What Is Dyslexia
Dyslexia literally means ‘trouble with words’. The term dyslexia can be used in two ways:
- specifically for challenges with reading and spelling, or
- as an umbrella word to encompass over 70 so-called learning disabilities.
Stereotypically, people with dyslexia reverse letters and words and have difficulty with reading and spelling, but this is not always the case. They may read well, they may have difficulty with printing, processing, written output, math, directions, organisation or paying attention.
Why does Dyslexia exist?
Sue believes dyslexia exists for three reasons:
- a natural ability to alter perception which is shared by one third of the population
- our education system assuming everyone is, or has to be a verbal processor
- our education system not supplying meaning in a three dimensional form for the words we read
Dyslexics have a gift – a natural ability.
Ron Davis, author of The Gift of Dyslexia, discovered he had an ability to perceive mental images as if they are real, and to view these images from many different perspectives. One-third of the population share this gift. It works to their advantage in the real three-dimensional world, and many famous dyslexics succeeded because of their gift, not in spite of it.
However, this gift works against them in the two-dimensional world of print. If a person imagines a 3D elephant and perceives it from many angles, it is always an elephant, but in the 2D world of print, a lower case ‘d’ is only a ‘d’ from one perspective. Also, the letters in the word have to be seen from left to right in a certain sequence, rather than the other way around…
William B. Yates
There are two main ways of thinking and processing:
- Verbal Conceptualisation – those who think with the sound of words (having an internal dialogue in their heads)
- Non-verbal Conceptualisation – those who think with images and feelings (having a movie playing in their heads
Sue believes one thirdof the population think mostly in sound, one third prefer to think mostly in multi-dimensional images; and one third can use both forms.
Unfortunately for the non-verbal conceptualisers, our current education system assumes we all process with the sound of words, that we should all have internal dialogue. We are therefore encouraged to learn to read phonetically, based on this assumption. This involves breaking words down into separate sounds, or de-coding. Dyslexics prefer to visually recognize the whole word, and find phonics extremely difficult
Reading is not just de-coding letters into sounds, it is also thinking with the meaning of the word.
A word is made up of three parts, and a person with dyslexia can have trouble with each part:
- letters in a certain order | table
- what the whole word sounds like | “taybull”
- the meaning
When people with dyslexia read, they form mental pictures for the meanings of words. There is a picture meaning for the word bicycle, desk and flower, but what is the picture meaning for the, or ,so?
217 of these little connective words make up half of what we read, no matter what grade level, and they have no picture meaning. This is a problem for a picture thinker because each time the picture thinking process is interrupted by a blank, at least half of the text, at which point understanding is lost, and the resulting confusion often leads to mistakes.
Dyslexia is therefore the result of the following combination:
- An individual’s natural ability to alter perception, which is not widely understood
- Combined with an assumption by our education system that everyone can, and should process auditorily when reading and an education system that omits image-based meanings for words
Most importantly we need to confirm that dyslexia is NOT a medical condition. The dyslexic brain in not mis-wired.
Dyslexia and Perception Dyslexia International – on YouTube
Excerpts from the DVD – Dyslexia the Gift – originally created by Davis Dyslexia Association Germany. The animations show the perceptual gift shared by dyslexics and the need for image-based meaning for all words.