Inside The Mind of Dyslexia
“Eli. Please read the next passage,” the teacher commanded.
Eli blushed. He stared blankly at his text book and didn’t reply, pretending he didn’t hear.
“Eli,” the teacher repeated, “start from where Jacob left off, please.” The teacher’s voice was firm.
Eli looked down at his desk and then brought his hand to cover his face. He hid from the other students stares.
After a long pause he began mumbling the words on the page.
“Louder. I can’t hear you,” the teacher yelled.
His face grew red and he felt dizzy. He couldn’t read the words. They were fuzzy and confusing.
Choking back his embarrassment, he said, “I can’t read it.” Shame eating at him.
“Okay, we’ll skip Eli. Alex you read.”
Eli’s concluded he was stupid.
Eli suffered from a reading disability. Words just didn’t seem to connect with his brain. His mother would send him to all kinds of lessons, tutors and tests to help improve his reading, which helped, but never got to the core of his problem. He always wished that he could understand what was wrong with him but never knew the answer.
Recently I came across an in-depth book that conceptualizes the phenomenon of dyslexia from a psychological perspective in a way which might have enlightened Eli. It is called, The GIFT of Dyslexia: Why Some Of The Smartest People Can’t Read… and How They Can Learn, by Ronald D. Davis with Eldon M. Braun (1997). I would like to begin with reviewing the first two chapters of the book ‘The Underlying Talent’ and ‘The Learning Disability’.
III Summary of Chapter I & II
Davis, R. D. and Braun, E.M. (1997) explain, although creating a list of ‘eight core traits’ that underlie the perceptual-mind of someone with dyslexia may seem redundant and superficial, it can still be beneficial in structuring and categorizing the nature of this phenomenon. Davis, R. D., and Braun, E.M., assert dyslexia is a ‘psychological perceptual phenomenon’ and therefore needs to be explored from the perceptual perspective of the mind’s psychological makeup. Although the innate tendency of the individual’s internal perceptual abilities is based on the neurological and genetic system, which is hereditary, we will place emphasis on the mind’s perceptual function in order to understand dyslexia’s structure better. From a psychological perspective ‘creating perceptions’ within one’s mind lies at the core of dyslexia.
The eight components, according to Davis and Braun, of a dyslexic are:
1. They create images within their mind, which gives a certain creativity and reality to their internal world.
2. They are highly aware of their environment.
3. They are more curious than the average person.
4. Their thought process is mainly image oriented as opposed to thinking verbally.
5. They are highly intuitive and insightful.
6. They think and perceive in a multi-dimensional manner, using all the senses.
7. They experience thought as reality.
8. They have vivid imaginations.
According to Davis, R. D. and Braun, E. M.,(1997), cognition or thoughts can be divided into two categories a) verbal cognitions b) image cognitions. Verbal cognitions are confined to a linear process bound by linear time and order whereas image cognitions are not limited in this way. Verbal cognitions are internal monologues of mental statements. Image cognitions quickly evolve and grow in non-organized processes similar to ideas, dreams, and art. (Neurologically, these two processes are usually divided between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.) Humans are predominately one style over the other. Dyslexics are, by nature, predominately image thinkers(Davis, R.D. and Braun, E.M. 1997).
Davis and Braun explain, words are symbols that can either represent a real-life image or an imaginary image, or they can represent an abstract concept. The two types of words are parallel with the two types of cognitions, according to Davis. The image cognition fits well with the image-word and the verbal cognition fits well with the abstract word. When a dyslexic child reads a word that represents a real life image, the word connects with his style of image cognition, however when the word doesn’t represent a real life image such as ‘and’ or ‘the’, the child’s mind goes blank. They are unable to visualize ‘the’, so “confusion” sets in. After numerous abstract words they become “disoriented” and begin pronounce images that are in their mind rather than reading the text that appears in front of them(Davis, R.D., and Braun, E.M.,1997). The mind of the dyslexic works with images thus words without imagery are avoided and incompatible with its thinking style. When avoidance is unable confusion and eventually “disorientation” sets in(Davis, 1994).
Davis, R. D. and Braun, E.M. (1997) The Gift of Dyselxia: Why Some of The Smartest Can’t Read…And How They Can Learn. New York. Perigee Trade.