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August 17, 1984 - Image 46

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-08-17

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

BACK ID SCHOOL

Overcom ng
Dyslexia

Albert Einstein was dyslexic. So was
Thomas Edison. The "difficulty with
words" has nothing to do with
intelligence. In fact, it may accompany a
high order of creative or athletic talent.

BY POLLY KENT HOSTETLER

Special to The Jewish News

lexic's brain that is respon-
sible for language process-
ing has developed differ-
ently from the average.
Most of us learn by seeing
and hearing — we assimi-
late information visually or
auditorially — and then
store what we have learned
for retrieval at some point
in the future.
Because of the visual and
auditory processing diffi-
culties of the dyslexic, the
information that he has
learned is more difficult- to
retrieve, and to express his
answer in words is still
more difficult, if not im-
possible. The problem is not
with his understandng, but
with his ability to reproduce
that which he has under-
stood, particularly through
the medium of language.
Every dyslexic is differ-
ent, and there are different

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The spelling performance of a dyslexic child.

Education has always
been important in Jewish
culture. But if an otherwise
intelligent child, raised in a
typical Jewish home, dis-
likes school of rejects educa-
tion, the problem may be
more complicated than sim-
ple childhood rebellion.
Dyslexia is a learning
disability that prevents
from five to 15 percent of
this country's children from
learning to , read and write
adequately. The problem is
not limited to any particu-
lar race class, or sex, but it is
four times more common in
boys than in girls. It has no
bearing whatsoever on in-
telligence: Albert Einstein
and Thomas Edison were
boty dyslexic. Quite often,
in fact, the dyslexic child
. 7!iitshow unusual talent in -
*that needs no lan-
e? skills, such as, art,
athletics. 'The

Tha , author is a freelance
writer and certified tutor of
reading for dyslexics. She
works with the Michigan
Dyslexia Institute in
Okemos.

.•••••44••••• ••

•••

problem is not a function of
environment, or education;
it is commonly believed to
be hereditary.
Translated from the
Greek, "dyslexia" means
"difficulty with words." Al-
though dyslexia is usually
characterized by the rever-
sal or confusion of letters or
syllables in writing s the
same difficulties can be ex-
hibited in the dyslexic's
speech. Mirror-writing can
also be a sign of dyslexia, as
can be the inability to dis-
tinguish between similar
letters such as "b" and "d" or
"p" and "q."
The dyslexic may be
chronologically or spatially
disoriented, unsure which is
"yesterday" or "tomorrow,"
or which is "forward" or
"backward:" Sometimes
he'IL have trOuhle remem-
bering thing**. knew the
day before, commonly
forgetting names, dates, or
times. AMbidexterity is
common in , dyslexic chil-
dren; in testing, one boy
used his right hand to make
the vertical line of the letter
"T" and his left hand to cross
it — from right to left.

••• ••• •• ■ •••••••••••• ■ •••••,.••• • 1, ...,8, •••••••••
- .•
•. •••
••• •••
••



••

.4.09. • • ••••
••• • ••• •• ■

The dyslexic child may
appear disorganized, be-
ginning each task in the
middle rather than ap-
proaching it in logical steps.
His handwfiting may be
hard to read, if not illegible,
and his spelling will be poor.
The child with undiag-
nosed dyslexia has a dif-
ficult time learning to read
and write. He may complete
complicated arithmetic
problems in his head, only
to write down the wrong an-
swer on paper. The "extra-
curricular" activities, such
as sports and music, in
which he. may excel, are too
often denied him in an effort
to focus his attention on the
"three R's" that give him so
much trouble.
These children know they
are having problems that
other children are not hav-
ing. They will go to great
lengths to hide their diffi-
culty from their peers and
their parents, sometimes
getting into trouble as a re-
sult. According ,to his
mother, one boy — a class
clown — thought he was
less intelligent than his
fpop414."13e figured out that


4. 6. ••• ••••••
1••
•1. .....

,

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •• ••• .......

•• • ••

••



■ ••

••

■•■

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he was stupid, and it didn't degrees of dyslexia, which is
matter what Mom and Dad what makes diagnosis of the
said — Moms and Dads are problem so difficult. While
supposed to say nice things, some of the characteristics
right? He figured out that described previously may be
we were too dumb to realize exhibited, others may not
that he was dumb. But that be. Any of the described
wasn't so bad," she said. characteristics may be
The worst thing to him was found, separately, in a child
that he didn't want his who does not have dyslexia.
friends to know."
But a child — or an adult —
Sometimes the dyslexic who persistently makes
child will be' labeld by his spelling errors or: who can-
school system as "unintelli- not read or write at a level
gent" or "unmotivated;" a consistent with his age or
dyslexic adult I know was intelligence, is quite possi-
diagnosed as "minimally bly dyslexic.

brain damaged" when he
Without help, the dys-
was in the first' grade. The lexic may never master the
school told his parents he skills of reading and writ
would never learn to read ing. As an adult, he will feel
and write, but since his dys- compelled to disguise what
lexia was diagnosed, he has. he knows to be a problem,
The most tragic aspect of becoming a master at
dyslexia is that most of cover-up. One man told me
these children are of aver- that he avoided filling out
age or above-average in- forms on the job by arriving
telligence, and they can late, then offering to take
learn to read and write them home and fill them out
adequately, if they are in his spare time. In reality,
properly taught.
of course, his wife would
What causes dyslexia is complete the form for him.
not known for certain. When asked to read in pub-
Based upon
re- lic, the dyslexic has often
. ongoing
.
earc , scientists believe
forgotten his glasses." If he
that
portion of the dys- is a businessman, he may
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do go

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even carry a newspaper that
he never "has time" to read.
This continued necessity
for deceit will certainly di-
minish the dylexic's self-
esteem and may destroy his
self-confidence entirely. Of
course, all dyslexics are not
illiterate, but dyslexia can
prevent a child from fulfil-
ling his potential, if not
completely, at least as
quickly as he otherwise
might. dyslexic. General
George Patton, for example,
graduated from West Point
after five years .only by
memorizing his textbooks
word for word.
If you are concerned
about a child with learning
difficulties, first rule out the
obvious: have his hearing
and eyesight tested to be
certain that no physical
problems account for the
difficulty. Examine his fam-
ily history for clues: dys-
lexia is believed to be
hereditary, and frequently
a dyslexic child will have
family members who have
had learning difficulties, or
who stutter. Left-

handedness and ambidex-
terity are also char-
acteristics common to dys-
lexics and their family
members.
If you suspect that your
child is dyslexic, talk with
his teacher, the,school psy-
chologist, or the learning
disabilities specialist about
him. The law allows you to
request that your child be
tested for a handicapped
learning disability such as
dyslexia, if school officials
do not suggest it.-Testing is
a lengthy process that
should involve verbal and
non-verbal testing, of in-
telligence, word corn-
prehension, letter recOgni
tion, and auditory recall,
among other things. It is
particularly important that
the child be allowed to ex-
press his answers non-
verbally during intellige nce
tests, by pointing to pictures
or miming activities, so that
'
Plc a l

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