In the last blog, we used our tree analogy to discuss the second level of understanding and reversing dyslexia. We’ve already discussed the leaves (the words) and we added the branches: the eyes that see the words, the ears that hear the words, and the head and neck that support and protect both eyes and ears. We asked why the eyes and ears have a problem with words, and we discussed therapies that help those sensory organs to function better and help reverse dyslexia.
At the next level, we add the trunk to the leaves and branches, considering the body as a whole.
Level Three: Trunk, Branches, and Leaves
The third approach to reversing dyslexia is considering your child’s whole body as it affects learning, including the nervous system, muscular and neural pathway development, and motor development. As we know, every part of the body is intertwined with others, and this level recognizes that complicated relationship.
As your child develops, each step needs to occur in order, and it needs to happen for a specific length of time for maximum effect on the brain. Crawling should be encouraged, not discouraged. Parents who love to claim their child never crawled before walking make me cringe. Crawling is an important step in developing hand-eye coordination and knowledge of surroundings. So are climbing trees and turning in circles, to name just two. Each of these helps to orient the nerves and muscles to gravity. This is how your child develops spatial organization and depth perception, which lead to reading.
Have you ever noticed how physical people can be when they’re talking? If they have trouble finding the right words, they typically gesture with their hands and arms. This seems to help them pull the words out of their heads. When you move the large muscle groups, you help your brain work more effectively. Often, public speakers will warm up by doing something physical before a speech.
It’s counter-intuitive, but actually learning to read is what I call a bottom-up process. When children learn and develop, they literally “wire together” certain abilities through repetition, and they perform those skills repeatedly until they feel successful. Watch a baby trying to crawl (and let her learn for herself, please don’t try to stand her up and make her walk), and you will see a dogged determination to master it. Practice makes perfect, and one day she will seemingly become an expert at it. Once a skill is “wired in”, it’s second nature.
Many therapies work to improve the physical movements that affect coordination and balance. Please contact me if you’re interested in learning more. They include Sensory Integration (SI), which is typically done by occupational therapists (OTs), Books Neural Therapy™ (BNT), which is usually performed by health care professionals such as chiropractors, and Brain Gym, which is performed by teachers and parents. During the primary grades, the Slingerland method is often used by public schools.
Interactive Metronome is a new therapy, and it uses rhythm to develop coordination in the body. Your child can utilize the building blocks of IM through playing both instruments and rhythmic games. Every move your child makes is systematic and planned, and whether he plays the drums, enjoys a good game of racquetball, or loves learning new dance steps, each of these movements helps coordinate both fine and gross motor skills. These in turn improve the function of the nervous system and brain.
All of these body-based therapies help you to provide your child with body and mind engagement. The missing foundations for reading can be replaced with these therapies, but the final piece of the puzzle remains: how the tree is influenced by its surroundings. That comes next in our blog series, so don’t miss it.
For more information about Books Neural Therapy™ and the other body-based therapies in this chapter, please contact me at your convenience.