different appearance of letters, like b/d/p/q or words (saw/was …).

The feeling of confusion results in a state of disorientation, caused by a mind searching for meaning. We call disorientation the state of mind, where mental perception does not reflect the reality of the environment. Every one of us experiences disorientation at one time or another, when one of our senses is not in alignment with our body. Let me give you an example:

The other day I drove through a car wash, closed all the windows, and watched from inside my car as the giant bristles moved backwards and forward, washing the sides and roof of my vehicle. Have you ever experienced that sense that your car was in motion just because the outside brushes were? That was my experience and although I knew very well, that my car didn’t move an inch, the feeling of disorientation gave the impression of movement. Having the sense of movement or balance out of alignment causes the mind to disorient and record false data.

Daydreaming is a visual, sensory disorientation. The body is present in the classroom or wherever anxiety, panic, confusion or boredom causes the mind to disconnect from it. If a person was forced to read in a state of disorientation, the print on the paper would appear to be blurred or changed in size, shape or appearance. The spaces between words might look like rivers running along the page; the reader might skip lines or words, swap the order of words around, omit or guess words. Additionally, if asked to stand on one leg, they would sway—and that would give away the direction where the mind’s eye has moved to.

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How our emotions influence our children

I encourage you to watch these two minutes of a young child in a human behaviour study:

Experimenting with Emotions

There is nothing new about it, we all know or should know that not only our language and the tone with speak have a big influence on our children, but also our thoughts and the feelings we don’t express. This little experiment focuses on only one aspect – but we can take this much further and see it in the relationship between teachers and students; any interaction with family, friends or colleagues. What is the tone of your voice? Where are your thoughts when you speak? What are your emotions, expressed or suppressed?
Do your words and actions increase love and well-being – or fear and lack?

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Useful iPad Apps for Dyslexics

iPadIpad app obsession

Learning VS Addiction

One of our lovely Davis facilitators from the NZ Dyslexia Foundation went to an eTime Learning Seminar and kindly shared this very valuable information:

As much as we don’t want kids to be addicted to devices, it can also be a valuable addition and support for learning, for information and for facilitating their lives.

Some features that iPads have:
There is the “Speak Selection” option under
Settings>General>Accessibility. Turn it on to get more options including
the speaking rate. Turn on “Highlight Words” to have words highlighted as
they are spoken.

Assistive Touch – creates a button (e.g. the home button) that will always
be on the screen that acts as a shortcut to many features. Go to
Settings>General>Accessibility>Assistive Touch (at the bottom of the
Accessibility menu). The button can be moved around the screen.

Guided Access – use to lock student into an app
Settings>General>Accessibility>Guided Access (stops them from playing if
you want to use some game time as a reward)

Some good Apps I learnt about include:

Tell About This
– has over 100 photo prompts to inspire student
– create your own photo and oral prompts

Write About This
– Visual writing prompt with built-in voice recorder
– Student can add own photo and voice recorder to assist with writing
– can record a story, then play it as often as needed to type it up

– An OCR (optical character recognition) scanning app. Scans text on a
page and converts to a pdf that can be read aloud
– Also available for Mac and PC computers

Talking Calculator
– reads aloud every action you take as you use the calculator

Voice Text
– imitates the “Dictation” function that is built into newer iPads (iPad3
and newer)
– not perfect but many students have learnt to use it to their advantage
– set language to “English AU” if you have a New Zealand accent

Dragon Dictation (free)

EduCreations (free)
– simple and user friendly interface
– can input text boxes
– built-in image search function
– reasonable internet access required
– our tutor’s pick!!

Explain Everything
– Powerful presentation app like Powerpoint
– imports most file types from most sources e.g. Dropbox, email, Google
– allows importing of video content
– allows exporting to all sources as video, pdf, image and project file
– has great help guides and a free ebook
– tutor thinks it’s better than Powerpoint for kids as they get carried
away with the transitions

Pic Collage (free)
– Creative use of digital photos
– in-App image search
– text input
– easy saving to the camera roll (can then be used in other apps like
Explain Everything)

Book Creating Apps
*Story Books Maker
*Book Creator

Fun creative stuff
*Lego Movie Maker – free stop motion app
*How to Make Origami – free – great for learning how to follow instructions
*Pixel Press – free highly motivating game creation app