Dyslexics don’t need to have poor literacy

somebrainssmallI know this title may offend some people but this is Dyslexia Awareness Week and this little fact ought to be widely known.  I do hope I get some well thought through responses that I can reply to.

There are many definitions of Dyslexia with variations on the theme of “trouble with fluent spelling and reading”, which I can go along with.  However some are finished up with the words such as “despite appropriate teaching”.  I must challenge this one, because these students are quite capable of reading and spelling visually, it is just the way we are teaching them and phonics that is confusing them.  They are big picture thinkers, who find it much easier to learn when they can picture the bigger picture, like the whole word, rather than having to deal with what they think of as meaningless bits of words.  Simply, these people are not getting appropriate teaching for their method of learning.

More recently assessments have now focused on the students capabilities with phonics as leading to a definition of Dyslexia.  Why is that even correct.  I for one can read perfectly well and have never learnt phonics.

Now, there is no denying that these students think and learn differently, with exceptional strengths, nothing to do with literacy – latterly called neurodovergent skills and recognised by #madebydyslexia, #geniuswithin amoungst others.  Indeed,  cares whether they can spell or read, when such exceptional brains go on to solve major problems like global warming. But for those in school literacy is a major source of anxiety, stress, bullying and even worse.

One of the problems is the word Dyslexia, because that is derived from the Greek word dys- “bad, abnormal, difficult” + lexis “word.”  If they were called EPIC, it would be easier to contemplate EPIC students without the literacy challenges.  As we know that the appropriate way for these students is to learn using their visual strengths, #empoweringlearning, with word recognition for reading and visualising words for spelling, maybe the word Dyslexia is what should be challenged.

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#Great Spatial Awareness and #Dyslexia or #ADHD

spatialDo you have the ability to turn 2D images into 3D images in your mind’s eye?

For example when looking at an ordnance survey map, which is flat, can you turn the 2D contour lines into 3D images of mountains and hills?  Some #Dyslexic or #ADHD, in fact many with #Neurodivergent thinking and learning patterns have this great skill; just one of the skills shared by #madebydyslexia.

Do you have the skill when proofreading something, that the incorrect words jump out of the 2D paper into a 3D picture of the word in error?

Can you look at a house and imagine you can cut it open a bit like a dolls house and look at all the rooms inside.

These are great spatial skills for all sorts of applications. But, if you are struggling with reading, and you get every word on the page jumping out – it’s a nightmare version of this skill. If you want to know how to select 2D or 3D as you wish, do contact olive@empoweringlearning.co.uk.

#empoweringlearning #visualkids #dyslexia #adhd





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What is behind the strengths of #Dyslexia, #ADHD, etc

strengthssmallI am delighted that so many people are recognising the strengths of #Dyslexia, #ADHD, and other Neurodivergent ways of thinking and learning. Especially initiatives like #madebydyslexia and #youwillfailher.

Creativity, imagination and generation of new ideas are common strengths, and what do they lead to? 

  • Painters, artists, designers, musicians, film makers, photographers, writers, comedians, etc, etc – there is reputedly a design house in New York that only employs those with these skills.
  • Artistic talents are abundant and new ideas appear at lightning speed, sometimes too fast for others to keep up with them!
  • Inquisitive, creates new designs, even wacky solutions, thinking out of the box.

And there is more to learn about what is behind these strengths – how do they do what they do?  The answer is that they are invariably very visual people – they think and learn in pictures, known as mental images, located in their Occipital Lobe.  You can often see it in someone’s eyes; looking up when they are thinking and watching their own mental images.  Ask people you know about their creative and imaginative skills and you will probably be amazed to find out how they do what they do – their metacognition.

If you are great a mental images, you can quickly and easily learn how to use those same mental images for words to improve literacy and for numbers to improve numeracy.

Anyone is welcome to pick up the phone and ask me how this works, just ask for Olive Hickmott +44-7970-854388 and I will be pleased to explain.  I want everyone to be aware of how simple these skills are to learn and what a difference it can make to your life.

Alternatively sign up for more information here www.visualkids.co.uk or come to one of our teleseminars

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“Every word you want to spell, you may have already recognised”

Can you read better than you can spell?  This is a common experience in English, and a question I get asked frequently, so how does that happen? The answer is that for reading the student has progressed from breaking down words into word recognition, where you simply recognise the whole wfasmallword. Now for a little neuroscience; in this sketch you will see that we recognise words in the Word Form Area, which is part of the Occipital Lobe, where we keep all our pictures. For students who can read better than spell this is great news, they are already picturing words, at a subconscious level.

For those who can’t spell the same word they can read, they are focusing their spelling in the frontal cortex, that is exhausting and will cause many errors.  That works for a perfectly phonetic language (e.g. Italian is a transparent language), but for English you need a mental  image of the word to cope with our homophones, silent letters, etc.

But think about this; if every word you want to spell is one that you have already been able to read through word recognition, we know it is already in your Word Form Area.  Empowering Learning teaches students to also use mental images, from the Word Form Area,  for spelling and once you start developing these neural pathways, it is but a simple step to say, “I just read this word, what are the letters, I can picture on the page?” Hey presto, you can spell the same words you can read.

For more information, do follow this blog, goto  www.visualkids.co.uk or www.empoweringlearning.co.uk and sign-up for more free insights.

#empoweringlearning  #visualkids


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Why is it easier to spell in some languages than others?

Whether we are writing/reading in English or Spanish, the challenge should be the same, but is it?  Why are we teaching only phonics in a language like English that I am told is only 46% phonetically correct?  How do we learn homophones (those words that sound the same and are spelled differently like ate and eight) and silent letters, in a purely auditory strategy? The answer is that auditory takes us so far but we need a clear visual image of the word and knowledge of its meaning for word recognition and spelling in languages such as English.

There is something called the “Orthographic depth” of a language. Putting it simply, a language with shallow orthographic depth, the spelling-sound correspondence is direct; such examples include Spanish, Finnish and Italian is an exemplar in this.  In contrast, in a language with deep orthographic depth, where the relationship is less direct, the reader must learn the arbitrary or unusual languagespronunciations of irregular words and rules associated with correct spelling. In other words, deep orthographies are writing systems that do not have a one-to-one correspondence between sounds and the letters that represent them. They may be irregular like English, which also has to cope with silent letters, homophones, heteronyms etc.  So the structure of the language has a significant effect and there is one thing that they all have in common……What a word looks like. If we can recognise words and spell them from our mental imagery, it will work in any language.

You should only need phonics for new words you have never seen before. Once you have seen them 2-3 times, the process that good readers have developed naturally is to hold words as a mental image, for rapid access, fluent reading and accurate spelling. People who do well with phonics, will also have automatically developed mental images of words.  Those who have struggled with phonics and have strengths in seeing the big picture,  can be taught how to directly develop mental images for words, in just a few minutes.

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#pathwaystolearning #jumpstartingliteracy
#ADHDAwareness #dyslexiaawareness #learningdifferences




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Are you Dyslexic and can picture words?

p49_dinasaursmallThere are 10,000s of bright, creative and exceptional children and adults diagnosed as Dyslexic, without the skill to visualise words.  Would you be curious that 100% of all the Dyslexics that I and other Empowering Learning coaches have met, and there have been 1000s,  are not visualising words reliably for spelling and/or reading?  This topic is not even identified in an Educational Psychologist’s report of these people, but the truth is that without these skills you can never be a fluent reader or accurate speller in the English language.  From our experience, we estimate that only 50% of the population pick these skills up naturally.

Empowering Learning works from strengths, as these same creative #visualkids are nearly always great at visualising pictures.  It is only a small step to visualising words. #makebydyslexia is doing a brilliant job highlighting the exceptional skills of dyslexics, and we need to take it a step forward to enabling people to use their great visual skills for any sort of thinking and learning, including literacy and numeracy.

Want to know more?  Empowering Learning is dedicated to helping you understand more about how we think and learn visually; so call us on +44-7970-854388 or register for one of our on-line drop-in sessions on Wednesday 4th October 2017 at 9am, or 6pm.  Just click here.

#madebydyslexia   #empoweringlearning #visualkids





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Dyslexia and Word Recognition

7.keep-pictures-still-smallCan you do word recognition? When you see a word you have seen before can you simply recognize it, or do you need to decode it. Dyslexia Awareness Week is here, so its time to think differently about our struggling children and adults. #dyslexiaawarenessweek

It is accepted that for fluent reading you need to be able to recognize words, rather than having to decode them over and over again; this is called rapid automatic naming or word recognition. If you are having to decode many words then you simply lose the sense of what you are trying to read.

So why don’t teach children explicitly how to do this, at the same time as we are teaching phonics? Children will progress more quickly and enjoy the whole experience.  The reason is that few people understand that word recognition is a visual skill, based on having mental images of words, and the UK government guidelines says that the only way to teach reading is through phonics, which is an auditory skill.

Changing our strategy in primary school to being both auditory and visual would reduce childrens’ anxiety, save special needs effort and dramatically reduce parental stress.

If you want to know more about the vital role of mental imagery take a look at Empowering Learning (www.empoweringlearning.co.uk)  #empoweringlearning or signup at www.visualkids.co.uk for more information. #visualkids

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