Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dyslexia - Multi-sensory Learning

We are creatures of great sensitivity and have the ability to understand things from many perspectives. The most effective teaching method for children with learning differences is to engage a multisensory approach. Multisensory teaching strives to utilise all the child's senses, to relay information or convey meaning to the students.

The teacher accesses the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways to enhance memory and learning because they know that by using as many sensory paths as possible the more likely that the message will be understood and be absorbed.

For example, when learning the vowel combination “oa” the student might first look at it and then have to trace the letters in the air while speaking out loud.

This combination of listening, looking, and moving around creates a more lasting impression for the student. Relationships and connections between items and events, will become more memorable and concepts can be built up.

Multisensory learning started back in the 1920s by Dr. Samuel Orton at the Mobile Mental Health Clinic in Iowa. Dr. Samuel Orton, one of the first to recognise, what we now call 'dyslexia' in students.

He suggested that teaching the “fundamentals of phonic association with letter forms, both visually and kinesthetically presented and reproduced in writing, until the correct associations were built up,” would be the best learning approach for students of all ages.

Dr. Orton had his patients trace, copy, and write letters whilst saying their corresponding sounds and associations. Today this method is known as multisensory learning.

Children experiencing dyslexia often struggle with auditory and/or visual processing. They have trouble recalling words and how they are pronounced. This means that they do not comprehend the roles that sounds play in words.

These children have difficulties rhyming words as well as blending sounds together to form words. Children who experience dyslexia, do not understand or acquire the alphabetic code. They are unable to grasp and retain the 'simple' repetative learning and memorising systems expected of them in the primary grades.

If a child with dyslexia is given a task that uses just hearing and vision, without drawing upon other senses, the student will be at a disadvantage. When taught with a multisensory approach, children will learn alphabetic patterns and words by utilising all pathways – hearing (auditory), seeing (visual), touching (tactile) and moving (kinesthetic).

Dyslexic students do not need more of the same instruction in class but a different type of instruction. They need to learn basic language sounds and the letters or letter combinations, that are used to make them. Becuase you are engaged in a building process, you need to starting from the very beginning and move forward in a gradual but logical, step by step process, which builds on the previous step.

For this to be retained, the children need to be taught to do this by using their eyes, ears, voices, and hands. We are a sensitive multi-talented creature that enjoys stimulation, challenge and achievement. Children experiencing Dyslexia are no different from the rest of us. They need to be stimulated, challenged and be able to feel that other great sense, the sense of achievement. Something we all crave and enjoy when we succeed in learning a new skill.

Conficious Proverb
Tell me, and I will forget.
Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand.

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