Helping the struggling, distracted, or reluctant young reader
Young readers learn to read learn more quickly and with better retention if they are actively "engaged" with the material. After each sentence in our books, there is an action to take! In addition, reading in cursive is a boon to many dyslexics struggling with letter reversals.
When I started to suspect that our son Bain was dyslexic when he was 4 years old, I immediately began researching everything I could to help him. While mainstream approaches to dyslexia seemed to emphasize drilling and tutoring, as an owner of 2 healing arts centers and author of the book Unlocking the Heart of Healing (Healing Point Press, 2014), a “compensating” approach made no sense to me. I was interested in healing his brain, and I was lit with a fervor to find a way.
What I eventually found shocked me. I realized that just like in the cancer world in which I have practiced acupuncture for the last 15 years, the latest cutting-edge research doesn’t always make it into the standard of care on any kind of timeline that is acceptable to me (unless it is a prescription drug-based therapy.) I realized that healing dyslexic brains is happening around the world, and there is an impressive body of research to substantiate it. I didn’t intend to become a dyslexic brain-healing advocate nor did I plan to publish children’s books with an Appendix detailing what I found. Yet the stunning yet quiet research that is going on could potentially help a significant number of people (up to 20% of the population is thought to have some degree of dyslexia.) What seemed to be lacking was somebody to lead the information-disseminating charge.
This Sunday, October 11th, 2015 I will be giving a talk at the Book Release Party for our new children’s book series: The Engaged Reader Books in Cursive “Read & Do” Series (Healing Point Press, 2015) and I will describe some of the most exciting research I found. We are honored to be hosted by Michael Freedman, M.D. at Evolve Medical Clinics in Annapolis, Maryland. There is no charge for the event. For those who cannot make it, our 2 early reader books are available on Amazon or through our website at www.engagedreader.com and the Appendix of each book describes the approach that proved beneficial for our family.
Some of the most exciting examples include an Italian study that used Gingko Biloba to back children out of the DSM criteria for dyslexia, and the research of Doris Rapp M.D. whose work is complete with photographs of children’s handwriting before and after eating foods to which they were not classically allergic, but to which they were having an adverse, brain-altering reaction. The handwriting samples shockingly change from tidy and legible to raggedy and filled with dyslexic reversals after feeding the child a food that acts in their uniquely individual brain as a “cerebral allergen.”
I now consider dyslexic tutoring “torturing” without a simultaneous comprehensive brain healing approach. Dr. Rapp describes that the children in her office literally bounce off the walls after eating a cerebral allergen. Nobody would give a child a brain-altering drug and expect them to perform competently or comparably to other children in either behavior or reading progress. Making them do reading and writing drills while their brain is under the influence of any chemical alterant, even if it comes in the guise of an every-day food, now hits me as downright inhumane.
If you are interested in dyslexia, there is one more thing you may be surprised to know. When we moved our son to a Montessori school halfway through kindergarten, a teacher taught him to write in cursive. Suddenly he could easily discriminate between b, d, p, and q. Soon his handwriting was reversal-free. We were then faced with the problem that while he could write without dyslexic reversals, he still could not read easily because to him, the b, d, p, and q in standard-print books still looked the same. That is when I started making up silly stories and printing them in cursive.
At the time, in a playful attempt to engage Bain’s warped, all-American boy sense of humor, the topics revolved around pee, poo, boogers and “wupping Daddy’s butt.” Friend’s pleas to publish the books went unheeded because I just couldn’t bring myself to admit publicly that I have a severely warped sense of humor too. We still laugh when we think about those zany stories.
Luckily, in January of 2015 I came across research out of the Arizona State University Laboratory for Embodied Cognition suggesting that when children who are experiencing difficulty in reading actually act out each sentence they read, it engages the brain differently and they gain reading competence more easily. This was the light bulb I had been waiting for. I realized that most children’s books involved passively reading a story. In a creative collaboration with our son Bain, The Engaged Reader Books in Cursive “Read & Do” Series was born.
The books in this series are action-oriented. After each sentence there is an action to take, indicated by the instruction: Go! The pairing of simple reading with an action that makes a partner laugh, nod approval, or interact creates both a sense of meaningfulness for the child reader, and provides the satisfaction that their reading has effectively produced results. Many Pennies: A Book to Read Aloud With Mom, the first book in the series, provides the opportunity to “read & do” funny and engaging actions with a handful of pennies. The second book in this series, Unlocking the Secrets of Hand Shadows: A Book to Read Aloud With Dad playfully engages children to make a variety of animal shadows in a darkened room.
Evolve Medical Clinics in Annapolis is hosting us for a talk, book release and signing event on October 11th at 2PM. Please join us. Open to the public.