Day 3

Karena kemarin sore Indra main hujan lebih dari setengah jam, pagi ini badannya hangat. Ia sedikit menggigil dan bilang kepalanya pusing. Kebetulan stok Tempra di rumah habis, jadi saya peluk dan membiarkannya tidur. Sepanjang pagi ia tidur, break sebentar makan siang, lalu tidur lagi. Hari ini ia tidak masuk sekolah.

Sore pukul 3 ia bangun dan bilang bahwa kepalanya sudah sedikit ringan.  Sekarang justru yang mulai pusing adalah saya, apalagi setelah mendapat telepon bahwa besok malam saya jadi ke Papua hingga hari Minggu. What would he be  not having me around for three nights? What would I do? Sigh.

Malamnya, kami duduk lagi membaca dongeng Dinosaurus. Hanya kali ini saya membaca satu halaman, tentang Brenda dan baju tua. Saya bertanya satu per satu, “Tua apa? Dua apa? Gua apa? Buah apa?”. Indra menjawab: tua itu sudah lama, dua (sambil mengangkat jarinya), gua itu terowongan seram gelap, dan buah semangka! Tadi sore memang kami makan buah semangka.

Saya memintanya mengucapkan keempat kata itu sekali lagi. Buku harus ditutup karena saya harus bergegas merapikan meja belajar si sulung yang berantakan. Indra pun sepertinya mengantuk dan kedinginan. Ia meminta saya menyelimutinya. Tak ada lima menit ia tertidur.

Day 2

Hari ini saya bertemu guru dan pemilik TK anak saya. Kita berbagi ilmu/bacaan dan pengalaman. Ibu Henny, wali kelas yang sangat menguasai ilmu pedagogis, bercerita saat menugaskan Indra dan kawan satu kelasnya untuk membentuk lilin menyerupai binatang kesukaan setiap anak. “Apa yang dilakukan Indra, Bu?” tanya Ibu Henny, “Dia membuat kebun binatang!” Di saat semua kawannya membuat satu binatang besar, Indra membuat banyak binatang kecil lengkap dengan pembatas kebun binatang.

Membaca satu artikel khusus membahas tes disleksia di Australia (klik di sini) saya mengerti mengapa Indra membuat kebun binatang. Otak orang normal seperti rumah dengan beberapa kamar, dan saat berpikir seorang dengan kemampuan normal akan berpikir satu kamar dan bisa meloncat ke kamar lain. Sedangkan anak autis akan berada di satu kamar gelap saja, tak tahu bagaimana meloncat ke luar kamar tersebut. Bagaimana anak yang disleksik? Ah, rumah utuh tapi beratap-dinding kaca. Memandang ke luar seluas-luasnya.

Indah.

dyslexic-mind.jpg pic: Dawn Matthews 

Sepulang dari TK saya sengaja berjalan kaki bersamanya ke Gunung Agung Kwitang sambil bercerita tentang kantor pos kuno, kopi dan topik-topik yang kami berdua lalui sepanjang jalan. Di dalam toko buku, ia langsung berlari ke belakang, bagian buku anak-anak. Di balik rak buku anak terdapat peraga tubuh manusia, gigi hingga bola dunia. Ini juga daerah yang Indra gemari. Ia bertanya soal gigi.

Di lorong itu juga ada buku matematika TK. Saya melihat satu buku yang memiliki ukuran besar, memuat angka “22” dan “25”. Saat saya tanyakan “22” Indra langsung menjawab benar. Saat saya menanyakan “25”, jika dieja satu per satu benar “2” dan “5”, hanya saat diucapkan bersama ia mengucap terbalik “52”.

Ia seperti mengeluh saat saya memintanya mengulang, lalu ia berlari. Banyak buku yang ia ambil dan ingin bawa pulang, namun sejak awal memasuki toko saya sudah memintanya hanya membeli satu buku saja. Akhirnya dipilihnya buku stiker Kereta Thomas.

Malam menjelang tidur, Indra meminta saya meneruskan buku dongeng dinosaurus. Saat membaca Billy dan Dilly Brontosaurus, dua tokoh di satu halaman yang sama, saya memintanya mengucapkan “Billy Suka Bola” dan “Dilly Suka Dodol”. Ia memegang pipi saya untuk memperhatikan dan meniru posisi bibir, gigi, dan lidah saya. Ia seakan ingin memahami sinkronisasi suara dan gerakan bibir/gigi/lidah. Malam ini saya berupaya melatih pengelompokan fonetikal.

Setelah sepuluh halaman, saya kembali ke meja komputer lagi. Indra meneruskan membaca buku yang lain. Kali ini ia memperhatikan buku flap (yang kepak tiap halamannya bisa digerakkan) tentang galaksi. Saya kian mengerti Indra dengan rumah kacanya. Ia bisa memandang keindahan dunia (dan angkasa) dengan seksama.

Day 1

Hari ini saya mencoba membuat jurnal perkembangan Indra. Mudah-mudahan bisa membantu saya dan banyak ibu lainnya memahami anak yang mengalami “dyslexia” (learning and reading disorder).

***

Indra minta dibacakan buku dongeng Dinosaurus. Setiap halaman memuat cerita pendek bermoral dengan personifikasi dinosaurus (stegosaurus, brontosaurus hingga tyrannosaurus rex). Yang ditanyakan di setiap halaman adalah, “Ini dinosaurus apa, Bu?” bukan isi dari setiap cerita atau detail kelucuan tiap tokoh.

Saat saya tanyakan, “Ini huruf apa, Ndra?” dan ia jawab “b” untuk huruf “d”, saya kemudian mencoba menulis dan merangkaikan b untuk “bebek” dengan cerita. Huruf b saya gambar menyerupai bebek yang menggandeng “anak bebek” huruf e. Kalau huruf d saya nyatakan sebagai huruf yang meninggalkan anaknya huruf e: dadaaahh. Saya meminta Indra mengucapkan setiap kata dengan keras. Ia mengikuti petunjuk saya dan tertawa-tawa. Setelah itu saya baru mendongeng cerita-cerita dinosaurus.

Setelah membaca sepuluh halaman, saya bergegas kembali ke belakang meja komputer. Ada beberapa hal yang perlu saya tuntaskan. Jam dinding sudah menunjukkan pukul 10.20 malam, tapi Indra masih terpaku di depan Kamus Visual sejak setengah jam lalu. Saya sempat memijat kakinya, berusaha agar ia cepat tidur, tapi ia tetap memperhatikan detail pembagian lantai pesawat luar angkasa (seperti Apollo) dan detail lapangan yang digambari pemain-pemain olahraga berbagai cabang (baseball, sepakbola, dll.). Indra terkadang meloncat ke halaman secara random, dari depan ke belakang. Ia akan berhenti di saat ada gambar yang menarik untuk diperhatikan lebih lanjut.

Saat saya selesai mengetik kalimat di atas, ia baru saja tertidur. Good night, my precious baby.

Tips to Help in Teaching a Super-alert Mind

  • Involve the students in what you are doing.
  • Stop and ask questions as often as possible.
  • Present contextual or verbal information in small chunks.
  • Pay attention to how text is laid out and avoid any complete pages of plain text.
  • Demonstrate ideas and concepts using materials and analogies.
  • Never give a correct and incorrect answer at the same time; For example, do not say, “the answer is two not three”.
  • Intersperse dictation or note taking with talking and pictures or objects.
  • Provide a quiet distraction-free environment, but remember that these students need stimulation all the time. Sometimes background music helps as long as it does not contain words.
  • Keep the attention on you by telling jokes or acting or making deliberate mistakes for your students to notice.
  • Keep the teaching as multi sensory as possible. Videos and DVDs are great because they are both visual and auditory.
  • Getting pupils to move about in the teaching environment is useful as it brings the mind back to the present situation.
  • Present new information in as exciting a way as possible.
  • Never tell a dyslexic or ADD pupilto stop fiddling. This will only make him/her concentrate completely on not fiddling.
  • I allow dyslexic and ADD pupils to draw at the same time as class discussions. This activity distracts a lot of the brain while not competing with what I was saying or demonstrating.
  • Tell your pupil to pay attention when you are giving them the most important information rather than all the time.

You make me smile [always], Ndra

Reading disorder

Definition

Reading disorder is a learning disorder that involves significant impairment of reading accuracy, speed, or comprehension to the extent that the impairment interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily life. People with reading disorder perform reading tasks well below the level one would expect on the basis of their general intelligence, educational opportunities, and physical health. Reading disorder is most commonly called dyslexia. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading.

Description

Reading disorder is a learning disorder characterized by a significant disparity between an individual’s general intelligence and his or her reading skills. Learning disorders, formerly called academic skills disorders, are disorders that account for difficulty learning and poor academic performance when low performance cannot be attributed to mental retardation, low intelligence, lack of learning opportunities, or such specific physical problems as vision or hearing deficits. Common learning disabilities include reading disorder (often called dyslexia), mathematics disorder, disorder of written expression, and some language processing disorders.

Reading disorder can cause severe problems in reading, and consequently in academic work, even in people with normal intelligence, educational opportunities, motivation to learn to read, and emotional self-control. Reading disorder is different from slowness in learning or mental retardation. In reading disorder, there is a significant gap between the expected level of performance and actual achievement. Difficulties in reading can occur on many levels, and reading disorder may have several causes that manifest in different ways. Common problems in people with reading disorder include:

  • slow reading speed
  • poor comprehension when reading material either aloud or silently
  • omission of words while reading
  • reversal of words or letters while reading
  • difficulty decoding syllables or single words and associating them with specific sounds (phonics)
  • limited sight word vocabulary

Causes and symptoms

Causes

Reading disorder was first recognized in the late nineteenth century, when it was called pure word blindness, then developmental alexia. Starting in the 1960s, educators commonly referred to reading disorder as dyslexia, from the Greek word dys, meaning poor or inadequate, and the word lexismeaning words or language. Despite the long history of reading disorder, its cause is not known.

Learning to read is a complex task. It requires coordination of the eye muscles to follow a line of print, spatial orientation to interpret letters and words, visual memory to retain the meaning of letters and sight words, sequencing ability, a grasp of sentence structure and grammar, and the ability to categorize and analyze. In addition, the brain must integrate visual cues with memory and associate them with specific sounds. The sounds must then be associated with specific meanings. For comprehension, the meanings must be retained while a sentence or passage is read. Reading disorder occurs when any of these processes are disrupted. For that reason, the roots of reading disorder have proved difficult to isolate, and may be different in different individuals.

Despite the complexity of reading disorder, researchers have found that the condition is at least partially inherited. In 1999, the Centre for Reading Research in Norway studied a large family with reading problems. By evaluating the reading and writing abilities of about 80 family members across four generations, the researchers were able to pinpoint mutations in specific genes that are associated with reading and writing deficits.

It appears that reading disorder may also have causes other than genetic inheritance, as about half the people with this learning disability do not come from families with a history of the problem. Many theories suggest that functional problems in specific areas of the brain underlie reading disorder. Given the complicated demands on the human nervous system involved in reading, it is entirely possible that there are several different problems in brain function related to difficulty in learning to read. What is known is that 90% of children diagnosed with reading disorder have other language deficits. Still other research suggests a possible link with a subtle visual problem that affects the speed with which affected people can read.

Symptoms

Common characteristics of children with reading disorder include:

  • difficulty identifying single words
  • problems understanding the sounds in words, sound order, or rhymes
  • problems with spelling
  • transposing letters in words
  • omitting or substituting words
  • poor reading comprehension
  • slow reading speed (oral or silent)

In addition to these symptoms, children with reading disorder often have other delays or learning problems. These include:

  • delays in spoken language
  • confusion with directions, or right/left-handedness
  • confusion with opposites (up/down, early/late)
  • mathematics disorder
  • disorder of written expression
Reading disorder is most commonly called dyslexia. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading. Symptoms of reading disorder include poor comprehension, reversal of words or letters while reading, and difficulty decoding syllables or single words and associating them with specific sounds (phonics). Here, a child with dyslexia attempts to reproduce a teacher's sentence. (Will and Deni McIntyre/Science Source, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced with permission.)

Reading disorder is most commonly called dyslexia. Dyslexia, however, usually includes deficits in spelling and writing as well as reading. Symptoms of reading disorder include poor comprehension, reversal of words or letters while reading, and difficulty decoding syllables or single words and associating them with specific sounds (phonics). Here, a child with dyslexia attempts to reproduce a teacher’s sentence.

(Will and Deni McIntyre/Science Source, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced with permission.)

Diagnosis

Evaluation of children’s reading ability must be done on an individual basis in order to make a diagnosis of reading disorder and distinguish it from slow learning or low intelligence. The examiner must take into account the child’s age, intelligence, educational opportunities, and such cultural factors as whether the language spoken at home is different from the language taught and used at school. Reading disorder is diagnosed when a child’s reading achievement is substantially below what would be expected after taking these factors into account.

In addition, the reading problems must interfere in significant ways with the person’s schoolwork or daily life. If a physical condition is present (for example, mental retardation, poor eyesight, or hearing loss), the reading deficit must be in excess of what one would normally associate with the physical handicap.

Diagnosis is complicated by the fact that 20%–55% of children with reading disorder have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder(ADHD), a behavioral disorder that aggravates learning difficulties. In addition, about one-quarter of children with reading disorder have conduct disorder. Oppositional defiant disorder and depression also occur in higher-than-average rates in children with reading disorder. Almost all people with reading disorder have difficulties spelling, and about 80% of them have other language problems.

Anyone who is suspected of having reading disorder or any other learning disability should have a comprehensive evaluation, including hearing, vision, and intelligence testing. The test should include all areas of learning and learning processes, not just reading. In school-age children, this evaluation often involves a team of educators, educational psychologists, and child psychiatrists.

Demographics

Estimates by the National Institutes of Health of the number of people with learning disorders range from 5%–15% of the general population. About 80% of people with a learning disorder have reading disorder. Other studies suggest that about 4% of school-age children have reading disorder. People with reading disorder are more likely to have a parent or sibling with the disorder.

Between 60% and 80% of children diagnosed with reading disorder are boys. For various reasons often related to behavior, boys tend to be referred more frequently to special education classes, which suggests that girls with reading disorder may be underdiagnosed. Some experts think that this disparity comes about because boys are more often disruptive in class.

Treatments

Reading disorder, like other learning disorders, falls under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Definitions of learning disabilities vary among the states, and some school districts are more willing than others to recognize specific learning disabilities. Any child, however, who has a diagnosed learning disability, including reading disorder or dyslexia, should be eligible for an Individual Education Program (IEP) that provides customized instruction at school designed to address the disability.

Treatment approaches vary from visual stimulation to special diets to enhanced reading instruction. However, it is generally agreed that customized education is the only successful remedy. The American Academy of Ophthalmology, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus have issued a policy statement warning against visual treatments and recommending a cross-disciplinary educational approach.

The first researcher to identify and study dyslexia, Samuel Torrey Orton, developed the core principles of such an approach in the 1920s. The work of three of his followers—teachers Bessie Stillman, Anna Gillingham, and Beth Slingerland—underlies many of the programs in use today, including Project READ, the Wilson Reading System, and programs based on the Herman method. There are many successful programs to address individual reading needs. In general, all good programs are:

  • Sound/symbol (phonics)-based. They break words down into their smallest visual components: letters and the sounds associated with them.
  • Multisensory. Good programs attempt to form and strengthen mental associations among visual, auditory, and kinesthetic channels of stimulation. The student simultaneously sees, feels, and says the sound-symbol association. For example, a student may trace the letter or letter combination with his or her finger while pronouncing a word out loud.
  • Highly structured. Remediation begins at the level of the single letter-sound; works up to digraphs (a pair of letters representing a single speech sound); then syllables; then into words and sentences in a systematic fashion. Repetitive drill and practice serve to form necessary associations between sounds and written symbols.

Prognosis

Many famous and successful people have suffered from reading disorders, including at least two Presidents of the United States. How well a person compensates for this disorder depends on the severity of the impairment and the type of educational remediation that he or she receives. Generally, people who are identified as having a reading disorder before grade three and who receive intensive reading education can do well. There is, however, a great deal of variation among people in intelligence, educational opportunities, and the will to overcome a reading disorder, as well as in the type and severity of the problem. All these factors combine to determine the ultimate outcome of this disorder. The prognosis is usually good if the condition is diagnosed early and the person is enrolled in a good remedial program. Strong self-esteem, together with supportive family, friends, and teachers also improve a person’s chances of overcoming this disorder.

Prevention

There is no known way to prevent reading disorder. Early intervention is the key to preventing the associated symptoms of low self-esteem, lack of interest in school, and poor behavior that often accompany low academic achievement.

Resources

BOOKS

American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.4th ed. text revised. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

Hales, Robert E., Stuart C. Yudofsky, and John A. Talbot. The American Psychiatric Press Textbook of Psychiatry.3rd ed. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press, 2000.

Sadock, Benjamin J. and Virginia A. Sadock, eds. Comprehensive Textbook of Psychiatry.7th ed. Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2000.

PERIODICALS

Bower, Bruce. “Dyslexia Tied to Disrupted Brain Network.” Science News153 (7 March 1998): 150.

Matvy, Mike. “A Silicon Bullet for Dyslexia: A new Solution for an Old Problem.” The Exceptional Parent30 (November 2000) 52-56.

ORGANIZATIONS

Learning Disabilities Association. 4156 Library Rd., Pittsburgh, PA 15234. (412) 341-1515. <http://www.ladnatl.org>.

National Center for Learning Disabilities. 381 Park Avenue South, Suite 1401, New York, NY 10016. (212) 545-7510. <http://www.ncld.org>.

OTHER

Dyslexia Resources on the Web. <http://home.clara.net/ghrow/subjects/dyslexia.html>. Extensive links to dyslexia resources; updated frequently.

Tish Davidson, A.M.
Child Learning Disorders – Audiblox corrects the deficits that cause learning disabilities. (www.audiblox2000.com)

Learning for Children – Fun games that test for Autism and Dyslexia. (learningforchildren.com)

The Listening Program – Official Site for the TLP Method listening therapy for all ages (www.thelisteningprogram.com)

ABC’s to helping the dyslexic student in the regular classroom

Frequently in the regular classroom dyslexic children suffer. Due to lack of understanding of the students learning process the educator may see the student as slow and unmotivated. These misconceptions may lead to low self esteem of the dyslexic student. Once there is understanding of the dyslexic student and the learning process there are some ways to help the dyslexic student in the regular classroom. Here are five quick tips that help both the educator, and the student.A – Accentuate the positive:
Accentuating the positive increases the dyslexic student’s motivation. Dyslexic students learn differently. If there is a certain assignment that is completed, yet not in the exact way as instructed, be sure to accentuate the positive. This will help you instruct the student’s completion of the assignment in a motivating way. By letting the student understand the requirements in a positive way this will give the student corrective instruction without frustration.

B – Be Understanding:
Understanding your students needs is important. Many times the dyslexic student may appear unmotivated or slow. Due to lack of understanding these misconceptions can lead to frustration and low self-esteem. If the educator understands the learning process in a dyslexic person, this can help the student’s esteem knowing that their teacher understands their particular circumstance.

C- Communicate with your student:
Communication leads to academic improvement. Schedule frequent meetings with your student. Talk about their improvement, and where they may need improvement. Ask your student what learning techniques may work best for them. Communicating with your student helps their confidence and motivation.

D – Develop a Plan:
Developing a plan can help the student set goals. Sitting down with your student, and developing a plan will help the student achieve their goals. Helping your student achieve their goals this will help the student realize their capabilities and increase motivation for learning. These four tips will help the dyslexic student’s experience in the classroom. If the educator understands the dyslexic student and incorporates these tips there is a possibility of improvement with the student.

E – Encourage:
Encourage your student. Having a learning disability can be a frustrating process. We all know a little encouragement can go a long way.

F – Follow up:
Schedule a time with your student so you can evaluate their progress. During this time allow your student to express concerns about learning and class work. Make sure they conduct a self evaluation. This will enable them to understand and analyze their learning process.

G – Goals:
Set goals for your student, and allow your student to set goals for themselves. Once the goals are set give your student a timeframe. Once the goals are met, meet with your student and discuss their progress. This will allow your student to develop the importance of planning, goal setting, and organization. Set both long term and short term goals.

H – Homework:
Do your homework. Dyslexia is a learning disability be sure as an educator you do your research and understand the learning process of the dyslexic student. Don’t limit yourself to the age range that you are teaching, understand that you are helping your student develop into adulthood, this is part of your responsibility along with the parent to nourish and educate a successful individual.

I – Intelligence: Explain to your student the different types of intelligence. Emphasize the strong points of the particular type of your students intelligence. Allow your students to complete projects geared toward their intelligence. This will boost your students self – esteem.

J – Journal: Journaling can help everyone. Tell your students to journal. Ask them to write about their goals, accomplishments, and fears. Teach them that their journal is their safe place to express themselves without fear, judgment, or ridicule. This will improve their writing and creativity. Journaling also gives students a safe place to express themselves.

K – Knowledge: Knowledge never ends. Encourage students to think outside of the box. Tell them that knowledge never has or will have a stop sign. There is always room for growth and knowledge.

L – Love: Teach your students to love themselves, and know that they are loved. At a young age children tend to judge themselves by their grades, encourage their talents and character development as a person. Tell your student that it is important to do their best but at the same time, a letter defines no one, encourage parents to teach this at home.
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Yvelette M. Stines
E-mail: stinesym@yahoo.com

Gejala Disleksia yang Harus Dikenali Dini

RECOGNIZING DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS IN A DYSLEXIC PUPIL OR STUDENTA short list of possible symptoms would include some, but not all, of these in a dyslexic child:

• a noticeable difference between the pupil’s ability and their actual achievement;

• a family history of learning difficulties;

• difficulties with spelling;

• confusion over left and right;

• writing letters or numbers backwards;

• difficulties with math/s;

• difficulties with organizing themselves;

• difficulty following 2- or 3-step instructions.

POSSIBLE DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS IN MORE DETAIL

A discrepancy between the pupil’s ability and their actual achievement

If you notice that a child who appears to be average or bright when they are talking to you is struggling to read, spell or cope with math/s, this may be the strongest indicator that they may be dyslexic. It is very common for dyslexic children to be quite able, especially in the areas of creativity (art, drama, drawing, etc) and physical co-ordination (physical education, swimming, sports, model-making, etc.). However, there are differences in the neural links in their brain that makes it hard for them to deal with text (and often with numbers) without extra support. A reading age or grade level of two years below what you would expect from them is a sign of possible dyslexia. Obviously, this could also be caused by other factors such as lengthy absences from school due to illness.

A family history of learning difficulties

Dyslexia is most often inherited through the genes. It can also be caused by early ear infections. In both cases it is harder for a young child to distinguish the difference between similar sounding words. The numbers of boys and girls who are dyslexic are roughly the same.

Difficulties with spelling

Spelling is the activity which causes most difficulty for dyslexic children. Noticing spelling errors in short, simple words is the way in which most dyslexic children first come our attention. Examples of words which cause particular difficulty are: any, many, island, said, they, because, enough, and friend.

Other words will sometimes be spelt in the way that you would expect them to be spelt if our spelling system were rational, for example does/dus, please/pleeze, knock/nock, search/serch, journey/jerney, etc.

Dyslexic children also experience difficulties with ‘jumbled spellings’. These are spelling attempts in which all the correct letters are present, but are written in the wrong order. Examples include dose/does, freind/friend, siad/said, bule/blue, becuase/because, and wores/worse. ‘Jumbled spellings’ show that the child is experiencing difficulty with visual memory. Non-dyslexic children and adults often use their visual memory when trying to remember a difficult spelling: they write down two or three possible versions of the word on a spare piece of paper and see which spelling ‘looks right’. They are relying on their visual memory to help them, but the visual memory of a dyslexic child may not be adequate for this task.

Confusion over left and right

A fairly quick way to establish this type of confusion is to ask a child to point to your left foot with his or her right hand. If you try similar instructions – in a non-threatening environment – you will soon be able to see if this causes difficulties or not. (Try it on a colleague – who is not dyslexic – and you can see how a non-dyslexic person is able to sort out the left and right elements quite readily.) You may also notice difficulties with east and west, or in following directions like ‘Go to the end of the road and turn left, then right, etc’.

Writing letters or numbers backwards

You will have noticed some children who mix up ‘b’ and ‘d’, or even ‘p’ and the number 9. These letters are the same in their mirror image, and cause regular confusion for a dyslexic person. Some pupils make a point of always writing the letter ‘b’ as au upper-case or capital ‘B’, as they find this much easier to remember in terms of the direction it faces.

Difficulties with math/s

One feature of dyslexia is difficulties with sequencing – getting things in the right order. Math/s depends on sequences of numbers – 2. 4. 6. 8. etc. Whilst many people are aware that dyslexic children and students have problems with reading and spelling, they do not know that math/s can also be a real challenge. This is mentioned quite often in Dot’s Diary.

Difficulties organizing themselves

Whilst you may quite reasonably think that all children live their lives in a mess, this is particularly so for dyslexic children and students, who may have genuine difficulties with planning and thinking ahead to when a book or pen might be needed next. They can really benefit from help with organizing papers and folders under a simple color-coded system. (See Finding My Own Solutions.)

Difficulty following 2- or 3-step instructions

‘Go to Mrs. Brown and ask her if Peter Smith is in school today. Oh, yes, and ask if I can borrow her dictionary’ – such an instruction is just too much! It involves both sequencing and memory skills, and you would be very surprised to see a dyslexic child return with the dictionary and information about Peter Smith! Dyslexic children love to take messages as much as any other child, but it has to be a less complicated instruction, e.g. ‘Ask Mrs. Brown if I can borrow her stapler’.

RECOGNIZING DYSLEXIA – DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS

WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?

Meeting Andy

When Andy’s mother first brought him to me to consult regarding tutoring to help him improve his skills in reading and math, he was reading at kindergarten level despite being a Grade 3 student. When I asked him to read for me, he picked up a beginning reader and read it even though the book was upside down.

When I tested his letter knowledge, he reversed b and d, p and q and c and f. The numbers 3 and 7 were also reversed. His formation of the letters r, n, and z was reversed, starting from the right to the left but the finished letter was correctly formed.

Upon checking his ability to sequence letters, he could not say the alphabet but resorted to singing it and returning to”A” each time he lost his place. He inserted an “N” after “Y” and before”Z” in his alphabet song.

When reading, he experienced most difficulty with two and three letter words such as on, in, at, and saw. He experienced difficulties sequencing letters when spelling even though all the letters ! were there. When trying to decode words and when speaking, Andy often reverses syllables even though he knows what he wants to read or say.

He prefers to print with his notebook sideways on the desk and actually has difficulty with the transition to cursive writing.

In math, he tends to add and subtract from the left column and from the bottom to the top. He needs constant repetition to retain his multiplication tables and sight vocabulary.

His general knowledge is excellent and he can speak at length about a variety of topics. He is athletic, bright looking, and very artistic.

Trouble with spelling

Andy has obvious difficulties with spelling. He is unaware that the spelling of certain words is not correct. The spellings of words he has not studied are not even close approximations and would be unable to be corrected using a spell check on his word processor, even though I have taught him the correct vowel sounds.

Examples of misspelled words are:

snow – snoue
with – wach
friends – frens
do – dow
live – lave
when – win
favorite – fret
place – plice
because – backes
why – way
peaceful – pacefeal
soft – sotf
pitch – phitch

Difficulty copying from the board

Andy finds copying from the teacher’s board very frustrating.

He said that he looks at a word on the board and then looks down to write it. When he looks up again to write the next word, he can’t find where he was in the note and spends time searching the whole board for it.

He said it’s easy to copy when there are just a few words on the board and when the teacher prints.

It is easier for him when he is in a class with a black board and not a white board on which the teacher uses markers. A chalky, dusty board makes it hard to read because, “My eyes go different and I have to focus again.”

Andy said that it is really hard to copy when there are distractions in the classroom or when he has to copy while the teacher is explaining the lesson at the same time.

Once in a while, he gets everything copied. Usually, he doesn’t and the teacher makes him stay in at recess and noon until it’s done. If it’s still not finished, he has to work at it all day everytime there is free time.

Flora E. Gillis

Flora Gillis is a student on the Dyslexia Certificate course.

LOWERED SELF-CONFIDENCE IN ONE GIRL

Disliking school

Every morning, Alice will think of all means to avoid going to school by feigning sickness. This battle has been going on ever since she started school two years ago. Her mother has to walk her to school everyday to ensure she goes into the classroom.

Alice always sits at the back of the class, slouches on her chair and daydreams. Her book will be placed on the desk, unopened, as she felt confused looking at the letters “jumping around”.

She is convinced that she is beyond hope as her teacher and classmates have subtly labeled her as “stupid”. She dreads English and will lower her head and slide further down her chair, hoping the teacher will not notice her.

A couple of times, she was asked to read aloud. She froze in her seat, perspired profusely and stammered as she tried to make out the words. The whole class burst into laughter.

The only activity she looks forward to is the music lesson as she feels good every time she gets to perform playing on the piano in front of the whole class.

Her report

In the Semester report to parents, Alice’s teacher commented: “Alice doesn’t seem interested in the class. She yawns and always looks tired. She draws aimlessly on her textbook during the lesson and copies her classmates’ work instead of trying out the homework herself.

The teachers spent extra time coaching her during recess and after school but there’s hardly any improvement.”

“Her work appeared slip-shod and many teachers can hardly make out what she wrote despite giving her many writing exercises. She was indifferent to correction from the teachers and we couldn’t tell whether or not she understood the concepts. For her own good, we recommend the parents send her to some special school because we feel she is not ready for the pace of our school curriculum.”

Melanie Chong

Melanie Chong is a student on the Dyslexia Certificate course.

DAVID’S DIFFICULTIES

Low self-confidence

David used to be a very social child and this was the part of school he enjoyed but he has started to notice that he learns a different way to the other children in his class, and his peers have started telling him that he cannot read, that his writing is too big and wobbly and that he reverses some of his letters.

They also call out to the teacher “David is copying me again”.

Because of this David has lost all his self confidence and has become shy and withdrawn and his teacher also approached me about this as she is becoming quite concerned.

David has started fighting at school with children who were previously his friends and has been made to stand on the yellow line in the yard/playground as punishment.

He told me he hurts them because they laugh at him. Just before the summer holidays began David cried for two hours before going to bed two nights in a row and begged me to teach him at home or send him to a new school.

Posture and pencil grip

David is right handed and he has always had trouble holding his pencil correctly. He holds his pencil with his thumb and three fingers.

David sometimes sits with his head on his arm when he is losing concentration or if he finds the work he is doing too difficult.

Both his teacher and I have showed David many times the correct way to hold his pencil but he always reverts back to the old way unless he has someone constantly watching and reminding him.

I tried a ‘pencil grip’ (a triangular rubber grip which makes it easier for a child to hold a pencil) but this did not seem to be of any use to David, as he still found a way to hold it incorrectly.

After many weeks of reminding him he now seems to remember to hold the paper with one hand and write with the other. I think a lot of it is not being able to remember as he has a very bad memory.

Confidence building exercise

I made two lists with David – one of things that he is good at, and the other of things he has trouble with.

Things I am good at:

Football
Swimming
Baseball
Skipping
Building with Lego and K-Nex
Riding my bike
Computers
Making people laugh
Dancing
Singing
Gymnastics
Being Kind
Using my imagination
Helping Mummy tidy up
Playing golf
Making things with clay

Things I am not so good at:

Writing
Reading
Spelling
Math/s

I showed David how the list of things he was good at was much greater than the list of things he was not so good at.

You could see that he felt much better about himself straight away and even told his Nanny, when he saw her, all about it.

David also finds comfort in the fact that his dad, uncle and cousin all have dyslexia. He realises that he is not the only one and chats with his cousin who being five years older, tells him how best to handle the children at school when they are nasty to him.

I think it would be a good idea if children with dyslexia could meet at a group a couple of times a year so they can see there are others the same.

Michelle Ward
E-mail: mimward5000@aol.com