Reading David By: Lissa Weinstein, Ph.D.

The official definition of
dyslexia according to the
National Institute of Child
“… of several distinct learning
disabilities. It is a specific languagebased disorder of a constitutional
origin, characterized by difficulties in
single word decoding, usually
reflecting insufficient phonological
processing abilities. These difficulties
in single word decoding are often
unexpected in relation to age and
other cognitive and academic abilities;
they are not the result of generalized
developmental disability or sensory
impairment. Dyslexia is manifested by
variable difficulty with different forms
of language, often including, in
addition to reading problems, a
conspicuous problem with acquiring
proficiency in writing and spelling.”
(Lyons, 1996, 34) (pg 36).
• In simple terms, Dyslexia (aka “word
blindness," which is actually a politically
incorrect term) is a learning disability in
which the person has trouble reading
and writing, mostly due to the inability to
sound out or make use of phonics. This
disorder is not developed over time; one
is born with it. Like other LDs, Dyslexia
has wide variations, ranging from mild
to moderate or severe.
Dyslexia: A Specific Language Disorder
• Dys (Difficulty) Lexicos
(Pertaining to Words)
-Most people are able to
recognize phonemes intuitively,
however, for a person with
dyslexia, this does not occur.
-Ex. b/a/t- (bat). The word “bat” is
made up of three phonemes, but
sounds like one sound.
So, it is common for people with
Dyslexia to often confuse words
like sleep with sheep, look with
lock, and done as dun. (pg. 41)
-Interesting fact (pg 40) Dyslexia
is not prevalent in all languages.
There are no children in Italy that
have dyslexia since their language
is only made up of 33 combo’s of
letters to spell 25 phonemes,
whereas English has 1,120 ways
of spelling 40 different phonemes.
(pg. 40)
Signs of Dyslexia (pg. 41-42)
Difficulty naming letters or singing the “alphabet song”
Trouble identifying words that begin with the same sound
Problems rhyming or recognizing rhymes
Inability to indentify sounds within words. (If you take the “h” out of hat what word
do you have?)
Problems with shapes and/or colors
Speech articulation problems
Difficulty remembering automated sequences (numbers, or months of the year)
Issues with fine motor activity (ie. Copying letters, drawing shapes)
Problems finding the correct names for things
Sequencing errors in words (David called his g-ma Dorsi instead of Doris0
Difficulty with verbal memory of what was just read or said
Lissa and David’s Struggles
• Lissa
• Inner-struggle to cope with
the fact that her own son
had a LD
• Constantly was exposed to
David’s problems, which
only put more stress on her
• Feelings of inadequacy of
being a mother
• Strains on family ties with
her husband and younger
son, Dan.
Problems in school
Issues with other children-didn’t have very many friends
Inability to cope in social surroundings with other
children or adults, like at birthday parties
Torn between so many tutors and specialists, confusion
Frustration in trying to communicate with others-they
couldn’t understand his speech or read his hand-writing
Uncooperative school system- David was not allowed
preventative medicine, since in kindergarten, “he was
not already behind grade level to receive special
His dyslexia makes him feel like he has to lie and cheat
in school in order to do well
The World as David Perceives It
How David Spells
• “Tkhe ditwdon was no a dinsor. It
was a pelicosar it wotck on all for it
had a dosol fin fortck on its bac the
fqucysefolesoris had a Big Dom on
its hed with was 10incthick which he
ust maby for beyingledr of the hord
are mating consest the sponsors lokt
insacley lock ditrodon sponsoros had
lots insterinsors sharp teecht for
caching fish Wuck on 6 feet the
end these are my favrein
DINOSAURS” (pg. 93)
• Translation: The dimetrodon
was not a dinosaur. It was a
pelicosaur. It walked on all four feet.
It had a dorsal fin perched on its
back. The pachylcephalysaur had a
big dome on its head which was ten
inches thick which he used maybe for
being leader of horde or mating
contests. The spinosaurus looked
exactly like the dimetrodon.
Spinosaurs had lots of spines and
rows of little sharp teeth for catching
fish. It walked on all six feet. The end.
These are my favorite dinosaurs. (pg.
David’s Characteristics
He is very bright and intelligent, but his parents know he is
different even before he begins kindergarten. Here are a few signs:
He is overly fascinated with odd things such as dinosaurs, GI Joe
figures and later, WWII.
He has a creative imagination and likes to use toys and things such
as Legos to understand the world around him. His ideas behind his
play are complex for his age. He teaches himself through his play.
He often cannot remember names of other children, therefore, does
not really like to be around others.
He calls himself stupid and dumb.
He does not share well with his little brother Dan
He loves to learn about things through pictures in book.
Lies about cheating in school to make his parents think he is
doing well.
Uses odd, idiosyncratic language or uses more complex words to
describe simple things-uses sophisticated language unusual for his
Often cannot imply what he means with words and confuses their
meanings (he told his mom he wanted a turkey sandwich and was
upset to find it was not ham)
Manipulates his mother into doing his homework for him
Lissa’s Efforts
to Help her Son
-She read to David almost every
-Helped him with his homework
(and sometimes even did it for
-Invented and played board
games to help David understand
words and letters better
-For the most part, had a fair
amount of patience with David
-Bought him toys when he did
well on something, or after
multiple counselor and tutor
-Took him to specialists,
counselors, school SPED.
teachers, and therapists
-Was his advocate
-Encouraged his own unique
learning techniques and
• Useful/Helpful things to consider
and focus on when dealing with a
child who has Dyslexia:
Tips for Educators on Teaching Dyslexia
• Trust your students’ passionlean on them.
• Let them play. This is a
powerful learning tool.
• Don’t just lecture and talk to
them. Get down on the floor and
interact with them.
• Become a learning partner, not
just a teacher.
• Read to them and have them
following along.
• Provide a safe, stable leaning
environment. (pg. 208-210).
About Lissa and David: Where They
Are and How Far They Have Come
• Lissa is an assistant professor in the
doctoral program in clinical
psychology at City College University
of N.Y. She currently serves as
associate director at the Pacella
Parent Infant Center and is on the
adjunct faculty of the Mount Sinai
School of Medicine and Colombia
Physicians and Surgeons Hospital.
She has been working as a clinical
psychologist for more than twenty
years and has authored numerous
articles about developmental
psychology as well as contributed to
a number of books.
• Davis is a seventh grader at a
mainstream school in suburban
N.Y. He sees himself as a good
thinker who knows a lot about
geography, dinosaurs, and WW II.
He would like to be a marine
biologist, a chef who does fancy
food, or a writer when he grows
up, as long as he doesn’t have to
write the letters himself. He is
currently on the honor roll. He
would like everyone to know that
he is very funny. Today, but not
everyday, he feels he has an
excellent mother.
Lessons Learned
David- “Its too hard to
remember what it was like
before. It’s too hard not knowing
the letters and what its felt like...
I guess I’ll always prefer TV a bit
to reading because its so much
easier. I still don’t like new
situations, but once I’m used to
something, I’m very good...When
I was in first grade, I couldn’t do
one thing in my phonics book.
But look at me now. I’m a great
reader and I never even finished
one phonics book…Sometimes I
wonder what life would have
been like if I didn’t have this
problem. I will always have this

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