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Dyslexia’s Emotional Impact

Bill Allen
Bill Allen
Sep 02, 2020
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The emotional impact of dyslexia, diagnosed or undiagnosed, on the child, the parents, and the family can be enormous, and have lifelong consequences.  As the child learns to “thinks they are dumb and less than their friends,” the hearts of the parents grow heavy and they feel unable to help their child, who started out as a bright, happy child. As the child continues to fall behind and fail in school, their self-esteem plummets.  No one likes to feel this way, and avoidance and compensating behaviors are automatically engaged in order to reduce the pain of not being able to read like one’s peers – e.g., “act-out”, aggressive, withdraw, disruptive, blank and numb, lack of attention to the task. The whole family carries the emotional burden when one child cannot read, cannot keep up with their peers, and therefore has a very limited future-life outlook.  Magical I Am - Sky Village is designed to eliminate this painful emotional impact by enabling a child to learn to read the abstract words that make up more than 85% of the first 100 commonly read words.

Dyslexia Learning to Read Schools (average annual tuition $25,000) as well as other learning to read programs are only available to 1% of American families who can afford the up to $40,000/year programs to try to help their child learn to read so they can read to learn. The game Sky Village requires a mobile device that most families and many children have, and affordably provides the opportunity for a child to learn to read, at their own pace, without tutoring or teachers, anywhere they take the device to play the game.

Sam Segmiller grew up as a dyslexic, and was labelled as LD (learning disabled) student.  He is very articulate about how different the world is for a dyslexic:

The Dyslexic's mind thinks in pictures and wants to make a shape out of everything they see.... People with dyslexia may be able to hear and see perfectly well, but what they hear and see can look different and sounds different than it would to most people. 

Typically, with dyslexia, there is a wide gap between IQ and school achievement. Often, the dyslexic child's ability to think creatively and abstractly is quite good, but their basic reading and spelling skills are weak. Sometimes they have the feeling as if they are thinking in German, speaking in French and writing in English. The word is a picture in their minds, the sound it makes is a feeling in their mouths and writing a word is a picture they draw, note not write. Making connection between all three is sometime hard for the dyslexic. (http://www.dyslexiamylife.org/)

Magical I Am - Sky Village provides a revolutionary way to learn to read abstract words.  It resolves the many decade-old dilemma of how to teach a young child to read “the little, itty-bitty words” that cause young students to stumble while they read, misread, and misunderstand.  In the early, critical grades when a child learns to read, we cannot expect every young, sensory thinking mind to switch over suddenly to logical thinking (thinking in words and abstract concepts) in place of thinking in pictures, feelings, sounds, motions, touch, and imagination.  And, in fact, at least 20% of K-5 graders do not make this leap, and get left behind as a poor reader, and the stigmas that go with this label.

What is the Emotional Cost to Having Difficulty Reading?

"When a kid is not reading at grade level the lifetime consequences are often disastrous. Why then aren’t we pulling out all of the stops? We have no red lights flashing with sirens sounding announcing: 'Wait! STOP! We are not moving on and passing this child by. This is not a problem that can be solved by some extra monitoring and a few minutes a day with a reading specialist....'No one is born a good reader. Good readers are made, not born..." - Alex Granzin, PhD (https://childrenofthecode.org/interviews/granzin.htm )

The Social Pressure and Esteem to be able to Read

A turning point for a parent comes when their child comes home from school, and says, “I am stupid.” This parent sent their smart, alert, life-loving child to school and this is how they come home when they fail to learn to read along with their peers.  Labels are attached to the child, some about unacceptable behavioral presentations (acts-out; short attention span; inattentive; goofs-off; depressed and doesn’t try; defensive, sullen, defiant), and others about the child’s inability to learn (slow, disadvantaged, dyslexic, impaired).  The child feeling “stupid” now feels like a failure who hasn’t a chance of learning to read like their peers.  This is frightening for the child and their parents. All their defenses may protect them from the agony of trying to read, and yet they, at the same time, condemn them to a life of limited possibilities in our world of print.

Print is Everywhere in School.  Print is Everywhere in Life.  “And if you see yourself being excluded from the process of becoming familiar with this, learning how it works, taking pleasure in it, being excited about being able to be autonomous and independent, then I think that’s a very potent emotional message that children get, and potentially a very damaging one.”  (p4/30 Alex Granzin) Reading is an essential learning process that enables us to read directions, signs, prescription labels, contracts we sign, get a driver’s license, know which bathroom to use, and who to vote for on a ballot. 

Shame; Defeat; Self-Doubt Take Over

When children find that they seem to lack the ability to do something their peers are learning to do, shame floods in, they doubt self and easily feels defeated.  Spoken language is part of our ancient heritage, and written language is comparably new and an “unnatural” process to us. The confusion that builds in the process of failure to learn to read is different than confusion in learning a spoken language, or how to interact with people and your environment. 

“If a reader is struggling as their mind is trying to catch and stay entrained in the processing that is necessary to reading this code, and their frustration and confusion leads to them feel ashamed of themselves, or feeling bad about themselves, their attention becomes split. What they are processing is no longer the self-transparent code work. It now involves self-conscious feelings.” (p9/30 A Granzin)Confusion and stress derail the brain of its full, integrated function - The child now has little chance of learning to read.  Often the child is put on medication for their apparent ADD or ADHD behaviors, and this costly (financially and physiologically) remedy does not help the foundational problem … they lack the educational tools to learn how to read in the way their brain works.  

NAEP scores show that 64 % of 12th graders in the US read below proficiency – many cannot read their diplomas.  When an individual reads below proficiency level, many opportunities are not available to them.  Too many children grow up unable to read proficiently and with a damaged sense of self as a result. A recent national assessment of adult literacy reported that 92 million adults cannot read well – approximately 1/3 of the adult population reads below 5th grade level, and 70% of the prison population. (pp. 12/30, 15/30, 16/30; A Grazin) (NAEP = National assessment of Education Progress .. a national testing service.)

“The longitudinal studies that we have regarding the evolution of reading development suggest that if you are substantially impaired in first grade you are very, very likely to be substantially impaired in the fourth grade. And if that’s the case in fourth grade, you are probably looking at a school history of academic failure to one degree or another. So, it’s a fairly depressing picture when looked at in that light.” (p7/30; A Granzin)

We have a problem.  We are failing our children.  

And sadly, these children think they are the problem.  

It is time to act in the best interest of the child.

The challenge is a social, emotional, and educational issue that needs a different approach.

The inspiration of Bill Allen to build Magical I Am - Sky Village was his desire to enable all children to learn to read, so they can read to learn; and to provide an affordable and enjoyable process that fits the learning style of the young brain and can teach the young reader to read the abstract words and symbols that on paper automatically do not compute in the sensory thinking style of the young reader.

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