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.

Grid 1

1 4 7 5 2 3 8 9 0 6

0 1 3 9 7 4 2 6 8 5

2 7 9 5 1 3 8 4 6 0

3 9 0 4 2 1 7 8 6 5

9 7 1 4 3 2 6 0 5 8

4 8 7 3 5 9 1 6 2 3

Grid 2

a d e f g b d t z x u

b h I r e w q a c l m

m b v t r y o p s d a

n o e d s h l k v b n

q u y t I p s f h u e I

g h t y o p f k q c b

h r y u I f h s e q n v

Grid 3

5 2 1 6 at 4 8 9 7 3

1 9 the 7 9 0 3 2 4

6 3 9 4 2 1 5 my 5

3 yes 2 1 4 8 9 0 1

sat 3 6 4 2 1 8 9 7

2 7 4 1 9 6 3 8 no 1

3 1 4 8 7 but 9 2 4

32 thoughts on “Home help

  1. Good luck and big kudos to you for doing so much to help him!! My husband is dyslexic and now finishing a masters degree and fluent in four languages, despite a teacher that told him when he was young that he’d never be able to do those thing. It really is possible and your son will learn his individual strengths as his learning progresses…but he’s going to get there, he sounds so determined!

    I did an online course in teaching dyslexics (I’m not a teacher but just wanted to learn something to help him any way I could) and the most surprising thing I learned was how varied dyslexia actually is. It can affect speech too, for example – my husband still will switch words sometimes despite knowing what’s correct, and can’t hear certain differences or the breakdowns in pronunciation, etc. But it only gets better, sometimes slowly but it does…I hope your son is reading everything he wants very soon!

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      1. I’ve struggled with many of the tests our son had to take to be assessed. I think with some autistic kids, it’s not a lack of empathy. They have empathy but maybe in a different ways. It comes down to how people perceive the world. Sometimes people see the world through different filters. I might perceive someone to be upset but someone else might see that person as not being upset. That’s something I’ve noticed about myself over the years.

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      2. I see. By the way, when I said empathy wasn’t the same thing, I wasn’t comparing it to autism. I can’t unfortunately remember what I was thinking when I made my comment earlier to explain myself better.
        Anyway, I’m not expert on autism but I’ve learned in dealing with anxiety that if you perceive yourself in a certain way it may be unhelpful. You see what I mean?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Not enough is known about how the brain works – either by those who study it or those of us who use it! 😉

    We tend to get by largely via trial and error – keeping what we think ‘works’ and discarding (as much as we ever can) what seems not to.

    Here are a few ideas you may (both?) like to try that could help with the learning /training process:

    Our brain is both plastic and elastic – it can be stretched far beyond what we generally think it can and can be moulded (all the time) into different shapes, even when we are not trying to do so.

    Our brains need to be stimulated, but not over-stimulated or stressed, to learn best.

    Our brains can learn far faster than we usually realise or recognise, most teaching in schools bores the brain stupid rather than challenging it to meet it’s potential. A bored brain is a low-functioning brain.

    Our brain learns best when it is enjoying itself – we just need to enjoy what we want to learn as much as we do what we want to play, or have fun doing.

    Our brains receive masses amount of sensory input every second, so much so that we have to filter much of it out of our awareness. It can be a problem if we have not developed the filters in such a way so as to allow us to do some of the basic human/societal functions.

    Our brains operate through the assimilation of many integrated sections of neural tissue which are responsible for performing all the various functions we humans are capable of, from breathing and regulating blood pressure, to recognising faces, to deriving complex mathematical concepts, to laughing at a cartoon. to kicking a ball into a goal, to remembering where we put the car keys, etc. Practicing something while doing another is a very good way to teach the brain how to more quickly assimilate all the various brain areas needed to perform various tasks… as with your reading tables while clapping routine and such. 🙂

    You can also try stimulating the brain via music while learning, but music which does not associate with another specific activity or memory that may distract the task you are trying to improve upon. Mozart has written pieces that integrate the left/right hemisphere interaction, the cortical outer brain activity with the ‘inner’ brain activity and the frontal lobe/temporal lobe activity all at the same time – a ‘whole brain’ stimulation. This can help the brain achieve a desired level of activity that can aid specific task learning.

    If the music at first seems to be a distraction you could try listening to it for a few minutes before or a few minutes after the learning task to help the brain ‘get into the zone’ or to reaffirm the memorisation of whatever task you are trying to develop.

    Belief is a very powerful force in our learning processes. We need to give our brain the freedom to believe we can learn to achieve a task and not chain it through fear (or fake certainty) that we can’t achieve it (I hate people who say they’re useless at maths because this will only assure that they will continue to be).

    Lastly, short quick bursts of learning spaced with relaxing or fun activity and done in repetitions are probably going to be more beneficial than longer single sessions where the brain has to force itself to stay focussed.

    Just a few thoughts that may help?

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