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Gifted and Dyslexic

By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D

Q: I have an 8-year old son who is a dyslexic and according to the evaluation report, he has an IQ of 138.

I have been sending him for remedial classes and he is also receiving help in his English but yet he fails his English tests. I was told and informed by quite a few parents to get help from expert who is able to identify his gifted area and perhaps send him for the courses that he has more interest in it and excel better. Would you be able to advise me on where could I get expert help and advise so that I could make an early intervention in unlocking his true potential or discovery of his gifted areas. Looking forward to hear from you.

A: It is such a shame that he is struggling even with high IQ scores. Generally speaking, dyslexia affects fluent word recognition and recall, spelling and word decoding, and secondarily, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Therefore, it is no surprise that he is having difficulties in language.

As much as he has high IQ scores, he also has a disability and needs attention for both. Gifted dyslexics who are successful are apparently able to compensate for some of their difficulties through outstanding memory abilities, so much so that that they could actually meet age norms in classic dyslexic deficit areas (such as phonology or reading comprehension). When analyzed deeply, these individuals were just more adept at using compensatory strategies to overcome dyslexic challenges - rather than having outstanding memory abilities per se.

Unfortunately, in the school system such children are given attention more for their disability rather than strengths. With focus on their weakness rather than strengths, they are likely to fall within the cracks and go unidentified - which is so unfortunate. You need to focus on his strengths and which will motivate him. A child who is both gifted and dyslexic often has low self-esteem and poor motivation. Studies indicate that creative thinking which is essential for complex problem solving, improves feelings of self-esteem. Dyslexics learn best with a multi-sensory delivery of language content. Instruction that is multi-sensory employs all pathways of learning at the same time, seeing, hearing, touching, writing, and speaking. Perhaps, you may want to take note of this.

Additionally, you may want to view the following site on the Orton-Gillingham Training Courses in Singapore by trainer Ronald Yoshimoto who has been training teachers and parents of dyslexic.

Some helpful books for you:

The Gift of Dyslexia: Why Some of the Smartest People Can't Read and How They Can Learn
by Ronald D. Davis and Eldon M. Braun

The Pretenders: Gifted People Who Have Difficulty Learning
by Barbara P. Guyer. Ed.D

Hope the above has been helpful. Good luck. And oh, anyway, I am dyslexic - and only found out some 10 years back!


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