Sydney Dyslexia

A fine site

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What is it like?

two boys

Conversation of two brothers

A very touching account of a mother listening in on her two son discussing life, when you are different.


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Visual Thesaurus

When I first read that this is a Visual Dictionary or Visual Thesaurus, I expected to see pictures with words – but it’s more like graphics that work like mind-maps, so in that sense maybe a nice tool that could help dyslexics, whose mind doesn’t work in the linear way that neuro-typical learners do. However, they still need to be able to read those words.

Check it out:

Visual Dictionary

some of the things they say:

“It’s a dictionary! It’s a thesaurus!
Great for writers, journalists, students, teachers, and artists.
The online dictionary is available wherever there’s an internet connection.
No membership required.”

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Torture or Reading?

dyslexia 3

I have just looked through some notes I took at our last International Davis Symposium and came across these pearls of wisdom.

“When you require something from someone who cannot do this, you are torturing him/her.”

I have noticed that the other day. When asked to read, the motivation of my little client left altogether, including his mind and focus. Instead of pushing or forcing him to read, I used Ron’s wisdom and said instead: “I am going to ask you to do something tricky now. It is ok that you don’t know how to do that. It is my aim to slowly expand what you are able to do. But you have to promise me that you won’t force yourself or try very hard. Instead, I’d like you to try just a few words – maybe one sentence, then stop. All that counts is HOW MANY TIMES YOU TRY – and NOT how long you persevere. Pressing on when you are stressed will give you a headache. But every time you stop and re-start, you are creating new neural pathways and make the task easier and easier.”

After only one day of trying with many stops, interruptions, breaks and fun activities, big shifts were made in reading – and most importantly, it wasn’t torture…but got more and more pleasurable.

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, who said that insanity was to keep doing things in the same way and expect a different outcome. Pushing and not stopping is the same way. But when we stop and re-start, there is a difference – new neural pathways have to be used – and the variation creates changes – big changes.

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Radical Ideas for new School?

What Ricardo Semier talks about is firstly his success with running huge corporations in Brazil on democratic and radically new ideas and practices. He started this process 30 years ago – and recently he moved these principles to schools. Having had great results, this is now his passion in life: Liberate more children from an outdated schooling model.
What if your job didn’t control your life? Brazilian CEO Ricardo Semler practices a radical form of corporate democracy, rethinking everything from board meetings to how workers report their vacation days (they don’t have to). It’s a vision that rewards the wisdom of workers, promotes work-life balance — and leads to some deep insight on what work, and life, is really all about. Bonus question: What if schools were like this too?

His aim: How do we re-design a School for wisdom? Talking about teachers, he says: “the Little you know compared to Google, we don’t want to know. Keep that to yourself!” Instead, they decided to bring in people with passion and expertise and teach – apart from the basics – the most important things in life that we know nothing about and never learned in schools: “We know nothing about Love, we know nothing about Death; and we know nothing about why we are here.”

Do you think a model like that would work for our dyslexic children?

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Harry Potter and other books

the 40 Best Books for Boys

… I didn’t see Harry Potter on that list?

Still think it is a great book to start the process of comprehension, for boys and girls, from the ages of 9 years up.

Good books help us paint pictures in our minds, with colour and detail, with feelings and sounds associates – training the mind to read with such focus and clarity that the content is not only fully understood, but also remembered. This is my aim when working with Dyslexic individuals.

I thought I add three jokes that only a REAL fan of Harry Potter would get or find funny.

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Is there a font ideal for Dyslexics?

I have had a mixed feedback from introducing the font to dyslexic clients. Yes, some have seen that it helps, others have actually found it frustrating. What do you think?

Check it out:

Dyslexie, the Font

In the long run, it’s not really about which font is useful and which one is not. Isn’t it more important to ask – do I comprehend what I am reading? How focused am when reading and how long can I remain focused?

When we are in a state of frustration and disorientation, no font will make us feel better – if we are focused, have meaning with all the words we read and have corrected or mastered dyslexia – then I can see that a preference in a font can make reading even more enjoyable. Everyone will have a preference though, dyslexic or not.

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Reading one Book a Week

readingWorking with Dyslexic children and adults, learning to read better, with more ease or to fully comprehend what they are reading is usually the number ONE goal. Many adults I work with are able to read – but often have to re-read a text several times to take in the full message. Even then they are not always certain that they have fully understood it. In most cases it’s just not enjoyable, a necessary task that they try to avoid as much as possible. Reading out loud falls into the category of ‘torture’.  Children usually master the art of reading too, just not at the class- or age-level of their peers…and of course without the fun.

Now increasing the enjoyment and ease of reading is a very worthwhile goal and we can get them onto the road of literacy in five days. The mistakes drop off, the certainty creeps in, the comprehension increases. Success!

But what happens after the course? When we have a goal to change something in our lives, having the skill is not enough. The action afterwards has to match the desire for change. Why not challenge yourself to read a book a week? Being dyslexic, a corrected dyslexic or non-dyslexic, this may well change the direction of your life. Choose books that fascinate you and choose them wisely. Books can be ‘fast-food novels’, that may get you addicted to reading, but lack the nourishment of a beautifully written book that can satisfy you like a well-balanced meal.

Julien Smith wrote it better than I could phrase it:


Why Would You Want To Do This?

It feels awesome. It gives you an amazing amount of ideas. It helps you think more thoroughly. It’s better than TV and even the internet. It makes you understand the world more. It is a building block towards a habit of completion. Did I mention it feels awesome?

Why One a Week?

First of all, why so many, why not just “read more books?” I’d argue that setting a massive goal, something crazy like one a week, actually helps. To make a comparison, the body reacts strongly to large wounds, expending significant energy to heal them. Small wounds, it doesn’t think much of, which means they can sometimes take longer to heal. So setting a massive goal will make you take it seriously.

So, that’s first. Make your goal massive and unreasonable so that you freak out a little.

One Day at a Time

The average book I read was maybe 250-300 pages. Some were larger, some were smaller. I broke this down to 40 pages a day, which I read early on so I can get it over with. It’s an easy, manageable goal, which doesn’t seem nearly so daunting as 52 books in a year. This is critical to managing your emotional state, making it feel like it’s totally reasonable.

Make It a Routine and Stack It

I have a habit right now of getting up, showering, etc., and then going out for breakfast every morning, sitting at counter at the same restaurant, and drinking coffee until I’ve read my 40 pages.

Why do I do it like this? Because I know that I’m kind of weak-willed. I’m betting you can admit this about yourself too, and doing so will help you set everything into its proper place.

Oh, and a protip: Set it up early in the day, as early as possible. It must occur early or we will put it off. Your willpower diminishes later in the day.

Use Every Moment

If you have a commute, use it. If you have a lunch break, use that. This is something I’m just figuring out, but the ability to whip out your book quickly and read 2 pages will help you out significantly, especially in getting ahead, which will be your biggest asset and give you a rewarding feeling. Getting ahead will help you take your time with the hard books that are really dense and worth taking time on.

It’s Ok To Give Up… Kind Of

If something sucks (or feels tough), it’s ok give up on it– for now. You can do this when you’re ahead of schedule, and then you can go back to that book every little while until you finish it.

I did this a number of times this year, which means the number of books I started was probably in the 60-65 range (I finished 54.)

It’s Ok To Cheat

Is your deadline closing on you, and you feel you may fall behind? It’s time to cheat. Choose a quick book and read it, something you may have read before, enjoy a lot, and can breeze through.

“This is cheating,” you may say. I would agree. But the short term cheating to help yourself succeed in the long run on this goal is more important than hard-headed idea that every book you read has to be War and Peace. It doesn’t. This is to enrich your life, not to make you feel terrible.

By the way, even small books can be incredible. This year, I read the following books that were small but awesome: The Dip, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, Man’s Search For Meaning, Vagabonding, and Of the Dawn of Freedom.

Never Fall Behind

Never “owe yourself one” or deduct from the bank account, saying you’ll get back to it later. Your weekly deadline will help you stay on track, but falling behind may make you feel helpless and make you consider giving up. You have to control your emotional state from dropping to this level, where you feel it’s hopeless, etc., and you do that by always being ahead of schedule.

In Conclusion

Reading has made me a much better, more complete, and happier person. All the world’s wisdom is contained in books– most of it is not on the internet or known by people in your social group, so this can really help you expand, if you let it. Start today.

Read the original post published on Julien’s blog here.