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Nov 2012

Educating Children With Dyslexia

Are we over-complicating the teaching and education of Dyslexic Children?

We like to think of ourselves as a reasonably advanced and progressive society, but I can’t help thinking that when it comes to educating children with dyslexia maybe we are overcomplicating the problem, and making a rod for our own backs. And maybe even letting down many of those children we claim to care about.

With official reports indicating that as many as 1 in 8 children are suffering from some form of dyslexia, it’s time that we realized that there are some simple solutions available that would make the lives of teachers easier, and at the same time, help an awful lot of children.

I found myself at a dinner last night talking to a cousin – who after being in education for many years, is now responsible for purchasing many of the materials required for children and students attending a large number of schools in the area.

During the conversation I took the opportunity to ask what materials were being purchased for the students in those schools with Dyslexia. She looked at me with a mortified expression and replied “we don’t”.

When I asked why not, her first response was to explain that most teachers had not been trained to deal with dyslexia. She then proceeded to explain that it was a complex problem. It was at that stage I decided it was better not to pursue the subject for fear of causing an argument.

But this article presents the opportunity to consider a few simple home truths – and ask some difficult questions.

Unless you have been walking around in a dream for the last decade, most people know that Dyslexia – without getting overly complicated about the condition – is simply about a person having an inability to read, comprehend or understand text. That being the case surely it does not take a rocket scientist to realize that if a child or student does not understand, or is unable to work with text as a means of delivering content, the simple solution is to provide the content to them in a different format. One that they can work with. And with most dyslexic children, the options are either a visual presentation, or an audio or oral alternative.

There is considerable evidence to support the fact that many children and students suffering from one form of dyslexia or another are generally very bright and intelligent. In fact many have demonstrated that they are gifted learners. So why are so many in the field of education succeeding at making providing a solution so difficult, when there is a growing number of ways to make this same curriculum content available visually.

Surely expecting a teacher to be a diagnostic expert in Dyslexia is not what is required to address and help provide a solution for a very real problem that is affecting such a large proportion of children.

MIND Research Institute presentation on the use of Visual Learning to overcome the problems of Dyslexia effecting students today.

Technology and the use of the internet are now making a wealth of video available online, and for most dyslexic children in homes and classrooms this provides the ideal alternative.

And while many of those online educational video providers are conveniently disregarding the importance of subtitles (or captions) on that video, at least there are some companies like Zane Education that are providing that curriculum-based video with subtitles. And this is certainly a significant step forward in the right direction because while the audio-visual nature of video provides a more interesting and compelling way of delivering curriculum content for all students, it also provides the opportunity for those kids whose Dyslexia is not too severe, to improve their reading and literacy skills at the same time.

A curriculum-based subtitled video from Zane Education that provides
so successfully for children with Dyslexia.

Certainly special schools that provide for the dyslexic child are important, but generally they are extremely expensive and many have few vacancies. So what happens to all the rest of those children who cannot get into one of those schools, or those whose parents cannot afford it? What happens to themThankfully we are gradually progressing past the time when we call children with dyslexia, dumb, lazy or stupid because we lacked the knowledge. But when easy and affordable options are available, shouldn’t we be grabbing hold of them and taking advantage those opportunities.

Online video is widely available, and with Zane Education providing an extensive online library of curriculum-based online subtitled video – and a complete Visual Learning solutiion, we as parents and teachers should be more aware of this solution, especially when the use of online video offers so many benefits for children and students of all ages and ability.

The time for excuses is over! With such large numbers of children being affected, it is time to stop considering Dyslexia as a disability, and accept that we have a situation on our hands that we can quite easily address without waiting for another decade of scientific research.



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