Wow. Did they ever do a good job.
It’s comprised of five different timed games, which highlight a different area LD students regularly struggle with – reading, writing, attention, math and organization.
I had a hard time with each of those issues, and sometimes still do. Although each game only concentrated on one aspect of each LD-related experience, they demonstrated the sheer frustration students experience extremely well.
This game concentrated on reversed and missing letters, which is a small part of what happens in dyslexia. The point is to identify exactly which letters were incorrect and click on them. When the sentences pop up, they’re completely illegible. As you get practice working with them,you do eventually get an idea of where the incorrect words are.
Although I’m dyslexic, letter reversals and missing letters aren’t a huge problem for me. It does happen to me, but my brain likes warping letters and sending words floating around. The early results were pretty similar, though. I was actually an advanced reader early on, but the problems manifested mostly in spelling and reading speed.
The end result was still similar to what the game demonstrated.
Dysgraphia was highlighted in the writing game. They asked you to type in each sentence they gave exactly as they were. What they don’t tell you at first is they’ve programmed the game to delete letters or fill in the incorrect letter as you type.
This forces you to concentrate more on the actual digits popping up on the screen instead of the sentences themselves. This demonstrated how hard it is to write quickly or fluidly when you need to concentrate on making your fingers do what you wanted them to.
Although it didn’t actually have you write by hand, it got the point across nicely. I learned how to type by touch when I was a kid, and it reminded me a bit of when my fingers are a key away from home row. It’s always a confusing, rather irritating, experience when you try writing or typing one thing and wind up with something else.
This one focused on the inability to filter out background noise, which is a problem people with auditory integration disorder struggle with. I’ve actually seen similar videos here and there, but the fact they combined the distraction of other kids and outdoor noises with a task to follow the teacher’s vocal instructions demonstrated how difficult it is to follow instruction when you’re constantly interrupted.
Unless I missed it, the only part of the phenomenon they missed was when everything meshes together into a terrible cacophony of sound.
It’s just as frustrating for parents as it is for teachers, as evidenced from the note from my mom during either my elementary or middle school days.
|One of no doubt many correspondences between my mom and my teachers.|
Do you remember those worksheets where you’re supposed to figure out how many coins you need to buy something? That’s the premise of this game. The twist there was that the coins weren’t valued as they are in real life, so you had to actually calculate which combination of coins to select.
As soon as I noticed that, I almost quit the game. I think I made it through one item, and then just randomly clicked on coins for the second until time was up. Nope. No, thank you.
Again, the game did an excellent job of demonstrating how hard it is for kids with dyscalculia and other math related LDs to do seemingly simple tasks.
Last, came organization. I was curious about how they’d illustrate that one, since it’s more immaterial than the other issues. They set up a number of different columns, and instructed you to catch certain shapes in a basket you moved along the bottom with your cursor. It started out easily enough, but eventually, the shapes began moving too quickly for you took keep up with as the instructions came. Sometimes, none of the shapes matched what he was asking you to do, and other times, when you did get your basket over, they’d bounce right off.
It was surprisingly effective and the feeling of frustration was exactly what I feel when I manage to screw up my time management. There may have been a few bad words grumbled at the screen in that last one.
Again, great job to the game makers.
Each game had a couple psychological tricks tossed in there, too. As time was running out, the ticking of the clock got louder. Early on, it added to the anxiety to get SOMETHING right, but by the time I finished the fourth game, it was a relief to know it was almost over.
Imagine that clock being school. In young kids especially, that need to please builds until it becomes heart crushing anxiety, but as the years progress, eventually it turns into something else. Some kids become terribly depressed, some even more driven to succeed, while others just give up. While there are no repercussions in the games, in real life, there are, and as kids get older, the more they become aware of that.
The attention game in particular got me. The teacher kept asking one student, I guess it was supposed to be the player, if they were with her before she moved right along, ignoring most of the children who constantly interrupted, giggled or talked in class. From what I remember, that’s pretty much exactly how it happened when I was in school.
|This head desk? Yes. Pretty much how it feels to deal with these issues every day.|
Actually, that’s pretty similar to what happened the one time I tried the Iron Pen contest. Iron Pen is a timed writing contest, where participants gather in an area to write a 100 word story based off a prompt. You’re given scratch paper, a pencil and an official paper on which to write your final draft. Since I do Friday Fictioneers on a semi-regular basis on my other blog, I thought I’d be able to do it without a problem.
Enter human nature and dyslexia. The lady who ran it kept remembering new rules, and interrupting us to tell us. Other people whispered amongst themselves, and I just couldn’t concentrate. Then there’s the fact there were no accommodations given for spelling or grammar. They had one thesaurus and one dictionary for the entire group.
Yeah, that’s one contest I’m never taking part in again. Ever. I’m glad I did it once, though, and I’m still proud of my friend for having the guts to do it with me.
Anyway, while it is important to realize each person’s experience is different, these exercises do get the point across well. It’s perfectly natural to have a hard time learning new skills, but like these games, the current system is set up for LD kids to lose when they don’t get proper intervention.
I’d love for all non LD folk to try these games and embrace that sense of futility and frustration they leave. That’s exactly what those of us with LD experienced in school, and what kids today continue to endure.