How reading, memory and visualization techniques can help deal with Dyslexia
“I don’t ‘suffer’ from dyslexia, I live with it and work with it. I suffer from the ignorance of people who think they know what I can and cannot do.” Erica Cook
What is Dyslexia?
Briefly – Dyslexia, the most common learning disability, is more common than you can imagine. Statistics claims that it affects about 20% of the U.S. population. A dyslexic’s brain deciphers symbols with difficulty, therefore, more efforts are required to make up meaningful words from sounds.
A localized weakness – As stated by Dyslexia Center of UTAH, dyslexia is not “an overall defect in language, but a localized weakness.” The person simply has troubles with breaking down words into sounds and putting sounds together to make words.
Main worries – When this diagnosis is set, an overwhelming number of questions challenge our mind and emotions. Is it possible to overcome dyslexia? Will the person diagnosed with it be able to overcome reading difficulties? Is it possible for a dyslexic to successfully graduate from school and seek a successful career path?
Overcoming – In fact, though dyslexia stays with us for the rest of our life, it depends on us whether it will be an impediment in our way to success. Accurate and early diagnosis, recognition of strengths and weaknesses, as well as knowledge of certain techniques, such as speed reading, memorization, and visualization, can help dyslexics overcome reading struggles.
Dyslexia – Early Diagnosis
Symptoms – If you have difficulty in learning how to read, if you usually read very slow, if it is too difficult to pronounce unfamiliar, multi-syllable words, if you skip, add or transpose letters while reading and writing, if you have an extreme difficulty to learn a foreign language… Actually, all of these “ifs” can be symptoms of dyslexia.
Testing – It should be noted that such learning disabilities are diagnosed by a trained professional. To confirm the diagnosis, a person will have to go through specific evaluation and testing. Early diagnosis is critical to be able to accommodate the learner and leave no room for remarks like “you are being lazy”, “you are not trying hard enough” or “you are unmotivated.”
Handling Dyslexia – Recognize and Exercise Strengths
A positive perspective – Though dyslexia is a complex diagnosis and may seem scary at the beginning, there are numerous tools, methods, and tips to help you face it, deal with it, and turn it to your benefit. Many prominent people proved this statement through their struggles and victories. Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and John Lennon, to name just a few, had dyslexia, and this fact did not hinder them from climbing the stairs of success. Therefore, unearthing and exercising strengths are the key to learning and living with dyslexia.
Natural gifts – Creative and critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and big-picture thinking – note these natural gifts when dealing with dyslexic people. They are excellent at thinking critically and outside of the box. In art and entrepreneurship, they often come up with fresh ideas that lead to success. They don’t usually go from one idea to another; they prefer simultaneous thinking in which they are free to connect and synthesize different points.
Careers – Einstein’s statement will serve as an additional encouragement: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Besides, excellent spatial reasoning skills (e.g. remembering a virtual environment) enable dyslexics to become successful engineers, graphic designers and constructors. Take these professions into consideration if you would like to guide your children or students in their future career choices.
Dyslexia and Speed Reading: Yes, it’s attainable.
Believe it or not, dyslexics have better chances to become good speed readers. In his book “Right-Brained Children in a Left-Brained World” Jeffrey Freed states that dyslexic children are not only excellent at problem solving but also are excellent speed-readers.
Typically, slow reading takes place in the left brain (and most of us are left-brain dominant), while speed reading occurs in the right brain (dyslexics are right brain dominant). That is why, dyslexics find speed reading attainable and pleasurable.
No secret, speed reading is vital to handle academic tasks and get through your numerous readings (to be accomplished in a limited amount of time). A number of simple strategies have long proved beneficial in speed reading which will be listed below.
1. Eye-exercising – Train your eyes to see several words at the same time. When you see words in clusters, it is easier to decipher the meaning of sentences and phrases. Start with seeing word pairs and expand your eye-span to seven-word clusters.
2. Sub-vocalization – Avoid pronouncing words in mind while reading (a phenomenon called subvocalization). It is important to note that this is a challenge for all of the readers, and everyone needs practice to keep their inner voice silent while reading. Though challenging at first, this method helps increase reading speed significantly.
3. Regression – Avoid back-skipping, which means you should try to keep on reading rather than go back and read the same words and sentences again. The context is usually a great servant in helping us decipher the meaning of certain words.
4. Pacing – To have a smooth and fast reading experience, you would also like to run a pen or pencil along the text as you read. You can also use your index finger as a pointer. Called hand pacing, this technique is effective in concentrating on words and being able to move along text at a faster pace.
5. Skim and scan – Reading effectively and quickly does not necessarily mean reading every single sentence in the text. Time and time again, you will find it essential to simply scan a text for important names and numbers, or read only certain parts of the text. This will enable you to read key sentences and get answers to your questions without bothering about reading endless pages.
6. Previewing – Preview the text before starting to read it. This valuable technique will give you a quick idea of what the text is about and what to expect before you get down to reading the details. To preview, you are recommended to read chapter titles and the topic sentences (first sentences) of paragraphs, look for graphs, figures and charts, spot the words or sentences in bold. It is also useful to go to conclusions and read them before even reading the whole text.
How to learn?
All of the above-mentioned speed reading techniques are beneficial in increasing comprehension and minimizing frustration about reading. The only bad news is that few schools teach dyslexic students speed reading; therefore, family members and friends need to take care of it themselves. Teachers can also cooperate with families to help students practice and learn speed reading techniques.
Dyslexia and Memorization: Create Connections and Build
As dyslexics also have difficult times in learning new words and remembering names, dates, and telephone numbers, they should be guided to train their memories. One great method is the Peg system, another one the Link system.
The link system is a memorization technique which is particularly beneficial for building up vocabularies by connecting things and remembering them. For instance, take a list of words you want to remember and compose a story or a dialogue using all of the words on the list.
Be creative! Come up with funny and unthinkable scenarios. Make sure to highlight the unknown words on the paper. Afterward, tell your story to yourself or to someone else for practice. After this activity, you will find it much easier to memorize, pronounce and write the highlighted words correctly.
How to learn?
If you want to know more about memory improvement here is list with memory techniques.
Dyslexia and Visualization: Read with Images in Your Mind
Visualization is a marvelous technique to facilitate reading comprehension. Given the fact that dyslexics have a strong imagination, this technique is surely a pleasant and productive one for them.
As you read a text, try to visualize every detail: people, clothes, smells, colors, temperature, the surrounding, etc. When you revitalize these images in your mind, you strengthen your comprehension, memorize more effectively, and make the reading process more pleasurable. Practice for a while to see how visualization helps you read more smoothly.
How to proceed?
You will find more tips and visualization techniques in this post.
5 Study Tips: Learn and Live with Dyslexia
Dyslexia may throw several hurdles in our path, but certain strategies are developed to help us relieve the pressure it causes. Dyslexic learners who enjoy teamwork and collaborative approach from community, family, and school, have better chances to fight frustration and concentrate on their studies.
1. Practice, practice, practice
Dyslexics should be given the opportunity to read everything themselves – from street signs to food labels. In a restaurant or at a cafe, let the dyslexics do their reading themselves. What can be a better practice?
2. Develop strategies and revisit them for analysis and revision
Keep in mind that if a strategy worked for your friend, does not mean it fits your needs and learning style perfectly. Setting goals and planning is a time-consuming and challenging task, but it is well worth the efforts. Mistakes are important. Don’t reproach yourself if you failed at a planned strategy. Make informed conclusions, do the necessary revisions, and move on!
3. Break down tasks into smaller pieces
Especially for learners with short attention span, it is important to make each reading task easily accomplishable. When you know there is a lot to read, plan a schedule and read little by little not to feel overwhelmed and not to end up in frustration.
4. Minimize distractions
Yes, we have to sign out from Facebook and Twitter and keep our phone in silent mode, if we want an effective reading time.
5. Seek accommodation
No need to get disheartened if dyslexics fail at standardized tests. Remember that these tests do not reflect their true abilities because of time constraints. Consult instructors and student support service managers to find out what accommodation the institution can provide to help a dyslexic prove his or her knowledge. Usually, dyslexics are allotted additional time to take the test not to be penalized for slow reading, as they cannot have control over a biologically determined disability.
Falling behind because of reading difficulties is easy if you let the gap widen. Be proactive and take action at any point you realized you want to make a change. Check out the following resources that should be useful for dyslexics.
- Dyslexia Materials is an open platform that offers resources, strategies and published products for dyslexic students.
- Dyslexia Help does not only provide a large database of articles, apps, tests, as well as useful information both for parents and teachers, but also shares a list of resources to help you find the materials that suit your needs best.
- The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity shares a wide range of resources aiming to help parents of children who have dyslexia.
- Learning Ally offers over 75,000 audio books which can be a great supplement to the learning process especially if people with dyslexia read the original text and listen to the audiobook.
- The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia is an inspiring movie highlighting success stories of people diagnosed with dyslexia.
- You can also search for books that can widen your knowledge on the topic: “Overcoming Dyslexia” by Sally Shaywitz, “Your Child’s Growing Mind” by Dr. Jane Healy, “The Dyslexic Advantage” by Brock Eide and Fernette Eide, and many others.
Dyslexia Treatment Tips – Summary and Outlook
We should not let people with dyslexia quit on themselves – even after several failed experiences. Informed learners, teachers, and parents can turn challenges into a blessing. Though learning disabilities, including dyslexia, are lifelong, we know how to compensate them.
Speed reading, memorization and visualization techniques, as well as study tips and strategies are there to help each of us feel more confident in our abilities. With self-awareness, we find our strengths and know what we should work on in order to succeed. And when our pursuit of success has begun, persistence makes us invincible.
Great quotes about dyslexia.
Please note: While we are not experts on Dyslexia we try to help understand the complexity of the topic, and want to communicate existing opportunities from a perspective of reading and memory improvement as well as visualization. For professional treatment please contact an appropriate expert in your locality. We further appreciate any feedback on this article in order to improve it.