BY DON M. WINN
ONE IN ;; PEOPLE has
dyslexia. That means
more than ;;; million
have lifelong literacy
issues and the social,
financial and self-esteem
struggles that result.
;;; years ago, dyslexia occurs when the
brain develops. It is a neurological difficulty with decoding the written word, not
an intelligence issue. It’s often hereditary,
and rarely gets noticed until a child enters
school and begins to struggle with literacy.
As a dyslexic myself, I felt like an average kid until I was in first grade. I couldn’t
understand why I struggled with reading,
writing, numbers, sequencing and directions. I felt ashamed and incapable of
doing the work my teachers required.
Stories like mine are shared by thousands of fellow dyslexics.
Early diagnosis and intervention are
crucial: There’s a short window of time
when children learn to read, and after that
point, they must be able to read with comprehension in order to continue learning.
Indeed, literacy is key for a healthy self-concept, learning practical life skills and
optimal psychosocial development.
While some dyslexics become adequate
readers through traditional instruction,
more than ;; percent require specialized
instruction to overcome reading or pro-
cessing challenges. These students
respond well to a multisensory approach
that includes visual, auditory, kinesthetic
and tactile modalities.
While traditional instruction centers
on memorizing the alphabet and each letter’s individual sound, multisensory
teaching methods allow children to gradually understand their particular learning
styles and discover what lights up their
brains. They discover what they are passionate about. And these teaching strategies for dyslexics benefit all beginning
readers, not just the struggling ones.
If your preschooler has trouble identifying rhyming words, pronouncing words,
calling things by their right names or following instructions with more than one
step, or speaks less or uses fewer vocabulary words than his or her peers, screening
for dyslexia is advisable.
If your school-age child struggles with
reading, seek out programs through his or
her school to optimize the learning environment. Help your child cultivate a love of
story. Why? Reading will always be tremendously hard work for dyslexic children, but
when they truly love stories, the fact that
they can experience a great story makes the
hard work of reading worthwhile.
I learned to love stories by reading
exciting adventures about others who, like
me, felt overwhelmed and struggled with
confidence, but eventually overcame their
challenges. Psychology calls this phenomenon discovering a hero of self-reference.
Struggling readers need engaging stories
with heroes of self-reference to develop a
sufficient love of story to persist with their
reading efforts. If they can develop tenacity and an identity as a reader, they may no
longer think of themselves as a bad reader,
but as someone who loves to read, no matter how much effort it requires. C
Don M. Winn is an award-winning author
and dyslexia advocate ( donwinn.com).
SPECIAL SEC TION
BACK TO SCHOOL
Untangling the words
Dealing with dyslexia
“Children can outgrow dyslexia.”
Fact: Dyslexia is a lifelong difference in the
way the brain processes information.
“Dyslexia is about social anxiety or lack
Fact: Dyslexia is not due to immaturity or
social anxiety; it’s a decoding problem in
“People with dyslexia see things backward;
therefore, dyslexia is a vision problem.”
Fact: People with dyslexia do not “see” things
backward; their brains process language information differently.
“Kids with dyslexia are lazy and unmotivated. They just need to try harder.”
Fact: People with dyslexia must work harder
than most. They have an inherent brain difference that requires above-average efforts to
read and write.—DMW
Costco members will find a variety of children’s storybooks, as well as a selection
of audiobooks and reading exercise books,