As a mum determined to find answers, I left no stone unturned when it came to helping my son learn to read. Specialist appointments lead us down a formal assessment path to find out exactly what was going on. Through these assessments, we were able to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, and this provided us with a much-needed baseline that helped us make decisions moving forward. We were able to rule out sight and hearing as potential problems as well any auditory processing issues.
I’m so glad we did because it really helped me to understand what we were dealing with. It wasn’t easy to hear that my son had dyslexia or that it was in the severe range. However, I must admit, it did come as a bit of a relief because suddenly, the past few years of struggle started to make a lot more sense.
What was interesting in all of this was that it revealed above average visual spatial strengths and weaknesses in his auditory memory as well as his working memory. I remember these three areas standing out to me at the time. I was curious to learn more. What did this mean and how did this impact his ability to learn?
What I came to learn was that his visual spatial strengths (his ability to observe, analyse and understand visual non- verbal information) played an important role in the way he processed information.
Auditory memory was to do with the way he processed verbal, language-based information. A weakness in this area meant he had a very limited capacity for holding verbal information in mind.
Working memory sits between the short term and long-term memory. Its role is to hold, manage and manipulate information mentally to process it to the long-term memory. It is limited in duration and storage capacity and plays a key role in the learning process.
And by the way, there were only two things that could happen once lesson information reaches the working memory it would either be processed to the long-term memory or lost altogether. This seemed to be one of the broken links in the learning chain.
Now for me, this was where things started to get interesting.
The more I researched, the deeper into the rabbit hole I went.
You see as I started to connect the dots, I began to see a much bigger picture start to form. Perhaps this is where my dyslexic thinking skills really excelled.
So here I had a child with a weakness in auditory memory which in turn was contributing to a constantly overloaded working memory. At school, it did not take much for him to reach mental fatigue, lesson information was being lost, unable to be processed effectively and it was affecting his ability to learn to read.
Yet, the capacity of his visual non-verbal memory was strong but remained untapped during reading instruction. At least in a way that enabled the lesson information to be processed to the long-term memory.
Understanding the learning needs of the child is just one side of the equation – the other side has to do with meeting the learner’s needs through effectively designed methodology and delivery of the instruction.
Understanding what wasn’t working and why, paved the way for the creation of a new learning system purposely designed for children who learn and process information in a different way.