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Methods & Therapies to Help with Dyslexia

Answers to Common Questions

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Q. How can I teach math to dyslexic students?

Hello I am a second year education student. I was looking for help in dealing with dyslexia and math. Any tips you could pass on or web sites you could suggest would be greatly appreciated.

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A. (By Abigail Marshall)
Dyslexic students tend to be good at understanding three-dimensional objects, spatial reasoning, and things they can see in pictures. They have problems with symbols, so their math problems often stem from difficulty with the symbolic representation of math concepts. They also have problems thinking with words, so rote memory of math sums (such as multiplication tables) is very difficult. Finally, because they are 'big picture' thinkers, they often have trouble with sequential, step-by-step logic or ordering - obviously important to follow a series of steps such as learning to do long division.

With this in mind, tools that teach math concepts through hands-on activities and manipulatives are very good. It is important to make sure that the student understands the basic concepts that numbers and other mathematical symbols represent. You also will want to help the student see where any mathematical process is leading; before a dyslexic student can learn steps in a process, the student will want to know why and how these steps will lead to the intended result.

Some good books for helping dyslexic students are:

Here are some good web sites with interesting math activities:

Q. Can dyslexia be treated with medication?

I've heard some people claim that dyslexia is caused by problems with the inner ear and that it can be cured with medication. Is this true?

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A. (By Abigail Marshall)
Dyslexia is not a disease, and thus medication will not cure a person with dyslexia, nor will it help with the dyslexia itself. Rather, dyslexia is the result of a different style of thinking and learning, and is best addressed through educational counseling or tutoring.

Sometimes individuals find that certain medications can help with some symptoms of dyslexia. For example, medicines might help a person stay focused or handle headaches or nausea experienced with reading. However, this approach does nothing to help the underlying learning problems. Most prescription medicines have potentially dangerous side effects, and use of medication to treat symptoms could lead to long-term dependency.

Unfortunately, some people mistake the alleviating of symptoms for a cure, and for that reason promote the use of medications to treat learning difficulties. This can be a problem if it prevents students from seeking or obtaining the educational support that they need.

Q. Will vision therapy help with dyslexia?

I have heard that problems such as reversals in reading and other symptoms associated with dyslexia. Will this approach help my child in school?

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A. (By Abigail Marshall)

According to the Joint Policy Statement of the American Academy of Optometry and American Optometric Association, "Vision therapy does not directly treat learning disabilities or dyslexia." Rather, dyslexia is a learning problem that can be overcome through educational counseling or tutoring.

However, many of the symptoms that are commonly associated with dyslexia can also be the result of vision problems. Vision therapy addresses problems that result from weaknesses in eye muscles or other problems in the way the eyes are used, through a series of exercises and skill-building sessions, or with physical devices such as special lenses.

Two common examples of problems that can be addressed with vision therapy are tracking or convergence problems. 'Tracking' means that an individual is not able to use her eyes to scan the text left-to-right. 'Convergence' or 'teaming' means that the two eyes are not working together properly, so that the person may see double, or may lack binocular vision.

It is very possible for a person to have both dyslexia and vision problems that can be addressed with vision therapy. When the person is known or suspected to be dyslexic, we recommend starting with Davis Orientation Counseling, either by working with a Davis Facilitator or following the instructions set out in The Gift of Dyslexia. This is because many misperceptions experienced by dyslexics are the result of disorientation; unless this is corrected, vision therapy may fail simply because the student is not able to accurately interpret what they are seeing due to continuing mental confusion. Since Davis Orientation can be quickly learned, we think it makes sense to learn this technique at the outset.

Advice and evaluation concerning vision therapy should be obtained from a Developmental Optometrist. You can get listings of qualified providers and advice about choosing an optometrist from these web sites:

Q. Is dyslexia related to autism?

To Ron Davis: In your book, you say you were considered "retarded" as a child, what would today be called autistic. I also understood that you were and are dyslexic. Is dyslexia a form of autism?

Return to Table of Contents. Ronald Dell Davis

A. (By Ronald Dell Davis)

I was born in 1942. As an infant I was considered a Kanner's syndrome baby (Dr. Kanner was one of two doctors who eventually coined the word 'autism'). According to my mother, I refused to be held as a baby, and did not speak or develop as my two brothers did.

My mother was pretty much in denial of my condition and refused to have the schools label me. Nevertheless, I was labeled "uneducatably mentally retarded" at the age of twelve years by the school system I attended. At the age of seventeen years, it was discovered that I had a higher than normal Intelligence (137 IQ), at which point I was treated by Dr. Meredith Evans, a speech and language therapist. I learned to speak normally, but could not be taught to read. My difficulty to learn to read was attributed to "brain damage", which my mother claimed not to be true.

Dyslexia is not a form of autism, although disorientation is a factor in both conditions. It just turned out that I had both.

Cite as:
Methods & Therapies to Help with Dyslexia: Answers to Common Questions. Retrieved May 26, 2016 from Davis Dyslexia Association International, Dyslexia the Gift Web site: http://www.dyslexia.com/library/dyslexia_methods.htm
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This Page Last Modified: Saturday, 18 April 2015.