Last week we had a really long family chat. We tried to take stock of the current position and what happens going forward. Our son ultimately decides what course of actions we take forward. I just wanted to make sure that I am providing the right support to back up his decisions. He views Aspergers as fundamentally just being about ‘his personality and who he is’. But he is so determined to find a way of overcoming his dyslexia. He describes dyslexia as his invisible disability.
The days of allowing his care program to be dictated by people who he doesn’t know or doesn’t trust have gone. He is absolutely clear that he will only work with people he trusts from now on. This puts a greater emphasis of home development work. We have agreed that each night we will spend 30 minutes working together specifically trying out new ideas which may help his reading. I have also had a conversation with school and told them I that I expect his homework levels to be reduced to take account of this home based work. They were not happy but it is happening!!!!
The first thing we are trying is something which was mentioned by the Paediatrician. He had seen some research that undertaking activities which worked both the eye and coordination at the same time had produced positive results with some dyslexics. In effect exercising his visual processing skills. When trying to read he has to spell out each letter and struggles recognising full words. The hope is that this type of visual processing exercise may improve letter and word recognition.
The first stage was to design some simple matrix tables (see below). The first was a number grid. After a bit of experimenting we went for italic as he found this the most visually appealing. The task was to read the grid while clapping. Then reading while clapping and stamping. Then reading in time with a counter. Then reading while bouncing a ball. As an added element of fun we have timed races. I struggle to use my hands when reading so he frequently wins. I strongly suspect that I am autistic – but that’s another story.
When we first started the exercise it was clear that he read the numbers left to right then when he came to the next line he read right to left. We did the same exercise with the letters grid and he did exactly the same. We then looked at a reading book and he did the same. Reading right to left is common and is the basis of many languages like Urdu. It is also not unheard of for someone to be dyslexic in one language but be able to read in another language which is read in a different direction. What appears to be less common is for someone to alternate reading left to right and right to left at the same time.
We agreed to see if we could train his brain just to read left to right. If anything it might take a bit of strain off his visual processing. So we went back to the numbers grid and tried the same activity but this time asking him to always read left to right. This was difficult but after a few days it’s becoming a bit easier.
Today we switched back to the letters grid and he has now started reading left to right automatically. Potentially this is progress.
For the next stage we are planing to add a bit more difficulty into the exercise by adding common words into the grid. Will report back on progress.