• Frank Clark

Learning Difficulties: Dyslexia

Previous blog articles discussed different methods of helping a child learn more effectively. The best schools will work to recognize that child’s best way to learn and observe those gifts that the child has as he or she grows up.

There are several conditions that can exist with a child that may affect that child’s ability to learn. The child may be dealing with a learning deficit. This is becoming more common for a number of reasons, which we won’t get into at this time. There are several types to be considered, so let us take a look at some of the more common ones. We will look at Dyslexia, ADD, ADHD, home environment, food allergies and physical conditions that force a student to stay in a wheel chair.

We will discuss Dyslexia first. It is a condition that affects a child’s ability to cipher letters, and sometimes numbers, preventing that child’s ability to read well. This condition was not well known until the early 1960’s after most schools stopped teaching language phonics in the 1950’s. We now know that phonics can be an effective tool to help overcome this condition or at least lessen its effects on the child.

Many people look at a student who cannot read as someone who lack intelligence and will be unable to function well in society. Dyslexia has nothing to do with a child’s intellectual abilities. In fact, a person who overcomes this disadvantage often is found to be very successful later in life, because that child has learned to persevere. One example is General Patton. He was dyslexic to the point that he had to memorize everything in order to pass classes. He even failed his first year at West Point, but came back to graduate. He is best known for his outstanding development of tank warfare, as well as his amazing performance in leading an army to victory in several WWII battles. Some other well-known people who are/were dyslexics are Stephen Spielberg, Henry Winkler, Jay Leno, Walt Disney, Leonardo da Vinci, John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush. Probably one of the most famous females with dyslexia is Whoopie Goldberg. Last of all, may I mention this writer had dyslexia while growing up. While this condition affects boys more than girls, notice that none of these folks were failures at what they did.

There are now several established methods for diagnosing whether a student has dyslexia. As a school principal, I used these methods and developed some improvements on them. The most extreme case that I encountered was a high school student who saw what he was reading in mirror image. Once we discovered the extent of his dyslexia and taught him how to work with it, he excelled in academics and had no problem with completing college. Again, his intelligence was not the question. It was his eye sight to brain function that was the problem.

Today, when a student’s parents or teacher suspect this condition exists, the testing process is excellent and it does not take a great deal of time to confirm. One symptom that a child may have this condition is that the child will write some letters backwards. These children will sometimes be left handed, but are confused, because they see everyone writing with their right hand. If left alone and given time to explore, the child will settle on which hand is the best one to write with. A child must never be forced to use one hand or the other. This can create additional problems in the child as he/she grows up.

Properly diagnosing a child’s condition such as dyslexia is a way to help the student learn to grow to full potential. The teachers and the staff at Parallel Hope Schools believe this is one of the ways to help a child grow up in the way he/she should go, so every child will be able to function with all God-given abilities fully operational throughout life.

The next time we will look at attention deficits.

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