Saturday, July 31, 2010

Dyslexic children who could not read but can read as adults

I have read many articles about adults who were unable to read in school as children but have learned to read when they were older.

The questions that arise in my mind are: “Why is this so? Why is it that they could not read when in school but are able to learn to read when they get older?” I believe the answer is simply that as an adult they can reason out and realize that they have been trying to learn English in a logical way when many of the words are not spelt logically. When this realization sets in they have no problem learning to read in English. There is no underlying reason (except perhaps that they had not been taught the way they should have been taught) as to why most of them had not learned in the first place.

I have said in my articles that my dyslexic students have no problem learning to read in Malay and  Mandarin written in the Roman alphabets and yet they struggle with the English language. I have taught all my dyslexic students by telling them not to try and ‘connect speech sounds to letters/words’ for many of the words. This is because English is not an orthographically consistent language like Malay or many of the other languages that dyslexics do not have a problem in learning to read.

Let us look at a few of the dyslexics who have learned to read at an older age. This list is just a few of the many dyslexics who have learned to read as an adult.

The following are excerpts from

•    Hollywood star KEIRA KNIGHTLEY is furious with her former school headmaster after he claimed he found it hard to believe she had dyslexia.
TEDDINGTON SCHOOL headmaster RICHARD WEEKS told British newspaper the DAILY MAIL earlier this year (04), he was shocked by Knightley's admission she was bullied at school and suffered from the learning disability.

Weeks said, "It's disappointing to hear she feels she had a hard time here. That's not the Keira I knew. She was a gifted pupil academically. She was almost our highest-achieving student. I find it difficult to believe she would have got those grades if she had dyslexia."

The 19-year-old beauty says, "Of all the things you could lie about, I'm not quite sure you would lie about that one. I've always been extremely clear about the course of events - when I was six, I couldn't read or write."

Knightley, who plays the feisty QUEEN GUINEVERE in her latest film offering KING ARTHUR, reveals that her older brother CALEB also has dyslexia. "He went to the same primary school and they said to my parents, 'This is the same thing as Cal and she needs special tuition.'
"My brother was so angry, because it was such a big thing in our family, and doing well at school was a huge achievement for me."

•    Dyslexic SWINGERS star VINCE VAUGHN is grateful his father snubbed offers to pump him full of prescription drugs when he was a kid because he would have become a "zoned-out zombie".
He says, "When I was in school I was not a very good student and I had a lot of learning disabilities. I was recommended to be put on prescription drugs but I was very lucky that my dad said no and didn't want me to go through life doped up."

"I learned differently than other kids did; I had dyslexia so it was very difficult for me and I didn't have an attention span. Then you kind of act like you don't care because it's embarrassing to care and not do well. Sometimes it's not even learning disability, it's more emotional situations where I had to go to a special class once a day, which was really embarrassing when you're younger."

"As I got older I was invited to this school in Washington, DC that teaches kids with learning disabilities. The funny thing is there are really successful people who had learning disabilities, like CEOs of medical companies."

"If you respond in a way where it forces you to work harder, you end up developing a really good work ethic because you have to work harder."

•    Hollywood actress KEIRA KNIGHTLEY's early career was fraught with difficulty, as dyslexia made it impossible for her to learn lines.

The PRIDE AND PREJUDICE beauty was so desperate to act she worked painstakingly through the problem, and by the tender age of 11 had worked so hard she could read scripts without a fault.
She says, "I remember going in for an audition when I was eight, and it was the most excruciating experience because I couldn't read my lines. My desire to act was my driving force. I got really good help from some amazing teachers and my mother and father worked tirelessly with me, so by the time I was 11 I had kind of overcome the dyslexia and now it's not really a problem. I don't notice it anymore."

•    TOM CRUISE has credited his Scientology faith with helping him overcome dyslexia - insisting he was illiterate until he followed the teachings of the controversial religion's founder L. RON HUBBARD.

The Hollywood superstar struggled with literacy at school, and resigned to the fact he would struggle with reading and writing after he was diagnosed with the language-based disability aged seven.
And Cruise admits he walked away from school as an illiterate - and blames the school system for failing him. But the star states it was science-fiction writer Hubbard's methods of learning and the ideas behind Scientology that finally enabled him to get a grasp of his learning difficulties.

He tells Spanish newspaper ABC, "I asked myself if I was normal or an idiot. I would try to concentrate but I felt anxiety, frustration and boredom. When I graduated from high school in 1980 I was functionally illiterate."

"Nobody gave me a solution and I wanted to know why the system had failed. Finally, as an adult I learned to read perfectly through the method of L. Ron Hubbard."

Now my point to my readers is for you to ponder over what I have been writing all this while. I have repeatedly written that dyslexics do not have a phonological awareness deficit. Dyslexics have a problem reading in English because it is an orthographically inconsistent language. Teach a dyslexic child in a way appropriate for him to learn and he will learn just like all the adults above.


Unknown said...

Good to see you back. Does this mean that you are finished writing your book?

I bought your book the Excellent Student and read it. I came to the conclusion that I am an excellent student, I do pretty much as you suggest. I will read it again.

I really appreciate what you are doing. For years I had been looking for information about other adults that have survived the dyslexia experience and been frustrated in my search. There seem to be a disturbing silence as if the problem disappeared as one became a adult. I believed there is a legion of walking wounded soles that sucked it up that continue to suffer in silence. Thank you, each and every one that share their experience. We are not alone.

We here from the successful and rich unfortunately most of the dyslexics are less rich and successful as they have been left with the jobs that the non dyslexics don’t want, the sloppy seconds. Truly there stories and little successes are every bit as interesting and spectacular.


Luqman Michel said...

Sorry John, I did not even get started on my book. I have been involved in a fight that I don't really want to be in - fighting corruption and the lackadaisical attitude of government servants.

Thank you for buying my book. Please pass it on to your daughter.

I hope to at least influence a few dyslexics to get jobs that they deserve and do well in life like they are able to if guided from young. Dyslexics do not have to accept the 'sloppy seconds' like you put it.

Dyslexics do not have to come from rich families to succeed, what they need are good teachers to guide them for just a few years at most.

Thank you for your comment and wish you well.

Kildonan School said...

Great insight from someone who teaches at a school for dyslexic children. Thanks for posting!

Luqman Michel said...

Thank you for your kind words. I am sure you are making a difference to dyslexics in your school.

Aliesen Senado said...
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