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Monday, February 23, 2009

3D Thinking, Concluding the "D" Word

I explained to Scott that he is a 3 Dimensional thinker. So the first question he asks is why everyone else can only think in 2 dimensions.

Here are some of the things that cinched my conclusion.

First I had to listen to a three hour intense lecture by Susan Barton to be convinced. She went into greater detail about classic warning signs. Much greater than the detail I found summarized elsewhere.

She started with these three facts.

1) Family history is very important. We have family history. I knew my biologic father could not read, but we had always thought it was because he was the oldest of ten and had to go to work at a very early age and never had an opportunity. After a reunion with his sister after all these years this summer, she told me he had dyslexia (just didn't know back then what it was). This sparked my curiosity just a little bit...

2. Dyslexia is very common. 1 in 5 have it. Some may be very mild and may go unrecognized. She said dyslexia is so common that if you suspect dyslexia it probably is. She described the symptoms of mild dyslexia.

3. Dyslexics don't learn foreign languages. (Hmm... what about the Hebrew?)

She went on to list a bunch of criteria for dyslexia and said if you have three of these, you have dyslexia. Family history was the first match. Can't spell is the second. Dysgraphia (bad handwriting) is the third. He is the son of two physicians?? Give us some slack here. But what made the poor handwriting believable now is the specific detail in which she described it. Their thumb crosses the mid line of the pen; the pen is controlled with gross motor skills not fine motor and thus they can't keep the letters on a straight line. Sounds like Scott.

Then she went on to describe the "dimensional" qualities. Dyslexics have to have a reason for everything to understand it. This is the reason they ask a lot of questions. "Seeing it, touching it" and "asking why" are three dimensional quality. Examples of second degree learning is rote memorization like the alphabet, phone numbers and addresses, paper and pencil, days of the week and month, spelling of last name, multiplication tables, knowing right from left (and not having a dominant side), and remembering the sequence to tie their shoes (or their karate uniform!). This made sense to me why Scott is so bright in some areas and why he can't ever remember the things that seem so simple to my 2 dimensional brain.

Now for the d-b confusion. I've never noticed that. I have noticed other confusions and the fact that she pinned all of them in her lecture really sealed this.

leaving off the suffix

The reason they confuse the words, I learned is that they do see them correctly, but the can't sound them out (called phonemic awareness, dyslexics lack the instinct to learn this like other native English speakers without very specific instruction) and they just memorize shapes of words and look for the context. They can fool us up to about a second grade level, if that much.


I learned that when they make a mistake like trip for journey they usually aren't even looking at the page. It's too much work for them. BINGO, that is Scott--looking around the room as he is "reading." He's just trying to catch the context. And I thought he wasn't paying attention.

On the other hand, if I am reading to him and he doesn't know a word. He would stop me and ask me for a meaning of a word. He has done this as long as I can remember even as a preschooler. He has a huge vocabulary. If my reading gets sloppy, he can tell me to re-read or speak more clearly.

Now the fact that the Hebrew teacher says he is doing well in her class held me back me from thinking he's a 3D learner because learning a foreign language is 2D. Scott carefully sounds out his Hebrew words. I have observed this and his teacher independently concluded that he has this ability to sound out the words that the other students lack (sounds like he understands Hebrew Phonemes!). I want to think about this more now that I've listened to all the dyslexia video and see if I can figure out what skill Scott has pulled off.

I noticed in Karate tonight when he was fighting, the instructor kept encouraging him to use his right hand to punch. Scott was thinking about this. My 2D brain always just thought that's how coach got them to vary their kicks and punches. But I got it now! Coach noticed some right/left confusion and when I asked coach about this after class, coach told me his son, a a 3rd degree blackbelt (who is also the other coach for this class has dyslexia). That didn't surprise me seeing how talented this young man is in teaching karate to the children.

Where to go from here? Scott is going to learn to read in 3D. For a while we will give up the pencil and two dimensional paper and the alphabet. Using the BartonReading program we are going to use colored tiles, emphasize body language especially enunciation, and our ears to discriminate sound and syllables (this will be torture for a 2D mother). ScienceGeek has posted about this program on her blog. She has been very resourceful to me. I appreciate all the other notes and suggestions and will check them out.

Despite Scott having a huge vocabulary, "dyslexia" is not in his vocabulary right now, but his gift of "3 Dimensional thinking" is how he understands his reading differences. He is darn excited about learning all the whys and the quirks of English and Spelling and not having to memorize it anymore. He doesn't understand why the rest of us just keep on memorizing English the hard way.

When you get a 3D thinker past their reading difficulties they have some amazing potential. Remember Scott wants to be an inventor? Einstein and Edison were 3 D thinkers.


fitncrafty said...

I love this series of posts... I think sometimes that the 'label' itself holds a person back and not necessarily the actual'disorder'. I do not know that it should even be labeled as a disorder, but more of a learning style.
It may be more challenging to us, because we don't think that way 3d.
I think you are on a great path and I thank you for sharing this with us!

ScienceGeek said...

I must be in the emotional phase of my cycle, because your post brought me to tears. I love how you've taken us through your journey. I couldn't be more happy for you and for Scott, because I know you'll find huge success.

Marie said...

Good writing and great researching, and awesome mothering! I love your blog. Another little hint... my aunt and all of her children are dyslexic, for her it was before dyslexia was very well known. The thing that helped her, and what she did with her kids school reading assignments was to make them tell her the first letter of any word they got 'wrong' in there reading, and then try to read the word. I think all the things you're doing are wonderful, but if you're just trying to get through a few words on a page that might be a tactic that could help.

sara said...

Great story and you really have described the key talent of dyslexic thought. Have a look at the Davis programme too - the methods are fun to do together. They are tactile and dont use phonics - at all! You can work from the book The Gift of Dyslexia or get a kit from

Tammie said...

How dang funny my Matt says he wants to be an inventor too! Thank you so much for posting all this and sharing what you are learning! Very, very interesting. Matt has learned to read but has taken longer then all my other kids!

Allana Martian said...

Wow! I'm so glad you did all this research and blogged about it! (I sense a book written by you on homeschooling in the near future) I can see Elijah in what you are saying. I looked up the Barton reading program and Holy Crap! It's expensive!

ScienceGeek said...

Yes, Barton is very expensive. But these kids can't learn to read and spell with the traditional approach used in the school system and found in the other (less expensive) programs. The only way these kids can learn to read/spell is through the Orton-Gillingham method. The only way kids are going to get this teaching is with an O-G certified tutor, with a price tag of typically $90 an hour at least twice a week (for remediation to take place, dyslexics must be practicing for at least 120 minutes a week). With Barton, the parent learns how to teach her child. That way, the child can be taught 5 days a week (or more) for faster remediation. This program is so fabulous, and has brought my own dyslexic son farther than I ever thought possible in one year's time. I think Barton is worth every penny. (Plus, it holds its value for resale on eBay, so you can get your money back).

Permission to Mother said...

It's really not a surprise that I'd have some responses that my readers see similar signs in their children.

Thanks SG for responding. I'd like to add that there is a section on the BartonReading website for those on a tight budget. One of the ideas I liked was getting the homeschool support group to invest in a loaner copy. The price icludes full tutor support by phone and email. I don't know how that works for library and reused copies.

When I am sure both Scott and David are beyond a level, I will probably put the level into my office lending library.

Scott went all the way through Hooked on Phonics the first half of 2008. He slowly progressed to one sylablle words, and beyond that, I never saw anything stick with him. I kept on figuring, like William, he would take off. Obvious he never did. I had purchased HOP when William was 18 months old. I thought I'd have early readers. Jokes on me. When William was tutored at eight years old, Scott had a private tutor time also. THAT was expensive and dug into my schedule as I had to consider the tutors schedule also.

We have tried various other booklets like BOB books, some other animal primers at B & N, and even a Catholic based primer that I found very interesting, can't think of the names right now.

It will be a while before Scott gets to the point in the Barton program that introduces multiple sylablle words, but I do see light bulbs going off in Scott's mind as he works through the first level. After all these years he wants to sit and DO the lessons (he's never had such structure), he has questioned me how long it will take him to learn to read and wants to know if he'll ever read fast.

Like Marie suggested, I would often have him say the first letter, but there was to many words he didn't know. He didn't progress.

Hopefully now we are breaking bad guessing habits and are making real learning progress. Scott seems a lot more relaxed now. I have given his Hebrew and karate teachers some accomodations. Scott knows his responsibility-- to be evaluated orally and he knows that for a while he won't be asked to read out loud or turn in written assignments unless he volunteers. I can share the letter I wrote if you like me to. Scott and I both feel like a weight has been lifted.

ScienceGeek said...

I'm so happy for your progress!

I'm very impressed with the support with the Barton system. I've exchanged emails and spoken with Susan Barton, and she always takes her time answering my questions. I don't know of any other program where you have access to the developer like that!

Mary (cant remember my blogger password) said...

interesting :)
You know Zak had to learn spelling verbally, he could not spell with a pen in his hand (forget pencil, he always broke the lead...dysgraphia maximalis...)
And math was always with tangible things, groups of groups (marbles, whatever)for multiplication, division fractions everything was real, not on paper, 3 D, hmph.
I used to say he and Saraih read as a team, saraig would do teh basic reading, (he didnt have the flow AT ALL) and if she came on a word she could not pronounce HE could ALWAYS sound it out.
it is as LLL says...listening to your children's cues enables you to understand them abnd figure the whole thing out, wild how it always ties into that...

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