He who made you is able to complete all that concerns you – our journey with dyslexia part 2 The assesment
In the previous blog I shared getting to “The Gift of Dyslexia” by Ronald D Davis. As a number of moms have asked me to help by sharing how we are doing it, - as we did not go to a Davis Dyslexia Facility for an assessment, but did it at home and we are also currently doing the reading or learning to read and write at home – as they also have to go it alone at home, I now will commence to document our journey as we progress here and Lord willing eventually compile it in a book. So here goes J
As I am the one who needs to learn a new thing or task, and especially anything that looks technical, by watching someone else do it, I just could not wrap my head around the assessment process in chapter 26. I would read about two pages and start all over again. I found the one column explaining what to do and the second column explaining what to perceive and look out for, just a little confusing for me. So I prayed and asked the Lord for help, and He answered by sending me Teresa Muller through a mutual acquaintance. (Teresa is currently a fulltime tutor 5 mornings a week with a home school family, during the afternoons she is the full time au-pare for a large family and also tutors their homework. She has a Masters Degree in Physical Theater drama and movement and will write her final exam in her Honors Degree in Psychology specifically child development, family therapy and cognitive Nero-Science. She has experience in teaching in China and is currently the youth pastor at Common Ground Church in Durbanville) Here follows what she did. (Now that it is broken down so simply I can do it myself)
Assessment to distinguish the need for alignment procedure or orientation procedure.
Before the assessor starts make sure as to have all the materials possibly needed ready right there where you are so that you do not need to interrupt the flow of the procedure by fetching something. The other reason for being fully prepared is the fact that you may need to change things as you go along as this procedure is to establish whether or not the child needs to follow the orientation method or the alignment method.
When you are doing it at home, do it in the same room or space in the house where learning is to take place. Then proceed to together with our child familiarize yourselves with where things in the room are, eg. We are sitting at the dining room table, the sliding door is on my left, the kitchen counter is behind me, the stationary bag is in the center of the table, Terry is sitting in the chair directly opposite me etc. Allow your child to assimilate the space they are in. Explain who is helping your child if it is not you, and explain what is going to happen now. Make sure it is nice and quiet. Let them close their eyes and give them time to hear what is around them paying attention to the regular every day sounds eg. cars that come past the house regularly and the neighborhood dogs barking on and off as well as the birds chirping loudly in the trees. Then make your child aware of the temperature in the room, let them tell if they feel comfortable and aren’t too hot or too cold. We do this so the child is fully aware of their environment and there are no sudden surprises. (At least not ones you are aware of and could have averted.) Make sure no phones are on, nor any radio or television so as to make sure the environment is controlled for the moment.
The assessor needs to sit where he/she is in comfortable proximity of the child, not too far and not so close the child feels their personal space is being invaded. The emphasis is that the child must feel completely comfortable and at ease at all times. Have an open body language to encourage good communication. It is very important that the assessor shows forth confidence that they know what they are doing and that they can help as well as controlled excitement at what is about to commence. The assessors’ job is to guide this process not to control it because the process is to establish within the child the knowledge and confidence that he/she can control the disorientation they feel when faced with reading, writing or math.
Now we commence to introduce the child to what it is we are going to be doing so as to create a frame for the experience. This is on p.143 of the book “The gift of dyslexia”. Do the step as shown in the book because in this way the assessor is showing the child in the picture exactly where they are and in which place all of the upcoming activities are going to take place. This gives a feeling of safety and sets a perimeter to keep the mind focused.
From here we now begin to explain that the activities may seem a little strange but they are fun are in no way an indication who the child is – I feel this is vital especially for children who have been through a lot of traumatic experiences, or have seen psychologist upon psychologist and therapist upon therapist – say something like; “I am really interested to learn how you think and how your mind works. I find the way you formulate things to be very interesting and I’d like to learn about it some more.” Give the child a sense of authority so that they experience this as a time where they are being engaged in something instead of experiencing it as another exercise being aimed at them.
Find out which is the child’s dominant hand. This is important not only for the activities but as an indicator of where to touch the child during the assessment, eg. if the child is left handed and you put your and on their left shoulder they will feel closed up because that is their working side, where as if you place your hand on their right it’s more of a comfort because it’s their open side.
Clarify the definition for “imagination” but first ask the child what they think it is. Let them explain in their own words what they understand under the word “imagination”. Be patient, don’t criticize, don’t say; “no it is…..”. Remember we want to keep the child open and not cause them to close up by using a closed language like “no”. Rather talk them through it and form a discussion around it by asking open questions and leading them on a road of self-discovery so that it is not just another fleeting word to them but something they can associate with. You can ask questions like “what do you think it means?” “Have you considered this?” “How did you come to this?” “What do you think we use our imaginations for?” “Who do you think needs to have a good imagination?” Using a tool like the questions asked in Executive Coaching will help a lot. Guide them to understand that imagination is a mental precept of something. It is very important to make use of the word “mind” and not “brain” as the concept of imagination is that it is something internal, they own it, they own their mind and therefore they can control their mind and their thought patterns. (Here I’d like to just add that as we raise our children hand in hand with the Word of God I remind my children of Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service. Rom 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, in order to prove by you what is that good and pleasing and perfect will of God. By having their minds renewed through the Word and by the mighty work of the Holy Spirit they learn that they are in control of their thinking and they can do something about it as written in 2Co 10:5 pulling down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ; 2Co 10:6 and having readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled. And I teach them to cultivate the fruit of the Spirit according to Gal 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, Gal 5:23 meekness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Teaching our children these things helps them to see that they are not alone, and without the Holy Spirit they can do nothing so they know they can overcome these obstacles and it is possible to control their mind. This book is a fantastic tool in coming to understand the working of their mind and brain, and combining it with the life giving Word makes the job so much easier.)
One can now test whether the concept of “imagination” is understood by telling the child to close their eyes and to imagine something and to describe it to the assessor in as much detail as possible. This reinforces the concept of imagination.
As per p144 of the book take a piece of paper and draw equal sized circles on the page. With every action and instruction from here on in the assessor needs to look the child in the eyes and in an even toned voice say; “I am doing….” Or “I am now going to do….” Then follow your own action with your eyes as this will at the same time guide them to where they need to look. Make sure to use simple age appropriate language.
Show the child that the once circle is them and the other is yourself or the assessor in that space. Follow each instruction in the book to its specification. Under no circumstances should any of this be rushed, so make sure to choose a day where no one has any appointments or engagements they need to be at, but that the entire day is open for this.
When the assessor is drawing the circle do so with the movement of the whole arm so that you show yourself open and non-intimidating and move ever so slightly toward their space. Once the child understands the concept of special awareness and both they and the assessor are facing each other, go on to explain that we are now looking from inside at each other – the concept of the mind’s eye.
Explain that we are seated in space and we see in space while at the same time imagining it’s all centered in the mind’s eye. (Depending on the age of the child and their interest one can explain how the brain works and where it forms its pictures, so that you are actually not seeing with your eye but rather with your mind)
Find objects of interest with defined shapes, for e.g. pizza slice, slice of chocolate cake etc. If you go with cake follow the descriptive exercises in the book e.g. size, kind of cake etc. Use as much detail as possible.
Now move into a new space, not a different room but more changing the way you both are sitting because as you move you feel your body and you sense your attention is perking up – same context but different situation – make sure to keep your tone of voice the same, the speed of your breathing and wording must remain the same, keep your rhythm of speaking and your language he same. Keep it all in a low tone, the reason for the direction in how to speak is all so that the child gets used to the assessors’ voice, gets used to the accent of their voice, this must stay constant throughout the assessment as well as the alignment or orientation exercises.
Follow the instructions from p145 under “Assessment” exactly as he specifies. An important note is to remember to continue allowing them the feeling of being in control and that you will do nothing without their consent, you won’t make any sudden movements etc. Make sure you verbally explain this and they are happy with it. Continue to follow instructions on p146. A note here is to allow your top hand to rest on theirs for a few seconds so they can acclimatize to your temperature this is especially important when you are working with someone whose eyes are closed and you are the one initiating contact. One needs to maintain that contact until the person opens their eyes again and you say to them “I am going to let go of your hand now” wait till they show they comprehend by saying “yes” or “ok” and then let go slowly, no sudden movements. We do this so that the person does not suddenly feel lost. Wen one’s eyes are closed one is in a vulnerable state and therefore if you suddenly let go of their hand then, they feel lost. While going through the cake exercise, keep your supporting hand under theirs until the exercise is over. Use open questions again to coach the child if they are having difficulty describing what they see/imagine; questions like what is smells like, is it heavy, can they feel the weight of the cake in their hand, is it small or large. Follow the model they are describing, don’t try and paint your own picture. By following their model of the cake you are giving them room to explore and unlock areas and territories they may not yet have gone, you are allowing them to explore their imagination.
It is vital for the assessor to remain patient, to remember the point about voice tone, rhythm etc. no matter how much the child is struggling to imagine or paint the picture they see. Keep your own emotions out of it. Do not get frustrated, or if you do, do not let them sense it, remain patient. If nothing is working, quietly finish the session but never let the child feel they failed at something, or that you expected a different result. Just calmly tell them to open their eyes, while you maintain contact by keeping their hand in yours, let them tell you about their favorite cake again, and say something like; “That really sounds so delicious. Well done, you did great, let’s take a breather and have some tea. How does that sound?” Don’t just end abruptly or go “OK we are done for now.” This will just make the child feel they failed or did something wrong. Here is where you know your child can move to the Alignment procedure starting on p198
If the child is still fine continue on from the last paragraph on p147 and the child has his non dominant hand still resting in one of your hands and you are getting ready to continue all the procedures, before you move the finger of the dominant hand around as instructed, it is advised to go about it in the following manner; touch the child’s hand palm up by the wrist using your thumb to be on their pulse, gently apply a little pressure as this is where some of the main pressure points linking to the palm and fingers are situated. It is important not to just grab the child’s hand but to do it in this manner and slowly moving your hand with the thumb moving from the wrist to the palm to the finger. Tell the child; “I am going to move your arm and point your finger” so that they are fully aware of what is going to happen and they are confident they can trust you, you aren’t just going to do things without first getting their consent. It is important that the whole arm move as you go through the steps. Again remember no abrupt movements or change of tone and rhythm in speaking, keep everything solid and fluent to maintain the bond of trust that was formed during the first assessment.
Watch the face for signs of discomfort or stress and then just ask them if they can still feel their finger, whether they can still see the cake etc. slight distraction. Even though the child’s eyes are closed, when you speak to them look at their eyes, when you move their finger look at the finger as you move it for even though they eyes are closed they can still feel or sense where your focus or attention is, so these exercises will be tiring on the assessor too because they need to be fully focused on the child all the way through.
It is important that throughout these exercises you take our time, allow the child to move at their own pace. If the child gets stuck on any of the steps, just move back to the previous one, let them do it again and then move to the place they got stuck. Remember to take it slow because as you are doing this you are helping them unlock things in their mind
How you end the session is very important because what you have done now is like throwing out streamers and now you need to pull them back in again. Encourage them as he says in the book to take their minds eye out of the point of their finger and put it back in their head. Give them time to do this. Now ask; “Can you see from inside your mind?” Give them time for this. Continue his instructions of making the cake disappear, and give them time with this it may take a little while. It’s important that they aren’t just saying it is gone just to please you, that is why we need patience and give them time. It is important that when you place their hand back in their lap that you use words like; “When you are ready, open your eyes”. Otherwise it is a shock to them to suddenly be done; we need to gently “bring them back” from the imaginary world to the current one. Once they have turned their eyes back to you, you can slowly release their hands as they can now see you are doing so.
(c) Celeste Glass
(c) Celeste Glass