What is autism? (Part 1)
This video explains some of the diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in everyday, easy-to-understand language. Any more questions? Please ask!
What is individuation and what does it have to do with autism?
Individuation is a key stage in childhood development. However for those those with autism, it doesn't fully happen. Find out what individuation is and the role it plays in autism in my latest video.
Should I tell my child that s/he has dyslexia?
This is a question that I get asked a lot, so thought it was a great one to start with. So grab your coffee, or beverage of choice, and spend a few minutes with me to find out whether or not we should be telling with our children if they have a learning difference.
Remember, if you have any burning questions, please contact me. I'd love to help!
Join Mel for her first video in her brand new series: Coffee and Chat with Mel. Mel has created this series to answer your questions about learning differences, and to empower you with understanding and a pathway forward, so that you and your loved ones can participate more fully in learning and life :)
Their challenges generally lie in difficulty with the written word. There is no correlation at all between reading challenges and lack of intelligence. According to Jeffrey Gruen, associate professor at the Yale University School of Medicine, “the reading disability is not a global effect on the entire brain function.”
Ronald D. Davis, author of “The Gift of Dyslexia” and “The Gift of Learning”, states that dyslexic people think in images, not the sounds of words. This is the reason why a common characteristic of dyslexia is difficulty with phonics. Their brains just don’t work with sounds. “We now know that dyslexic learn to read differently – most do not learn phonetically,” states Dr Gruen.
So if phonics isn’t the answer, what is? A visual-spatial, meaning based approach, that works in harmony with the visual-spatial learning dominance of a dyslexic learner. According to Ron Davis, every word has three parts: what it looks like (how it is spelled); what it sounds like (how it is said); and what a word means.
Traditional reading instruction links the first two parts of words through phonics instruction, with the third part – the meaning - often not touched on. For a dyslexic learner, it is the missing meaning that causes such challenges. As a picture thinker, the dyslexic individual creates meaning by forming mental images as s/he reads. This is ease-ful when reading words such as “horse” and “tree”. However, it is very difficult to form a mental image of ‘abstract’ words such as ‘where’ and ‘were’. These words create blank pictures - comprehension becomes interrupted. These abstract words make up approximately 75% of print. Can you imagine how many times meaning may be lost when just reading one sentence?
Take the word ‘too’. It means ‘also’. The model below is of one person sitting reading, and another person sitting and reading also – too.
The student who created this model now has understanding of that abstract word. It will no longer be a blank picture that causes confusion.
Dr Gruen states, “Some kids just learn differently. Not all children learn to read with the current one-size fits all methods.” Dyslexic students have many areas of strength. Helping them to minimise the challenges associated with the written word removes a significant barrier within a predominantly word-based education system, and helps to keep their self esteem intact – empowering them towards reaching their potential.
B.Ed, Dip.Teach, Licensed Davis Dyslexia Facilitator, Licensed Davis Autism Facilitator/Coach
Book: “The Gift of Dyslexia” by Ronald D. Davis
Article: The DCDC2 gene and dyslexia, by Michelle D. Jones-London, Ph.D.
Do you have a learning difference?
Maybe you are dyslexic, or perhaps you have been diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Maybe you have ADD/ADHD. Dyspraxia. Dyscalculia. Auditory Processing disorder…..the list goes on.
Whatever your learning difference, here's what you need to know:
If you are employed, get support in the areas you need it. Be honest with your colleagues - remember your learning difference means you bring many strengths to the table - it is just that you may need help in certain areas. High quality assistive technology is forging ahead in ways that can offer robust support. One example is this range of google extensions for dyslexia.
#6. Your challenges can be overcome.
Sally Shaywitz has a wonderful analogy of dyslexia being a small island of weakness in a huge sea of strengths. I would go further to include all learning differences in this analogy. And you know what? You can use your strengths to help you overcome your challenges. Find a programme that is strengths-based, rather than one that thinks you need to be fixed. Learn how to harness your gifts. My personal favourite is of course the Davis programmes - created by a dyslexic, autistic genius that works from a place of strength and empowerment.
And last, but not least, always remember.....
Sources: 'Wired Differently" image from Wrong Planet l *Neurodiversity rewires conventional thinking about brains l Sally Shaywitz - article on Dyslexia l Google Extensions for dyslexia
should I tell my child