There is only one problem common to all Dyslexics: They have not learned how to visualise letters and words, an essential skill for fluent reading and spelling in the English language.
When we are born, we have no letters or words in our Word Form Area (WFA), or as Dehaene [see footnote] calls it, “The brain’s letterbox”. We have to learn how to populate our WFA with letters without any direct instruction in school. It is, in my opinion, a miracle that about 50% of the population manage to start populating their WFA without any direct education. The other 50% have an underdeveloped use of their WFA, resulting in poor literacy or full-blown Dyslexia, often with letters spinning around/changing places.
The children most affected by not developing their WFA are highly creative, imaginative, and often have a high IQ. They have excellent visual skills for mental imagery but have not learned how to use imagery for any other type of learning, such as spelling, reading, maths, comprehension, etc. Consequently, they typically develop lack of self-esteem, feel stupid, look to be lazy, become angry at their own performance, and a myriad of other behavioral problems. These, in turn, cause anxiety, being ungrounded, mouth breathing and sleep deprivation:
- When students are ungrounded, you may see them clumsy, uncoordinated and distracted by sounds that others do not hear, . They may even close down their peripheral vision to avoid overload.
- When students are mouth breathing, they will lack oxygenation in every cell of their body. Lack of brain oxygenation results in hyperactivity, lack of muscle oxygenation results in poor muscle tone.
- Sleep deprivation will cause many behavioural issues.
These same children have many talents, pick any from the following list; ability to see things from different perspectives sometimes at the same time, seeing the bigger picture, problem solving, drive and energy for things that interest them, picture thinking, creativity, imagination, ideas generation and exceptional memory.
The question is how to simply and easily populate a child’s Word Form Area. It is really helpful that right next to your WFA is your Occipital Lobe that holds all your visual images, so the sequence goes:
- First it is essential to made friends with your mental images to carry out lots of visual activities, such as memory, mental maths, problem-solving, etc. Check the qualities of these images and make sure you are in control of where they are, whether they are still or moving etc.
- Then put words on the images, not below or above, and these word images can now be used for spelling and reading. The process has a few simple steps to learn and works for any words, in any language, including those tricky words or homophones that sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. This maximises the students’ natural visual learning strengths.
- Using any technique for literacy such as phonics or look and say may accidently populate the Word Form Area for many children but adding this explicit teaching of Empowering Learning will accelerate everyone’s progress, not only those who find phonics simple.
All the other dyslexic symptoms come from this simple problem of not learning how to use your WFA, how to control your mental imagery and the rules and counter rules of the English language, where teaching ONLY phonics is just not suitable.
My name is Olive Hickmott; I would be pleased to support you in any way I can.
You are welcome to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org
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You will find other useful information at http://www.empoweringlearning.co.uk
For more information see my latest book:
The Elephants in the Classroom: using every student’s natural power of mental Imagery to enhance learning: Neurodiversity through the lens of mental Imagery
You will find more examples in Bridges to Success – How to transform Learning Difficulties
#theelephantsintheclassroom #empoweringlearning #borndyslexic #wordformarea #occipitallobe #Dehaene
Footnote: Adjacent to the occipital lobe is the Word Form Area, or as Stanislas Dehaene prefers to call it “The Brain’s Letterbox.” The Word Form Area plays a significant role for someone who is successful at literacy, connecting the occipital lobe to the areas for pronunciation, articulation and meaning, creating people who are fluent readers and capable spellers. “Whenever subjects looked at written words, the region dedicated to vision, situated at the back of the head, was activated. Another small region of the left hemisphere, right at the border between the occipital and temporal lobes, also showed up – that he termed ‘The Brain’s Letterbox.’” This research has often been replicated.