Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dyslexia and the learning process

Thirteen years of watching my son and puzzling out how he learns has finally led to some insight. These are some thoughts I would like to share with all his teachers, and a reminder for myself.  As his seventh grade year comes to a close, I can say that I have seen some breakthroughs that I have been waiting for for years for my dyslexic son. The biggest is that I can now say he is a reader! Not only has he finally started reading for pleasure in the last year, he now devours books almost as quickly as I do. When he was 10, I wondered if he would ever read and enjoy the Harry Potter series. The answer is yes, when he was 13.

So what do I know about dyslexia that was so hard to understand? I think I finally understand how smart my child is. And I finally understand that although I don't understand his learning style, and it takes a little longer usually for him to master something, he will get there.

My new analogy for understanding how my dyslexic son learns uses the image of building a puzzle. Most people build a puzzle in a linear fashion, finding one piece and then another and systematically building the picture. Dyslexia means building the puzzle in a completely different way. One day he may build a small piece of the puzzle. When he comes back to it the next day, this piece is gone. This pattern may repeat for quite a while. Putting small pieces together, only to seem to loose them. But suddenly, almost overnight, some kind of grand reshuffling takes place in the brain and the next day the dyslexic looks at the puzzle and the picture is complete. Complete and mastered, never to be lost again, and occasionally just a little more brilliant than the average puzzle.

Be patient with my son. Keep giving him the pieces. He may not get the puzzle on our time frame, but he will get it, and it will be better than expected.