Like most labels Dyslexia covers a whole host of different conditions, often with varying underlying causes. Dyslexia is related to our ability to age appropriately read fluently and accurately, while Dyscalculia is linked to our ability to work with numbers. The underlying cause of most forms of Dyslexia includes an auditory and language processing component.
- How our brain learns to read
- More about reading, writing and Dyslexia
- More about Dyscalculia
- Solutions to reading, writing, Dyslexia
To understand the possible causes of Dyslexia it is useful to know how we learn to read. In the first years of life an infant is exposed to a constant flow of written material through television or advertising displays, on toys, packaging, magazines or books, on cars and street signs. Initially the infant will ignore all this writing, but eventually the child will start to recognise whole words, shapes and colours and will be able to put sounds to this visual input. This first spontaneous reading is not based on the sounds of individual letters, but on whole shape recognition.
When formal reading teaching commences, the child learns that those funny squiggles are called letters and that each letter represents a certain sound. By putting the sounds of a number of squiggles together, they start to form their first reading words. They will already know these words, but never have translated the words into as series of squiggles. In the beginning the translation of squiggles into familiar words is slow, difficult and probably quite meaningless to the child as he or she already knows how to say these words and ask for things.
This translating of squiggles into words is a very visual process and thanks to modern brain imaging we now know that most of this processing takes place in the right brain-half. Over time the child will learn to read faster and more automatic, not needing to sound out each letter any more. When that happens the processing burden in the brain shifts from the right side to the left side. Accomplished readers will process almost all information in the left side of the brain.
For further study we recommend "Neuropsychological Treatment of Dyslexia" by Dirk J. Bakker, Professor of Child Neuropsychology at the Free University and Head of the Research Department, Pedological Institite, Amsterdam, The Netherlands - published by Oxford University Press, 1990, ISBN 978-0-19-506132-1.
Some people read more slowly than their peers and often don't like to read or write at all. They probably still process most reading on the right side of the brain and have, not yet, made the transition to the left side. We categorise this as “P-type” or Perceptual Dyslexia.
Others read at normal speed but make many mistakes, skip words or lines or reverse letters or words. They probably started to process reading on the left side of the brain too early on and have not given the right side enough time to establish a strong routine of visual processing of letters. We categorise this as “L-type” or Language Dyslexia.
Most people suffering from either “P” or “L” type Dyslexia also have problems with deciphering short sounding letters, such as the explosive “B”, “D” or “P” sounds. If a sound is shorter than the time required to recognise that letter, then the brain has to guess or spend extra time on recovering the missing information from context. We categorise this as “A-type” or Auditory Dyslexia.
By activating each brain-half separately with either language or non-language (music), it is possible to retrain the brain to process language more efficiently, using the dedicated processing centres in the correct side of the brain. For each type of Dyslexia we can design a personalised SAS course that fits the abilities and needs of the client and that can trigger rapid and lasting results. In most cases clients also experience a boost in confidence and a strengthened feeling of self-worth.
Dyscalculia is a condition involving difficulties in understanding or manipulating simple numbers and often co-exists with a poor comprehension of time, measurements and spatial awareness. Interestingly many people with Dyscalculia have good abstract mathematical reasoning abilities. People with Dyscalculia do not necessarily suffer from Dyslexia, although about half of all people with Dyslexia also have problems working with numbers.
People suffering from Dyscalculia also often have difficulties with:
- times-tables (multiplication-tables) and sequencing;
- reading analogue (round) clocks and understanding time intervals;
- differentiating between left and right or reading maps;
- estimating the cost of a basket of items;
- over-sensitivities to sounds, light, touch.
The underlying causes of Dyscalculia are not yet fully understood, although both working and short-term memory seem to influence our ability to work with numbers, as is our ability to visualise patterns related to numbers. Our sense of musical rhythm is also closely related to sequencing and patterning.
By activating the brain with sounds that move from one side to the other, it is possible to strengthen coordination between the two brain halves, which often leads to improvements in memory and understanding. We can design personalised SAS courses that fit the abilities and needs of the client and that can trigger lasting results. In many cases clients also experience a boost in confidence and a strengthened feeling of self-worth.
Faster and more efficient processing in the correct part of the brain can be achieved in just a few weeks of intensive neuro-sensory training. We offer a range of condition-specific courses at SAS Centres, through SAS Practitioners, or as a SAS At Home course. Tailor-made brain training that can make a real difference!
Home Help - here are some hints and tips you can try yourself at home, school or work:
- Experiment with different positions in the classroom, back or front and left or right from the teacher and board.
- Study or work in a quiet room, facing a blank wall - minimising sounds and visual clutter helps the brain to focus.
- Break study or work time up in chunks of about 20 minutes, going for a short walk or having a drink or bite to eat in between.
- Vary the type of study or work - create a mix of reading, writing, internet research.
- Use a computer when possible and allowed to do so.
- Use different coloured pens and different coloured paper to distinguish between tasks or categories.
- Make mind maps with colour and shapes as a note taking and revising tool.
- Spell words with a finger on fine sandpaper to activate tactile memory.
- Use fidget objects or modelling clay to keep hands busy and divert excess energy.
- Allow study or work to be done while standing up or walking about.
- Establish study and work routines, using “To do” lists to stay focussed and on track.
- Repeat verbal instructions back to the person which gave them.
- Continue to practice reading, using not too challenging and interesting reading material.
Make a list or display board of successful Dyslexic people and recognise the special creative abilities that go with Dyslexia.