Sydney Dyslexia

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Sydlexia – a Journey

You may remember that a lovely young South African has made a website for me, using my original website name ‘Sydney Dyslexia’ to combine the words to ‘SYDlexia’ (and having the S and D dance and shift across a smiley face, making it DYSlexia or SYDlexia). The site has other neat little features like a variety of colourful backgrounds and an origami option.

Some origami posters can be printed off for free and a video on my website explains how to fold it in a way that the word of the animal is showing after the project is finished, instead of the letters in scrambled order – hence a metaphor for dyslexia.

Well, that little website has been given more attention than I had ever thought possible. Firstly it won gold, silver and bronze metals first in Dubai, then at the New Show in New York and recently in Cannes at the IT awards. As a result I have been getting a couple of clients from Dubai and Singapore, had emails to ask for permission to use the website as a teaching tool at the Chinese University of Hongkong Shenzhen, to print off hundreds of these posters and enter them into ‘origami folding competitions’; I had enquiries from Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan to write about it in magazines, blogs and e-zines.

I am constantly amazed and in awe, and even if I don’t need any more clients, it gives me a pleasure to see that dyslexia is being seen in a more positive light, to serve as an educator rather than a facilitator.

www.sydlexia.com.au

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Insight tonight

Just watching ‘Insight’ tonight, where they show again a program from last year, that has clearly evoked many emotions. What astounded me most was the statistic that showed a staggering 44 % of Australian adults not able to reach a literacy level to fully participate in life. More than 600,000 Australians have reading levels below band one!

Do you know anyone like that? I’d be seriously interested to help.


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Maths Concepts

CHANGE, A BASIC MATH CONCEPTS

“The Universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make it.”

(Marcus Aruelius)

Recently I had the pleasure of working with a very intelligent and highly gifted adult, a man called Anthony. He is 28 years old and is already working in a senior position of a global tech company, where his creative solutions are valued. Anthony is Dyslexic and had done a Davis Dyslexia correction program a year ago, which helped him greatly. However, he still struggled with Maths, not the complicated formulas, algorithms or algebra – he said to me that he simply doesn’t get basic Mathematics.

For many people that would be hard to understand. How can someone work in a field where arithmetic is an advanced skill, yet Anthony told me that he cannot work out anything simple, like money. He’d give someone a $ 5 bill to pay for a sandwich, which costs $ 3.50 and he would not know how much change he is supposed to get. ‘You learn to hide this fact and hope people don’t take advantage of you, discover your secret or test you in anything basic.’ Anthony paid everything with credit card in order to not be caught out.

It was the concept of ‘change’ that turned his understanding around.

Change is defined as:

“Something becoming something else.”

 In a Math program we choose amounts to represent that something. Initially we talk about the many changes we see or experience in our lives, changes that take place without any interference or those that are consequences of our action or inaction. We talk about nature changing the seasons, the tides, the moon, the aging process and every evolution we may witness, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. This is a time for questions. “Apart from humans and animals, what else changes, without us doing anything?” You want to make sure that some kind of flora will be named, like a seedling becoming a tree.

The concept of ‘change’ was the first big ‘aha’ moment for Anthony. He had created a small tree  with an arrow next to it, which was pointing to a larger tree to the right: something had become something else. For a moment there was silence, then the realization: “Change doesn’t mean ‘difference’ then?” In his mind, time had never played any role in change. That made so much sense to me – of course he would have had trouble with time, if ‘change’ was merely the difference between the size or the amount of two objects or people.

As soon as this realization had hit, money and getting change was easy to understand and to work out. Change, one of the main pillars of maths, had helped to finish the ‘building’, the understanding and ease around mathematics.


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Dyscalculia

Difficulties with Maths – Part 2:

FOCUS – Are you with me?

Where are you?’ – Here.

‘What time is it?’ – Now.

‘Who are you?’ – This moment.

These are the words from the final scene of the movie ‘the Peaceful Warrior’. It seems so very simple to be here and focused and present. However, it is not so easy to achieve. Most people who claim to be focused and present most of the time are actually not. How often do you catch yourself thinking about something else, worrying or fantasising about a possible future event, or replaying a past memory? Where are you then? We want our children to pay attention – to be with it.

It starts with our own attention and being there 100 % in the moment with them.

Before I start to work with a child, or anyone for that matter, I always clear my own mind. I breathe deeply and focus on my breathing, I feel how the breath comes into my lungs but at the same time I picture how it flows energetically into my entire body, fills it up and lights up every cell in my body, then releasing all the emotions and toxins that my body doesn’t need with the out-breath. Breathing deeply in through the nose and out through the mouth is one of the first things I teach my clients, too. It’s releasing their tension and enables them to start paying attention. I cannot teach that unless I am living it too. Being there with your child in the present moment is magical, it already creates a bond and synchronises your brain waves.

I then teach them how to be in the body. They slow down, feel the ground under their feet and the soles of their feet where they touch the ground. They feel the chair under their bottom and where it touches their own backside. Does the back of the chair touch the spine? Where are the hands? Are they on their knees, or on the desk in front? Can they close their eyes and still see things? What you can see with your eyes closed can be either an image from memory, a fantasy or anything in between that your imagination conjures up. We call the place where these pictures are seen or created the ‘Mind’s Eye’.

The perfect state for working, for starting any task that requires full attention, is to be aligned in the present time, aware of the body and with the Mind’s Eye just behind and above the head.


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The benefits of reading an ‘actual’ book

I have found this article below interesting:

DID you know:

  • that only 6 minutes of reading reduces stress by 68%? (well, I am sure that depends on the type of literature too)
  • that individuals who read have 2.5 times less likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s Disease?
  • that readers of e-books comprehend and remember significantly less of the content than people who read paper-books?
  • that the reader’s sensory experience is reduced when reading a Kindle or similar, not offering the same visual / kinaesthetic experience
  • that screen readers tend to read in an “F” pattern, reading the entire top line but then only scanning through the text along the left side of the page. This sort of nonlinear reading reduces comprehension and actually makes it more difficult to focus the next time you sit down with a longer piece of text.
  • that ‘slow reading’ is highly recommended to help people to improve their memories, reduce stress, improve sleep and empathy
  • and for more, read the entire article:

https://mic.com/articles/99408/science-has-great-news-for-people-who-read-actual-books#.N6wOTQLbn


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Dyscalculia / Dyslexics and Maths

Declan is a sensitive, clever, creative 8-year old who is Dyslexic. After correcting his Dyslexia, his reading, writing and comprehension improved, but he was still struggling in Maths. On the first day of the Math program, he took to the whiteboard and – in big fat letters – wrote:

MATH ALIENS COME – I NEED YOU!

On Day 3 of the program, he wiped it out and replaced it with:

NO NEED TO COME AFTER ALL THIS TRAINING – THANKS!

Visual learners, like Dyslexic individuals, have a different style of learning. Contrary to common belief, Dyslexia affects not only reading related subjects, but can also prove challenging for Mathematics.

Not everybody has Maths aliens to call upon. Declan was happy that he didn’t need to rely on them any longer and that he had found that he gets it now.

Lauren is 15 and finds it really hard to read. A Dyslexic program improved her reading, but it was still a struggle and not enjoyable. It was the Maths program, another area of difficulty, where she really found a strength and instead of working at it, she now plays at it. On her last day of the program, I stared in amazement at a really complicated calculation which she had just finished successfully and correctly. She asked me if she can do one more, please! That, for me, is the reason I love these programs. Where else can you measure success as clearly on a logical as well as an emotional level?

Let’s start, with the help of Declan and Lauren, to discover how to release your child’s Maths genie from the bottle!

Unfortunately, a lack of motivation is rarely the reason for a child’s struggle at Maths.

Many of my Dyslexic clients are challenged in Maths, not because they don’t have a ‘Maths brain’ or are lacking intelligence. Quite the opposite! They may even find that they get the most advanced Maths easier than the simple basic Math questions.

They need to be taught Maths in a different way – a way that makes sense to their visual or kinaesthetic learning style. As a problem with Maths doesn’t point any struggling child to a facilitator for Dyslexia, I won’t write the Dyslexic’s Guidebook into the Maths Galaxy. It will help any child that has a creative, visual mind.

However, if that child also has comprehension issues when reading a word problem in Maths, they might be Dyslexic and in that case a Dyslexia Correction Problem may be needed before tackling Maths. My first book, ‘the Right Brain for the Right Time’ will give you an insight into the visual world of Picture thinkers, why they are finding it harder to cope at school and how this can be helped and corrected.

In my work, a program to master reading or improve a child’s attention and focus will usually proceed a Maths Program, enabling a basic foundation for the individual to focus with ease and work with full comprehension. For this ongoing blog to be as helpful as possible, I am going to add some basic focusing tools, as a way of assuring that the child is able to place its attention to the task at hand. They are part of the Davis Dyslexia Correction Program, which you can find in more detail in ‘the Gift of Dyslexia’ by Ron Davis.

The second part of the book will address foundations of Maths, concepts that will lead to order in the brain and in the life of the person. Without these pillars, Maths is built on shaky grounds and missing even one of these Master Concepts can stop the mastery of calculi. Dyscalculia is often quite easily addressed when the ‘how’ follows the ‘why’. At school the presence of these foundations is taken for granted. It is assumed that anyone who can count to 100 actually understands what it means to count. There is a belief that teaching the ‘how-to’ will be sufficient to learn to add, subtract, multiply, divide and then go on to more abstract and sophisticated Math problems. However, missing the basics, the reasons why we add, the meaning of the symbols and amounts represented by abstract numerals leaves many children guessing and frustrated.

The third part will then address the ‘how-to’, in a fun, creative and interactive way. It will make Maths ‘real’, rather than abstract. After this much deeper understanding and reasoning behind calculations, the last part will add a different way of learning times tables. In one week or less the basic times tables should be learnt very easily and with fun.

to be continued…