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by Renée Smith/j&R Tutoring Academy

. . . or is there a learning problem? Can you read the short passage that follows?

7H15 M3554G3
53RV35 7O PR0V3
D0 4M4Z1NG 7H1NG5!

This is a portion of an email I received this week. These types of emails regularly make the rounds, and I have also seen them in magazines. The intent is to demonstrate how one’s mind can “read” words not spelled correctly.

The passage says, “This message serves to prove how our minds can do amazing things!”

Reading these types of exercises is often recommended for aging minds. What if this is what your child sees every day?

No amount of regular instruction is going to help children who have one of the many forms of dyslexia. They can look at a word and be able to read the letters, yet just a few minutes later are completely unable to recall the word. Their mind has not developed the ability to recognize and retain the letters and/or the sounds that accompany the letters.

Can you imagine how frustrating it is for a child who does not understand why he can’t “see” what the other children are seeing? Then the teacher may become annoyed, mom and dad want to know why the child is not learning how to spell, and pretty soon the child’s confidence begins to erode.

When I was employed by one of the national franchise tutoring concerns, I tutored a second grade girl whose mother was overly concerned about her poor penmanship. After a few sessions, I noticed that she was not able to retain simple knowledge from one tutoring session to the next – a span of 48 hours. Both of these are indicators of dyslexia.

These are also the kinds of problems that can be missed in the classroom. Penmanship is not a high priority skill and failure to remember “something” from one day to the next can easily be overlooked. I noticed it because I was working directly with her twice a week. I became alarmed enough to suggest to the mother that she be tested. Unfortunately my suggestion offended the mother.

Look at the passage above again. For children with some forms of dyslexia, words always appear confusing, and they do not even “look” the same from one time to the next. With proper instruction the situation can be greatly improved. The earlier the problem is identified and addressed, the easier it is to correct.

Although there are many types of learning problems, I am focusing on reading because the ability to read is fundamental to all learning.


If the child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.
-Igancio Estrada