Dyslexia: Is it shameful?
‘Should prince Emmanuel’s dyslexia be revealed to the public?’ was the headline from an article published on Le Soir, a local Brussels’ newspaper, this past 5th of September. It is an article that unfortunately reminds us that dyslexia is still considered for many as a handicap and/or a learning disability; and these erroneous perceptions can certainly make parents reluctant to accept a diagnosis that their child is dyslexic, or by the same token learners with reading problems might quickly be misdiagnosed as dyslexic.
Dyslexia, according to language experts, is defined as a lack of phonological awareness which makes it difficult for a learner to spell correctly, and affects the acquisition of reading skills (Rasmus and et.al, 2003; Gayan, 2001). It means that some people have difficulties recognising letters and connecting them to sounds.
Ron Davis, author of The gift of Dyslexia, 2010, states that dyslexics read words in a three-dimensional form; and it is the reason why dyslexics experienced difficulties when reading a printed text on a flat piece of paper. Thus, he recommends that one should show text in a different form . For example, one should type a document with a clear-cut font such as arial, and use a colour background when doing a power point presentation. Computers and electronic whiteboard screens offer interactive learning opportunities which simultaneously stimulate all the senses and help learners to read better.
Dyslexia, according to Davis, should be considered as a gift because dyslexics are able to see the world in a multidimensional form. Davis has developed the Davis Learning Foundation, a successful dyslexia teacher-parent training programme in the United States and in many countries across Europe.
Great tactile activities are also a good approach to teach dyslexic learners. Some examples are: when we invite young learners to play with wooden or magnetic letters. We can ask them to create letters using plasticine (play dough) or even better, they can represent letters using their bodies as an initial literacy activity. Wadlington, et al (1996), suggest that learners should write using sand trays or clap their hands to count the number of syllables in a word. It is an ideal method that helps all learners connect letters with sounds.
Chives (2006) recommends the use of coloured plastic sheets to be placed over a text. It seems that this technique is helpful when some dyslexics feel that letters moved in a different direction.
In summary, dyslexia is about learning in a multisensory approach which is beneficial to all learners. Using visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses is about a learning method which brings much fun and motivation.
As a final word, dyslexics, according to Davis, (2010) should not be treated as learners who have suffered a brain or nervous injury; but on the contrary we should treat them as learners who think in a different manner, and react differently to a feeling of confusion.
Written by: Fiona Meyer.