Posted in Dyslexia

Writing Letters Backwards IS NOT Dyslexia!

When you have kids with a learning difference, the initial reaction is to find help to create an environment of support for them. As a parent, I turned to professionals, websites and other parents to build a supportive network. This is all good, but it does create a false sense of enlightenment in the world.

The last two weeks have served as a wake-up call. On three separate occasions, in three different areas of my life, I found myself talking to intelligent people who still believed Dyslexia is writing letters backward.

My network serves me well for answers and support, but it also created a bubble. When talking with them, I didn’t need to keep a well-honed, concise explanation of Dyslexia. I thought I had a good grasp on it. However, faced with an opportunity to educate someone, I blew it!  I was fumbling with my words to explain it.

I forgot that dyslexia touches not everyone. I forgot that not everyone needs to be knowledgeable on this topic. But, most importantly, I am surprised by how stunned I was to learn this myth persists.

As I processed this jolt to my world, I was horrified to hear myself droning on trying to fix one clumsy statement with another. Catching the glazed eyes,  I realized I had probably done more damage; I quickly changed the subject hoping I would get another chance.  In reality, that pathetic jumbled explanation insured the topic would never rise again.  There are no “do-overs” when talking to people who have little stake in an issue. I may have blown those opportunities but hopefully here,  I might be able to reach one or two individuals who have the misconception dyslexia is writing or reading letters backward.

So here, in more eloquent terms written by someone else is a basic definition of Dyslexia:

 a general term for disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols, but that does not affect general intelligence.

A more technical definition:

 …In particular, dyslexia reflects a deficiency in the processing of the distinctive linguistic units, called phonemes, that make up all spoken and written words.  Current linguistic models of reading and dyslexia now provide an explanation of why some very intelligent people have trouble learning to read and performing other language-related tasks.
-The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity  – Dyslexia article

Why does it matter?

When we talk about reading and writing in school, we often compartmentalize it to just that subject. However, the ability to read and write affects math, science, history even interactions with peers.   School can become one frustration after another as dyslexics struggle to decipher words and instructions across all subjects. Their mind has to work twice as hard to decode words for reading. Writing projects brings out their weakness of understanding the phonemes in words making spelling difficult. This quickly results in mental fatigue, leading them to often being labeled as “lazy” by teachers and parents.

“Dyslexia is not observable as much as it is experienced”                                                    -16 year-old Dyslexic                                                                                      

While their intelligence is not affected, schools are not designed to highlight the strengths of these right-brained thinkers. Instead only the “deficiencies” are addressed with little opportunity for these kids to shine. Considering 1 in 5 children are affected by dyslexia across all cultures and languages, it is important for society to have a better understanding of this learning difference.

Dyslexia is not writing letters backward! This thinking implies a visual processing issue. Lending to the thinking that it can be “cured” with vision therapy.  Dyslexics are people who learn differently and often creatively. Dispelling this myth can lead to early interventions, ability to pioneer new techniques and create better learning environments.

 

 

 

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized

Did we all experience​ a brain meltdown….

What happened to critical thinking in our nation?  What happened to the respectful intelligent debate of issues important to the electorate? When blatant outrageous lies by politicians meant the end of their career.

Truthfully, it is not necessarily the politicians or the process.  It is us, the Republic, who are not doing our jobs.  We seldom “fact check” statements made in the election cycle.    We   no longer have our old trusted safety nets; the integrity of the Walter Cronkite’s’, Peter Jennings or Woodward and Bernstein’s fighting for truth on our behalf. They are no longer there to explain in an unbiased fashion, how government procedure works or the constitutional laws candidates statements violate. As a public, I am not even sure we know to ask for these things anymore, of either ourselves or our reporters.

I recently watched a 2012 clip of former Supreme Court  Justice David Souter talk about how dangerous it is to not know Civics. When the people no longer know whose job solves what problems it gives an opening for an individual to rise up claiming he alone has all the answers. It scary to see how well his words describe what has happened in this election four years later.

All the more reason to regain our ability to  realize issues are bigger than what can fit in a sound bite. Large problems have many affected parts all of which need to be considered. It takes a collaborative mindset and experience of many,  to find a workable solution. Understanding the limits of which each office has toward that solution would go a long way to candidates having more realistic statements during the election.

By election day it seems we are numb from all the outrageous rhetoric.  To the extent, we shrug our shoulders when our officials obstruct governing for their party’s agenda.  We accept the fact we are not being faithfully represented.  We are certainly not thinking through the damage  “signed pledges of party loyalty” does to our country as a whole. How it takes away our elected official’s power and ability to use their critical thinking skills to serve us.  Upon hearing about said pledge we do not demand it be removed  nor call for more transparency. What is wrong with us?

“Finally whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we as of you”

– John F Kennedy

When did we give up so much of our power, elected officials are not afraid of the American Public’s anger in deliberately obstructing  the business of governing? Refusing to hold Supreme Court vacancies for congress’ own personal interests.  How can we stand by and allow our President be refused a congressional audience regarding the budget? What happened to do what is best for the country? When the did voice of the people become so quiet…..hold on I need to post this great selfie to Instagram….ok, where was I?   Where is our level of engagement?  Has our lack of critical thinking left us powerless to demand better of our elected officials?

Which brings to me the often quoted John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech. I have found myself often thinking of some important phrases of that speech. However, President Kennedy’s closing remarks are often overshadowed by the more famous quote made just prior, yet they seem correct for this day and age: “Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you.” 

Are your elected officials living up to their end of the bargain?