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Show me the Way Dr. Astrid Kopp-Duller How to help adults with writing, reading, or calculating problems

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Dyslexic people have exceptional perceptions and therefore exceptional talents which give them the ability to grasp comprehensive processes very precisely. Everyone knows Leonardo da Vinci(1492-1519), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), Albert Einstein(18791955); and many people also know that they were dyslexic. Many explorers, scientists, computer specialists, mathematicians, architects, musicians, painters, sculptors, writers, philosophers, designers, actors, chefs, top athletes, physicians, etc., are dyslexic, and make, or have made, invaluable contributions for the benefit of all of humanity. There are untold numbers of adults who have insufficient command over writing, reading, and/or calculating (the latter is referred to as dyscalculia). Out of shame, they try to hid this fact whenever possible, because in western culture the lack of capability in these areas is constantly connected with lack of intelligence. Some even see themselves as impaired, ill, or even disabled, because uninformed people convey this impression. Unfortunately, it can get to the point where these individuals begin to suffer under this psychological pressure. In reality, writing, reading, or calculating abilities very rarely have anything to do with decreased intelligence. Additionally, people with these problems generally are not impaired, ill, or disabled. In fact, dyslexic and dyscalculic individuals possess exceptional information processing, combined with an exceptional learning ability which creates particularly high demands at the pedagogical-didactical intervention level. If these demands are acknowledged properly, specific learning methods can be implemented so that dyslexic or dyscalculic people can learn writing, reading, or calculating in satisfactory measure.

Many individuals affected by writing, reading, or calculating difficulties—about 15% of the total population—often have no idea what the cause is or why they cannot function with cultural techniques as well as other people. Many simply feel as if they are stupid and suffer in secret. Experience shows constantly that people who make great achievements in their occupations do not display corresponding ability in the area of writing, reading, and/or calculating; they actually doubt themselves and assume that they are not as smart as other people who do command these techniques. This stereotypical opinion—that someone who can write, read, and calculate is bright, and one who cannot is stupid—continues to exist very firmly in our society. Satisfactory clarification, above all regarding their exceptional talents, as well as their perceptions, along with the associated problems with sensory perceptions, frequently enables these individuals to achieve a wholly new attitude towards life. Therefore, detailed clarification is of great relevance! Genetically predisposed dyslexia or dyscalculia is a life-long condition. One does not “grow out of it,” as was once supposed. Nevertheless, it is possible to provide definitive assistance to help adults learn to write, read, or calculate satisfactorily. If the affected individual received specialized assistance on the pedagogicaldidactical level in his youth, which still was insufficient, it will be easier to integrate him into intensive training again. The more individualized and effective the assistance by a specialist, the faster and easier it will be for the dyslexic/dyscalculic person to navigate the worlds of letters or numbers. Even today, the signs of dyslexia or dyscalculia are not always recognized during 2

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the childhood years, and frequently nothing is done for a long time to improve the condition of the affected individual until he is finally grown. Thus there continue to be a considerable number of people who reach adulthood having somehow survived school despite their dyslexia/dyscalculia, but who are absolutely not satisfied with their situation, which manifests, for example, as excessively slow reading, too many writing errors, or substandard facility with mathematics. It is, therefore, significant that one can also provide purposeful assistance to dyslexic/dyscalculic individuals who are already adults. Naturally, it is essentially more of a complex process than would be the case, for example, with someone younger. Different requirements are needed. Resorts can be guaranteed and pre-programmed only if all of these requirements are met. Above all, three requirements must be present in order for pedagogical-didactical interventions with adults to succeed: The affected individual’s honest intent to achieve improvement It does little good if only one’s parents or life partner is the driving force in this endeavor. The primary player is and remains the affected individual. He must feel enough psychological pressure to motivate him for the long-term, complex work involved in dyslexia/dyscalculia training. Essentially, there are many adults with writing, reading, or calculating difficulties who have become resigned to their fate to the point where they can live with it and do not desire to change.

trainer. The specialist should advise the affected person honestly that he is facing a quantity of labor which will require a will of iron to get through. The parents or the life partner should also be involved in these conversations so that understanding can be ensured in the home environment. Often the affected person is fully engaged in his work and then devote only limited time resources to this endeavor. Training means extra work. Just as with children, one should not underestimate the fact that the environment for successful training is very important. Recognition that results do not appear immediately The affected person needs to recognize that results are achieved only by hard work and not overnight. It must be clear that improvements may not necessarily seem to be steps forward, and that sometimes may even involve steps backward which are not simple to explain. At these times, staying power is necessary; but eventually, with much patience and perseverance, it will be rewarded. One thing must be made absolutely clear to the affected person: even as an adult, substantial improvements can be made with proper dedication and effort. Individual training approach dyslexic/dyscalculic adults


Training for dyslexic/dyscalculic adults involves two essential areas: improvement of attention in connection with cultural techniques and specific, individualized symptom training determined by the affected person’s needs.

Readiness to improve must be elicited from the affected person himself, as well as from the parents, the life partner, or also from a specialist, that is, a dyslexia/dyscalculia 3

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Attention training As with dyslexic/dyscalculic children, it is important to convey the knowledge that one needs to keep one’s thoughts focused on the task at hand when writing, reading, or calculating. This focusing of attention is a basic building block for successful work. It is easier for adults to acquire this awareness than children; yet the process for doing so is essentially more difficult. This is related to the fact that habits of long standing tend to be firmly embedded in us, particularly bad ones. Temporary wandering of one’s thoughts or superficial thought processes while writing, reading, or calculating is a reinforced, natural habit of which he generally is not aware, and which is hard to resist. Only the consecutive symptoms, the mistakes, which occur, are noticed. It is amazing how much one can achieve, solely on the basis of knowledge of this fact that an affected person must constantly be aware while writing, reading, or calculating, that is, focus his attention on these activities. It will also be promising and motivating if one shows the adult and makes him aware of which superior results he can achieve with thorough attention during writing, reading, or calculating. Only constant implementation will cause occasional difficulties. Yet even in this field the saying “Practice makes perfect” is true. Untold repetition of this condition of attention eventually results in returning to true attentiveness while writing, reading, and calculating. It is impossible to predict how long training will last in this direction. This always depends on the specific individual. One can also support this training with exercises geared towards increasing

attention, but one should observe carefully as to whether the desired condition actually appears. The highest level of attention focusing has been reached if the affected person realizes that he can regain control of his wandering attention. This result alone indicates significant improvement. It is extremely important and motivating. Symptom training Improvements in the symptom field—working with spelling and reading or with basic arithmetic—can only be achieved through specific, individualized work stages, in which it is absolutely necessary for adults to begin at the beginning. This means that training frequently must begin with letters or number symbols. It is also particularly important to explain why this step is vital even for adults. Additional areas of support regarding symptoms are established by the trainer by way of error analysis. Here, too, it is import to proceed with specific purpose. Areas such as uppercase and lowercase writing, sharpening, word organization, and much more are also encountered by adults. Calculation tests can be used, or one can establish mathematical knowledge on the basis of basic arithmetic skills. The particular empathy of the pedagogue with the already mature personality of the student is also important. Only persistent and lasting training ensures ongoing results and leads to strengthened self-awareness for the affected person!



-­‐ Approximately every seventh person is affected by dyslexia/dyscalculia -­‐ The exceptional perceptions of these individuals are responsible for writing, reading, or calculating difficulties -­‐ On the other hand, these exceptional perceptions enable these people to produce extraordinary achievements -­‐ These people are neither lazy nor stupid -­‐ Dyslexia/dyscalculia is not an illness, but rather a predisposition -­‐ Individualized assistance is also available for adults -­‐ Achieving improvement requires certain conditions -­‐ Focusing attention is the basic building block for success -­‐ Improvement does not appear immediately or overnight -­‐ Improvement can only be planned within a positive environment.


American Dyslexia Association.com 442 S. Tamiami Trail Nokomis, FL 34229 http://www.dyslexia.me

Profile for Dyslexia Research Center

Show me the way  

Dyslexic people have exceptional perceptions and therefore exceptional talents which give them the ability to grasp comprehensive processes...

Show me the way  

Dyslexic people have exceptional perceptions and therefore exceptional talents which give them the ability to grasp comprehensive processes...

Profile for dyslexics