Dyscalculia / Dyslexics and Maths

Declan is a sensitive, clever, creative 8-year old who is Dyslexic. After correcting his Dyslexia, his reading, writing and comprehension improved, but he was still struggling in Maths. On the first day of the Math program, he took to the whiteboard and – in big fat letters – wrote:

MATH ALIENS COME – I NEED YOU!

On Day 3 of the program, he wiped it out and replaced it with:

NO NEED TO COME AFTER ALL THIS TRAINING – THANKS!

Visual learners, like Dyslexic individuals, have a different style of learning. Contrary to common belief, Dyslexia affects not only reading related subjects, but can also prove challenging for Mathematics.

Not everybody has Maths aliens to call upon. Declan was happy that he didn’t need to rely on them any longer and that he had found that he gets it now.

Lauren is 15 and finds it really hard to read. A Dyslexic program improved her reading, but it was still a struggle and not enjoyable. It was the Maths program, another area of difficulty, where she really found a strength and instead of working at it, she now plays at it. On her last day of the program, I stared in amazement at a really complicated calculation which she had just finished successfully and correctly. She asked me if she can do one more, please! That, for me, is the reason I love these programs. Where else can you measure success as clearly on a logical as well as an emotional level?

Let’s start, with the help of Declan and Lauren, to discover how to release your child’s Maths genie from the bottle!

Unfortunately, a lack of motivation is rarely the reason for a child’s struggle at Maths.

Many of my Dyslexic clients are challenged in Maths, not because they don’t have a ‘Maths brain’ or are lacking intelligence. Quite the opposite! They may even find that they get the most advanced Maths easier than the simple basic Math questions.

They need to be taught Maths in a different way – a way that makes sense to their visual or kinaesthetic learning style. As a problem with Maths doesn’t point any struggling child to a facilitator for Dyslexia, I won’t write the Dyslexic’s Guidebook into the Maths Galaxy. It will help any child that has a creative, visual mind.

However, if that child also has comprehension issues when reading a word problem in Maths, they might be Dyslexic and in that case a Dyslexia Correction Problem may be needed before tackling Maths. My first book, ‘the Right Brain for the Right Time’ will give you an insight into the visual world of Picture thinkers, why they are finding it harder to cope at school and how this can be helped and corrected.

In my work, a program to master reading or improve a child’s attention and focus will usually proceed a Maths Program, enabling a basic foundation for the individual to focus with ease and work with full comprehension. For this ongoing blog to be as helpful as possible, I am going to add some basic focusing tools, as a way of assuring that the child is able to place its attention to the task at hand. They are part of the Davis Dyslexia Correction Program, which you can find in more detail in ‘the Gift of Dyslexia’ by Ron Davis.

The second part of the book will address foundations of Maths, concepts that will lead to order in the brain and in the life of the person. Without these pillars, Maths is built on shaky grounds and missing even one of these Master Concepts can stop the mastery of calculi. Dyscalculia is often quite easily addressed when the ‘how’ follows the ‘why’. At school the presence of these foundations is taken for granted. It is assumed that anyone who can count to 100 actually understands what it means to count. There is a belief that teaching the ‘how-to’ will be sufficient to learn to add, subtract, multiply, divide and then go on to more abstract and sophisticated Math problems. However, missing the basics, the reasons why we add, the meaning of the symbols and amounts represented by abstract numerals leaves many children guessing and frustrated.

The third part will then address the ‘how-to’, in a fun, creative and interactive way. It will make Maths ‘real’, rather than abstract. After this much deeper understanding and reasoning behind calculations, the last part will add a different way of learning times tables. In one week or less the basic times tables should be learnt very easily and with fun.

to be continued…

 

 

 

 

What c-h-a-n-g-e ???

I was interested in reading an article in Sunday’s Sydney Telegraph about the new magical approach in getting Australia’s dismal Literacy and Numeracy results up into the ‘Finnish range’ (as in Finland being one of the top countries for literacy). Imagine my surprise, when the NEW system will be a radical focus on ‘phonics’ and sounding out words. The literacy testing of our 6-year-olds will be comprised of sounding out real and nonsense words. My question: and what is new about that?

The phonics approach has been their number one tool ever since I have become a dyslexic facilitator over ten years ago – and has not brought them the desired results yet. Wasn’t it Einstein who explained ‘insanity’ as ‘doing the same thing over and over in the same way and expecting a different result’?

The result of the testing will be easy to project: Children who are auditory learners (like most non-dyslexic individuals) will have no problem passing the test – and those who are visual or tactile learners (like most of my dyslexic clients) will have the problems they always have or had in our traditional school environment. What they see as novel and progressive is the young age they ‘catch them’ in order to intervene, bombarding them with phonics training to drill reading and writing into them. The problem is: if it works, with enough hard drill, then the joy of learning is gone. It usually takes away the confidence and love of reading, leaving children feel stupid – and they belong to a group of the most gifted and intelligent beings.

The article points out that the ‘whole word approach’ is one of the fads that didn’t work…and I agree. Unfortunately they don’t seem to consider that there are other ways to engage a creative mind, to help them learn by using their visual, creative, tactile strengths and help them discover, create and master their literacy and numeracy.

 

Dysgraphia

I have found that dysgraphia often goes hand in hand with dyslexia, but not always. Dyslexia seems to always get the attention rather than the learning-to-write difficulty or disorder.

As their sense of orientation is out of alignment, there is a great difficulty to:

-write consistently in the same direction or in a straight line

-write more than the bare minimum

-string the ideas together in a logical and sequential order

-poor spelling, grammar, spacing etc.

All these symptoms and more are not a reflection of the student’s intelligence, but definitely affect their confidence.

This OT blog gives some ideas, but not sufficient to correct dyspraxia, which would first of all require the orientation to be addressed, so the child (or dysgraphic individual) perceives the information from the correct perspective:

http://thepocketot.blogspot.com.au/2016/09/5-helpful-strategies-for-dysgraphia.html

Your Brain is like a Garden

When I wrote the book ‘Nurturing the Secret Garden’, I wasn’t far off, referring to the garden as a metaphor for the brain’s ability to change. We plant new seeds (with the trigger words), we water them (using the new tools), we weed and prune as well, by staying away from old negative thought patterns. The article below refers to our ability and responsibility to choose which synapses the gardener in our brain chooses to prune and disconnect and which ones get oxygenated and nurtured.

I have always found that Mindfulness is one of the most influential ways to establish a more conscious way of living and thereby changing old patterns that serve us no longer. Others that have great value are those that enable us to access and re-program the subconscious mind, like EFT, hypnosis, subliminal music or recordings, theta meditation and others.

http://www.fastcompany.com/3059634/your-most-productive-self/your-brain-has-a-delete-button-heres-how-to-use-it

Tapping to relieve Stress

I have rarely met a dyslexic student who does not suffer from stress and anxiety in class. The statistic that one in five students are affected by stress-related illnesses must surely point to the high levels of stress that are necessary on a frequent basis to create clinically verified illnesses, like depression, eating disorders, behavior problems, toxicity, gut issues, chemical- and neurological disorders and dysfunctions of the nervous system, just to name a few.

The few clients of mine that are not affected by any stress-induced health problems are those who ‘zoom out’. The level of inattention, attention deficit (ADD) or ADHD are some of the ways to opt out of stress, yet doesn’t promise the solution needed to learn: Learn strategies to release the stress, to regain focus and actually LEARN by paying attention to teachers. One of the tools I love to teach my students is EFT, or ‘tapping’ and the YouTube clip gives a really nice, short snippet from the standpoint of teachers, parents and the students themselves.

Stress is bad enough for students, dealing with a fast life style, information overload and the pressure of exams – but imagine a child with dyslexia, who on top of all that has trouble processing information, struggling to read and to retain and comprehend the information. EFT can really help them:

Not the right idea about Dyslexia

I have added this short film here, as I have rarely seen anything less accurate and more misleading or misunderstood. Especially the three categories of dyslexia and how to deal with it boggles my mind. Apparently dyslexics grow out of ‘developmental dyslexia’ and eventually catch up? Those with Trauma Dyslexia are practically lost – and so are children with Primary Dyslexia (apparently those who were genetically ‘afflicted’ with the disability) will never read beyond Year 4? Really? Please don’t take this seriously – there is not one type of dyslexia (if you wish to categorize it, which isn’t really that helpful) that cannot be corrected.

Is there a font ideal for Dyslexics?

I have had a mixed feedback from introducing the font to dyslexic clients. Yes, some have seen that it helps, others have actually found it frustrating. What do you think?

Check it out:

Dyslexie, the Font

In the long run, it’s not really about which font is useful and which one is not. Isn’t it more important to ask – do I comprehend what I am reading? How focused am when reading and how long can I remain focused?

When we are in a state of frustration and disorientation, no font will make us feel better – if we are focused, have meaning with all the words we read and have corrected or mastered dyslexia – then I can see that a preference in a font can make reading even more enjoyable. Everyone will have a preference though, dyslexic or not.

Reading one Book a Week

readingWorking with Dyslexic children and adults, learning to read better, with more ease or to fully comprehend what they are reading is usually the number ONE goal. Many adults I work with are able to read – but often have to re-read a text several times to take in the full message. Even then they are not always certain that they have fully understood it. In most cases it’s just not enjoyable, a necessary task that they try to avoid as much as possible. Reading out loud falls into the category of ‘torture’.  Children usually master the art of reading too, just not at the class- or age-level of their peers…and of course without the fun.

Now increasing the enjoyment and ease of reading is a very worthwhile goal and we can get them onto the road of literacy in five days. The mistakes drop off, the certainty creeps in, the comprehension increases. Success!

But what happens after the course? When we have a goal to change something in our lives, having the skill is not enough. The action afterwards has to match the desire for change. Why not challenge yourself to read a book a week? Being dyslexic, a corrected dyslexic or non-dyslexic, this may well change the direction of your life. Choose books that fascinate you and choose them wisely. Books can be ‘fast-food novels’, that may get you addicted to reading, but lack the nourishment of a beautifully written book that can satisfy you like a well-balanced meal.

Julien Smith wrote it better than I could phrase it:

HOW TO READ A BOOK A WEEK

Why Would You Want To Do This?

It feels awesome. It gives you an amazing amount of ideas. It helps you think more thoroughly. It’s better than TV and even the internet. It makes you understand the world more. It is a building block towards a habit of completion. Did I mention it feels awesome?

Why One a Week?

First of all, why so many, why not just “read more books?” I’d argue that setting a massive goal, something crazy like one a week, actually helps. To make a comparison, the body reacts strongly to large wounds, expending significant energy to heal them. Small wounds, it doesn’t think much of, which means they can sometimes take longer to heal. So setting a massive goal will make you take it seriously.

So, that’s first. Make your goal massive and unreasonable so that you freak out a little.

One Day at a Time

The average book I read was maybe 250-300 pages. Some were larger, some were smaller. I broke this down to 40 pages a day, which I read early on so I can get it over with. It’s an easy, manageable goal, which doesn’t seem nearly so daunting as 52 books in a year. This is critical to managing your emotional state, making it feel like it’s totally reasonable.

Make It a Routine and Stack It

I have a habit right now of getting up, showering, etc., and then going out for breakfast every morning, sitting at counter at the same restaurant, and drinking coffee until I’ve read my 40 pages.

Why do I do it like this? Because I know that I’m kind of weak-willed. I’m betting you can admit this about yourself too, and doing so will help you set everything into its proper place.

Oh, and a protip: Set it up early in the day, as early as possible. It must occur early or we will put it off. Your willpower diminishes later in the day.

Use Every Moment

If you have a commute, use it. If you have a lunch break, use that. This is something I’m just figuring out, but the ability to whip out your book quickly and read 2 pages will help you out significantly, especially in getting ahead, which will be your biggest asset and give you a rewarding feeling. Getting ahead will help you take your time with the hard books that are really dense and worth taking time on.

It’s Ok To Give Up… Kind Of

If something sucks (or feels tough), it’s ok give up on it– for now. You can do this when you’re ahead of schedule, and then you can go back to that book every little while until you finish it.

I did this a number of times this year, which means the number of books I started was probably in the 60-65 range (I finished 54.)

It’s Ok To Cheat

Is your deadline closing on you, and you feel you may fall behind? It’s time to cheat. Choose a quick book and read it, something you may have read before, enjoy a lot, and can breeze through.

“This is cheating,” you may say. I would agree. But the short term cheating to help yourself succeed in the long run on this goal is more important than hard-headed idea that every book you read has to be War and Peace. It doesn’t. This is to enrich your life, not to make you feel terrible.

By the way, even small books can be incredible. This year, I read the following books that were small but awesome: The Dip, The Little Red Book of Selling, The Five Secrets You Must Discover Before You Die, Man’s Search For Meaning, Vagabonding, and Of the Dawn of Freedom.

Never Fall Behind

Never “owe yourself one” or deduct from the bank account, saying you’ll get back to it later. Your weekly deadline will help you stay on track, but falling behind may make you feel helpless and make you consider giving up. You have to control your emotional state from dropping to this level, where you feel it’s hopeless, etc., and you do that by always being ahead of schedule.

In Conclusion

Reading has made me a much better, more complete, and happier person. All the world’s wisdom is contained in books– most of it is not on the internet or known by people in your social group, so this can really help you expand, if you let it. Start today.

Read the original post published on Julien’s blog here.