Short and sweet today folks! I updated my webpage this evening with loads of great books for children, teens and adults on the subject .....check it out! Link quickly by clicking on the image. If you have other suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment, I'm always looking for great resources
Some people love to hunt for treasure, real items they can hold in their hand, keep in their collections or sell to another collector. I like treasure hunting in a whole different way....mental treasure hunting. Seeking the positive side of any challenge is essential to moving forward. My dad taught me many great lessons in life, one of the MOST IMPORTANT, is the idea that finding even one small ounce of good among the bad can propel you to keep moving ahead. Initially, when it really sank in that my son was going to struggle so heavily with school, I went through a grieving period. Feeling overwhelmed with dispair for him and the long road ahead of me to support the next 11+ years of his schooling. After a bit though, my dad's voice would creep into my head reminding me that I could choose to either wallow this way or begin digging out of the hole, one small shovel load at a time. I didn't even need a big shovel, I could use a beach pail shovel, just START, shovel a bit at a time until my little shovel magically grows into a garden size shovel.
When I made the mental shift to look for the good things, my research started turning up some pretty amazing information and statistics! It allowed me to help my son in a much more productive way. I began gathering all I could, I put it altogether and gave a presentation to my fellow teachers (which were his teachers too). It felt quite rewarding to hear so many of them say how important this information was and that they had learned so much about looking for the strengths in their students. It's been about a year and a half, and teachers still talk about that presentation, they tell me how they are reaching more students and continuing to help them find successes and build on those.
So.... What is the beauty in dyslexia? Beauty is the good stuff....the benefits of thinking differently.....eeking out an individual's strengths. Sure, dyslexics have difficulty reading, spelling, writing, math, organizing, recalling names, etc., but what about the good stuff? What are the benefits of being dyslexic?
There are plenty of benefits!! , Here's a list of several, not all by any means, but many....
out-of-the-box thinkers--see patterns & connections that others don't see
talents in music, arts, sports
see the bigger picture, not lost in the details
excellent long-term memory
make great entreprenuers
My dad is a very wise man who taught me every good thing I know. In raising my own 4 children, I've tried hard to incorporate his wisdom in their lives. The reason the title of my webpage is Seeing the Beauty in Dyslexia is because my children "get it" and while we were discussing the possible names for the website and the reasons I wanted to create it, my oldest offered up the name, it encompasses my life philospophy as well as my passion for dyslexia...perfection!
25 years ago when I was driving 2 hours a day to go to the university, my dad introduced me to audio books.....I'd put a cassette in my car radio and listen to Brad Pitt's smooth voice as he read Texas or Peter Coyote 's voice as he read The Horse Whisperer, leading my imagination on a ride thru the wilderness, breaking the monotony of 60 miles of highway. I enjoyed listening to their voices and more importantly, enjoyed one of my most favorite things in the world: books, stories and more books...I can't get enough and I can't imagine life without them or life with a struggle to get to something so amazing that I would avoid it. When my mother-in-law lost her eyesight to diabetes she lost some of her spark. She was an avid reader. When we signed her up for audiobooks thru the Recordings for the Blind she regained some of that spark, she could finally have access to romance novels and murder mysteries--her favorite types of stories. Long gone are the bulky tape players, now audio books are accessible thru Kindle, iTunes, local libraries, restaurants, book stores, friends and companies like Bookshare and Learning Ally. Some are read by real people or actors while others are digital versions which can be accessed thru various dialects, the voice is at first a bit mechanical, but within a few minutes, it becomes addicting, the voice lulls your imagination into the story.
Over the years, I've seen many students 'fake-it' by carrying around a book they cannot read but they want to look like their peers, so they do. When someone asks about the book or attempts to carry on a conversation, the whily dyslexic tries to skillfully avert the details, sometimes they make it through unscathed, other times it is painfully obvious they don't know what they are talking about and someone gains more information about him than he/she wishes. Having access to audio versions of books gives a life-gift to kids with reading challenges. This passed March, for March is Reading Month, I got together with our librarian and PTO organization to purchase 12 audio books, 12 portable CD players with headphones, rechargable batteries and a charging station. The kids are chomping at the bit to check them out!! The CD players allow kids to take the book to their classroom or even home so they can listen at their leisure. It doesn't do much good if they check out a book without a way to listen to it. Although it may be an expensive risk to let the CD players go home, a $50 bill if the book and player don't come back, it is more important to the kids to feel like they are a step closer to their peers. This is worth the cost of replacing a few a year.
Bookshare is available thru schools and is free for those with a reading disabiltity. You can't beat FREE!!!! With an iPad, we can download the Daisy version which shows the text on the screen and highlights the words as they are being read. My son uses this system, he can see and hear the text which keeps him more focused. He enjoys seeing the words and reading along with the story. The exhaustive nature of reading is markedly diminished allowing him to plow thru novels and keep up in conversations with his friends about the latest greatest books.
The company, Learning Ally is an amazing resource for parents, teachers and those with reading challenges. They not only offer digital books, but also audio books, read by a person AND textbooks in audio format which is huge for high school and college kids! They are a non-profit company that is growing in leaps and bounds! They offer high-quality webinars, teacher training, parent resources and more! Their annual fees are doable for most. Imagine the possibilities for kids who have a high interest in a higher-level subject area---they could essentially learn engineering or marine biology or a host of other subject matters auditorily & independently! If you are of the means and wish to make a substantial difference in your local community, consider sponsoring a school or entire district's access to Learning Ally, especially for the textbook access to so many kids with IEP's and 504 plans can level the playing field by Ear Reading.
MC4ME, Michigan Collaborative For Mindfulness in Education, is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing Mindfulness education to schools. Learning simple and meaningful ways to focus for our kids with learning differences is powerful, especially when faced with challenges throughout the day. Mindful practices teach more than just calming techniques, it teaches how to let go of the negative and celebrate the good in situations, in others and in oneself. The Crim Foundation has been an integral part of bringing Mindfulness to several Genesee County schools. My classroom was fortunate enough to have Trice Berlinski come in to teach several, 15 minute lessons last year. She has been in several classrooms in our school and has moved on with my son's class to the Middle School where many teachers have been trained and students are benefiting. Trice's group, MC4ME is having an event in April. Please click on the link below to find out more about the event and Mindfulness.
See the Film Room To Breathe
The American Academy of Ophthalmology created a Policy Statement in the year 2009 (which floors me that its been around that long) in which they performed extensive research into Learning Disabilities, Dyslexia and Vision and determined that vision problems are not the cause of primary dyslexia or learning disabilities. "Scientific evidence does not support the efficacy of eye exercises, behavioral vision therapy, or special tinted filters or lenses for improving the long-term educational performance in these complex pediatric neurocognitive conditions.....are not endorsed and should not be recommended." For more information or to read a full copy of this Policy Statement, read the full article which AAO shared recently at an IDA 2013 Conference http://bit.ly/19OcOim (the O's are letters) or directly thru http://www.aao.org/about/policy/upload/Learning-Disabilities-Dyslexia-Vision-2009.pdf
Thank you to Decoding Dyslexia MI for sharing this information via Dyslexia Training Institute from Nov. 10, 2013
Dyslexia is a learning disability that makes learning to read and spell challenging. People with dyslexia are of average to above average intelligence, it’s just that their brains are wired differently. This difference in wiring means that they do not process the sounds the same way as people who are not dyslexic. There are varying degrees that people are affected by this learning difference. Some people have trouble with all types of language such as coming up with words when speaking, often resorting to using words that generalize rather than are descriptive (for example: saying “stuff or things” often) or mixing up sounds in words or omitting them (for example: saying basgetti for spaghetti or sit’er for sister).
Some dyslexics have trouble with organization of directions, instructions, etc. due to language processing issues. They can have difficulty with memorizing math facts and other rote memorization and they can have difficulty organizing their thoughts and ideas clearly when speaking and in writing.
Because dyslexic people have trouble expressing their ideas clearly, have difficulty reading and have poor spelling they often feel like they are not as smart as their classmates and friends even if they are intelligent. School is often frought with negative experiences, stress and anxiety. Children with dyslexia do not have nearly as many positive experiences or opportunities as kids without dyslexia in school, where they spend 6-7 hours a day for 12 years. School days are filled with limitless opportunities for them to fail; they fail at sounding out words or they read slowly so they only get part of an assignment done or they raise their hand to be called on only to forget their idea or have trouble saying what they mean. Other kids notice and begin to ask them about it or point it out, sometimes with malice intent, other times just because they noticed. Eventually, many kids give up trying so hard, it becomes easier for them to take themselves out of the lesson than knowing they failed again. Some kids act out because it is easier to be noticed for being a joker than having others see them fail again . Teachers have so many children to attend to that they often only see the behavior as laziness, lack of intelligence or withdrawal or nuisance--the distracting behaviors can wreak havoc in a classroom. Dyslexic kids get really good at never falling victim to being put on the spot to read in front of the class or demonstrate their failures for the teacher or classmates to see. They learn to do these things as self-preservation of their own self-confidence. Education often feeds into this deception because teachers failed to learn more about dyslexia and colleges and states failed to educate teachers better on how the brain can be wired differently and the best ways to reach and teach kids with dyslexia. Empathy and being able to see from the child's perspective is an essential element of reaching these children to help nurture their potential.
Dyslexia is a global issue, people in every country are affected by dyslexia. Some countries notice dyslexia less because their language is easier to learn, they may have fewer varying patterns or rules to apply. English is one of the hardest languages to learn but so is Chinese due to the intricate combination of strokes in each Chinese character which relies on rote memorization. Dyslexics in other countries go through the same negative feelings as kids in America do, they struggle with the same stereo-typing which tends to lower expectations and outcomes. There are many statistics that show how high the percentage is of people in jail that cannot read or write well.
There is so much wasted talent in society…those with special gifts who missed out on someone recognizing and developing their talent end up being in low paying jobs, they could have been engineers, business owners, designers, etc. All around the world though, societies are beginning to recognize that dyslexics are not the lazy, dumb folks they thought they were, that they are surprisingly intelligent. More and more successful or famous people are speaking out about their own struggles with dyslexia and sharing their successes with the world, giving hope and encouragement to children and parents. The work of Sally Shaywitz, her husband and the staff at the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity have devoted themselves to doing amazing research, publishing their findings and paving the way for a better understaning of yet another subgroup in society, allowing us to learn more, accept more and alter the course of the future.
The children of today are the leaders of tomorrow.
Eye Reading is what we commonly call, READING; but what if reading with your eyes is challenging? EAR Reading is the next best thing and is the only way some people access text. Ear Reading happens with your ears, allowing the reader to gain access to a host of wonderful research, information, entertainment and enjoyment.
Audio books are amazing, especially when the human voice that reads the stories is filled with character and charm. Digitally read stories take a little getting used to but are super accessible on many eReaders, tablets, computers, phones and through software. This is the most inexpensive way to listen to books since it is already installed on many devices or on websites. It takes a little getting used to and at times the digital version reads punctuation or has other tiny flaws but it does not hinder its overall usefulness.
Being flexible with audio text is an option as well. Following along with the book while listening is a great way to build fluency. Switch-it-up and listen to part of the story, for other parts just read the book, then listen some more or listen to a chapter you already read. Some people like to listen to a chapter in advance so when the teacher presents that lesson, they are familiar with story/information; there are so many ways to use audio text.
Ear Reading levels the playing field for those who need to gain information but are slower readers or unable to read text. Listening to text digitally has many advantages. One of the advantages is being able to increase the speed at which the text is read aloud. Amazingly, you can train yourself to listen faster just like some can train themselves to read at a faster pace.
Audiobooks can be enjoyed by any and all, whether reading is challenging or you just enjoy listening to stories. Ear Reading allows us to open our minds' imagination pathways and really get-into a story. Audiobooks are available through a variety of formats and locations, below are many resources. Pick up an audiobook, listen to it with your kids, enjoy a great story or do some research on a high-interest subject with your child.
Genesee District Library www.thegdl.org
Zillions of Digital Books (free for those with disability): www.bookshare.org
Zillions of Digital & Audio Books (annual fee, open to anyone):
Reading Rockets: www.readingrockets.org
DK Eyewitness eBook Collection
*Author, Ben Foss, introduced these phrases in his book, The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan--an excellent resource for anyone with reading and/or writing challenges.
Welcome to my new Blog! I am excited to begin a new journey of helping others navigate the sea of information available on the web and in text on dyslexia. I began my journey a few years ago while trying to learn all I could about dyslexia so I could help my family and my students. I have weeded thru so many sites and books and wanted to create a place to house the best of the best so I decided to start a webpage and share my knoweldge with others. I hope you find this resource useful and informative. It is a work-in-progress right now so please check back often for additional posts, resource links and information.