Copying or Coping?
At primary school, I made sure I sat next to the girl with the long white pigtails.
I would look over at her workbook with envy.
It is now, as an adult self, that I can see that I felt like a bad person, as I copied her work.
Dyslexics are extremely competent at hiding what it is that they struggle with.
Dyslexics excel in learning environments that engage their preferred learning style.
A Little More on Dyslexia and Belief
Last week on the blog we discussed Belief Change and the importance of what we believe about ourselves, our children and dyslexia.
Each of these come with very different world views, experiences and expectations of life.
How do you see yourself? How do you see your child? Do you relate to any of the categories above?
Is there another way you might be able to frame dyslexia which might serve you better?
Have a watch of the video below and let us know what you think:
Believe In Your Child - Hear It From The Experts
Last Saturday, I spent a wonderful afternoon at a seminar hosted by the Dyslexia Foundation of NZ. It was a refreshing take on many of these afternoons with a simple theme and takeaway – so much of parenting – or teaching or being a neurodiverse child – or adult - is about belief: self belief – and changing negative beliefs.
The afternoon kicked off with a warm address from the Children’s Commissioner, Judge Andrew Becroft, who shared his own experiences of growing up with a speech impediment and his parents being told that he must never head towards a career in academia, the church or law. His parents never told him this, continued to encourage and believe in his ability to make the right choice for himself - and the rest is history.
Judge Beecroft stated that the one thing, we can really do to support our children, is to truly believe in them. “In the words of one child: ‘really, just people who really believe in you is the most essential thing in having a good life – and people who support you no matter what',” Judge Becroft says.
Next to speak was Dr Rose Blackett, an Educational Psychologist who shared some wonderful wisdom and tips to support your children, from those who just learn differently, to the more mainstream child.
The following is shared with permission.
Superpowers – Owning and celebrating your ‘superpower’ is vital
We will be back with more tips for negotiating school and life - and some resources to help as well over the next weeks.
Noho ora mai
The reading wars...
Hello to you all, this week is short and sweet from us, but begins a discussion on a subject you’ll hear a lot more from us about.
As children in the southern hemisphere headed back to school this month, some will be attending schools who are trialing a ‘not new’ approach to learning to read – Structured and Explicitly Taught Phonics.
The reading wars have been raging since the 1960’s – maybe before… and as the mothers of dyslexic kids we’ve followed them pretty carefully. New Zealand’s literacy standards have been falling since the 1990’s which is a concern that needs addressing urgently.
There are many who tout this method as the only way that children will learn to read. They throw around terms and phrases such as ‘evidence based’ – and that this teaching method will teach ALL children to read.
This is simply not true - The truth is that what the evidence actually shows is: that 80% of children will indeed learn to read from such a strategy… which is great…but what about the 20% of children who are tagged as ‘non-responders’ in ALL of these studies.
Yes - The results are consistent across all the reading studies.
We know that 15 – 20% of the population are dyslexic… could it be that these 20% of non-responding children are our dyslexic kids? It seems so.
We will be addressing this in future blogs so keep an eye out.
In the meantime, we will be keeping a close eye on the trials and the results…
As parents we advise you to also keep an eye on your child and their reading progress. IF you see they are not progressing - or worse, becoming more confused, it is time for you to take a stand.
You do know your own child best and it is likely that there will be a better approach for your learner. If a child is aged 9 or older and has not learned to read with explicit instruction on the sounds within words, then it is likely that they won't. The same applies of course, to adults who are learning to read.
We agree that the phonic strategy is a good one for a strong majority of children, but we are also adamant that potentially 20% of children falling through the cracks is far too many.
To be honest, even one child is too many, when teachers and parents know that there are other options and strategies to try, and we need to call a ceasefire to the reading wars and give all children what they need to become capable and confident readers and learners for life.
Hello and Welcome to Remarkable Minds - Let us introduce ourselves...
We are Vanessa, Sandra, Shelley & Becky – we are committed to sharing our knowledge with the world, assisting neurodiverse individuals to participate fully in life and reach their goals, dreams and potential.
Neurodiversity brings with it unique and creative talents , it is a different way of thinking – it is NOT a disability, although we recognise that it comes with a variety of difficulties and challenges.
Each week we will be posting information for you on the subject of neurodiversity – sometimes short and sweet, other times more deep and meaningful. Sometimes we’ll delve into the research and other times we'll be discusing the challenges of as well as showcasing the talents of neurodiversity. We aim to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate fully in life.
Our vision is to create a world where neurodiverse people feel accepted, understood and empowered.
Vanessa Victor is based in Auckland and has been working in the field of neurodiverse education and support, as a Davis Dyslexia and Autism facilitator for ten years – Vanessa discovered her own dyslexia in her forties as she worked alongside her dyslexic son to find him help with school. Vanessa has a weekly vlog called My Dyslexic Life – check it out below
Sandra Hartnett is Wellington based, and has been a Davis Dyslexia Facilitator for 13 years, she is also about to complete her Davis Autism training. Sandra discovered what dyslexia really is and connected it to her own learning experiences; she also understood that Davis was the answer for her own children. She has extensive experience with supporting people in mental health and has a passion for working alongside children, teenagers and parents on their journey with neurodiversity.
Shelley McMeeken has been a Davis Dyslexia and Autism Facilitator for 20 years and Supervisor Specialist for ten years which means she is able to train and supervise others in this work. She identified what she thought was ‘just clumsy’ as being dyspraxia whilst she was training and that this also explained her ‘hopeless at maths’ situation – The neurodiverse gene is strong in her family also. Shelley is also a trustee of the Dyslexia Foundation of NZ.
Becky Smith is our powerhouse of a CEO – She is the Mum of two neurodiverse teenagers. Becky has extensive experience in Management and marketing and she is committed to keeping us picture thinking partners in some kind of structure to ensure that we get our message and work out to the world. Becky has a passion for building supportive and thoughtful communities of people, which she has been doing for the last 10 years.
Stay tuned for our updates – follow us on Facebook & Instagram – and we'll be back next week.
Ron Davis' Discovery - 40 Years On
As a child, he had been labeled as uneducable. Classroom learning was impossible. He was surrounded by colors, noise, lights, rules, and words he didn't understand. The letter strip along the top of the classroom wall provided a distraction from the chaos, but it held no meaning to him. Its shapes would float in the air, rotate, flip, and turn.
Once home, Ron would retreat to play in his yard, molding object from a gooey mixture of red dirt and water. Eventually he started to make replicas of the letters from the classroom wall with clay, asking his older brother to tell him the names of each letter. He eventually learned all the letters of the alphabet, but that didn't lead to reading.
Ron had a knack for math concepts. As a young adult, he did well with an engineering-based career in the aerospace industry, where his strong mechanical skills and ability to manipulate mental images were assets. But he left his job when offered a promotion to an administrative position. He was hiding a terrible secret and couldn't risk exposure: he still couldn't read.
Whenever he tried to read, the words on the page appeared to be swimming. The letters would not hold still. The spacing would disappear and the shapes of the words would transpose and shift. There was no way to make sense of any of it.
He took on a new career path: sculpting. He loved to immerse himself in his art, but was stymied when someone asked him, "how can you do what you do?" For him, sculpting was easy, but describing his process in words was a challenge. As he thought about it, he realized that when creating his artwork, he would get lost in his creative mental space, losing track of the physical world around him. His senses were aligned to what he was thinking, in a world in imagery where language didn't exist.
As he thought about his creative space, his curiosity was sparked. If he could go in his mind to a place where language didn't exist, could he find a way to go where it did?
Exploring that question resulted in his discover of the root cause of dyslexia - disorientation. He realized that the mental state that fostered his art could also be the cause of his problems with sorting out words on a page. He needed to figure out a way to turn disorientation off.
Once he figured it out, he was able to read effortlessly for the first time in his life. The words held still, the spacing between the letters and words and line became stable. He was stunned and overjoyed when he hit upon the sweet spot in his brain that allowed him to experience what the rest of the world experienced when looking at text.
Ron shared his discover with a few of his artist friends who, like him, had always struggled with dyslexia. Surprisingly, the strategy Ron had developed to shift his own mental perspective into reading mode worked for them as well. In 1982, Ron established the Reading Research Council to research and test his discover with others, who like him, struggled to decipher written words even though they were highly intelligent, intuitive and creative.
Over time , working with other professionals such as educational psychologist, Dr Fatima Ali, the pieces of the puzzle were coming together. It wasn't enough to merely fix disorientation - the underlying triggers for disorientation also had to be explored and rectified. The Davis Dyslexia Correction Program was born by reverse-engineering the path that Ron had walked to get to where he was, leading him all the way back to modeling the letters in his backyard.
This article excerpted and adapted from The Ron Davis Story: How one man's discovery forever changed the face of Dyslexia. (Published by DDAI, 2020)