|Dyslexia: The Gift that is Considered a Problem|
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Before the 1980’s a child was defined as dyslexic when reading difficulties arose that could not be explained by intelligence or poor vision or hearing. Parents and researchers were unsatisfied with this definition, so they came up with a new definition. Being dyslexic can make it extremely difficult to read, write, spell and solve math problems. Every case of dyslexia is different, since it is a self-created condition. This means it has to do with the way a person thinks and reacts to confusion. Dyslexia does not occur because of being unmotivated or having a sensory impairment. These problems are side effects which develop because of dyslexia. Research has found that the reasons for learning difficulties may reside on the 6th chromosome. Dyslexia may run in the family gene tree, and get passed on from generation to generation (Plessis).
Dyslexia is the mother of all learning disabilities. It was the first main term for describing various learning problems. At some point, these problems were subdivided and categorized into different disabilities. In the 1920s, Dr. Samuel Torrey Orton defined dyslexia as “cross lateralization of the brain”, meaning the right side of the brain was doing the work of the left side and vice versa (Judy Duchan).
Today, there are many ideas about dyslexia and what causes it. Dyslexia is not the result of brain damage or nerve damage. It is the result of thinking in a very unique way as a reaction to the feeling of confusion. Humans think in two different ways: “verbal conceptualization” and “nonverbal conceptualization” (Ronald D. Davis, The Gift of Dyslexia, page 9). The meaning of verbal conceptualization is thinking with the sound of words (word thinkers). Nonverbal conceptualization means thinking with mental pictures of concepts or ideas.
Verbal thinkers are following the structure of language, utilizing it to create mental sentences by using one word at a time. The nonverbal thinkers are creators. They think in three-dimensional, multisensory “movies,” which change and evolve as a sentence is read.
In nonverbal thought, we can picture the word “tiger” easily if we know what a tiger looks like (Ronald D. Davis, The Gift of Dyslexia, page 11). We understand this word by seeing it. The difficulties appear if picture thinkers have to think with words whose meaning can’t be visualized. Knowing what and or the looks like allows us to think with those words. Seeing T-H-E doesn’t create a picture; we don’t automatically understand the meaning (Ronald D. Davis, The Gift of Dyslexia, page 12). The only possible image would be the letters themselves, and they mean nothing.
For example: The boy jumped over the fence. A picture thinker does not need the words the or over in order to get a picture of a boy jumping over the fence in his mind. All he needs are the words “boy jumped fence.” But the word thinker would say “what do you mean?” He needs all those other words to make a sentence which he can hear in his mind. Because a picture thinker does not need all those words he doesn’t care about them. In fact, they confuse him. But if you leave those words aside, you cannot communicate with word thinkers. Therefore the dyslexic person must learn to use the words that do not create pictures correctly.
When we use verbal conceptualization, we are thinking with the sounds of the language. We are actually carrying on an internal monologue of mental statements, questions, and answers. The mind of a dyslexic has little or no internal monologue; they do not hear what they are reading unless they are reading out loud (Ronald D. Davis, The Gift of Dyslexia, page 11).
© Matthias Füll, 2010