It is not uncommon for gifted children to be dyslexic children.
It’s Not About Intelligence
The notion of reading ability as a barometer of intelligence is one that has been perpetuated throughout society, and until recently, dyslexic children have fit nicely into that mold.
Our simplified social understanding has been that dyslexic children have a problem that causes them to switch letters around in their heads when they attempt to read, and as such, they’re not very smart and are often actually slow. Of course this isn’t true.
While reading is indeed a challenge for dyslexic children, their comprehension abilities are high.
If you read aloud to them, they retain more of the message than most. Some of the world’s greatest achievers are dyslexic and they’ve excelled in a wide variety of careers.
Dyslexics do especially well in certain disciplines, including:
- Music and Art
- Strategic Planning
- Scientific Research
- Creative Writing
Learning Happens Differently for Dyslexic Children
The dyslexic’s dilemma is not a lack of intelligence, but an impaired phonological awareness, that of associating letter combinations with the sounds they are supposed to make.
For instance, the letter combination OU sounds different in words such as bought, courage, young and loud. The dyslexic’s brain jumbles this up and makes translation difficult.
The issue is not that dyslexic children can’t learn, it is that they just learn in a different way. In fact, most dyslexic children test at a higher level of intelligence than others and it is not uncommon for gifted children to be dyslexic children.
We can describe types of learning as either verbal or nonverbal. Most of us are in the first group, and we think in terms in words, using letters and sounds to construct words and sentences as we translate them into thoughts and imagery.
Dyslexic children see pictures and mental imagery first, considering the whole instead of a series of parts that make up the whole, then works backwards to fill in the blanks.
For instance, hearing the words “a cow in a field” brings up a picture in our head. And reading the words “a cow in a field” will give most of us the same image.
Dyslexic children must see the image before being able to associate it with the letter combinations in the words. Successful classroom instruction incorporates objects and imagery with the words as part of the lessons.
This association then helps dyslexic children to assign words to images through memorization techniques.
Research Spurs Change
Since the availability of functional brain imaging in the last two decades, there’s been much progress made in the study of dyslexia. Researchers have isolated the brain structures which control the ability to read, which allows new information to be gathered on children with learning disabilities at an early age.
Consensus has been that early intervention is necessary for children with reading disabilities, but thanks to research, there’s a new understanding of how learning can work, even into adulthood. The good news is the brain is malleable and can continue to change even at advanced ages.
A common simplified example given is that of the adult who is learning to read and speak a new language. With this new information, teaching techniques are regularly being adapted and dyslexia is being looked at in a new light.
Teaching dyslexic children to use their strongest senses, visual and aural, to develop to their potential has proven most effective.
Dyslexic children have proven they can learn when teaching methods are adjusted to their specific needs, as instructors continue to focus on the areas where dyslexics excel. Being given an opportunity to use their creativity and hands-on problem solving skills for learning is widening the playing field for dyslexics in today’s world.
Dyslexic children of today will have more opportunities than ever before to achieve full potential, walking in the footsteps of such famous dyslexics as Richard Branson, Bruce Jenner, Whoopi Goldberg, Henry Winkler, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Prince Charles, Jamie Oliver, Thomas Edison, General George Patton, Cher, John Lennon, Henry Ford, Pablo Picasso, Alexander Graham Bell, Steven Spielberg, John F. Kennedy and… the list goes on.