The Dyslexic Advantage: Book Review
DYSLEXIA: SEA OF STRENGTHS
The Dyslexic Advantage: Unlocking the Hidden Potential of the Dyslexic Brain delivers top quality information for parents and teachers of dyslexic students. The authors, Brock and Fernette Eide, are both M.D.s. They combine intellectual power with passion for their subject. They also authored The Mislabeled Child. I personally owe a great debt of gratitude to the Eide’s for this outstanding work. The research they gathered, and the masterful way in which they presented it, informed my own work as a dyslexia tutor. I used their ideas to develop techniques I perfected with students, then incorporated into Dyslexia Tool Kit for Tutors and Parents. The Eide’s focused their research on an important, and entirely overlooked, aspect of dyslexia — the fact that it is only a disability in a particular educational setting, but presents a “sea of strengths” across a wide field of human endeavor. They changed the perspective on dyslexia from “despite being dyslexic…” to “because I am dyslexic I can…”
MAKING NEURO-SCIENCE READABLE
If you’ve ever wished you could really get a handle on how a dyslexic brain differs from an average brain, read chapter 4 of The Dyslexic Advantage. This book presents enough data to be clear and clears away just enough detail so the reader doesn’t get lost. I’ve studied hundreds — probably thousands — of books and research studies on dyslexia. I’ve never found a clearer explanation of the neural aspects of dyslexia than this. It’s so good, I’ve purchased numerous copies because I keep giving them away to other teachers.
The bulk of The Dyslexic Advantage centers on the strengths of mind that accompany dyslexic brain structure. The Eide’s used a clever mnemonic to make it easier to remember and teach to these strengths. The “MIND” strengths they link to dyslexia relate to reasoning: Material reasoning, Interconnected reasoning, Narrative reasoning, and Dynamic reasoning. As the Eide’s unpacked these ideas, using plenty of real-life case studies to illustrate, I applied the information to my work with students, with satisfying success. Great teachers know they need to teach to the gift, rather than focusing on the weakness. The Eide’s turned dyslexia education around and sent it in the right direction by changing the focus from disability accommodation to taking advantage of the gifts.
AVOIDING DYSLEXIC DESPAIR
Sadly, many dyslexia educators focus on how hard it is for dyslexic students to learn to read. I’ve seen students give up in despair after two or three years of phonics instruction with no significant increase in reading ability. These students are smart. They observe how easy reading is for others. They know the depths of their own struggle. If they are told to “try harder,” they may just quit. Since most reading instruction depends on phonemic awareness, and lack of phonemic awareness is a signature trait of dyslexia, this is a huge problem! The Eide’s don’t ignore this. They offer a practical list of accommodations and methods. Chapter 29, Thriving in the Workplace, discusses careers at which dyslexic thinkers excel. Reading becomes a difficulty to master, not a chronic disease to plague every day of life. I love that the Eide’s acknowledge how wonderfully audio books and speech-to-text technology assist dyslexic learners, but I wish they had expanded on using audio books in tandem with printed books to enhance reading.
GIVE YOUR DYSLEXIC STUDENT WINGS TO SOAR
If you want to quit wallowing around in the swamp of dyslexic pity and begin teaching to the power of the dyslexic mind, read The Dyslexic Advantage. I predict it will inspire you and your students to soar, as it did for me. –Reviewed by Yvonna Graham, M.Ed; www.dyslexiakit.net —