Saturday, June 06, 2009

Dyslexia Resources

I have come across two excellent resources for dyslexics recently.

The first is the Being Dyslexic community. This is a free to access social network site for dyslexics and people concerned with dyslexia. Much of its client base seems to be based in the UK, though there are members from other parts of the world as well. On its forums questions, discoveries, advice and support are freely shared.

I stumbled across it a few weeks ago and was instantly hooked.

Lots of people are interested in dyslexia. There are neuroscientists - people who scan brains to work out the physical differences between dyslexics and non-dyslexics. There are educationalists - people who try to figure out how to get dyslexics to achieve 5 or more GCSE passes at grade C or above. Much of the information on dyslexia is produced by these two groups. The refreshing thing about Being Dyslexic is that the material there comes from a third interested party - the practitioners, the owners of dyslexic brains.

The strap-line on the front page of the site is: "Being dyslexic is being someone amazing." I love it.

Then to my second recommendation. I have mentioned it on here before without realising that it could be useful for those who want to understand dyslexia. It is the novel Ghosts of Eden by Andrew Sharp.

This is a book I read in manuscript form some years ago. Since the book launch, I have been reading it again. This time a truth hit me that I'd missed before. One of the characters is dyslexic. It is never stated in the book. But all the evidence is there.

The following contains a very small spoiler, so if you are already convinced to read the Ghosts of Eden, perhaps you should stop here, and come back once you have finished it. Otherwise, do read on.

The first section of the book deals with two cowherd brothers living in East Africa. One is well respected, the other is having problems and is a worry to his family. The respected one has a natural gift for understanding the cattle. He knows them and they respond to him. He can also tell stories in the way the adults do, using the same rhythms and fluency. He knows what people are thinking before anything is said, and intuitively senses the outcome of events before they happen. In short, he is gifted and destined for greatness. If he has a shortcoming it is that he tends to be impulsive. But this can also be a path to greatness, for he is the one who will act when others might stand around thinking and talking.

But life is about to change for the two boys. The white man's education is coming. They head off to school together and suddenly their position is reversed. The boy who was so able is suddenly disabled because this new world values different qualities. Conversely, his less able brother suddenly flourishes. The white man's education values the ability to read and write, to spell correctly, to remember abstract information. Here the day is measured in hours and minutes instead of by the passage of events. Here impulsive behaviour is bad behaviour.

In short the super-able becomes disabled and the disabled becomes super-able. Why? Because different qualities are valued.

Last Thursday I asked the author if he had intended the able cowherd boy to be dyslexic. He said yes, though he hadn't spelled it out because that was not the main theme of the book.

In my opinion, the opening of this novel - which can be taken as a stand-alone story - should be compulsory reading for anyone concerned with dyslexia. You can buy copies here. (And no, I don't get a commission!)


siobsi said...

Now I'm looking forward even more to reading it. It's on my bedside table for a quieter time ... when nothing can interupt my pleasure

Pam said...

Sounds very interesting. I am really curious these days to see if neuroscientists can find the link that people with various brain glitches needto fully understand why we are dyslexic, autistic, OCD, anxious, stutter, etc. I went to Columbia University in NYC in January for a MRI study. They were looking to see if there is a common connection in the brain patterns or synapses of those who stutter, have tourettes, depression, other repititive brain movement issues.
I think that science will soon uncover the pieices of the puzzle that will helpall of us with a timing issue better understand.
I agree with the thought that dyslexics are amazing. So are people who stutter. We can enrich the world just be sharing our differences.

RCBonay said...

One of the characters in my super hero webcomic was named Dyslexic...I was thinking he would be a guy but now I'm naming her name should be "Dyslexia". I'm thinking her power is that she can read anything and decipher the author's true meaning.

P.S. I'm not a published author, just an amateur artist running with an idea I picked up on the net...follow me if you want to see where this goes.

farmlanebooks said...

I have just finished reading The Ghosts of Eden and I loved it! I have to admit that I didn't notice that one of the boys had dyslexia until I the author pointed it out to me. I just took it as some people thriving from education and others not.

It really is a great book, and I'm so pleased that other people are promoting it!

Rod Duncan said...

Hi there Farmlanebooks.

You don't have to realise the character is dyslexic in order to appreciate the book. But having spotted it, I found another layer of enjoyment.

It really is very beautifully observed.

Dyslexia in children said...

Dyslexia is a neurological development disorder. The symptoms are clear but there is no proper medication found on it. It is also found in children. You have written very well about it. Thanks for sharing it.