Dyslexia, the word that strikes fear and dread in the hearts of thousands of parents each year, is a complicated and controversial diagnosis. It is one of the largest categories of learning disabilities in the US. Statistics show that there has been a 34.2% increase in children with specific learning disabilities in the last 5 years meaning that there has been a significant increase in children diagnosed with dyslexia.
According to the NCLD website, 1 in 16 public school students have an IEP (Individual Educational Plan) for Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) or other health impairments (OHI) which includes ADHD. 1 in 50 public school students have 504 plans that provide accommodations for learning struggles.They also state that, learning disabilities don’t suddenly appear in third grade. Researchers have noted that the achievement gap between typical readers and those with dyslexia is evident as early as first grade. This means that the “mama instinct” you had that something is not quite right with your otherwise bright child is significantly intuitive on your part.
Over the past 100 years, dyslexic symptoms have been articulated by researchers, and include deficits in the areas of: phonological awareness, balance, motor control, dominance, visual discrimination, visual sequential processing, auditory processing, and listening skills. It is interesting to note that not much more than phonological awareness is included in the traditional dyslexia intervention. In fact, the conventional wisdom, of professionals that you may have consulted, seem to have the same view – “Kids with dyslexia don’t outgrow it. But there are teaching approaches and strategies that can help people with dyslexia improve their reading skills and manage the disability.”
That is definitely not the experience that Brain Sprints, an extension of Little Giant Steps, has had in helping children and adults that have been diagnosed with dyslexia and other learning challenges. From a NeuroDevelopmental point of view, the symptoms of dyslexia are caused by brain inefficiencies where receiving, processing and storing information is not being accomplished in a way that creates a good flow of information from the senses to the brain for use in functional tasks like reading and spelling. In our view, each of these areas can be enhanced by specific activities directed to the root cause of the inefficiency. The NeuroDevelopmental intervention is not a reading strategy or the typical “therapy” currently recommended for dyslexia treatment. It is a multi-pronged, direct stimulation to the brain through specific auditory, visual, tactile, gross motor and dominance work to change the pathways responsible for better performance. The function of a child or adult labeled with dyslexia can dramatically improve as you have heard in the video testimonies above. In fact, academic performance is accelerated with the ND approach! In contrast, what often happen with coping and compensating is that students fall further and further behind with each passing year.
To give you an example of ND intervention, the list of symptoms and possible developmental root causes can be seen here.