This weekend, I finished reading The Gift of Dyslexia, by Ronald Davis and Eldon Brown. The majority of the book was very dyslexia friendly, thanks to its larger than usual font and easy to understand language. There were a few spots where the formatting gave me problems, though.
In the book, the authors explain their theory that dyslexia isn’t due to a structural difference in the brain, but instead a natural tendency to solve problems by changing perspective. They argue that dyslexia is merely the downside of the natural ability some of us have to view an object from all angles.
This ability allows us to identify an object when we’re shown only a small part of it. They used the example of a baby seeing its mother’s elbow. The child is first confused by what the strange shape is, but finds a solution to that confusion by remembering other times in which they viewed it. From there, they realize it belongs to their mother.
Although this method of problem solving works when objects are involved, it doesn’t work as well with text or letters. That natural three dimension perspective causes problems, because a flipped letter or word won’t help determine what it is, or its meaning.
It’s an interesting theory, and I can see some truth in it. As with most theories, though, I tend to restrain absolute belief.
In any case, the book goes on to provide various visualization and body memory exercises to minimize disorientation and help cement various symbols in the student’s mind.
Some of these suggestions were very close to various types of meditation I’ve come across over the years, and I can see how they could help lessen problems. This is especially true for problems related to stress. After all, the more stressed a dyslexic individual is, the worse their mistakes.
I also really liked the idea of involving more physical teaching methods, like molding words out of clay and representations of said words. I can see how that would be immensely helpful for strongly visual learners.
Although I highly doubt this method of teacher will help all kids all the time, since all kids are not the same, I still think it’s a valuable book to read. It has a lot to teach about how perspective forms our thought processes, and the value of using more than one sense to pick up information.
Using clay to learn symbols sounds like a great idea to me.