One of the hardest things to experience as a teacher was listening to a child or teenager who could not read, struggle to get the words out in a meaningful way.
It was hard to listen to but more importantly it was hard for the student who, because of their repressed fears that created the struggle he lost the meaning of the words he was reading. More boys than girls have learning difficulties and so I experienced this most days when I was a teacher in an all boys school.
I firmly believe that the vast majority of students do not need to suffer learning difficulties - the majority of children will grow out of the learning problem by the time they are 8 years of age when the brain has matured sufficiently - and some kids take a bit longer than others. That is why I do not see clients under the age of 8 .
Learning difficulties (those not created by a physical problem within the brain) are caused by many different things but fundamentally there are three things I look for:
Did the child have a lot of colds or asthma in their first year - if so they may have lots of problems spelling.
People who have the knowledge but block the information coming out of the mind;
Those who block the information going into the mind.
The First "Learning Difficulty"
The first 'learning difficulty' with spelling is easy to fix as people learn to spell in their first year as babies by hearing their parents speak. If they have a head cold at any time in that first year they may have problems spelling certain words such as those that begin with the letter 'k' which according to scientists say is learnt in the first 3 months of life.
It is important that people know that there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet. This takes away a lot of stress as a person who can't spell often 'fees' as if there are hundreds of letters and they are confused as to which letters they need - they soon believe that 26 letters are easy to learn.
I then ask the person to imagine a baby of between 12 months to 2 years. I present each of the letters of the alphabet to this imagined child until the letters are easily recognised. Next I ask the person to pick out the letter ' I ' and show them that this is a word. I put it into a sentence. I then ask them to pick out the letter 't' and then the letter 'o'. Now we have the word 'to' ; - we continue picking out letters to create words such as 'go,' then to words with three letters such as 'the', 'and' 'dog'.
Notice that I am moving from a one letter word to adding another letter until I have used up all the letters of the alphabet and the person is confident that they recognise each of the letters.
Finally I might end with a sentence that uses all letters of the alphabet such as:
'The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dogs."
Then I ask them to jumble the letters up in their mind and then I ask them to spell out words from the simple to the more complex words. Each time I do this it will become easier for the client to spell the word. Finally I tell them that 75% of the English language is made up of 100 words, the next 20% is made up of another 100 words and the rest are technological words pertaining to specific jobs or scientific date.
It is wonderful to see a child or adult who has not been able to spell, who can now spell easily - and it takes about 15 to 30 minutes of training the brain to recognise the letters and put them into words. Using this very simple technique I have gotten children and adults who have never been able to spell to do so correctly each and every time. It is amazing to see the confidence in them grow as they realise that spelling is not some big onerous task but is as simple as choosing letters from the 26 available and putting them together.
The Second type of Learning Difficulty
The second type of learning difficulty comes from those children who have learnt the work but for some reason have blocked the information coming out. The knowledge is there in their brain if they could only access it.