Monday, February 23, 2009

Reflections on Dyslexia vis-à-vis Dislecksia Movie

Recently, we briefly blogged about the new comedic documentary on dyslexia called "Dislecksia: A Documentary." In the "Director's Statement," he talks of his personal experiences with dyslexia. Unfortunately, the experiences he recounts are all-too common among dyslexics: having teachers unable to see the quality and intellectual merit of one's ideas for the spelling and grammar errors; continuous and fruitless testing; and becoming the class clown to mask the problems in reading and spelling.

We wanted to revisit this to talk about the non-specific components of AVKO tutor training and overall philosophy that can really make a difference in your student's academic achievement. When working with your dyslexic student, it's extremely important to objectively evaluate the merit of his ideas instead of simply taking his paper home, marking it up with red ink, and shoving it in his face without any constructive criticism or encouragement. Too many students become afraid to make mistakes because of the inevitable criticism; they simply shut down after a while.

Be sure to list the high points of your student's work, but be sure to not completely gloss over the weak points, either. It's often much more helpful (and less intimidating) to correct papers with your student; they will know what you are saying, they can explain what they meant, and you can give them immediate feedback so they can correct the errors. The students will be much less likely to take the comments as personal attacks if you can explain it in person and the comments will be much more likely to be heeded instead of having the entire paper crumpled up and thrown away after seeing the grade.

AVKO frequently spouts a few mottos that are more than trite platitudes; they are philosophies to live by:
  • Mistakes are opportunities to learn.
  • I can remember anything if I forget it enough times.
  • If it is to be, it is up to me to do it.
  • Be liberal with praise; be stingy with criticism.
These mottos are used throughout the AVKO materials to remind us all.

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