Dyslexia is Curable, But The War Is For The Heart Of The Child

My brother and I are dyslexic. (It is a genetic problem usually and runs in the family. Although you can teach someone to be dyslexic.) Dyslexia is curable if treated in elementary school. Our parents didn’t know how to even find out if we had dyslexia. At the time doctors thought dyslexia was a visual problem. Today, we know it is the inability to hear sounds within words. (Click here for a dyslexia test.)

Infants spend their first year listening for where words begin and end. Once they discover that they start duplicating words. Technically children are dyslexic for around the first three years. Somewhere after that they start rhyming which is an example of phonological awareness. (They hear the rhyming sound at the end of different words.) About 80% will naturally progress to phonemic awareness – hearing the individual sounds within a word.

If Only 20% Are Dyslexic, Why Are 70% Reading Below Grade Level? 

Most reading programs that teach phonics teach multiple sounds for each letter. This forces every child to memorize words rather than sound them out. (They can’t really sound out a word if they don’t know which letter sound to use.) Only 30% can memorize fast enough to stay on grade level. The cure for both dyslexics and slow memorizers is a strong phonics system where each letter is associated with only one sound. A strong phonics system trains the dyslexics’ ear and grows their phonemic awareness and allows the slow memorizer to sound out every word instead of guessing. Rocket Phonics does this in a series of games, but that is a story for another blog.

The Heart Of The Child

I was a fast memorizer and my brother got a tutor, but we both don’t like to read. I graduated from medical school and my brother with high honors and a masters. We both read whatever books were required at school, but not for pleasure. In fact, it took me 5 years to get him to read 1 book. This dislike for reading reduces vocabulary and according to ETS increases unemployment. Fortunately, our parents were well educated and we grew our vocabulary by talking at dinner.

But if you are low income you are surrounded by non-readers and the only way to grow your vocabulary both spoken and written is to read. And the higher your vocabulary the higher your future income. Thus reading becomes the path out of the poverty cycle.

The boy in the picture so intently reading wasn’t always that way. He was a year below grade level when we first met. I introduced him to the Rocket Phonics program through games. He liked the games and the games taught him a strong phonics system where he never failed. This built his confidence. Soon he was reading way above grade level and what he really needed was fun, easy-to-read books. 

I tried him on a few until he discovered this series about a third grader in school. He takes the books home and reads them. We have won the heart of the child and saved his life. The books he reads will take him far.

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