CAUSES OF DYSLEXIA
“Why do dyslexics always feel like they do everything backwards?”
The right brain learns using a very different set of skills than the left brain. If these are not taught to the students, they usually remain unable to spell or comprehend what they are reading and cannot be expected to write in the correct answers. (See Chapter Three (Comparative Learning Differences between the Left and Right Brain) in How the Right Brain Thinks)
LEARNING DIFFERENCES OF THE RIGHT AND LEFT BRAIN
The Right Brain
* Sees, thinks and processes information in whole, concrete images, therefore, it does not use a step-by-step method to reach a conclusion.
* Has difficulty understanding the parts of whole images without the whole object present. For example if a teacher is using an orange cut up into pieces to demonstrate fractions there should also be a whole orange in view of the student to keep the "whole" picture in their minds.
* Has difficulty thinking in sequences and has to be trained in sequencing skills, using concrete materials and visual aids. Examples of aids are: blocks with and without letters or numbers, flashcards, multiplication tables, coins for understanding money, clock faces with removable numbers, etc.
* The right brain is reality-based because it thinks in whole, concrete images; that is, it thinks in whole pictures and does not think in the abstract. Therefore, it cannot work easily with abstract symbols like words and numbers.
* Thinks analytically starting with a conclusion or fact and working “backwards“ over the parts that make up and explain the conclusion.
* Thinks multi-dimensionally, or comprehending a subject on many different analytical levels. Therefore a right-brained person will not fully understand a concept until all aspects of the subject are put together to form the whole image or conclusion.
* Has difficulty focusing on and organizing a large body of information such as a school project with written material, drawings, photos, references, etc. This is because a right-brained person is always using a multi-dimensional thinking process and can get confused where to start on a project and how to put it together in a logical, step-by-step format.
* Thinks emotionally, intuitively, creatively, globally and analytically
* May have difficulty with the verbal or language arts skills of hand printing, phonics, spelling, reading, writing sentences and paragraphs
* May also have difficulty understanding and working with mathematical concepts of time, measurements, size and weights, money, fractions, number facts, word problems, algebra and geometry
* May not be able to follow oral and written instructions without a visual demonstration. Needs all three senses involved: listening, seeing and touching.
* Reacts best to visual images, oral discussions and handling objects
* May excel in music, art, drawing, athletics and coordinated physical movement.
* May be naturally mechanically-minded always taking things apart, repairing or improving them without instruction or even coming up with new inventions.
* Remembers faces, places and events very well
* May have a photographic memory for images, reading selections, oral discussions, places visited and musical works
The Left Brain
* Thinks in abstract letters, numbers, written words and formulas
* Excels in mathematics, reading, spelling, writing, sequencing and the use of verbal and written language
* Is strongly verbal and reacts best to verbal input
* Responds well to phonics when learning to spell and read
* Handles sequencing of numbers, letters, words, sentences and ideas easily
* Does not need to visualize in whole, concrete images to understand ideas, both concrete and abstract
* Sees the parts within the whole first, then arrives at the whole concept of a given idea (deductive reasoning which means starting with a question and working through all the parts to reach a conclusion
* Processes deductively, answering open-ended questions and reaching a conclusion by processing logically, step by step
CAUSES OF DYSLEXIA
There are many causes of dyslexia resulting from these learning differences between the right and left brain.
Difficulty understanding any concept without starting with the “whole picture”. The right brain learner thinks and understands the world in whole concrete images.
If the whole concrete image has not been presented first and is available when the student is starting to learn the parts, the parts will not make any sense and the brain will discard them. The right brain needs to start with and see whole images and whole concepts, not the separated parts.
- Difficulty with understanding the parts separate from the whole image of the word. If these students cannot see the parts within the whole and the whole image at the same time, they cannot make sense out of pieces or parts of information. For example, demonstrating fractions. Use two oranges, keep one whole, cut the other up first into halves then into quarters, but always have the visual image of the whole orange present. The student must understand that the word fraction stands for the equal parts you have created from the whole.
- Difficulty with the skills of hand printing, spelling, reading and composing sentences correctly. This usually means that the right brain cannot transfer its concrete images adequately to the left brain which works with abstracts and uses the language of words and numbers. The right-brain thinker cannot learn, analyze or work with what they do not understand or can process. This is a strong indication that although the students are taking in information and attempting to store it in whole concrete images, they are not using it for thinking or learning that requires abstract processing. Instead they are memorizing the image of the information and giving it back verbatim in their answers. They can do this easily if they are expected to give one word answers or complete a sentence, but thinking out cause and effect is next to impossible because it is an abstract task that means nothing to them and requires proper training to cope with it.
- Difficulty with sequencing (put in a logical order) numbers, letters, words, sentences, ideas, thoughts. If the students can neither see the “parts within the whole” in their correct sequence, they cannot spell, read, write sentences and paragraphs, nor do mathematical calculations.
- Difficulty understanding the abstract. The right-brain learner does not always understand the abstract words, thoughts and ideas they hear or read as they cannot easily turn them into whole concrete images they can visualize. If the dyslexic student cannot complete a thought in a visual image, they will have problems saving it and storing it in long term memory because it does not make sense. The right-brain thinker attempts to understand what is being read or spoken by catching the concrete nouns and active verbs, or by using intuition to fill in the blanks or reason it out.
- Difficulty with building a memorized word list.It is very important for all students, including dyslexics,to have a memorized sight list of words that is appropriate to their grade level. These words must be memorized beforehand so the brain does not have to lose time during reading figuring out how the word is decoded, what it sounds like or means. If the student spends too much time in decoding and recognizing the individual words, comprehension of the story is lost. The student is forced to reread the passage over and over to understand what they have just read. Their short-term memory can consequently dump the information when the right-brain has struggled too long to decode the words and find context in what they are reading. Therefore, the student will not be able to answer any questions about their reading assignment because the student has not processed the information correctly or stored it in long-term memory.
- Difficulty in following instructions. Dyslexic students need very specific and complete instructions on how to do an assignment, project, test or complete a lesson. Again this is about the necessity to see the whole picture.
They need to understand how the assignment starts and ends. They need to know: where to put their name, date and title; what kind of paper to use; pen, pencil or computer; the date to hand it in; how the answers should look (for example: one word answers, a paragraph or a page); and any other issues that may be of concern for the student.
Once the student has all the information they require they have the "whole picture" of what to do and can now see the parts so they are ready to start the assignment. Also the entire lesson or explanation must be given at one time on the same day. If this does not happen, the students will forget everything they should have learned to be able to work on and complete the assignment.
Dyslexic students should always be allowed and encouraged to ask questions to fill in any gaps they have in understanding what they are required to do. “The Five Steps to Learning“ for dyslexics listed below shows how and why an assignment should be presented to the dyslexic students if you expect them to learn the material or do the assignment correctly.