As a consequence of my career in the teaching of dance, I have had some practical experience working with dyslexic and dyspraxic children for a number of years now and have become increasingly interested in the problems they face. In having this study to write an ideal opportunity arose to research the subjects in more detail. In doing so I have discovered how vast it really is and how difficult it is to write even an explanation of the conditions.
“No two dyslexics are alike” , so how can one state precisely what it is? Even the different institutions who are expert in their fields differ. My aim is to open up the subjects, provoking some interest in the reader to learn more about them and then to focus on how I feel dance can be of assistance in the child’s life, albeit in very different ways. To cover just one subject thoroughly would be impossible, but I hope, in skimming the surface, I can demonstrate how important these issues are. I do not claim expertise. The information that I have used comes from reliable sources (see Bibliography) and includes personal opinions.
The essential fact is that although the two words sound similar, they are very different problems.
There are many definitions of dyslexia. The International Dyslexia Association states that;“dyslexia is a neurologically based, often familial, disorder which interferes with the acquisition and processing of language” . British Dyslexics say simply “individuals….struggle to learn through the medium of written or spoken language” , but have a list of definitions from other sources which include“dyslexia is the ability to see multidimensionally, all at once, or from any one place at a time. The ability to think in pictures and to register those pictures as real. Thus, you mix in creative thinking with reality and change what is seen or heard” .
The percentage of dyslexia sufferers varies from source to source, it may be up to 20% of the population (Dyslexia U.K information on ‘Incidence ’) in varying degrees. That is a vast amount! Three times more males are affected than females probably because it is usually hereditary being passed down through males. In my experience boys heavily outweigh the ratio of boys to girls. Ron Davis, a dyslexic who suffered as a child wrote the book “The Gift of Dyslexia”. It left me both more confused about the problem and yet more understanding of it too! Why do dyslexics who are usually normal to above average intelligence often have difficulties at school even though hopefully nowadays teachers are taught to be more aware of learning disabilities? My understanding of Davis’ book allows me to see that dyslexics need a completely different teaching method because their thought processes are different. Dyslexics think in pictures, non-dyslexics think verbally (using words). These pictures/thoughts happen at a rate of approximately 32 a second, as opposed to 2-5 thoughts a second for the verbal thinker. Dyslexics are not aware of most of their thoughts as they happen too quickly, but the subliminal part of the brain takes them in and it is this ability that gives them highly tuned intuition and creativity. They become so involved in their thoughts that these become reality- they see, hear, smell and feel what is in their heads. This causes me some confusion as I am a verbal thinker and it is difficult to conceptualise another way of thinking. How can any one teacher be expected to teach in two different ways at the same time? It is a little like having one half of the class thinking in French and the other in English but all speaking English (to use rather an extreme analogy).
The reason behind thinking in pictures comes from the relative sizes of the brain’s hemispheres. The right side is often larger in dyslexics and this is the ‘picture’ side, the creative centre. The left...