This week’s podcast episode is based largely on the book, The Dyslexic Advantage by Brock L Eide, MD, MA; and Fernette F Eide, MD.
This book takes a refreshing view of dyslexia, not as a disorder characterized by deficits but as the result of a brain that has been wired differently, with significant benefits to that wiring! (and with some reading and spelling challenges as a side effect)
Audio version: www.DecodingLearningDifferences.com
This is Decoding Learning Differences with Kimberlynn Lavelle. And this episode is the dyslexic advantage. This episode is really a summary. Hey, reviews of the book, the dyslexic advantage by Brock L Eide, I believe E I D E and Fernette Eide, both MDs. So they've written The Dyslexic Advantage: unlocking the hidden potential of the dyslexic brain. It's a great read.
I suggest that you read it, especially if you are a parent of a child with dyslexia or you teach children with dyslexia or you just have a general interest in it. But I, I want to preface with that is what this episode is all based on. So keep that in mind. So, oh, hang on. Okay. So like I said,
this is based on that book by Brock Eide MD MA and Fernette Eide, MD. I hope I'm saying that, right. And so we've talked before about how dyslexia is usually defined as a reading, as a difficulty in reading and or spelling caused by a deficit or impairment in phonological processing. I will say that this book doesn't love that definition because it's focusing on the deficit and the impairment and what's wrong,
wrong rather than on the strengths of people with those brain patterns. We have had some previous episodes on dyslexia, including last week, we talked about like the comorbidity of ADHD and dyslexia. So there'll be some links to those episodes in the show notes, check those out, If you haven't already for some of that background information on dyslexia and how it's generally perceived and understood and what some of the more recent research is showing now. differences in information processing.
This is from the book and the book talks about One of the Theories about dyslexia is that it's a procedural learning deficit rather than a phonological processing deficit. And there are some reasons that they like that. Procedural learning theory predicts some of the advantages that we often observe in individuals with dyslexia. Individuals with dyslexia often innovate and experience experiment with routine procedures and in the process find new and better ways of doing things.
So showing that because they have difficulty with procedural learning, like just that this is how you do it. This is how you do it. This is how you do it. They struggle with that. It actually then leads those people with that brand pattern to get innovative about figuring out and noticing and making new connections and new differences, which is something that they see happening in those with dyslexia.
So they liked it because of that, but they didn't feel like that theory encompassed the whole thing. So the thing that they liked better was the look at the brain structure and how the brain structure of those with the dyslexia is a bit different, the brain structure. So I'm trying to do this in a as simplified way as possible. The book gets into it in a little more detail,
and it can be a little bit confusing, maybe some, an area that you want to like reread to make sure that you're really understanding it. But what they're talking about, one thing that was found to finding the researcher who did it, one thing that was found Was... Dr. Manuel Casanova of the university of Kentucky school of medicine did a whole bunch of brain studies studying all these different brains of all sorts of different people,
including people with dyslexia, so general population, other disabilities. And what is focused on in this book is the study of those with dyslexia. One of the things that was found is that in The, in the brain you've got In one section, you have minicolumns. All of these neurons are stacked right on top of each other, and they're all connected in these columns.
Now the density of those columns varies by person. And the more densely Dense, The more dense your mini columns are, the shorter, your axon length is. And the more loose your minicolumns are, the longer your axon lenth is. So what they found is those with dyslexia tend to have the tend to show a bias toward widely space, minicolumns and physically longer brain circuits or axons.
And that leads to, or seems to be correlated with bigger picture processing and weaknesses in fine detail processing, which would include and explain the phonological processing deficit. And one thing that the book talks about is the exact opposite brain pattern is those with autism, they tend to have very tightly clustered, minicolumns and very short axon length. So they tend to focus more on they're very good at procedures following a routine.
They're very good at noticing fine details. They're very good at the look, the getting very detail oriented. Those with a dyslexic brain pattern are better at the big picture. Neither is better or worse than the other, right? They're just two different brain patterns, two different brain structures and so useful to have both of those and people that are kind of more in the middle.
So it's all, it's all good news, really. And it is how I see it. It's all good news. It's just different brain patterns. So dyslexic brands tend to show a bias towards widely spaced minicolumns, physically longer brain circuits. I read that. So the strength is what that big picture processing and the weakness is in that fine detail processing,
including phonological processing. Now the traits, the ability to see the gist or essence of things, or despite the larger context. So these are some of the, like the strengths strengths of an, of a dyslexic brain who is excelling. the traits. Their strengths is the ability to see, and this is start again. This is not necessarily true. Not all of these are necessarily true for every single person with dyslexia.
It's like in general, common things that you'll find with those who are excelling with dyslexia is you'll see some of these traits. And you'll notice that there's a lot of that big picture processing, that big picture, thinking that we were talking about. So the ability to see the gist or essence of things, or to spot the larger context behind a given situation or idea multidimensionality of perspective,
the ability to see new unusual or distant connections, inferential reasoning, an ambiguity of direction, and an sorry, and ambiguity detection, inferential, inferential reasoning in ambiguity detection, the ability to recombine things in novel ways and a general inventiveness and greater mindfulness and intentionality during tasks that others take for granted. One thing that they found is that those with dyslexia tend to,
because they forget the procedure, they have to focus a lot harder to figure out how to do a task that others can just follow the with every time very quickly, but because they have to pay more attention every single time, they start noticing how to do it a little differently, a little more effectively, a little better, and they become more inventive.
So there's all of those really strong strengths associated with these traits. Again, you can see it as a negative, you can see it as a positive, but please see it as a positive. So then the book goes on. I'm not going to go into super length about this, but I encourage you to check out the book if you're interested in knowing more.
So it gets into M strengths. The strengths are the material reasoning strengths, "M strengths are abilities that help us reason about the physical or material world that is about the shape, size, motion, position, or orientation in space at physical objects and the way those objects interact." So this is One of the examples is they Excel involved in the creation of connected series of mental perspectives that are three-dimensional in nature,
like a virtual 3d environment in the brain. So there, they actually have like a really strong spatial ability in that way that they can like see How Something works in all these different ways. And actually that can then lead into why they might struggle with the difference between B and D because they can see the B as the D they, you know, if you think about flipping it around in your head,
it's both. well, they're easily flipping it around in this way and that. it's a B, it's a D, it's a P, it's a Q. They can see it in all of those perspectives. So then when they go to read they're like, I don't know which one it's supposed to be because to them, it's all the same shape. It's why I hate the shape of those letters.
And some other ones that can be confusing, but especially those. So confusing. Okay. So Then it gets into I strengths: interconnected reasoning, "I strengths create exceptional abilities to spot connections between different objects, concepts, or points of view. They include the ability to see how phenomena like objects, ideas, events, or experiences are related to each other, either by likeness,
similarity, or togetherness that is association like correlation or cause, and effect the ability to see phenomena from multiple perspectives using approaches and techniques borrowed from many disciplines And the ability To unite all kinds of information about a particular object of thought into a single global or big picture view and determinants just, or most essential or relevant aspects in particular contexts." That's super important,
super helpful in life. Being able to make those big connections like, well, there's this and this and this, and those were all connected because... Super helpful. Super awesome. Alright, N strengths are narrative reasoning. So "N Strengths are the ability to construct a connected series of mental scenes from fragments of past personal experience that is from episodic or personal memory that can be used to recall the past,
explain the present simulate potential future or imaginary scenarios and grasp and test important concepts." So in their brain, that those, with this particular Strength N strength, narrative reasoning, they can use all these things that have happened in the past and apply it to what's happening now and what might happen in the future. And they can see that those patterns in those really big,
big picture ways, right? Constantly thinking about those big picture reasoning. D strengths: dynamic Reasoning. "D strengths create the ability to accurately predict past or future states using episodic simulation. These strengths are especially valuable for thinking about past or future states whose components are variable, incompletely known or ambiguous, and for making practical or best fit predictions or working hypotheses in settings where precise answers
Aren't possible." So again, kind of similar to the narrative reasoning where you're thinking about using your current to, or your past to explain the current or the future. It's that dynamic reasoning of constantly like being able to accurately predict what's going to be happening what's happening. So it's and they're like they said, they're especially valuable for thinking about it when it's,
when we don't know it's incompletely known, it's ambiguous, they can reason through what would be kind of the most logical or what would be the most likely to happen. "Predictions For making practical or best fit predictions or working hypothesis in settings where precise answers aren't possible." So again, some really, really cool strengths. Remember, these are four big, Big ideas,
strengths that those with dyslexia might have most likely someone with dyslexia will have at least one of those four MIND strengths. According to the book, again, this is based off of the book, the dyslexic advantage. So from what they're saying, and the research they've done, those with dyslexia, usually will have at least one of those four strengths. So your goal for your children and your students,
and whoever you're working with is to look for those strengths, appreciate those strengths. Use those strengths, right? Invest in those strengths, focus on the strengths, not the weaknesses so much. We can deal with the weaknesses. We can shore up the weaknesses with some accommodations, recognize that it is not your job to fix your child, but to love and accept them for who they are and help them be the best person they can be with who they are and the way that their brain pattern works.
You're not going to change the way their brain is structured. Not to say that we don't also work on like reading deficits. We want them to be able to read, but we also want them to be able to have good strategies to figure out about reading when they're struggling with it. Like, what can I do if I don't know this word, right?
We want them to have those accommodations, those, those strategies to take care of themselves for life, to be independent and successful and happy. So tell me your stories. Do you have a child with dyslexia? Have you noticed any of those strengths? Have you read the book? Let me know what is going on with you. And I can't wait to hear from you.