Dyslexia and visual thinking

However much people with dyslexia may struggle with reading, writing and spelling, they often excel at visual thinking. A child may need special instruction to learn the word read, but show that same child a photo or illustration of a person holding an open book and he or she will be able to understand and say the word read or reading without difficulty.

This is because people with language-processing disorders such as dyslexia have unique brain circuitry that helps them grasp visual information but often makes it difficult to connect the names, sounds and meanings of syllables and words.

A very interesting article on such learning patterns appeared in the July 5, 2011, issue of the Wall Street Journal. In the article, “Unlocking Dyslexia in Japanese,”  by Linda Himelstein, the author describes what happens when a 12-year-old boy with dyslexia begins to learn Japanese.

While his written English “appeared to be the work of a kindergartner,” his “lettering of Japanese characters was sharp and distinct.” The article goes on to explain that his is not an isolated case. Educators and scientists are now getting “clues about how people with dyslexia learn and how best to teach them.”

The author says, “Learning experts don’t suggest that studying Chinese or Japanese will help dyslexics learn to read English; there’s no getting around the fact that reading English well requires being able to identify and blend sounds. But improved understanding of the way dyslexics absorb character-based languages may help educators fashion curricula.”

The widely-acclaimed Orton-Gillingham approach makes use of the unique aptitudes of language-challenged children to help them “identify and blend sounds.” Lexercise, based on Orton-Gillingham, allows clinicians to customize language learning to the needs of individual children with dyslexia and other language-processing disorders.

I hope you’ll read the Wall Street Journal article, and I hope you’ll contact me if you have questions about your child’s struggles to read, write or spell: AskSandie@Lexercise.com or 1-919-747-4557.
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Japanese character for tree by Nao

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Sandie Barrie Blackley, MA/CCC

MA/CCC - Cofounder and CKO

Sandie is a speech-language pathologist with more than 30 years of experience in the private practice sector. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences & Disorders at University of North Carolina Greensboro, and founder/owner of the Language & Learning Clinic, PLLC, a private practice in Elkin, NC, and Greensboro, NC, specializing in communication disorders, including disorders of reading and written language.