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  • Mind Moves Institute, Johannesburg. 2015


    Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dys WHAT?

    Lindie Moolman

    In todays society where everything is moving at a faster pace, knowledge is often but the mere click

    of a button away and humankind is becoming more intellectually advanced, the dyss are on the

    increase. But what exactly is meant by all these dyss that we are hearing increasingly more about?

    The prefix dys is derived from the Greek and refers to that which is bad or impaired (Stark, 2010).

    In this article, the dys that has an influence on reading and spelling, will be discussed in more


    Dyslexia is described in Stark (2010:7) as a neurological-functional problem as a result of a minimal

    brain dysfunction and/or differential brain dysfunction which manifests as a specific learning

    disorder relating to an inadequate ability to decode, encode and apply.

    The result of this is a problematic reading ability (decoding), spelling ability (encoding) and writing

    ability (nemkinesia).

    Dys definitions

    Dyslexia can be viewed as a reading and spelling disorder (De Jager, 2009).

    Dyscalculia is a learning disorder affecting arithmetic calculations (Stark,


    Dyspraxia refers to problems that are experienced with motor co-ordination

    (Muter & Likierman, 2008).

  • Mind Moves Institute, Johannesburg. 2015 2

    Dr Griffin classified three types of dyslexia:

    Dyseidesia (visual)

    Dysphonesia (auditory)

    Dysnemkinesia (motoric)

    1. What occurs in the brain when a child reads or writes? (Adapted from: Stark,


    The eye receives a visual message which is converted into a nerve impulse. The nerve impulse moves to the occipital lobe.

    From here the impulse is sent to the left angular gyrus. If the word is familiar to the child, a sight-sound match is made.

    Whole-word conversion then occurs (sight reading), although this depends on whether the word has already been stored in the sight vocabulary.

    When it is an unfamiliar word, Wernickes area is used for the phonetical (sound) decoding of the word.

    The third area that is involved is the motor cortex. In the motor cortex, memory traces for the duplicating of letter forms are embedded; these are stored and then recalled when words are written down.

    Normal readers use the left temporal hemisphere of the brain to decode words phonetically. In dyslexic individuals, the left part of the brain, associated with the phonetic decoding of words, functions ineffectively. These individuals then have the propensity to rely more on the right sections of the brain.

    Lateral view of the brain as adapted from ADAM

    Frontal lobe

    Motor speech area of Broca

    Temporal lobe Longitudinal fissure

    Frontal Pre-motoric area

    Pre-central gyrus

    Post-central gyrus

    Parietal lobe

    Occipital lobe

    Parietal lobe

    Reading comprehension area

    Occipital lobe

    Wernickes speech sensory area


    Medulla oblongata

  • Mind Moves Institute, Johannesburg. 2015 3

    This process can be diagrammatically explained as follows:

    The term sensory-motor is used in physical development, which forms the basis

    for the childs overall development. Sensory refers to the senses and motor to

    the muscles. All information from the environment is taken in through our

    senses touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight (De Jager & Victor, 2013). This

    information is taken to the brain via the inside senses, where it is then

    processed. This processed information must then travel via the inside senses to

    the muscles which must then react. Whenever any label contains the prefix

    dys it means that the flow of information is severely disrupted either

    between the input and processing phase or between the processing and output

    phase (De Jager, 2009). This then results in the child experiencing problems

    with learning.


    What this means is that before a child can be diagnosed with dyslexia,

    his/her sensory, perceptual, cognitive and motor skills must be

    SUFFICIENTLY developed.

    And this is where parents play an important role.

    Take note also that a child with a dominant left eye can also display signs of

    dyslexia as a result of the left eyes natural propensity to read from right to

    left (De Jager, 2009).

    The inside

    senses are the

    senses that

    react to

    sensations and


    that occur

    inside the


















  • Mind Moves Institute, Johannesburg. 2015 4

    2. What can I do as a parent?

    A multi-disciplinary approach from several professions is important when

    investigating reading disability or any other conditions that are prefixed with dys.

    Mind Moves and other activities for conditions that begin with dys

    A routine eye test is important. Optometrists can exclude any underlying pathological causes for poor visual acuity.

    Make sure that the primitive reflexes have been inhibited.

    Read out aloud to your child every night.

    Play a lot outside. Jump on a trampoline, climb on a jungle gym, build puzzles together. PLAY.

    Systematically establish first gravitational security, then spatial orientation, rhythm and timing.

    Establish laterality.

    Cross the midline.

    Learn about rhythm and timing.

    Learn the days of the week, months of the year, seasons and how to tell time.

    Play games that practise sequencing - like dominoes.

    Mind Moves (De Jager, 2009) is a movement programme that parents and teachers can utilise on a

    daily basis to develop brain pathways which can help learners improve their reading and spelling


    The following Mind Moves for reading- and spelling skills can be done daily, 3 times per day, if


    Power ON:

    Rub the indentation just below the collar bone in line with the left eye

    This exercise re-establishes the electrical flow via the vagus nerve (to the speech organs

    and stomach) to help relax butterflies and talk with ease.

    Antennae adjuster

    Massage both ear lobes simultaneously from top to bottom using circular


    This move develops the near senses, auditory processing, auditory perception as

    well as receptive language ability.

  • Mind Moves Institute, Johannesburg. 2015 5

    Mouse pad

    Focus on the thumb held at elbow distance from the eyes. Move the thumb

    upwards, first around the left eye and then around the right eye. Repeat five

    times. Swop hands and repeat the same process, always first drawing a circle

    around the left eye and then around the right eye.

    This move stimulates the visual, auditory and kinesthetic receptive ability, while crossing the midline to integrate the left and right parts of the brain and body. It develops eye-hand coordination and visual integration

    Visual workout

    Keep the head straight. Look at one thumb, held at elbow distance from

    the eyes. Move the thumb to the left (at nose level), and then slowly to

    the right, crossing the visual midline. First do this with the eyes closed,

    imagining the position of the thumb. Open the eyes and check whether

    the eyes and thumb are in the same position. Repeat five times. Then

    repeat five times with eyes open. Repeat exercise with thumb held up

    and eyes turned up into a visual position (without turning the head), first

    with eyes closed and then with eyes open. Repeat the exercise with the

    thumb and eyes down into a kinesthetic position, first closed and then

    open. Rub the hands together briskly and place the warm palms over the

    eyes to relax them.

    This move stimulates easy transition between visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning. It promotes eye-hand coordination and crossing the lateral midline.

    Sources De Jager, M. 2009. Mind Moves moves that mend the mind. Johannesburg: Mind Moves Instituut. De Jager, M. 2011. Braindevelopment, MILESTONES and learning. BabaGym en Mind Moves Brainboosters. Johannesburg: Mind Moves Instituut. De Jager, M. & Victor, L. 2013. Play Learn Know. A child is a work in progress. Welgemoed: Metz Press. Blythe, S.G. 2009. Attention, Balance and Coordination. The A.B.C. of learning success. UK: Wiley-Blackwell. Muter, V. & Likierman, H. 2008. Dyslexia. A parents guide to dyslexia, learning difficulties. London: Vermilion. Stark, S. 2010. Disleksie. Vereeniging: Prestige Art Press.


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