Sydney Dyslexia

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Dyslexia and Reading

DyslexiaDyslexia and Reading

When reading, the early books with pictures that add to the comprehension of the text will cause less trouble than chapter books later on. Guessing the words from reading the first letter, in connection with an image, often comes in handy. Being highly intelligent, these children sometimes remember the entire text and, rather than reading it, recite it from memory.

Reading in schools is almost always taught phonetically. It does help most children—children who are auditory learners. Linguists believe that the language should be analysed and taught in phonemic terms. Phonemes are the basic units of a sound, the abstractions of a set of speech sounds. Although the English alphabet only has five vowels (a, e, i, o, u), it has thirteen to twenty-one vowel phonemes.  There are three major issues with phonemic awareness for dyslexic learners:

  1. Sounding out doesn’t come naturally to a picture thinker and is a very difficult task to master.
  2. Grouping phonemes together to speech sounds and words implies linear or sequential awareness, which again is a left-brain ability, and is not strongly strongly developed in visual learners.
  3. Phonemes are considered the sound translation of the alphabet, which are the written symbols of the phonemic sound. Spelling and pronunciation of a word can be very different and highly distorted by different dialects and foreign origin words. This inconsistency creates great confusion to the dyslexic individual already struggling to come to terms with the meaning of the word.

Many children that have come to me with different dyslexic variations have reported feeling nauseous when having to sound out a word. Others find it hard to overcome the habit of the drill they have been objected to and keep on struggling to find the appropriate sound to come up with the correct answer.

The young learners are at an advantage here, if they correct dyslexia at this stage and don’t have to “un-learn” strategies and avoid going down the track of trying to compete with the auditory learners on the subject of sounding out. They need to be taught to utilise their strengths and talents to learn the same material as the auditory student, yet coming at it from another angle.

It reminds me of Albert Einstein’s quote on our Education System:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Einstein knew what it meant to feel stupid at school, having struggled at school himself due to his own dyslexia.

Ron Davis has come to the same conclusion and devised a way to facilitate the process of reading, spelling and writing for the visual and tactile learners.

Before starting the reading process, the elements of a word, each single letter, needs to be crafted in 3D. With the use of plasticine, the upper and lower case alphabet has to be created by the student, regardless of their age. It always amazes me just how many letters that appear to be known show up as confusing triggers. I have helped a few of my clients who had done the alphabet with their mums already, following the instructions in Ron’s book The Gift of Dyslexia. It is difficult to pinpoint just where confusion is and how to tell the difference between the clear understanding of a letter and other aspects that have attached themselves to the meaning of some of these letter of the alphabet. Contacting any trained facilitator might help to establish a solid basis for the future of reading and learning by eliminating any possible misunderstanding of symbols.

Symbols also include punctuation marks, which at this early age will be limited to full stops, question marks and some of the comma uses. There is no point in starting to read if there is a possibility that symbols are confused and not fully understood—or the assembly of letters to words don’t make sense and the appropriate meaning in the mind of the young child.

You may be amazed how few children really know the alphabet … yes, most of them know the alphabet song, but that doesn’t guarantee that the letters are known. For example, I have seen a few children who believed that l-m-n-o-p is one alphabet symbol, simply because that’s how it sounds in the song.

We also need to be aware of the state the child is in when we start with any kind of intervention. A facilitator is well trained to help a child to establish the perfect state of orientation, depending on their learning style, age, ability and present moment awareness. However, some parents are very capable in helping their own child, simply using Ron’s book (The Gift of Dyslexia) and its instructions. I wasn’t one of them.

Even after I had done the training to become a Dyslexia Facilitator, I chose to get another facilitator to work with Keanu, as I found that I am too close to my own child to truly make a change happen.

Apart from the problems many young learners display, problems that mainly show up at school, there will be the same intelligent, curious and fun child at home—often only hampered by anxiety around their performance at school. Naturally they will display some frustration at home, usually with their own siblings. On the other hand they may be experts in building Lego structures, drawing amazing artworks, finishing puzzles in record time or showing other great abilities.

As much as parents know and appreciate the intelligence in their children despite the struggles, assuring them how clever and wonderful they are doesn’t seem to be enough. Only when a child realises its own potential and proves its abilities to apply that intelligence in the classroom will they develop the self-confidence needed to correct their learning problems.

(excerpt from ‘the Right Brain for the Right Time’, by Barbara Hoi)


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Don’t mention the word “Dyslexia” with my child

Can we avoid the ‘label’ dyslexia when talking to any child?

“Please don’t use the word dyslexia when talking to my child,” a well-meaning mother asked me before assessing her child. In the past, that is exactly what I used to do. Trying to pretend that there is no problem present, nor a solution necessary, just a slight adjustment.

I fully understand, when parents want to protect their children’s emotional reality, or are trying to boost their fragile self-esteem. However, in the past ten years of working with these individuals, I have learned that this does more damage than good.

Parents and therapists that keep reassuring the children that they don’t have a problem may rob them from a solution to eliminate their difficulties.

It gives children a false perception that often leads to a false interpretation of their challenges: “I must be stupid,” being a common one—and nothing could be further from the truth. Often these conclusions stop the motivation necessary to resolve the learning difficulties and to take responsibility for their own learning.

When I talk to a dyslexic child and do point out that they are dyslexic, indeed, I also explain what it means to be dyslexic, how many advantages there are in having a big-picture mind and list the many brilliant people who share the “label of dyslexia” (from Einstein to Richard Branson). In just about every case, learning that they are dyslexic is a relief and finding out that this is not at all a disability, but a different learning style, additionally empowers them to accept the benefits and take responsibility for any changes they are motivated to make themselves. All they will need is some tools and strategies to do so.

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What makes Smarter Kids

What makes Kids Smarter? …in case you were wondering:


To Sum It Up

Music Lessons
The Dumb Jock Is A Myth
Don’t Read To Your Kids, Read With Them
Sleep Deprivation Makes Kids Stupid
IQ Isn’t Worth Much Without Self-Discipline
Learning Is An Active Process
Treats Can Be a Good Thing — At The Right Time
Happy Kids = Successful Kids
Peer Group Matters
Believe In Them


How well do you focus?

imagesOur ability/inability to focus

Did you know that the average person unlocks his or her phone 110 times a day?

According to the study by Locket (an app creator), we not only can’t help but check our smart phones incessantly, we also use them 195 min per day (2013), it was only 95 min/day in 2011.

If you want to check if that is YOU, just download the free app ‘Checky’ and it will count how many times you are following this habit.

No wonder our attention span is a mere 8 seconds! How are we expecting to learn, when we cannot even hold a thought for a minute, our focus on a conversation or a lecture at school or work?

The ability to gain and maintain focus has become not only a rare talent, but also a very lucrative one. It is the very ability that makes an average student brilliant, it is the trait of extraordinary people, millionaires and sages.

I never forget the story by Jim Kwik, when he met Bill Clinton. Jim was intrigued by Bill’s reputation of having an excellent memory. It is Jim’s profession to teach people how to increase their mental capacity and memory. He asked Mr. Clinton which tricks he uses. Is it imagery, rhymes, associations? To his surprise, it was none of these. There were no tricks or shortcuts. Mr. Clinton simply pays attention and gives 100 % of his focus to the person he talks to. It occurred to Jim that during their entire conversation, nobody else seemed to matter, the security guards, phones ringing and noises were not a distraction and he had the feeling that for Bill nobody else existed while they were talking.

For any dyslexic individual – and those with ADD or ADHD – this is a huge breakthrough, when they have learned to use that gift of total focus and stop their minds from running the show, unchecked and causing disorientation. Their ability can develop and knowledge can be gathered, when there is focus.

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Dyslexia and the forming years

picture thinking brainDyslexia and the forming years

“Once upon a time, a girl called Gretel and her brother called Hansel lived with their father and their stepmother in a little hut near the forest. The family was very poor and there was never enough food on the table, even though the father worked very hard all day long as a wood chopper. The stepmother, who did not care much about the 

children, was resentful about having to share the little food they had with the children and devised a plan to send them into the woods, where they would get lost and never come back home …”
This is the start of the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel that I had told my son when he was about three years old. He listened intently, fascinated. When he retold the story later, there still was a girl and a boy, but the stepmother had become the witch in the forest and the father was the one who got lost in the woods.

There are ninety-nine words in the beginning of my story above, sixty-nine of them are non-picture words. If you were told a story where sixty-nine out of ninety-nine words were made up in a foreign language, how would you react? The only words that would have been comprehended to a certain degree by a dyslexic child are: girl, Gretel, brother, Hansel, lived, father, worked, stepmother, hut, forest, family, poor, food, table, day, wood, children, little, plan, woods, home. The other sixty-nine words would be either a blank, a guess or a partial comprehension. I think he did remarkably well to come up with a decent story nevertheless.
Although there are many possible indicators in early childhood, none of them are exclusively pointing to dyslexia. In fact, I believe the majority of children at a very early age do have a visual thinking style. Their mind isn’t aligned and fully integrated with their body until they refer to themselves in the First Person. People sometimes dismiss the ego as the one part of human nature to overcome or suppress. However, without it, we are not a personality; a separate
entity, participating in life. We need the “I” to become that person who is speaking, feeling and thinking. Unless we develop these personalities and individual traits, likes and dislikes, we will most likely be known as “autistic,” develop- mentally delayed, or any other label on the mental health spectrum.

Children who show these dyslexic tendencies are very bright and ideally keep that visual gift, the creative edge. They may develop into “whole-brain” or “bi-hemispheric” individuals, very powerfully mastering both the artistic/creative right side and the linear/logical/sequential left side of the brain.
These dyslexic signals in very young children are just possible clues.
They include a difficulty to:
– Pronounce words correctly (My son couldn’t pronounce the “r” in
“run” or similar words)

– Remember names, or recognize names in writing, even their own name

– Put shoes or clothes on the correct way

– Follow instructions, especially lengthy ones

– Comply with instructions, to conform to rules

– Recount a story correctly (as with the Hansel and Gretel tale above)

– Sit still while listening (unless watching TV, where visual clues
are involved)

– Be patient, wait in a queue or their turn (not that this is a
strength of any young child!)

More often than not, these children learn to walk and talk later than other kids, yet often talk in full sentences when they do.

No child will have all of these tendencies as described above, but if your child scores half of them, there is a possible pattern present.

Most of these points were issues in my son’s early development, as well as being accident prone, impulsive, overly dramatic, enthusiastic, fun, creative and many other wonderful traits.

His drawings were never detailed or beautifully executed, but more abstract and unusual, with a great sense of colour and exaggerated forms and angles. Colouring in and remaining within the outline of a sketch is not the strength of a dyslexic learner.

Many children with these characteristics never develop any learning difficulties. However, the talents that are already displayed can be enhanced and the problems can be diminished while these brains are so receptive to change.

(extract from ‘the Right Brain for the Right Time’, by Barbara Hoi)