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15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Dyslexia

15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Dyslexia

Dyslexia is all too often regarded as a stigmatizing label and there are many misconceptions about this minor learning disorder. If you love someone with dyslexia, you may well have come across some of these myths and stereotypes. So, to set the record straight, here are 15 reminders if you love someone with dyslexia. Pass it on to anyone else who may have the same problem.

1. They are just as intelligent as everyone else.

Dyslexia is just a minor difference in the way the brain processes sounds, letters, words and can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. It is just that the dyslexic sufferer’s brain is wired differently. Richard Ford and Albert Einstein are two inspiring examples of extremely gifted people who had the same problem, yet they made an enormous contribution to knowledge, literature and science. Dyslexia is not a measure of anyone’s intelligence.

2. They need to be spotted early.

The earlier the better. If you have noticed that there are problems with your child in processing letters, sounds, spelling and reading and maybe writing, then it may be time to get him/her tested. The Woodcock-Johnson-Revised Test of Cognitive Ability is one the tests used. Edison’s teacher had no idea what dyslexia was and sent home a note which read, “Too stupid to learn.” With the right help, dyslexic children can thrive and succeed. Look at the list of famous people here who had dyslexia and you will be amazed.

3. They are at risk of falling through the cracks.

The sad fact is that many people who struggle with dyslexia just give up because they are not helped or encouraged enough. We are in danger of losing dyslexics and the figures from one UK prison confirm that. They did a survey at Chelmsford prison of over 2,000 inmates and found that 53% had a problem with dyslexia. That is an incredibly high figure when compared to the rate for the law-abiding population which is around 10%.

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Richard Branson’s teacher had a similar premonition when he remarked that he would either end up in prison or become a millionaire!

4. They need better support at school.

With the right training and use of special techniques, children can overcome their difficulties. A survey in UK found that many dyslexic students ended up frustrated because of unhelpful comments from their teachers. For example, 83% of them were told just to ‘try harder’. What was even worse was the fact that two thirds were forced to read aloud in front of their classmates.

5. They are likely to have inherited this disability.

Scientists have now identified 6 of the genes they believe are responsible for reading and spelling difficulties that children and adults encounter. These genes are those we all use to be aware of sounds, verbal memory and also verbal processing speed. Most experts agree that this is neurological disorder which is often genetic

6. They have problems with letters, sounds and spelling.

From the age of three, you can spot a child who may be dyslexic when they have problems matching sounds of the alphabet with the objects they can represent. For example, one student could not identify the picture of an apple which would illustrate the letter ’A’. Other examples are where words of several syllables may all get jumbled up such as “pasghetti” instead of spaghetti or they may spell animal as “aminal. They will often write the word “said” as “seb”.

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7. They can spot what is out of place.

A dyslexic person is often quicker at discovering what is out of place in a problem, theory or experiment. This ability is what has driven dyslexic scientists to discover anomalies which have led to dazzling awards and prizes. An excellent example is Carole Greider (Nobel Prize in Medicine, 2009) whose discovery of the telomerase enzyme has led to extraordinary advances in the study of aging and cancer. It all started when Carole started investigating a research area which was so far off the beaten track that it was almost off topic.

“One of the things I was thinking about today is that as a kid I had dyslexia. I had a lot of trouble in school and was put into remedial classes. I thought that I was stupid.” – Carole Greider

8. They cannot be creative and they are bound to fail.

This is the greatest myth of all because dyslexics have a lot going for them. Not only are they intuitive and creative but they can be brilliant at hands-on learning and solving three-dimensional problems. These are all abilities which require a lot more than verbal skills, yet our society has always placed a premium on reading speed. What a pity that dyslexics’ talents are not appreciated more.

9. They can take meds for dyslexia.

No, there are no pills to take! There is no cure or medical treatment for dyslexia. Either you manage to use coping mechanisms or you may drop out. Using memory a lot more and substituting acronyms and nonsense words to represent words are ways that children can cope with their reading and spelling difficulties at school.

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10. They need more support and encouragement.

If your loved one has dyslexia and missed out at school where it was never even recognized, you may want to offer help and support now. They may still have problems remembering a name or a fact. Help them get assessed if necessary and then encourage them to get coaching where they can learn more coping strategies. They may need specific help with time management, planning and passing on phone messages, for example.

11. They may need help to discover how they learn best.

Supporting a loved one with dyslexia will involve examining what their learning style is. They may benefit from getting instructions through the auditory channel. Max Brooks, the Hollywood screenwriter, who is dyslexic was helped by his mother when she recorded all the material he needed for learning on audiocassettes!

12. They often hide their problems at work.

Between 10% and 15% of the US population are thought to have dyslexia. In spite of that, dyslexia is often a closely guarded secret as individuals are afraid that disclosure may damage their career. A lot depends on the employer’s attitude to the problem. If they are committed to helping their workers reach their full potential, they will provide screening and support. The problem is that many employers do not.

13. They may have problems at college.

Dyslexic students find that using audio recordings are a great way to fast track their studies because reading is, inevitably, slow. If you need to download recordings of a vast array of literature and textbooks together with magazines, you may find the Learning Ally site is useful. Voice recognition software is a great help too in writing essays and assignments.

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14. They use a different part of their brain to read.

When a neuroscientist discovered that her son was dyslexic she wept because she realized how many obstacles he would face in life. She has written a book on this which has the fascinating title, Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain. She explains how the dyslexic brain has to learn to juggle letters, sounds and words in the phonological part of the brain, on the right hand side. The non dyslexic person uses other areas and the result is faster reading and writing. The dyslexic’s brain is wired differently to everybody else’s and it takes more time. Reading aloud to a child from an early age may give them an advantage.

15. They are at a disadvantage if they are English speakers.

Part of the problem is that the letters in the English language can have many different sounds. Think of the letter “a”. It can have five different sounds as in safe, apple, alive, acorn and wash. Now in Spanish, the letter “a” always has the same sound so that is why there is not nearly as much dyslexia among Spanish speakers or other languages where there are regular phonetic rules.

The best way of all to encourage a loved one is to push them to get assessment, training, coaching or other support at school and at work and remind them that failure is often the way to success.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

Featured photo credit: Reading together /San José Library via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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