Dyslexia, Reading, Phonics & the Brain
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin, characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language. (For more on dyslexia, what it is, and what it isn’t, click here.)
Some researchers in the field, however, believe that dyslexia is not always organic, but can also result from ineffective reading instruction and lack of phonics skill acquisition at the earliest grade levels. Regardless, the specific learning challenges, deficits and observed behaviors are the same, as is the need to circumvent areas of inherent weakness and tap into alternative areas of strength. And there are many areas of strength.
Dyslexics children, as well as dyslexic adults, are often the quintessential “backdoor” learners—looking for effective “work-arounds” to solve problems, and often exhibiting high levels of creativity in doing so. For dyslexics, the “front” door might be closed, but the backdoor is WIDE open!
They may not move from “A” to “B” to “C” as per the traditional learning path, but they somehow find a way….even if it means having to skip “B” entirely, circle “F” twice, and then work they way back around to “C!” Traveling these unconventional paths allows them to observe more, think differently, be creative and build tenacity.
The key to helping dyslexic learners struggling to read is to provide them with an easily accessible, backdoor approach, so as to accelerate access to the phonics skills needed to read and write, and from the earliest possible grade levels.
Below is my interview with Elisheva Schwartz, of the Dyslexia Quest Podcast. I became aware of Dyslexia Quest after listening to a podcast interview with Harvard-trained neuroscientist and researcher, Dr. Mary-Helen Immordino-Yang, whose research on learning and the brain is incorporated into Secret Stories® backdoor approach to fast-tracking phonics for reading and writing.
The two-part podcast interview with Elisheva is below. In them, we discuss learning issues that are associated with dyslexia, and why the Secret Stories® are often referred to as “Phonics for Dyslexics”. To play, click the arrow under each of the descriptions, and for additional podcasts on the topic, visit www.elishevaschwartz.com.
The Dyslexic Brain: A Backdoor Approach to Phonics for Reading – Pt. 1
The Dyslexic Brain: A Backdoor Approach to Phonics for Reading – Pt. 2
Finally, I wanted to share this review that I stumbled upon online. I am always so grateful when parents take the time to reach out and share their child’s struggles and successes, and while this one wasn’t sent to me directly, it was filled with some good information and helpful insight that I thought I would share.
How I Helped My Dyslexic Child Learn to Read
This book changed our life. I’ve taught my dyslexic daughter to read using the Secret Stories®.
After trying the regular phonics “programs,” Secret Stories was recommended by our homeschool support group. With the Secrets, we didn’t have to give up learning phonetically, despite my daughter having auditory processing problems.
We sat down with a print out copy of the first McGuffey Reader, and when we came to a Secret Story (i.e. letters not making the sound that they should) we looked it up its “secret” the book. The pictures that went with each Secret made them so easy for her to remember, not just the phonics pattern, but the sound/sounds. The Secrets helped her brain easily retain the phonics patterns and sounds that before she could never get, no matter what we tried or how many times we practiced them.
I’ve also begun using Secret Stories with my severely language-compromised son, and he giggles as we “make” the Secrets he knows out of his Theraputty (another great product) and make the words come alive! I’ve also used the Secret Stories in a fun way at our homeschool group—I made little capes with the Superhero Vowels® sewn onto the back to wear when the vowels “say their names!”
Seeing my daughter now want to read and write ALL the time is such a blessing, as it’s been a long road to get here! If she hadn’t learned the Secrets, I don’t think we would have ever made it to where we are now.
I wish every school would use Secret Stories along with their reading curriculum, as it’s so easy, and it covers all of the learning bases: kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and even emotion. It can help everyone, but especially those who don’t learn the “normal” way.
Learn more about how Secret Stories® can help struggling readers access critical phonics skills for reading and writing.
Learn the “secret” phonics stories that go with the pictures here!