April and May of 2011 involved a lot of educational diagnostic testing for us. Z and J had reached a frustration level with their respective challenges and group expectations for boys their age (at the time 9 and 11) that caused me to seek additional help.
Earlier in the Fall we had finally sought a formal diagnosis for Z’s dyslexia, and in the spring chose to get a formal diagnosis for his autism (PDD-NOS), so that we could get an occupational therapy referral for him.
In May, as I was wrapping my mind around different ways to help Z and help him learn more efficiently, I ran across a new product that homeschooling mom Sarah Brown and her husband Josh were developing – Dyslexia Games.
As soon as I heard about it, I jumped on board, downloading the free samples they were offering at the time and then later buying the first pack they offered.
Because these little games that they’ve created looked like really fun ways to incorporate visual discrimination therapy in a very cost effective way.
Sarah’s story of how she developed these games and exercises for her daughters, who have dyslexia and autism diagnoses, struck a chord with me, especially as this was a time where I was heavily reading and searching for therapy solutions that would fit in my budget.
After taking a look at the worksheets, I chose to incorporate them into our full-schoolwork schedule. And not just for Z, but also for the girls and for J, who tracks adhd inattentive and is diagnosed with a written expression disorder.
Both Kgirl and J were late readers, and though Little E reads well for her age, she still reverse numbers and letters at times. So, I figured, why not? Couldn’t hurt to have them all do the games too. And it surely didn’t.
So What are Dyslexia Games?
Dyslexia Games is a series of visual art and puzzle exercises designed specifically for children who tend to think and learn visually. Visual thinkers, especially those with dyslexia, adhd, and high functioning autism (Asperger’s and PDD-NOS), sometimes have trouble anchoring letters, and often reverse, flip, or confuse letters, numbers, and other symbols.
Sarah created these fun little patterns, art, and other puzzles to help train kids like hers to look at pictures and symbols and perceive where the differences and similarities are. The activities start off simply and get more complex as you progress through them.
What seem like fun, intriguing little puzzles are actually powerful therapy devices for training how visualize and perceive letters, numbers, and symbols.
Each exercise starts with a picture or a pattern. Then the game is to complete the next picture or pattern exactly like the first. You find what is missing and fill it in
And as the kids progress in skills, they take on more complex drawings like these:
While the name specifies Dyslexia, Series A is actually great for any one with pre- or early readers or for kids who have signs of dyslexia or are struggling with reading. I wish I had them in my arsenal when Kgirl and J were learning to read, especially J.
Series B is designed for kids who are already reading at a 2nd grade level or above but are still struggling with reversals, letter confusion, and spelling errors. The detailed visual discrimination exercises also help with those with messy handwriting – but shhh… don’t tell the kids. I have awful handwriting! they’ll want me to use them too
So How am I using Dyslexia Games?
After sharing about these on a support group for homeschooling children with dyslexia, Lisa asked me:
I am curious how you use it? Do you do one worksheet a day? Do you work
through the workbooks in a certain order? or switch back and forth?
So to answer… like I said, I’ve incorporated these into our Full Schoolwork schedule. We don’t to them everyday. Though you certainly can.
When we first started using them, we started our day with them. As I was fixing breakfast, I asked the kids to work on one. In the beginning, I found that Z and J needed to break one page down across a few days to keep it fun instead of “work”.
The directions recommend 20 minutes, I don’t think we ever spend that long on them – maybe 10 to 15 minutes. Would we progress further with more time or more frequency? Maybe. But I’m very careful especially with Z and J to not overload them and cause blocks to learning. They already have enough to deal with, they don’t need more frustration.
My point is to give them little bits that will help them, not overwhelm them and frustrate them further. So for us, it’s just 10-15 minutes. When they finish a sheet or what we’ve agreed on, then they are done with it and move on to their other schoolwork.
Now, we are no longer starting our day with these, simply because I’m usually still asleep when Z starts his schoolwork (he likes to get his schoolwork and chores done early so the rest of the day is his to play.) Sometimes we’ll do these on the go, just something to do or pass the time with. Sometimes we fit them in between other subjects.
I tend to go through the workbooks in order, choosing activities that will appeal to the boys particularly. There’s a few exercises that are “girly” (i.e., flowers and butterflies,etc.) that I don’t think they’ll respond well to, so I skip those if I think they won’t miss much by skipping it. But I’ll print those out out for the girls to work on.
My original goal was to just print all of them and put them in 3-prong folders for them, but I’ve yet to get to that yet. But that’s my ideal… to just put together folders for them to work through. But for now, I print them one page at time or a few days of sheets at a time.
You can adapt them to your style and to your current plan, be structured with it or loose and relaxed with it. I know that they have helped train both my boys to look at things a little closer, to recognize similarities and differences in symbols. and they have definitely helped Z, who tends to rotate or flip letters in his head, to anchor the letters in his mind.
Where to Get Dyslexia Games?
If you’d like to give Dyslexia Games a try, be sure to check out their website. They offer both a downloadable pdf set of the two series and printed copies they mail to you.
Also, they sometimes run specials like this one, so watch for those – cuz it’s a really great deal no matter what but with a special… it’s just awesome.
But even at full price, it’s just a tiny fraction of what professional therapy costs (!). And, it also supports another homeschooling family – and idea I very much like