iLs Clinical Director, Dr. Ron Minson discusses strategies for helping children with dyslexia.
In September, we asked Dr. Minson for his perspective on Separation Anxiety and the response was so positive that we’ve decided to create a regular series: The Doctor Is In!
iLs: What really is Dyslexia? And how is it manifested?
Dr. Minson: Dyslexia is a reading problem, but contrary to popular belief, it is not so much an educational problem as it is a neurological problem. It is manifested by a difficulty or an inability to read. It does not mean reversing numbers or letters although this is a common occurrence. In addition, dyslexia is a language disorder whereby children have difficulty getting their ideas out and expressing themselves. Dyslexia is a reading problem that shows up when a child enters school and begins the process of learning to read. Because of this, it is often misconstrued as a learning disability and the expectation is that educational approaches will best address it. This understanding of dyslexia as a neurological problem is the first step in helping your child.
iLs: How does dyslexia affect the person who suffers from it?
Dr. Minson: Of course, it will affect each person differently, but it is not unusual for dyslexia to cause real suffering. I watched my own daughter try for all she was worth but fail to read as others did. Misunderstandings of society lead to accusations of laziness, disobedience or disinterest. As her efforts and various therapies continued to be unsuccessful, she transformed from a happy child with a healthy self-image to a defeated student with low confidence.
iLs: What causes dyslexia?
Dr. Minson: While the specific cause is not fully established, genetics and neurobiology play a role. It is clear that dyslexia involves neurological differences in processing of sounds. A child with dyslexia cannot decode the written symbol into sounds. The adage “we read with our ears” speaks to this. Difficulty with reading is not due to lack of effort, desire or intelligence. In fact, people with dyslexia tend to have average or above average intelligence.
iLs: What is the best method to address dyslexia?
Dr. Minson: There are many strategies and therapies can be very helpful. Early intervention is especially helpful in avoiding some of the pain of dyslexia, but strategies exist for people of all ages. Since dyslexia often involves auditory processing deficits and overall body disorganization, a multi-sensory therapy involving sound is the right first step. Once sensory integration, a bottom-up approach is achieved, more top-down approaches like the many pre-literacy, phonics and reading programs can be very effective.
iLs: Can iLs help with dyslexia?
Dr. Minson: Yes, I believe iLs can have an enormous impact as it did with my daughter. Higher brain functions like reading are dependent upon adequate input from the brain stem and cerebellum. iLs’ combined sound/movement approach stimulates sub-cortical activity, improving the ability of the brain stem and cerebellum to process sensory information leading to the cortex. This activates the relevant neuronal connections and ultimately trains the ear and brain to analyze and process language frequencies. Fortunately the iLs multi-sensory approach to dyslexia was fundamental to my daughter’s liberation from the pain of dyslexia.
Another great tool for addressing dyslexia symptoms is the VoicePro, which has a microphone built into the headsets. It’s an excellent tool for building de-coding skills, and it can be used with other phonics and reading programs. The VoicePro allows users to move while they’re using it, which is great for mimicking real life scenarios to improve transference as well as being more fun than sitting at a desk.
Dr. Minson discusses dyslexia at the Invisible Disabilities Association’s annual Brain IDEAS Symposium. (Dr. Minson begins at 1:55.)
Read more about how iLs helps with reading.